To explain a foreign policy, first you must actually have a foreign policy. The Monroe Doctrine was a foreign policy. Reagan's plan to take down Soviet Communism was a foreign policy. Even George W. Bush's plan to bring democracy to the middle east was a foreign policy. Painting red lines, bowing low, and making high sounding speeches is not a foreign policy. It is simply reacting to the most immediate crisis.
Some countries like China go beyond a foreign policy.They have ten year and even twenty year plans.They can do this because of their style of government. A style that would be unacceptable to Americans. If we had statesmen instead of craven politicians this would not matter, as the country, given it's freedom, is quite capable of moving to greatness on it's own, as it always has.
A foreign policy can be a set of ideals or just a set of forward reaching ideas that a President can apply consistently when dealing with other nations. And that other nations will understand going into negotiations. First and foremost must be what is in the best interests of the United States. One thing that I consider in our best interest is not to expend American blood or money without an extremely good cause. That, especially, applies to situations that are entirely internal to another country. If we are harmed by another country or group such a the Islamic jihadists we have every right to dispense punishment and retribution. Forces of occupation are not necessary to do this. There are other means to locate and do harm to our enemies.
I have watched every war since WWII. Obviously we had to assist our allies in Europe and we were attacked in the Pacific. We had to come to the aid of South Korea. They were and are an ally. We were obliged to help Britain in the Falklands. Again, they were an ally that requested our help. We had to kick Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait because our ambassador misspoke and the error needed to be corrected. Other than those we should have minded our own business and punted the ball to the UN.
When we do extend our foreign policy to another country, whether it be through goods, good will, or dollars, we must expect a return on our investment. We appear to be about to get involved in the ghastly civil war in Syria. The President painted himself into a corner with his red line comment. Now, it seems, that he must do something. I do not think that he knows what to do and their are to many competing voices giving advice. They may not be the right voices. That having been said, too many American lives have been lost in recent years attempting to do good for the Muslim people. But they call us imperialists and burn our flag. We have invested more than enough blood and money in the mid-east.
Similar to Egypt, the Free Syrian Army may be the only logical body to regain their country. Giving arms helter-skelter to the rebels may well bite us in the butt, down the road. Shut down Assad's military communications and his airports. Give some help to the FSA. And keep Americans out of there, may be the best we can and should do if we should even do that.
Right now we have a patchwork foreign policy. It does us harm and confuses those, friend or foe, that we involve ourselves with. We need a foreign policy that is coordinated, comprehensive, and clear. Then it will not need to be decoded.