Lesson Plan: Tools of Foreign Policy

President Trumps Speaks at the G-20 Summit

President Trump speaks about NATO and foreign policy at the G-20 Summitt in July, 2017.


The U.S. government has multiple ways to accomplish their foreign policy goals. This lesson gives an overview of some of these tools of foreign policy and provides students the opportunity to review present and historical examples of foreign policy. Extension activities are also provided.



    Have the students answer the following questions either individually or as a group.

    • What are some goals that the U.S. wants to accomplish when working with other countries?

    • What actions can the U.S. government take to influence other countries?

    Go over the following terms and explain these tools of foreign policy.

    • Diplomacy- The conduct by government officials of negotiations and other relations between nations.

    • Foreign Aid- Assistance given by a government to other nations. It can include military and economic aid.

    • Sanctions- Actions taken by governments to punish other nations. These can include diplomatic, economic, military and cultural sanctions.

    • Military Action- The deployment and use of military forces to influence foreign policy.

    Using the Tools of Foreign Policy Handout, have the students watch the videos below highlighting examples of foreign policy and complete the following handout:

    Handout: Foreign Policy Tools Handout (Google Doc)

    For each video clip, students will provide the following information:

    • Description of the tool(s) used and how it/they are being used.

    • What is the purpose of these actions?

    Using their notes from the handout, have the students develop a list of at least two general goals of U.S. foreign policy. They should define these goals and provide examples from the video clips to explain how the U.S. uses these tools of foreign policy to accomplish these goals.


    To conclude, have the students answer the following question:

    • Pick one of the tools of foreign policy and discuss the benefits and drawbacks of the U.S. government using this tool.

    Concept Application Questions Free Response Question- Respond to this writing prompt (Google Doc) presented in the style of the Argumentative Question component of the redesigned AP Government and Politics exam.


    Diplomatic Letter: Choose one of the situations in the clips and write a letter from the President of the United States to the foreign leader(s) involved. Address the issues addressed in the videos, your goals in this situation and your course of actions.


    You Make the Decisions: Have the students respond to the following situation like they are the President of the United States:

    • A foreign country is threatening to invade one if its neighbors. As the President of the United States, how would you respond in this situation? Explain your course of actions and predict the possible consequences of this action.

Additional Resources


  • Alliances
  • Assets
  • Bipartisan
  • Diplomacy
  • Embargo
  • Foreign Aid
  • Military Force
  • Multilateral
  • Mutual Defense
  • Nato
  • No-fly Zone
  • Sanctions
  • Treaty Of Versailles
  • Us Agency-international Development


Foreign Policy


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