Who was the best foreign policy president?
September 20th, 2012
09:10 AM ET

Who was the best foreign policy president?

In less than two weeks, President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney will square off in the first of a series of presidential debates that will include foreign policy. But who should they be drawing their inspiration from? And whose examples should they be avoiding?

Global Public Square asked a group of historians and commentators for their take on the most successful and least successful U.S. presidents, from a foreign policy point of view. Here, we feature their picks of the best, and on Friday, we'll highlight those considered the least successful. (All views expressed here are, of course, the writers' own.) Agree or disagree? Share your thoughts in the comments.

FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT

Bruce Jentleson is professor of Public Policy and Political Science at Duke University and the author, among other works, of "American Foreign Policy: The Dynamics of Choice in the 21st Century."

His take: Both for his leadership turning one of our country’s moments of  greatest vulnerability into the triumph of World War II, and for the vision to begin building the postwar peace, Franklin D. Roosevelt deserves the highest ranking. Congressional isolationists had blocked most of FDR’s efforts to start mobilizing the American industrial base and preparing the American people for the war. We would have had our work cut out for us even if the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor hadn’t crippled the Navy. FDR’s fireside chats provided a mix of reassurance and call to action. From only 175,000 troops, enlistments and the draft brought the military to 8.5 million. Government and industry worked together. American families did their share buying war bonds and growing “victory gardens” – including my then-14 year-old Mom who still had her official thank you letter for her Scranton, Pennsylvania plot of lettuce and tomatoes when she died more than 60 years later. And even before the war was over, he began laying the groundwork for a postwar order: the Bretton Woods open international economic system, the United Nations, diplomacy with the Soviet Union to at least try and avoid what later became the Cold War.

More: The current candidates' global challenges

James Lee Ray is director of undergraduate studies at Vanderbilt University.

His take: Franklin Delano Roosevelt is hard choice to avoid as most successful foreign policy president. He faced the greatest, most serious challenges, and he dealt with them successfully.

He managed to make important contributions to the anti-fascist effort even when faced with overwhelming isolationist opposition before 1941. (Lend-Lease, for example.)  Japan attacked in 1941, and then Hitler declared war almost immediately. That declaration made it possible for him to focus on Europe first.  His planning for the attack across the English Channel took a very long time. Meanwhile, the Nazis and Communists were killing each other by the millions. The difficulties faced by the Allies even in 1944 when the cross-channel attack was launched suggest that an earlier attack might have been premature and unsuccessful.

Holding together the Allied coalition was difficult.  Adopting the policy of “unconditional surrender” was probably a key to doing so.  He did put too much faith, at Yalta, in his ability to deal with Stalin after the war. He didn’t count on being dead when the time came. But it is unlikely that any policies would have prevented the Soviet Union from taking over in Eastern Europe, or the Cold War.

Andrew Bacevich is a professor of international relations at Boston University and a retired career officer in the U.S. Army.

His take: The measure of merit: A successful statesman enhances the wealth, power, and influence of the state; the unsuccessful statesmen depletes those assets.

Based on those criteria, Franklin D. Roosevelt ranks as our most successful foreign policy president. Thanks to FDR’s skillful management of World War II, the United States by 1945 had become the richest and strongest country in the world. Americans were the sole beneficiaries of the cataclysm touched off by Hitler’s invasion of Poland in September 1939. By the time the smoke cleared, the ranks of Great Powers had been reduced to two and in every way that counted, the United States enjoyed vast advantages over its only conceivable rival, the Soviet Union.

James M. Lindsay is the senior vice president and director of studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.

His take: In the spirit of the bipartisanship that Americans long for in their foreign policy but typically don’t see, two presidents rate as most successful in foreign policy: Franklin D. Roosevelt and George H.W. Bush. With the destroyer-for-bases-deal, the Lend Lease Act, and other actions, FDR secured critical support for Britain during its darkest hours and against intense isolationist head winds at home. He then led the country to victory in World War II and oversaw the creation of the bedrock international institutions of the modern world: the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank.

More: Next president faces a dangerous world

GEORGE H.W. BUSH

Thomas Schwartz is professor of history at Vanderbilt University.

His take: Two very different presidents who come to mind almost immediately are Harry Truman and Richard Nixon.  Truman’s presidency laid the basis for the successful policy of containing the Soviet Union and built such important foreign policy institutions as NATO, through which American policy was exercised throughout the Cold War. He presided over the reintegration of Germany and Japan into the American led system of alliances. Truman did fight an unpopular war in Korea and fire a popular general, but his decisions have largely been vindicated by history even though they made him extremely unpopular as he left office. The other president is Richard Nixon, who with the help of Henry Kissinger reversed America’s decades-long estrangement from China and dramatically improved relations with the Soviet Union, playing the two communist giants off against each other. Although Nixon’s policy of ending the war in Vietnam was controversial, it was ultimately approved by the American people, who gave him one of the largest landslides in American history. But the collapse of his presidency over Watergate keeps his presidency from being seen as a success.

But the president I would select as the most successful post-1945 president in foreign policy is George Herbert Walker Bush.  Bush came into the presidency during the tumultuous year of 1989, which saw the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe, and most importantly, the reunification of Germany. Not only did he manage these changes with an intelligence and modesty that facilitated America’s goals, he also worked quietly behind the scenes with his Soviet counterpart Mikhail Gorbachev to minimize any violence and bloodshed. At the same time, Bush engineered an extraordinarily effective international coalition to oust Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. He was a president who both recognized the potential strength of the United States, but also the limits of its power.

James Lee Ray:

His take: George H. W. Bush is surely the most highly qualified foreign policy president in the history of the country. He had been a Congressman, head of the CIA, ambassador to the United Nations, envoy to China and vice president of the United States for eight years by the time he became president.

And that experience seemed to pay off.  He did launch a gratuitous attack on Panama in 1989.  But then he put together the greatest, most powerful coalition ever (compared to its enemy), to push Iraq (and its million man army) out of Kuwait in 1991. He avoided the temptation to go into Baghdad. (Had he not, the hardline Communist coup in the Soviet Union in August of 1991 would have succeeded.)

Bush faced a situation in Germany after the end of the Cold War whose potential for disaster is also still under-appreciated.  The Soviet Union still had 300,000 troops in East Germany. It did not want to see Germany united, and it considered a united Germany as a member of NATO totally out of the question. But President Bush managed to pull that off anyway, without creating a very messy crisis in the middle of Europe, with a desperate Soviet Union in its death throes.

James M. Lindsay:

His take: George H. W. Bush did not enjoy the FDR’s electoral success. But during his one term he successfully handled some of the stiffest foreign policy challenges of the last half century. He helped manage the peaceful collapse of the Soviet Union and pushed for the reunification of Germany against the advice of close U.S. allies. He also liberated Kuwait and resisted calls to send the U.S. military onward to Baghdad. No, the elder Bush never figured out what the “new world order” would look like. But then again, neither have his three successors.

RONALD REAGAN

Danielle Pletka is Vice President of Foreign and Defense Policy Studies at the American Enterprise Institute.

Her take: Measuring the relative success of American presidents in foreign policy is an almost impossible task. Even narrowing the task to the 20th and 21st centuries demands almost ridiculous comparisons. What are the metrics?  Lives lost? Lives saved? American interests served? But which ones?  Many might argue that Franklin Roosevelt was one of our nation’s greatest foreign policy leaders, ushering in the era of American global leadership, ridding the world of a vile dictator. But World War II was also a tale of missed opportunity; of lives lost because the United States would not act.  Can any war that ends with the death of six million Jews be considered a “success”?

Then too, there are contests, many partisan, for the title of worst foreign policy president. Was it Lyndon Johnson, who failed to successfully prosecute the Vietnam War and sacrificed tens of thousands of American lives only to see us leave a few short years later? Was it George W. Bush, scourge of liberals for beginning the Iraq War, a conflict supported by the United States Congress but long and complex in its undertaking? Or Jimmy Carter, for whom ideology was paramount, therefore allowing the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the Islamist takeover of Iran?

There are no serious answers to the question because American leadership doesn’t lend itself to a neat, nonpartisan dissection of our presidents. Different Americans want different things for our country, and even those Americans aren’t divided into neat partisan lines. There are Republicans and Democrats for retreat; conservatives and liberals for internationalism.

Still, two men vie for the title of best and worst, though each has many competitors. Each governed at a seminal moment, and saw the United States through a crossroads, determining a path that would govern our future for many years.

Ronald Reagan had a vision for America in the world. Importantly, his ambitions for America’s role on the world stage were not shaped by our enemies, but rather shaped by his own view of American exceptionalism.  Reagan hastened the end of the defining battle of the 20th century, the fight between those who believed in freedom and those who embraced communism. True, there were bad choices of allies (Pinochet, Savimbi), but in the aftermath of the Carter era – dominated by a president who believed American power was an embarrassment to be lived down – Reagan knew not only what the United States opposed, but what America supported: freedom in all its iterations.

More: What can history teach the next president?

Honorable mention

JIMMY CARTER

David Ryan is professor of history at University College Cork, Ireland and author of Frustrated Empire: US Foreign Policy from 9/11 to Iraq.

His take: Jimmy Carter reflected in his second State of the Union that it was “sound.”  The troubles of 1979 had yet to compound his presidency. Carter reflected that on his watch, not one American service person had died abroad. He asked his audience, in words that now seem incredibly ironic, what sort of world the early 21st century would be as that generation of kids grew up – would America be at war?  “Our children who will be born this year will come of age in the 21st Century.  What kind of society, what kind of world are we building for them?  Will we ourselves be at peace?  Will our children enjoy a better quality of life? Will a strong and united America still be a force for freedom and prosperity around the world?” Little did he realize that it would witness two presidents trying desperately and ineffectively to withdraw from two theaters of combat with mixed results.

Of course, Carter was weak! Or so the conventional narrative ran. He received constant advice that he had to hit someone, somewhere. Americans were confused about the direction of his foreign policy. Americans had been taken hostage, the Soviets had moved into Afghanistan, the Sandinistas had succeeded in Nicaragua and Carter moved around the White House in indecision: such is the caricature.

Yet Carter realized that the use of force in each of these instances would be counterproductive.  On Iran especially, he confessed to an interviewer that bombing Tehran might make the country feel good, perhaps if timed well, he might have even been re-elected. But in terms of local and specific objectives, he would not have advanced the agenda much. Despite his early rhetoric, his was a more cautious and realistic presidency. After a decade and more of the atrocious use of force, he recognized the limits of U.S. military power and the power of the country’s appeal.  That it did not work is in part due to the domestic discourse that straitjacket presidents in so many ways, limiting their choices, generating expectation, frequently of a pugnacious sort, and most insidiously questioning their “credibility” should they fall short.

THOMAS JEFFERSON

Bruce Jentleson:

His take: Thomas Jefferson gets my second nomination, principally for his deft diplomacy in pulling off the Louisiana Purchase. These 820,000 square miles, encompassing an area that eventually would include all or part of 14 new states and provide the gateway opening the Far West, transformed our small Atlantic Coast country into a vast continental one. Despite blustery urgings from Alexander Hamilton to try to seize these areas militarily, Jefferson got it done through skilled statecraft. He played French-British-Spanish rivalries off one against the other. And when he and his emissary James Monroe saw how much Napoleon needed the money, they savvily shifted from their original plan to buy just the port of New Orleans for $10 million to dealing for all that territory for just $15 million.

None of the above:

Scott Lucas is a professor of American and Canadian Studies at the University of Birmingham, England.

His take: I don’t think there is a best, at least in the post-1945 world, because each of them has been limited by the demands of American power. Franklin D. Roosevelt might have prevailed with a vision of the “international” had he not died in office, but Truman and Eisenhower were both caught up in the confrontation with the Soviet Union – the good of the Marshall Plan has to be set alongside not-so-good U.S. interventions outside Western Europe. Kennedy’s inaugural address is one of the most aggressive speeches ever delivered and partly-implemented, Johnson sank in Vietnam, and Nixon complemented “détente” with a cynical U.S. policy that rampaged through much of the world from Cambodia to East Timor to Chile. Reagan? Overrated – the fortuitous economic exhaustion of the Soviet Union saved him from a less-exalted reputation built on the excesses of U.S. power, such as Iran-Contra and the aftermath of 1980s Afghanistan.

Jimmy Carter could have made a difference, but his well-intentioned attempt to shift U.S. policy to international justice and rights was sabotaged by the Soviets, Congress, and an inability to deal with cases like Iran.

But the one lost chance of “best” that sticks with me is seeing the last overseas speech of Bill Clinton, given in December 2000 in Warwick, England. He spoke in a tired but eloquent voice of the necessity to meet the challenges of climate change and global warming, epidemics and basic health care, and the vast divide in living standards. And I thought, “Great speech. What have you been doing for the last eight years?”

What do you think? Which president set the bar when it comes to U.S. foreign policy? Who would you argue in favor of? Against? Share your thoughts in the comments below.


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soundoff (712 Responses)
  1. NorCalMojo

    Carter made the short list. That's too funny.

    September 20, 2012 at 11:33 am | Reply
    • PSCHARDIEN

      Jimmy Carter was certainly, in my opinion, a weak President. However, I think he has become one of the greatest statesman in American history and that puts him on a very short list!

      September 20, 2012 at 1:16 pm | Reply
      • yurlipsrmuvn

        Based on what?

        September 20, 2012 at 1:48 pm |
      • Toby McDugan

        I agree with yurlipsrmuvn. Carter is a racist who hates Jews. He proves it every day. Carter is the 2nd worst president ever way behind Obama.

        September 20, 2012 at 3:11 pm |
      • Joe

        That is ridiculous! Because of his extreme incompetence North Korea now has nukes! The guy was pathetic when he was president and after the fact when it comes to foreign policy.

        September 20, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
      • Jeaux Bleaus

        You're hilarious.

        September 20, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
      • bill

        Jimmy Carter talks his talk and walks his walk. He also hammers his hammer... What other president has or will build homes for the homeless? Who out there reading these posts does as much for humankind? I'm not religious, but he certainly seems to follow the rules of what it means to be a true Christian. Jimmy Carter is a hero of mine. Better human being than I'll ever be, that's for sure.
        Oh, and he, too, inherited a bad economy and foreign policy mess. This things don't just happen overnight depending on the president.

        September 20, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
      • GI Joe

        Mr Carter is a seriously misunderstood individual. I have radically different views (politically) than Mr Carter. However, he is the most genuinely honest man I have had the pleasure of meeting. He is a relentless advocate for peace. There is not a racist bone in his body. He is a Christian man and he has tried to sow peace wherever he is sent. He has not been the best advocate for America, but he IS an advocate for peace. Again, I disagree with his politics but he is an honest broker of peace.

        September 20, 2012 at 4:25 pm |
      • babooph

        Reagan ?All the dead military in Lebanon,carrier groups sent against 350 Cuban construction workers on a coral rockpile?I guess for a senile guy....

        September 20, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
      • Glenn

        Jimmy Carter was a very under appreciated President. He was able to get Israel and Egypt together. He had three problems. The OPEC oil embargo, that caused an increase in gas prices, the Iranian Crisis and John Anderson. Note no civilians died during the Iranian Crisis. John Anderson a liberal republican, became an independent and took votes away from Carter.

        September 20, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
      • cliff

        yeah, what murlip said!

        September 20, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
      • jimcolyer

        Obama is weaker than Jimmy Carter.

        September 20, 2012 at 4:47 pm |
      • Marsha Marz

        I wouldn't totally knock Carter – we would be a lot more independt of foreign oil, if followed his suggestions on fuel.

        Also George Bush, Sr. had a great help with James Baker - not disrespect to President Bush Sr.

        September 20, 2012 at 4:53 pm |
      • j. von hettlingen

        Jimmy Carter is quite a stark contrast to FDR, who was the only US president elected to office four times and led his country through two of the greatest crises of the 20th century – the Great Depression and World War Two.

        September 20, 2012 at 4:58 pm |
      • j. von hettlingen

        Ronald Reagan was widely regarded as a key figure in the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. He is seen as a source of inspiration by Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney.

        September 20, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
      • cleareye1

        We can now look back and see that Carter was right, and he was the most courageous because he stood up for his beliefs, he do not knuckle under like Reagan or Bush jr and follow their chicken hawk advisors.

        Still, John Kennedy should be credited with defeating the Soviets by challenging them in Cuba and Berlin. After the Missile Crisis the Soviets never had the international influence they had previously. They were beaten. Reagan gets credit for at least staying out of Gorbachev's way as he converted Russia.

        September 20, 2012 at 5:33 pm |
      • j. von hettlingen

        Thomas Jefferson tried to maintain America's neutrality in the Napoleonic wars, although England and France interfered with American shipping. Jefferson responded by forbidding American ships to sail to any European ports. This proved disastrous for the American economy.

        September 20, 2012 at 5:35 pm |
      • Forigner American

        I have no doubt to say that under many measures Mr. Carter was a weak president. Hardly this will be taken off his biography. But there is something that the history has yet to fully recognize: that the "human rights policy" that Carter tried to implement would have direct influence over the destinies of millions of people living in countries like Brazil, my home country, in South America. Carter forced the elimination of a military agreement between the U.S. and Brazil, which, somehow, had given power to the Brazilian military, which ran the country for more than two decades. During the Carter administration, the U.S. withdrew of help the Brazilian military, allowing the country slowly walked to the long period of democracy that is living now. The same happened in other countries, such as Argentina, where military dictatorships began his downfall after the "silent actions" of President Carter. One day the history will still recognize him.

        September 20, 2012 at 5:56 pm |
      • kyle britt

        . Jimmy was and is the man. The US got what it deserved by not reelecting a man tied to ethics and character.

        Under the Camp David accords we inched toward a ME solution. The hostage crises, $34.00 crude and 22% inflation doomed him. (All products of policies he inherited).

        Another four years may have helped him. In my life time he was the only president I would loan money to or trust as a friend.
        We are blessed by his service and ill served by the blamers

        September 20, 2012 at 10:57 pm |
      • Alabaster341

        Yes, the great statesmen comment is baseless. However, calling Carter a racist who hates Jews is a political opinion void of fact. Carter tells the truth about how Israel treats the Palestinians (poorly). Simply because Carter's reports don't agree with the U.S. portrayal (which is often untruthful) of everything in the Middle East, does not make him a racist or a Jew hater. It makes him an independent thinker who has the courage to be honest, in addition to the fact that he is not tied to policy or an agenda since he is no longer president.

        September 21, 2012 at 1:34 am |
      • chuck

        Are you talking about Jimmy the Jew hater? The most overtly anti-Semite the dems have to offer?

        September 21, 2012 at 3:45 am |
      • jmd

        Carter, He has been a big help to the world after his presidentance but not during it.

        Now FDR is some who should be on the list , but maybe not first. He gave into the Soviets to many time and cause the iron curtain.
        A think you may have forgoten a few like Linclon He Held the the greats empire from getting to in invoved in the cival war
        yes we forget That England rule alot of the work back in 1860-1865.

        September 22, 2012 at 2:15 pm |
      • sammy47

        When Carter left office, I thought well, was certainly an inept boob as a president, maybe he'll make a better ex-president. He certainly couldn't be worse right? Carter is an irresponsible and dangerous person. It's gone from bad to worse. Naming a book "Israel not Apartheid" The comparison is evil and he know it. A really disgusting person.

        September 23, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
      • SFC

        I was serving in the Army during Carter Administration and the Iran Hostages. Carter was an idiot, he would not listen to his JCS or the CIA as he knew he was right, Carter was told to use Army Helicopters as they were equipped with the proper air intake filters for desert use. Carter said No!!, I will use the Marine Helicopters as the Army was 100 miles further out than the Marines, well first helicopter in to fly below radar sucked that sand up into their intakes and the helicopter crashed in the desert. Jimmy had no foreign policy to talk to our allies we had let alone our enemies. Carter short list or not was the worst president to have a good foreign policy. LBJ was not the best either as I was in the Army serving under him as well, his negotiations with Vietnam sucked as he was main cause for the loss siding with Hanoi over PHYOPS the US Army was running to make Hanoi think we were in North Vietnam. Hanoi complained to LBJ and LBJ folded and stopped all PHYOPS. in June 1967, we had the USS LIBERTY of the coast of Israel, United States Navy technical research ship, was attacked by Israel in unmarked planes, as Israel was at war against Egypt and the the captured Egyptian Soldiers were being tortured by israel and took it upon their own to attack the USS LIBERTY even after being told by a pilot that it was an American ship flying the American flag. There were 34 American Servicemen killed that day. This is “one of the classic all-American cover-ups,” said retired Admiral Thomas Moorer, a former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman. LBJ says the incident was an accident. COVER-UP 15 years later Israel admitted it was their fault and had to pay millions of dollars to the US for a number of years, although LBJ accepted Israel's apology..

        September 23, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
      • onestarman

        I do Not Think WEAK and STRONG are Good Ways to Judge a President. Does a STRONG President satisfy the BLOODLUST of his people for his Own Purposes? Invading a country to find Fabricated WMDs and in doing so cost the US a Trillion dollars and THOUSANDS pf Soldiers Killed – Tens of Thousands MAIMED and Brain Damaged and Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis KILLED and in the END make a Billion Muslims HATE US.

        September 23, 2012 at 11:56 pm |
      • Bobpitt

        No president of the US was worst than Nixon, I take exception to the international policies he applied, VietNam Fiasco, support for criminals like Sabimvi, and the installation of the most bruttal diactator in South America Pinochet. Only secon to regan, who was an idiot..

        September 24, 2012 at 10:02 am |
      • cobra129

        Statesman? Too funny. If you think someone kissing the rear end of every little two-bit dictator he could find is a great a statesman, go for it! Carter was an American embarassment only to be exceeded by obama

        September 24, 2012 at 10:35 am |
      • Ed R

        Carter's mucking around trying to make 'peace' in the Middle East led to a forced accommodation between Israel and Egypt that got the leaders of both countries assassinated. Thirty some years later, events have proven that Carter's peace initiative did no good and failed to stop the killing. Iran and the failed hostage crisis speaks for itself. North Korea – another failure. His attempt to unravel the Haiti situation after his presidency was also a failure. He allowed the dictator and his henchmen to walk off with a stolen fortune. Carter's blatant anti-Semitism is incomprehensibe for a man who purports to be a good Christian. He may be good with a hammer, but every attempt he has made after he left the White House to 'contribute' on the international scene has been a painful reminder of his failure as a statesman.

        I agree with other posters that Polk was a great foreign policy president. Successes: Reagan, FDR (but with reservations), Bush, Sr., Polk, Monroe, Teddy Roosevelt, Eisenhower (with reservations), Jefferson, Washington. Failures: Wilson, Carter, Bush, Jr., Truman (let the Communists run rampant after the war), Coolidge, Taft, Clinton, JFK (blundered into Cuban missile crisis, Berlin Wall). Too early to tell on Obama but the record so far doesn't look favorable.

        September 24, 2012 at 12:13 pm |
      • cnn liar

        cnn is a con job . . .a zine O ist con job.

        October 22, 2012 at 10:31 am |
      • Luis Wu

        GW Bush was the worst president in history, followed closely by Nixon and Ford. Carter comes in 4th in my book. LBJ wasn't too great either. But FDR was by far the greatest president of the 20th century, hands down.

        October 22, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
      • mike

        I think Carter was perhaps one of my favorite presidents as a person and as a moral character. However, to be an effective president, I think you have to be pragmatic. I think you have to realise that peace negotiations only work when peace is the goal of the other side. Otherwise, any offers of peace will simply be abused by the other side into a delay that furthers their aggressive agenda. There is nothing offered by peace that cannot be taken forcefully by war, and the "carrot on a stick" approach loses its appeal next to the "gold on a platter" rewards of conquest.

        October 24, 2012 at 3:09 pm |
    • Steve

      Thinking the same thing about Carter.

      September 20, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Reply
      • UpYours

        fake news is what cnn is all about. No respect for FREEDOM OF SPEECH. Just pro israel garbage is what cnn is about.

        fake cnn news.

        October 22, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • TheTraveler

      President Carter brokered the only lasting peace between Israel and Egypt at Camp David in 1978 and a formal peace treaty in 1979. Name any other president that has been successful at negotiating any peaceful settlement in the Middle East.

      September 20, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Reply
      • CosmicC

        If you measure diplomacy by the degree of world peace, it's Carter. His strength in this area was the weakness that lead to his undoing domestically. He was a micro-manager who chose weak subordinates.

        September 20, 2012 at 2:25 pm |
      • DeTamble

        Bill Clinton got a peace agreement between Israel and The PLO.
        Signed, sealed and delivered.
        Then months later Arafat tore it up.
        So close, yet so far.

        September 20, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
      • Chuck

        yeh, he brokered it by paying both countries 1 billion a year for as long as they would keep the peace.....yeh thats real leadership.

        September 20, 2012 at 3:03 pm |
      • Baptist_Deacon

        Carter's peace treaty got Anwar Sadat killed. That is why Carter's signature achievement was ultimately a failure.

        September 20, 2012 at 3:30 pm |
      • TheTraveler

        Baptist_Deacon posted: "Carter's peace treaty got Anwar Sadat killed. That is why Carter's signature achievement was ultimately a failure."

        Anwar Sadat died for what he believed in. Would you?

        September 20, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
      • Jesse

        Was that before or after Sadat was murdered?

        September 20, 2012 at 4:02 pm |
      • TomGI

        I read speculation once that the way Carter forced Israel and Egypt to reach an agreement was he told them both he would cut off all aid if they didn't agree. Nobody since has done that.

        September 20, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
      • wildfire

        Let's see,

        He got the Israeli's to give up the Sinai, initiated what has become the "Palestinian solution" and got Anwar Sadat executed by the extreme groups for signing a treaty with Israel. Turned out great. He is a nice guy but was a horrendous president.

        September 20, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
      • maru-chan

        Egypt is in Africa.

        When did it become the Middle East? Even Saudi was considered Africa all the way until 1878.

        September 21, 2012 at 7:21 am |
    • The_Mick

      Those of you who don't remember the tremendous problems our support for Israel caused for us with other Middle Eastern nations until Jimmy Carter brokered the Camp David Accords can be forgiven for thinking Carter did little to fix the economy – which had been thrown into a state of disorder by oil jumping up from $2.50/barrel to $12 thanks to the Nixon Administration just a couple years earlier. Think today what would happen to the economy if oil suddenly went from $90 to $700/barrel – that's the same rate of increase. Just before Carter became President, I and many others were sitting in long lines at the gas stations that still had gasoline. Carter ended that for good. He also pointed us to greater energy savings, which was destroyed by Big Oil's Ronald Reagan, who tore down the solar panels from the White House and pointed us to two decades of decreasing gas mileage.

      September 20, 2012 at 2:36 pm | Reply
      • Pppa

        @The_Mick Carter was great in Iran too...

        September 20, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
    • TIMINFLA

      Carter is a total joke- and now his d bag grandson is a pain in the a ss.
      btw, ISLAAAM IS A CANCER, IT IS A RELIGION OF VIOLENCE AND HATE

      September 20, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Reply
      • Will

        Southerners are shlt

        September 20, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
      • TIMINFLA

        i'm a yankee du m ba ss

        September 20, 2012 at 3:02 pm |
      • Pander Bear

        Do shut up and get back to the drive thru window, Tim.

        September 20, 2012 at 3:08 pm |
      • Tk1969

        You're RIGHT! We should rally up the Christians and get rid of them!! 😛

        September 20, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
      • pslongley

        You are a tool. I am an agnostic. But I must say nothing is sadder to me than a so-called Christian (because intelligent atheists, agnostics, and other Christians and Muslims) right wing scaredy cat calling another religion a cancer. How do you differ from an Irani extremist? The Irani extremist is closer to you in mindset than any of your fellow American citizens. You are the worst kind of small-minded hypocrit. May I suggest you emigrate to Iran where they welcome narrow-minded clowns like you?

        September 20, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
      • pslongley

        And also, can I just say that Christians in the name of religion over the Thirty Year War, the Spanish Inquisition, the conquest of South America, the Holocaust, etc....have killed millions upon millions of people....don't get me started on pedophilia in the church....

        September 20, 2012 at 3:16 pm |
      • Shawn

        I grew up in northern New England outside of Montreal and have lived in NY, GA, LA, CA and now CT. I can honestly say that I, nor anyone I know from a northern state, have never referred to myself as a yankee. I've been called a yankee on numerous occasion, typically in some derogatory fashion, but never referred to myself as one. So Tim in FL, sorry, but you've been called out for your racial discrimination.

        September 20, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
      • postedbygeo

        so is it's cousin. Christianity.

        September 20, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
      • timinfla

        Panda Bear (what are you 12?) Im 54 and retired. Carter was and is still a joke.
        Same with islaaaaam.
        and will too......

        September 20, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
      • mike

        Tim, you're Nazism is showing.

        September 20, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
      • timinfla

        calm down pslongfellow- you'll have a stroke.
        Islaaaam is a cancer....
        .....it is a religion of viloence......
        .........it is a religion of hate............
        ..what is so difficult to understand..you. tool.

        September 20, 2012 at 3:42 pm |
      • timinfla

        .....nope, not a nazi mike.....
        Im going to jump in my pool, its hot.
        you all have a wonderful day!
        (dont forget your lesson on islaaaam today... and Carter....and his d bag grandson...)

        September 20, 2012 at 3:45 pm |
      • pslongley

        I'm perfectly calm. Probably because I work with those of all faiths and my colleagues all, regardless of their religion are respectful, intelligent and a joy to work with. I'm also perfectly calm because I am a citizen of a country whose dollar is stronger than yours, unemployment rate lower, a country that has had no housing crisis, less gun crime, higher ratings in post-secondary education. So, yep. Your Mr. Romney is the one sweating bullets. It's not our election. It's yours.

        September 20, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
      • pslongley

        Oh and Tim....I'm female. 5 8" 135 lbs, blood pressure normal, heart rate normal, sugar levels are fine. I'm highly educated and laugh and run everyday. You see I know this because I have free health care and can engage in preventative medicine. Now, you sir are a 54 year old angry male...hmmmmm. Stay well....if you don't you might lose your house.

        September 20, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
      • Patrick

        Lucky for the US (or unlucky depending upon your perspective), we won't have to try to differentiate between a religion and a government much longer. The Islamic region will be entirely controlled by the religion and... surprise... they will still hate us! Barack Obama built that!

        A military or country who fails to properly identify the enemy doesn't know who to shoot at. They all know who their enemy is though. It's easy because it's in the Quran, everybody but them. They don't have to be bogged down by the politically correct details (garbage) that we do.

        September 20, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
      • John

        Based on your own hypocritical comments of what is "hate," let me guess, you're a Christian?

        September 20, 2012 at 5:02 pm |
      • cleareye1

        I'm sure Jesus would say the same thing?

        September 20, 2012 at 5:39 pm |
      • Cameo

        Whats funny is you say you are a yankee, and yet your education (or lack there of) tells me otherwise. I also don't believe you are since your name includes the initials for Florida (FLA). Your comments are not only ignorant and uneducated, but offensive and unnecessary. You clearly know nothing about Islam (and Im guessing any other religion) and what it stands for. If you are a Christian, you are a terrible one and do not follow what Jesus teaches. Love and acceptance of all his Father's creatures is the backbone to all his teachings and what the bible preaches. You bring shame to Christianity and people who properly follow and love Jesus and God. You are a fool, an uneducated tool, and a zit on the face of humanity. Good luck with Romney in office, Im sure he will really help your poor unfortunate life a lot down the line. Before you speak you should read up on some facts before you open your mouth and spew words or ignorance and hate.

        September 20, 2012 at 11:34 pm |
      • Andrew

        One of my best friends is Islam. He goes to my school and is respectful and smart. I am tired of everybody making radical generalizations like this.

        October 22, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
    • Will

      Conservatives will argue that he was weak domestically, but I don't think anyone can question his foreign policy. As others noted he brokered the most significant peace agreement between Israel and the Arabs in Israel's history.

      September 20, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Reply
      • Guest

        Like was mentioned above, he paid them off. That is not real leadership.

        September 20, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
      • thomas

        to Guest: If paying them off isn't real leadership, then the troop surge in Iraq in 2007 didn't work. After all, we were, at the time, basically paying the Iraqi people not too kill each other. So then, even by your own standard, George W. Bush failed us in Iraq.

        September 20, 2012 at 4:00 pm |
    • cbytes

      The mission of erasing Iran/Contra from the history books is complete! I dont understand how Reagan can even be listed. The history lesson here is .... well know your history.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:02 pm | Reply
      • Guest

        Uh, you remember that thing called the Berlin Wall?

        September 20, 2012 at 3:17 pm |
    • Karl

      Did you read the article? "On Iran especially, he [Carter] confessed to an interviewer that bombing Tehran might make the country feel good, perhaps if timed well, he might have even been re-elected..." The fact that Carter did not order the bombing of Tehran to advance his own gain says a lot about the man. Had he listened to populist sentiment ("just nuke 'em"), he would have stuck the country in another horrific, expensive, and unwinnable war, which could have escalated into a catastrophic WWIII. Remember, the Cold War was still an issue at this time.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:04 pm | Reply
      • latuya

        And Iran is also our biggest enemy today, and one of the main antagonist to peace in the middle east.

        September 20, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
    • kippyj

      Actually, not so much. Carter wasn't a great president. He's a really great ambassador for peace.

      I'm actually surprised Clinton didn't make the top three.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Reply
    • Demigod Vadik, CA

      Carter was the US President that got Egypt and Israel to talk to each other...

      ...making Egypt the first Muslim country to recognize Israel...

      ...despite the hardships the economy faced at that time (from another useless war), Jimmy Carter was a decent and a good President...

      September 20, 2012 at 3:10 pm | Reply
      • Patrick

        And the current president has single-handedly dismantled that achievement.

        September 20, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
    • jo an

      I think Carter would have been better if the Republicans had not set out to make sure he lost the election to Regan...

      September 20, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Reply
      • James

        Funny how history repeats itself. Economy in shambles, unpopular war, and a partisan House trying to win the presidency for their party by not allowing any bill, good or bad, to pass.

        September 20, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
    • IamAmazed

      During my lifetime Carter had the worst foreign policy until Obama was elected.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Reply
      • Really

        While everyone is entilted to an opinion, I ask that you at least research your facts before spreading your lies. And no, Fox News does not count as research. The vast majority of the "civilized" world is happy with our current President's foreign policies. While no one will agree with all policies, he is well liked throughout the world, unlike our previous president.

        September 20, 2012 at 3:24 pm |
      • florida man

        Opinions are interesting. They're like elbows, most people have a couple. But the statements that don't belong in the blogosphere are the cursing, degrading ones that come from both sides! The funniest though are those from the left. They continually expect to have a Utopian world. They continue to believe that talking nice and listening to everyone's complaints about American success and American values will actually make a difference! Dumb. Not that we bomb everyone, and we've done way to much of that in the last 50 years!, but that we don't expect that "diplomacy" will work with real enemies. It works when both sides want to come to some compromise, but not when one side wants total victory! Keep up the diplomacy with our friends and get them to join us to keep the enemies at bay. That is what our Pres has not done. Our friends – Britain, Israel, Poland, to name a few – have not been courted by the Pres. He takes contrary views to their's and does minor things to actually insult them. And yet he has not made any progress with the Middle East, none with Iran, none with North Korea, none with Turkey, and none with Russia (yet, but wait "till his second term", he says). So where is all this love you lefties say he has gotten? And that he said he would get? Not there folks. Of course, just some more nice speeches and nice glorious objectives and then – Utopia will be here!! Right.

        September 20, 2012 at 3:51 pm |
      • The Man

        Clinton and Obama both have something in common: They are do nothing presidents that have used public perception, rather than public policy to shape their administrations. Funny how Clinton threw out Glass-Steagal which allowed US banks to go overseas and sell deriviatives to European countries....which helped to cause the meltdown in Europe, and he deregulated Fannie Mae, and Freddie Mac...which led to the 2008 recession, and failed to kill Osama Bin Laden when he had the chance. Obama has passed a health care initiative that will cripple the business community, he has apologized to those who are killing our ambassadors, and 86% of all military deaths in Afghanistan have been during his administration. THESE GUYS ARE AWESOME!!!

        September 20, 2012 at 3:52 pm |
      • Voron

        @ The Man,
        For these "do-nothing" presidents, you sure had a litany of the things they did, like them or not. Sounds like they were actually pretty busy.

        September 20, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
    • IamAmazed

      If Carter made the short list then Obama would be the one with the bast foreign policy.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Reply
    • Drew

      Richard Nixon was a great statesman. He ended the war in Vietnam that Vice President Hubert Humphrey, if he was elected, wanted to continue. Nixon opened U.S. foreign policy to China recognizing its long term future, and he signed several arms controls treaties with the Soviet Union. In fact, Nixon was the only former president Bill Clinton heeded advice from in his first year in office.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Reply
      • Glenn

        Although Hubert Humphrey was Johnson's Vice President, during the general election Humphrey became the anti-war candidate. His plan was to bring the troops home immediately. Nixon's campaign was based upon a peace with honor platform. Nixon escalated the war and had numerous opportunities to end the war. The war became very unpopular, due to the loss of life and only then did he end the war.

        September 20, 2012 at 4:51 pm |
      • srobidoux

        Nixon had no choice but to end Vietnam. None.

        September 21, 2012 at 6:11 pm |
      • up1652

        Nixon ended the war because congress cut off funding. No other reason. He was a psychopathic liar.

        September 22, 2012 at 12:31 pm |
    • helen1233

      Reagan making the short list is what I find Funny. The world would be so much better if we had given Carter a second term instead of electing Dr Feelgood Reagan. We are still paying the price for his disastrous admin, and will be for decades to come... in so many different ways.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Reply
      • northernstar

        I guess YOU must know something the HISTORIANS do not know. Please share your wisdom with them because the WORLD is lacking you insight as to why Carter was such a remarkable president.

        September 20, 2012 at 4:11 pm |
      • Steve in CT

        Sorry like it or not he is going down in History as a great president, the same way JFk did. Lots of people didn't like these two. But he was there when the cold war thawed in Geneva.

        September 20, 2012 at 4:13 pm |
      • Glenn

        The greatness of Ronald Reagan is a myth perpetrated by the Republican Party. Trickle down economics was a total disaster. Reagan was forced to increase taxes eleven times. He traded arms for hostages. A lot of George H.W. Bush's problems were a direct result of Reagan's policies.

        September 20, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
      • Dan

        I am a far left liberal, and I could not stand Ronald Reagan. But he befriended Gorbachev and they ended the Cold war. HW Bush gets a lot of credit he doesn't deserve for the end of the cold war; he didn't screw up the end of the Cold War, but he isn't the one that ended it, Reagan and Gorbachev did. I still think Reagan did America a lot of harm by lowering taxes on the wealthy far too much, ratcheting up defense spending too high, ignoring the environment, AIDs, and other problems, but liberals should apologize for being wrong about Reagan's roll in ending the Cold War. None of us thought he would befriend a Soviet leader and end the cold war, but he did.

        September 20, 2012 at 5:06 pm |
    • Celtlund

      The statement that not one US serviceman died on foreign soil during the Carter administration. Did everyone forget the tragic rescue attempt of the hostages that resulted in the death of several military personnel in the desert.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Reply
    • Hamid

      I am stunned to see Jimmy Carter's name on this list! Carter & Zbigniew Brzezinski are responsible for igniting the Islamists/ Jihadist movements we see today, when they authorized the CIA covert operation in Kabul to trick the Soviets into starting a war with Afghanistan & ...
      I quote: Interview with Zbigniew Brzezinski
      U.S. President Carter's National Security Adviser
      By 'Le Nouvel Observateur' (France), Jan 15-21, 1998, p. 76. Note: There are at least two editions of 'Le Nouvel Observateur.' With the exception of the U.S. Library of Congress, the version sent to the United States did not include the Brzezinski interview.

      --------------------------–

      Question: The former director of the CIA, Robert Gates, stated in his memoirs ["From the Shadows"], that American intelligence services began to aid the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan 6 months before the Soviet intervention. In this period you were the national security adviser to President Carter. You therefore played a role in this affair. Is that correct?
      "Brzezinski: Yes. According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahadeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise: Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Reply
    • Steve in CT

      Yeah no on carter, he could make another list where we rank the worst. Also no on Jefferson, he fell into the LP. He was in shock when trying to buy some of it the whole thing was offered up. I cant believe these two made the list.

      September 20, 2012 at 4:03 pm | Reply
    • SteveDenver

      Carter brought peace between Israel and Egypt. That is an accomplishment worthy of this short list.

      September 20, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Reply
    • David

      In due time Jimmy Carter will rightly be regarded as one of our nation's greatest presidents. It has gotten too easy to repeat the party line that he was a bad president. But ask that person why he was bad and they either say he was weak (although it takes far more courage to restrain from using force than the easy "bombs away," that Reagan and GW got popular using) or that the economy was bad (unemplyment was higher under both Ford and Reagan than under Carter). Or they just stammer how everyone knows it. The fact is, as a president he did more right than his predecessor or successor. As a human being, he is probably the greatest president we have ever had.

      September 20, 2012 at 4:53 pm | Reply
      • Cody (D.C.)

        lol delusional

        September 24, 2012 at 1:47 am |
    • Bart

      Completely insane but Richard Nixon did open relations with China.

      September 20, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Reply
    • ObamaEpicFail

      Two notably absent from the list – Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

      Clinton failed to take the shot at Osama Bin Laden on mutliple occasions when he had the opportunity. His weakness let this tyrant survive long enough to mastermind 9/11. Obama has chosen to coddle the Muslim world, while turning his back on our most loyal ally Isreal. Now that dog has come to hunt, and his administration blames protests of a You Tube movie for attacks on a US Embassy for over a week, only to be forced to admit it was a pre-planned terror attack by someone in his administration who chose not to lie to lawmakers.

      September 20, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Reply
    • crminiowa

      NorCalMojo – You're not very well informed I'm afraid. Macho rhetoric does not a good foreign policy president make. The travesty is that Ronald Reagan would be pictured as one of three presidents for this article. George H.W. Bush I could understand, Richard Nixon I could understand, but Mr. Reagan's inclusion just demonstrates, once again, how far CNN will go to pander to, and for, the Fox News audience. It's shameful. I can only imagine what Ted Turner says these days about his "baby." CRMiniowa

      September 20, 2012 at 11:09 pm | Reply
    • Peter Szymonik

      How can the list not include Richard Nixon?? This was a man who ran on an anti-communist platform, who as President achieved Detente with Soviet Russia, opened up relations with a very isolationist China, and ended the war in Vietnam.

      September 20, 2012 at 11:55 pm | Reply
    • Richard Terwat

      anyone who hates Jews is a perfect president
      the jews are the scourge of the free world
      JFK demanded the Jews under ben Guriyen undertake WMD weopons inspections...the Jews assassinated him

      Regan was a monkey with a walnut brain ...Bush father/son....warmongers who do Kissengers biddig. Clinton a bag of wind only good for poking young girls genitals... Carter a nice guy who saw the Jews as the real enemy of the USA ..and paid the political character assassination price for it

      September 21, 2012 at 1:10 am | Reply
    • GregC

      Scott Young, the British Scholar, is such a poser.
      He was asked to pick the best, and he replied with that mamby pamby typical UK Ivory Tower I am soooo much better than you tripe. (I know the type, I used to live about 20 miles from Cambridge)

      He is obviously enamored enough with the US to study it and make it his profession.... Maybe he just can't get over the fact that the torch has been passed from GB to the US.

      I am sure that it just torques his nuts that the BEST of England's Foreign Policy PMs in the last 150 years was half American.

      September 21, 2012 at 1:49 am | Reply
      • TenaciousP

        I knew someone would have to post some anti British drivil it always happens why have you got such a chip on your shoulder, dont read into things so much. I too should take my own advice maybe!

        September 22, 2012 at 5:54 am |
    • SSE

      NorCalMojo, this piece is about foreign policy, not the overall term of the President. Carter certainly belongs on this list. What made him a "weak" President was his success with domestic problems. He faced perhaps the greatest domestic problems of any President, when the shift in America's cultural and economic dominance was in full swing. It didn't help that he had an army of politicos working against him in Congress. So yes, Carter's legacy suffered from his performance with the domestic economy, but when talking about foreign policy, the man was a genius. He was definitely underappreciated.

      September 21, 2012 at 3:28 am | Reply
    • damien

      The worst president ever: Regan!, yeah, the "trickle down" economics....big joke. How does a dumb-ass old actor ever get into politics? Big words and puffed up chest like a big white gorilla that got everybody thinking he was "taking charge" but he was stupid and a puppet to the rich.

      September 22, 2012 at 7:46 am | Reply
    • RichInBoston

      Carter! Not even CNN can actually believe that! We are still cleaning up his foreign policy mess.

      September 22, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Reply
    • Loopman

      @NorCalMojo-Carter being on this list is no funnier than Reagan being there. Reagan had a terrible case of inadequacy complex because all he got to do during WW2 was sell bonds and play with a smelly old monkey. Once he did get elected he felt compelled to show everyone that he had (or at least thought he had) a big set of brass balls. Turned out that Nancy knew better. Reagan's biggest claim to fame was Iran Contra and letting Ollie North take one in the rear for the good of the party. Carter's biggest problem was that he was too nice to foriegn countries and their leaders. He made the supreme mistake in foriegn diplomacy by trying to be all things to all people. That doesn't work either.

      October 22, 2012 at 10:36 am | Reply
    • Howard

      I believe something has to be said for John Kennedy. Granted, his time in office was brief, but in the face of unbelievable provocation by the Soviet Union and unrelenting pressure from his military chiefs, he deftly negotiated a settlement that saved faces on both sides. HE SAVED THE WORLD FROM ALMOST CERTAIN NUCLEAR DESTRUCTION when hardly any of his advisers were encouraging him to take the non-combat way out.

      October 22, 2012 at 12:15 pm | Reply
    • Ross

      After his preidency Carter came to my home town. An opinion piece appeared in our state's largest newspaper over his signiture/byline that contained gross & verifyable factual errors. Our very popular Governor, also a Democrat, responded with the appropriate corrections. There it should have ended. Much to my surprise there followed a personal attack by the former president on the Governor. For all Cater's good works since he was "fired" as president, this still sticks in my craw.

      October 22, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Reply
    • Bornagain Democrat

      What about Richard Nixon? His opening to China was a masterstroke. I'm not saying I would have wanted the guy for my next-door neighbor, but give credit where it's due.

      October 22, 2012 at 10:22 pm | Reply
    • j petty

      I am a Georgian, and a veteran. Carter (who I have met on 3 occasions) is a honest, caring, genuine person. He was also so confused on how to reconcile his religious beliefs with his responsibilities that he was a horrible president. Presidents kill people, christian preachers probably have a real issue with doing so. He is the pastor of a church in southern ga. Great man, any statements to the contrary are silly. Great president no way.

      October 23, 2012 at 2:31 am | Reply
    • Steve

      @Bruce Jentleson: But the one lost chance of “best” that sticks with me is seeing the last overseas speech of Bill Clinton, given in December 2000 in Warwick, England. He spoke in a tired but eloquent voice of the necessity to meet the challenges of climate change and global warming, epidemics and basic health care, and the vast divide in living standards. And I thought, “Great speech. What have you been doing for the last eight years?”

      Apparently, balancing a massive deficeit budget, and producing amazing economic growth was not enough, and he was lazing around the White House.

      October 23, 2012 at 11:22 am | Reply
  2. acdc2

    Let's not forget to mention who the worst foreign policy president is. BHO

    September 20, 2012 at 11:34 am | Reply
    • Dangerous Dan

      Got to disagree. Carter wins that honor going away. Pahalavi might have moved Iran to a secular democracy, but St. Jimmy the Sanctimonious cut him off at the knees. SAVAK was bad, but at least 2 orders of magnitude less so than the folks Jimmy handed Iran over to.

      St. Barry is certainly in 2nd place for the 20th and 21st centuries. Like Carter, he has almost no Latin American policy beyond placating Hispanic voters in the US, and he is not doing a very good job of that. He has ignored Africa almost completely. He has botched the Middle East. He put a Secretary of State in place who had ZERO foreign policy experience, and he had none as well, so the result has been chaos.

      September 20, 2012 at 12:30 pm | Reply
      • jschmidt

        Carter never lied to the people. Obama has on a number of occasions such as lst week saying the attack in Libya couldn't possible be related to his wonderful foreign policy. Calling himself a moderate, another lie. Calling himself as good as Lincoln, another.

        September 20, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
      • NEO - C O N S

        Worst president in US history ?

        George W. Bush.

        What is the first and most important job of any sitting president ?
        Protect the United States Of America.

        911 was the worst attack on US soil in history.
        Not one, not two, not 3, but F O U R jets hijacked by 19 morons with
        Box cutters ?

        Then he invades Iraq ?

        No good people, this man is not only a failure,
        but he is a traitor and belongs in jail.
        This idiot upon being told that America was under attack,
        sat in a school room, holding an UPSIDE down book
        about a pet goat.
        He looked like he just peed himself.

        How does he follow that up ?
        Start two unfunded wars, give tax breaks to the rich,
        And bury the US economy.

        Till this day, i wish that Iraqi journalist had konked Bush
        straight in the head with one of those shoes.

        This man was an embarassment to America.
        This man was so stupid, he couldnt count to three unless you
        spotted him the one, and two.
        But he had Dick Cheneys hand up his butt.
        Rumsfeld, Rice and Powel lying thier face off about WMD,
        Condy Rice caught lying in a video.
        Powel admitted lying to the UN.
        Rumsfeld telling the parents of depolyed soldiers that we go to war with what
        we have not what we want.

        I could go on, but it would take a month.
        This administration is a dark cloud in American history.
        Ne – Cons, one step to the right of Neo Nazi's.

        September 20, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
      • X

        To NEOCONS: In what way was W Bush worse than Lyndon Johnson? If you think Iraq was a bad idea, what must you think of Vietnam? At least in Iraq we left with something resembling a democracy, in Vietnam we left with....? Plus, leave the poor Iraqi alone, Bush did a great job dodging those shoes...

        September 20, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
      • Steve in CT

        Bush wasn't responsible for 9-11, I agree with most of the rest. Those guys were in the country before Bush. It was a breakdown between the cia and fbi. President really doesn't have his hands everywhere we like to think.

        September 20, 2012 at 4:08 pm |
      • LouieD

        NEOCONS: Watch your info. The "upside down-ness" of the book was Photoshopped and became a popular gag photo on the Internet. You're correct about everything else, but don't give his remaining 5 supporters room to question your information.

        September 21, 2012 at 6:16 am |
    • steve

      please explain.

      September 20, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Reply
    • Jim in Georgia

      Barry? Not even in the top 5 for worst. However, George W. is there.

      September 20, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Reply
      • jschmidt

        Obama is the worst.

        September 20, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
      • chrisB

        @jschmidt No your the worst.

        September 20, 2012 at 2:56 pm |
      • Steve

        You're* the worst.

        October 23, 2012 at 11:25 am |
    • Matunos

      You guys are so cute.

      September 20, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Reply
    • xcallousx

      What's so bad about Obama's Foreign Policy? What has he not done right? If you can't back up your claim, then you have no basis for your comment.

      September 20, 2012 at 1:34 pm | Reply
      • jschmidt

        How about on 9/11 not protecting his embassys? How about apologizing at the drop of a video or to all the Islamic world on his Egypt tour. How about telling Putin he'll have more room to negotiate after the election after he;s dropped the eastern europe missile shield idea and turned his back on our ally Israel. How about doing nothing to stop Iran.

        September 20, 2012 at 2:35 pm |
      • chrisB

        @jschmidt Dude your a m()ron! I served 8 years in the Marine Corps and did two years of MSG duty and I know that you don't know what the heck your talking about.

        September 20, 2012 at 2:58 pm |
      • Tk1969

        Obama didn't apologyse to anyone, The embassy simply released a statement stating we're not involved with the film. It's called self preservation. Get your facts straight.

        The only thing I've seen Obama do is, a pic of him shaking Quadafi's Hand, and a short time later he was dead.

        Let's see, republicans love to be cost effective and one of you conservatives tell me which plan is more economically sound.

        140 boots on the ground.. Country Invaded for 9/11 that had nothing to do with 9/11. No Osama Bin Laden anywhere to be found.. 10 years later...

        Obama sends 3 helicopters, a boat and seal team 6. Justice is done...

        September 20, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
      • Guest

        @chrisB – then obviously you have been living in a cave, because what jschmitt said is correct.

        September 20, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
      • Guest

        @Tk1969 – wow, you are ignorant. Do you really believe that Afganistan had nothing to do with 9/11?

        September 20, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
      • LouieD

        jschmidt: Since you're so confident about the crap you're spewing, it should be pretty easy for you to provide proof of what you're saying, about Obama "not protecting" the embassies and "apologizing", shouldn't it?

        Go on, show us the unsourced right-wing blog you're quoting from. OR... Go to Google and enter "Subject: Marines in Libya and Egypt" in quotes, and see if you have the courage to learn something.

        September 21, 2012 at 6:25 am |
    • LT Fang

      Explain? You want GOP's to actually explain their lies and baseless assertions? Now that's just asking too much.

      September 20, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Reply
      • jschmidt

        Lies- The Libyan attack was in response to the video advanced by Carney and Ambassador Rice.
        I am a moderate by Obama.
        I;ve cut taxes.(didn[t happen)
        I've created more jobs than lost in my term. (he is net negative)
        I'll reduce the deficit.

        September 20, 2012 at 2:38 pm |
    • deejcnn

      Just for having the guts to take out OBL in such a challenging situation, and also the fact that he did not start up a new.... and someone else's war using our tax money (or he could resist the 'evil' forces inside here suggesting him to engage again)... he is right up there in my opinion...

      September 20, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Reply
      • deejcnn

        ...and how about all the terrorist he has taken out out using just drones... with least damage to US lives/assets... (altho we all regret the rare collateral damage that has come with those)...

        September 20, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
      • jo an

        Obama gets a vote for me....great on foreign policy...too soon to tell but I think history will treat him well...Go Obama!

        September 20, 2012 at 3:15 pm |
      • Evan

        Barack has done quite well. It's amazing to me that people still refer to Mitt's argument that BO apologized for the video. Watch Fox News, go to cnn.com to flame, repeat. Complete morons.

        September 20, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
    • Larry

      Hoover would probably win the worst president of the modern era in all categories, foreign and domestic.

      I was going to say Bush II was the worst but then it occurred to me that, despite his generally terrible record on foreign policy overall, he had a pretty good record on foreign policy as it applied to Africa. Liberals should give him credit for that part of his administration, if little else.

      September 20, 2012 at 2:48 pm | Reply
    • CNNuthin

      "Iraq" "WMD" "Afghanistan"...actually if we successfully take over every foreign country, they won't be foreign anymore. That is a great policy.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:01 pm | Reply
    • Pander Bear

      Oh please. That's weak even for a weakling like you.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Reply
    • X

      Obama's Middle East policy has been terrible. The key to success in the ME has been(1) Build strong ties with Israel and then keep them quietly out of the way, (2) Be on good working terms with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Turkey, (3) protect national sovereignty and (4) Try a few Hail Mary peace conferences between the Israelis and Palestinians knowing they probably won't work. (HW Bush was the epitome of this strategy, with the exception of King Hussein in Jordan being uncooperative)

      Obama has utterly failed on the Israel front, constantly annoying Netanyahu and calling for the return to '60s era borders (will never happen but asking for it will anger Israel). He "lost" Egypt as an ally but through no fault of his own. My impression is that Saudi Arabia and Jordan are lukewarm allies at best right now. There doesn't seem to be much of an Iran policy outside of hoping sanctions work (they won't)-there are no military resources in the region ready to confront them. There have been no attempts at an Israel-Palestine peace conference. Overall, pretty poor results in that most-important area of the world.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:20 pm | Reply
      • D

        We have a wing of F-22's and three carrier strike groups in Iran's front yard. But you keep on believing that we have no military in a position to confront Iran.

        September 20, 2012 at 5:01 pm |
      • uriahhheapp

        Wrong, wrong, wrong – stay after school and check your history.

        September 20, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
      • Rose

        You say "constantly annoying Netanyahu". I say Netanyahu has been constantly annoying our President and he has certainly been constantly annoying me. He has NO business demanding anything of the United States. We have said we will not allow Iran to have an nuclear weapons. We do not have to draw a line where Netanyahu want a line drawn. He has no businsess interfering in our elections. I hope the people of Israel elect a less pugnacious leader next time.

        September 25, 2012 at 6:24 am |
  3. tom arneson

    nixon, get out the record book.

    September 20, 2012 at 11:36 am | Reply
    • Ghia

      Tom, you are right on. Best we had, but should not have taped anything!!!! Can't believe anybody put Jimmy on this list, and I live in Georgia!!!!!

      September 20, 2012 at 11:47 am | Reply
    • Seansa

      Im with ya on that one. Nixon foreign policy was amazing. How could he not make this list?

      September 20, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Reply
  4. hoosier1234

    My vote will infuriate liberals, but, so what?

    I vote for Reagan.

    September 20, 2012 at 11:50 am | Reply
    • i_know_everything

      yeah, that Alzheimer helped him to be a great president

      September 20, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Reply
      • DPBC

        Classy

        September 20, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
      • Jeaux Bleaus

        What's your excuse?

        September 20, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
      • Seansa

        Typical close minded liberal.

        September 20, 2012 at 3:28 pm |
    • Tim

      I am liberal and I am not infuriated. He was a pretty decent foreign policy president if you get rid of that invasion of Granada thing. Too bad he was such a lousy domestic policy president.

      September 20, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Reply
      • Rose

        But you can't get rid of that"Grenada thing". It never shouldhave happened. I would not vote for Reagan

        September 25, 2012 at 6:27 am |
  5. Fivetools22

    Reagan was called the "Great Communicator" for a reason and being able to communciate is a prerequiste to any succesful foreign policy leadership. We can site his many successes, but the real success came as a result of his ability to put people at ease and gain trust. This is why I think he was the best. Aside from the fact I just loved him.

    September 20, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Reply
    • Hammerdown

      Reagan was an actor.
      Guess he had you fooled huh ?
      The thing that i remember most about Reagan speeches where....
      He would always turn his head and say.....well.....
      Like a programed robot.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:17 pm | Reply
      • Jeaux Bleaus

        "Programmed robot"? Try "millionaires and billionaires", among at least a dozen other O'Bunghole mantras.

        September 20, 2012 at 3:23 pm |
  6. skitch41

    All but one of these are post-1914?! Where's Monroe (Monroe Doctrine anyone?), where's Lincoln (kept Britain and France out of the Civil War), where's Theodore Roosevelt (Panama Canal, White Fleet, stronger ties to the WWI Allies)? And I think Woodrow Wilson had a better claim to be on the honorable mention list than Jimmy Carter Why is the importance of the 20th always elevated above the 19th century in debates like these?

    September 20, 2012 at 12:13 pm | Reply
    • Ron in Ohio

      Skitch: Good point !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      September 20, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Reply
    • hoosierherm

      Skitch, Great Point ! I was looking for Monroe's name from the start of the article. I also agree with the choice of G.H.W. Bush, and although I didn't repeat my first Vote for him, mostly because he Didn't push on to Bagdad, in hindsight, he made use of All his Career's acquired knowledge in his Foreign policy, and most important for Today's political scene, he coined the term "Voodoo Economics", which the Republicans are still trying to force-feed us, despite the thrice proven paucity of it's results. I even forgive him for siring W ! LoL

      September 20, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Reply
    • Darth Cheney

      I'm in agreement with the authors – the world, and foreign policy, became infinitely more complex beginning with the era of the World Wars and presidents that have been successful in this era deserve a higher ranking.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:05 pm | Reply
    • Pander Bear

      Was looking for Monroe in the list as well. Without his setting the tone, there is no such thing as foreign policy.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Reply
    • X

      It's really hard to make a case for pre-WWII presidents, mainly because the US was basically confined to its own corner of the world back then. It's really only been since WWI that the US has had any influence outside of Latin America, the Caribbean and the Pacific and only since WWII that the US really been interested in pursuing global power politics. Monroe, T Roosevelt and Polk may have been great, but they lived in "simpler times" as it were.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:11 pm | Reply
    • Hammerdown

      Why is the importance of the 20th always elevated above the 19th century in debates like these?

      Closer to memory ?

      September 20, 2012 at 3:18 pm | Reply
      • Bill

        Because the United States was much more engaged with the global community in the 20th century than the 19th century. The Monroe Doctrine (which was successful only because the British allowed it) basically cut the US off from the day-to-day happenings in Europe. While revolutions swept through Europe in the 1830's and '40's, the US went along like nothing was going on overseas. Starting with the Spanish-American War in 1898, the US became much more active internationally, culminating in leadership of the western world through the duration of the Cold War. So in a discussion of foreign policy, it is difficult to talk about American presidents prior to the McKinley Administration.

        September 20, 2012 at 4:36 pm |
    • Lovethedebate

      Thank you skitch41! Someone who actually remembers some of our history...not like someone who writes that Ben Franklin was the best president....really?!? I think it's fair to say that with every President we believe was great – none of them were perfect and their accomplishments were sometimes as much luck as it was skill. Definitely NOT an easy job to be President.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Reply
    • Tony

      Madison and Monroe, lose out for the fact that they started a war with England, and we got are asses handed to us. The only reason Washington still exist because of a storm doing more damage to the Redcoats than the US army. The Monroe doctrine did little to help until much later. Teddy did a good job, but taking over a country to build a canal isn't the most peaceful of actions. Wilson did great for keeping us out of WWI for the most part, but lost his biggest battle, with Congress to ratify the WWI Peace Treaty thus keeping the US out of the League of Nations. Indirectly causing WWII.

      Polk should get the nod, he peacefully set our largest boarder. Next closest would be Truman, helped Europe after the war and made US a superpower.

      September 20, 2012 at 4:29 pm | Reply
    • huh?

      The absence of James Monroe gives this list no credibility.

      September 20, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Reply
  7. deep blue

    Nixon normalized relations with China. I think he should have been on here. His corruption obviously blighted his record, but that wasn't his foreign policy.

    September 20, 2012 at 12:28 pm | Reply
    • hoosierherm

      Deep Blue, Nixon was mentioned, but so was his disgrace and resignation. When he and Dr. Kissinger "Opened" China, it was a Foreign Policy coup with few rivals, But, who could have foreseen that the "Sleeping Dragon" was really just a dozing Capitalist, yearning to break free? I wonder what Tricky Dick would think of Today's Us-China relationship ?

      September 20, 2012 at 1:22 pm | Reply
      • KLARGAR

        Nixon was clueless as to why China wanted to normalize relations until he actually met with Chou En Lai ,Chinese agronomists had warned Chou that if there was a historic famine in China as habitually happened that this time China could lose upwards of 100 million people. This would devestate China for at least 100 years if not more. At this time in history Chinese agriculture was at a historic low after the excesses of the Cultural revolution, the average Chinese citizen was existing on about 650 Kcal per day not quite starvation but close. The one thing China needed but could not build on it's own were Bosch/Haber fertilizer plants. Nixon and Kissinger promised and delivered 6 of the largest plants ever built (by Kellog Brown Root) . most people have no idea that this happened. In return Chou promised to open up China to American trade. Nixon scored a publicity coup and at the same time opened up a rift in Sino soviet relations that destroyed once and for all the feared monolithic Soviet Chinese communist block.

        September 20, 2012 at 3:40 pm |
    • fbrookman

      I give Nixon a pat on the back for opening the gates to China, an accomplishment that really boggles the imagination in retrospect (remember all the media going gaga over the architecture, arts, dance – ping pong and acupuncture?)

      But he deserves a kick in the ass for his performance in Southeast Asia. That and Watergate pretty much took all the fun outta all that China stuff.

      On the other hand, even this dyed in the wool bleeding heart liberal will agree with the selection of Bush the First. His consensus building skills in the UN for Kuwait and Desert Storm were amazing and an embarrassment to similar efforts by little W when he tried and failed following 9/11.

      And yes – Monroe, Abe & Teddy.

      Reagan? Hell no – what a bully.

      September 20, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Reply
      • Hammerdown

        Bush the First. His consensus building skills in the UN for Kuwait and Desert Storm were amazing....

        Kuwait.
        When the Ottoman empire fell, the British carved up what was left of the "fertile crescent".
        Kuwait had been for thousands of years part of Mesapotamia/Iraq.
        Kuwait city is where all of the middle east oil shipped from.
        The British created the state of Kuwait to control the oil.
        No fan of Saddam here, but he had every right to demand "Kuwait" back.

        So much for those incubater babies.

        September 20, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
    • X

      Nixon was good with China, though overall I'd rate him a pretty poor president (based on economic policy).

      September 20, 2012 at 3:08 pm | Reply
  8. Ali Baba

    George W. Bush was the greatest foreign policy president ever! He democratized Tunisia, Morrocco, Libya, Egypt, Syria, Iraq, etc. George W. Bush killed Osama Bin Laden.

    September 20, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Reply
    • Lost In Vegas

      How long did it take to chew thrrough the straps on that straight jacket?

      September 20, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Reply
      • hoosierherm

        Too True, Ali Baba must be smokin' some good Moroccan Hash ! Is there a Shrink among those 40 thieves ?

        September 20, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
    • Cadillacjoe

      Troll alert. Don't feed the troll, get your sarcasm detector fixed.

      September 20, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Reply
    • Hal A. Looya

      and Richard Dawkins killed Santa.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:03 pm | Reply
    • KLARGAR

      Can I have just a little bit of what you are smoking.

      September 20, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Reply
    • Patrick in Minnesota

      "He killed Osama Bin Laden." You're too funny.

      September 20, 2012 at 5:06 pm | Reply
    • 30Plus

      Ali Baba – thank you for the comic relief.

      September 21, 2012 at 11:13 am | Reply
  9. deep blue

    Reagan? Seriously? Does anyone remember the Iran Contra affair, when the Reagan administration sold weapons to Iran in order to get Iran to encourage the Hezbollah to release hostages? Carter may have screwed the Iranian hostage situation up, but he didn't sell us out. President Reagan's administration then used those funds, without congressional knowledge or approval, to fund a war in Nicaragua behind the American public's back. President Reagan funded the Mujaheddin, which later morphed into Al Qaeda.

    September 20, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Reply
    • Dalin

      Reagan was a sham..left the U.S. a wreck,and did start the whole contra thing.
      But it was Carter and the CIA that started the Mujaheen,that Reagan twisting in illeagal and unethical moves,
      created the CIA funded and trained group that they paid for with US tax dollars.

      September 20, 2012 at 12:52 pm | Reply
      • experiencehe

        Mental midgets need not comment. The adults are busy w/ real discussion!
        OBAMANOS!!!

        September 20, 2012 at 12:54 pm |
      • hoosierherm

        Dalin, and DeepBlue, agree with you about the Iran-Contra fiasco, but the fact most forget, is that Reagan's agents sought to delay the Hostage release until After the election. I think Ross Perot had some firm knowledge of that, but his paranoia discredited all his good ideas, and smeared his Personal Hostage rescue Legend.

        September 20, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
    • beynn

      Don't forget the war on drugs & Noriega

      September 24, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Reply
  10. Dalin

    iI still like Clinton.
    I really think he is underrated.

    September 20, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Reply
    • experiencehe

      Liking has nothing to do with this. He had no REAL fioreign policy. Good domestic/Republican agenda, but nothing of real significance on foreign affairs, unless you want to talk about why he didn't allow our armor into Somalia to rescue those folks in the crashed up Black Hawks. You remember, the ones they dragged through the streets and defiled? Just like the bodies Obongo allowed to be dragged through the streets in Libya. That foreign policy?
      OBAMANOS!!!

      September 20, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Reply
      • Hammerdown

        Reagan.

        380 Marines died in Beruit Lebanon.
        Reagans response ?
        Pull them out.
        ReaL TUFF GUY THERE.

        Crawl home with your tail between your legs.
        Should have bombed the crap out of Hezbollah.

        September 20, 2012 at 3:32 pm |
      • Hammerdown

        Clinton helped stop the genocide in Bosnia
        by attacking Serb forces.
        He did it without UN or NATO help.

        As for Bin Laden, i dont have the whole story,
        but Clinton was offered Bin Laden by the Sudanese government.
        The Sudanese government is pro Al Queda.
        You do the math.

        September 20, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
      • Patrick in Minnesota

        Which marine's bodies do you speak of being dragged through the streets? I thought it was universally reported that they all died of smoke inhalation at the embassy. Just because you think everyone that isn;t Fox are communists doesn't mean you get to make up whatever nonsense you want.

        September 20, 2012 at 5:10 pm |
    • Bill

      For doing what specifically? Missing an opportunity with bin Laden? The deaths of American soldiers in Somalia? DId he have a success?

      September 20, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Reply
    • The Sanity Inspector

      Clinton managed to forestall war on the Korean peninsula, true. We have to remember to give credit to Presidents for disasters that didn't happen on their watch. But his eight years of dithering about Al-Qaeda, from the 1993 World Trade Center bombing through the Kenyan and Tanzania embassy bombings and the USS Cole bombing led directly to 9/11. Of course, that didn't stop Clinton's friends in the press from blaming Bush, for not sorting out the mess in eight months.

      September 20, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Reply
      • Hammerdown

        1993 World Trade Center bombing ...

        The Egyptian who was contacted by the CIA to blow up the Trade tower,
        got scared when he found out that the CIA had not only given him real explosives,
        but told him to carry out the bombing.

        It was caught on tape and is available on the internet.
        It was supposed to be a scam to catch the bad guys
        but turned into a live drill.

        The Egyptian was removed and replaced, and the Drill happened.

        September 20, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
    • Danny

      I think the greatest tragedy of the Clinton administration is the fact that nothing really happened. I believe we had a brilliant mind who could have navigated the problems caused by 9/11 or the Cold War brilliantly, but really there was no large foreign policy disaster that allowed him to prove himself. Maybe that is the best justification for including him in this conversation: nothing that bad happened under his watch.

      September 20, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Reply
      • X

        You make the point that Clinton was president during an exceptionally easy time in US history-no foreign policy issues, giant post Cold War peace dividend and strong economy. Clinton gets credit (shared with Congressional republicans) for good policy-balanced budgets, welfare reform, but we have to acknowledge that it was, unlike 1929-1989 and 2000-2012, a very easy time to be president.

        September 20, 2012 at 3:05 pm |
    • Bill

      I think it's too soon to talk about Clinton yet. The major internation event of the early 21st century is obviously 9/11 and a lot of that was growing during the Clinton years. The events haven't finished playing out yet. He might end up being one of the brilliant minds, or one of the worst, and everything in between those two extremes. We don't know yet. Was his policy toward North Korea genius, laying the groundwork for a peaceful resolution to the situation over there? Or did it allow an open sore to fester, leading to more bloodshed than what would have occured in the mid-90's if he was more aggressive? Why did the Israeli-Arab peace become so derailed? It seemed like, at the time, that peace in the Middle East was a real possibility, and then it all came crashing down, even before Bush took over. We just don't know yet.

      September 20, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Reply
    • tony

      What about the fact that Clinton oversaw the Al-Qaeda ring of fire around the world during the 90's that finally ended up with 9-11 on 2001.

      September 21, 2012 at 3:29 am | Reply
  11. Adam

    Reagan bent the entire Communist block over and made them his @#%!#, he's definitely the best modern president.

    FDR is a close second – the only two reasons that he isn't first in my book was that 1) he delayed entering WWII WAY too long, and 2) he allowed Pearl Harbor to happen. Once we were in the war he was golden – he was a man smart enough to know that HE couldn't win the war, so he found people that WOULD win, put them in charge, and got out of the way – Patton, Eisenhower, MacArthur, Nimitz to name a couple.

    September 20, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Reply
    • Ted

      Seems like republicans equate "good foreign policy" with "the most military confrontations".
      Why is that?

      September 20, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Reply
      • Bill

        Republicans generally don't. Americans in general respond to a president who doesn't allow the US to be pushed around. Whether that equates to sound foreign policy or not is up to debate. The foreign policy disasters of the 70's made it very difficult for Carter to win re-election, even though most people acknowledge that he was very knowledgable. What puts George HW on the list isn't so much the Desert Storm campaign, but his deft handling of the breakup of the Soviet Union. There was no time in the 20th century more dangerous than when the Soviet Union broke up. The fact that the Iron Curtain was able to fall with no military confrontation is a testament to, amongst others, Bush's skills in diplomacy.

        September 20, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • Fearless Freep

      Some people have this strange idea that Reagan said "tear down this wall" and the
      Soviet Union fell.

      1) The Berlin wall fell before the Soviet Union did.
      2) The Berlin wall fell because the Communist government in East Germany
      collapsed under protests.
      3) The Soviet Union fell beacuse its economy collapsed for two reasons.
      Top heavy on defense and weapons.
      The world banking system shut off the flow of money.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Reply
      • Bill

        The falling of the Berlin Wall was a symbolic event, one that was fatal to the Soviet Union. You have to understand how fast this all happened. Germany was reunited within a year, the Soviet Union collapsed a year later. It was so fast. These events were an impossibility just two months before the event. Gorbachov was in East Berlin proclaiming the success of socialism in East Germany. Two months later, Honecker is out of a job. Nobody saw this coming. By comparison, the American Civil War took decades to occur. The American Revolution developed over the course of a three year period before the actual break with Great Britan, after a ten year period where tensions were rising. The process of the Russian Revolution took 15 years, from 1906 through 1921.

        September 20, 2012 at 5:40 pm |
    • Bill

      Wait a second here. FDR waited to get into WWII too long? Are you out of your mind? If he would have asked Congress for a declaration of war on Germany in 1939 or 1940, he would have lost that vote which would have been a calamity. It was amazing how he was able to keep the Allies supplied despite the isolationism of the persisted throughout the nation. Without anybody knowing it, he was able to put the US into a pretty good position for when the war would come and it seemed like he was the only one who knew that war was coming.

      Don't even go there with Pearl Harbor. Yes, we knew an attack was coming, but no, we didn't know where. Military planners were debating if an attack would come to Pearl Harbor, Manilla, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, Guam, amongst other possible targets. Nobody knew they were going to hit all of them. How do you defend against that?

      September 20, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Reply
  12. experiencehe

    We remember Iran Contra, we also understand that Reagan was the chief architect behind the collapse of the USSR. o try to keep up here.
    As for obama, when is CNN going to talk about the real mess our precious leader has gotten us into? WE ALL understood that the attack on our folks in Libya was organized to take place on 9/11. Is it that the president is so inept and or naive that he couldn't recognize that, or is it that his announcement that the WAR ON TERROR is over would be exposed for being the LIE it was? Either way, he eats crow and is standing there with egg on his face. So CNN, which was it? Typical liberal, socialists RAG!!!
    OBAMANOS!!!

    September 20, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Reply
    • deep blue

      Reagan also supplied the Mujaheddin, forerunners of Al Qaeda, establishing supply networks between Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Afghan terrorists.

      September 20, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Reply
      • Bill

        Actually he made the mistake of trusting the Pakistani government. The CIA had little direct contact or training with those in Afghanistan, this was done mostly by the ISI. So we blindly sent billions to Pakistan, who used the money to train radicals. Eventually Pakistan help to form the Taliban. Great allies.

        September 20, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
      • deep blue

        Well, at the time, Pakistan was pursuing a nuclear weapon. At the time, we needed them, so we told them, it's fine, don't worry about it.
        As soon as we didn't need them, we through them under the bus. We had a true ally of India to worry about.
        I'm not saying that Pakistan was a great ally. I'm just saying that, from Pakistan's point of view, we were definitely a fair weather friend.

        September 20, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
  13. Bill

    So Carter gets a nod for essentially doing nothing? I do not think that qualifies.

    September 20, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Reply
    • The Sanity Inspector

      He peacefully transferred the Panama Canal Zone to Panama.

      September 20, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Reply
    • fbrookman

      He kept us out of Grenada.

      September 20, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Reply
  14. RunfortheHills

    Well, the obvious choice out of those offered is Jimmy Carter. He was by far the best FP President out of this list, and possibly of any President in US history. Between his tireless work to free the Iran hostages and patience with the USSR, he proved himself a statesman. He was personally responsible for the fact that we did NOT have nuclear war with Russia, and that all of the hostages were freed instead of being beheaded.

    Combine that with his expert fiscal policy and how hard he worked for the poor and middle class, he is easily the best President the US has ever had.

    September 20, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Reply
  15. vahellbilly

    Truman? He was decent overall, but made one key error during his presidency that still haunts America, nearly 40 years after it ended... Ignoring a personal plea from one each Ho Chi Minh to help his country (Indo-China aka Vietnam) get the French out...

    Look what that foreign-policy blunder did for us...

    September 20, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Reply
    • The Sanity Inspector

      Ho was always a communist, back since the 1920s. No way was any President going to side with him against France.

      September 20, 2012 at 12:54 pm | Reply
      • vahellbilly

        That too is an issue the U.S. has had globally, more specifically in the Western hemisphere... "Brand-loyalty". We cannot expect every single regime/country to follow the Great American Experiment and be Democratic or a Republic.

        That way of thinking is no different than a particular religion (islam) that feels every nation and man, woman and child who lives within should follow their lead, or else. It just does not work that way...

        September 20, 2012 at 1:45 pm |
      • X

        Which was a shame, because Ho Chi Minh was a nationalist first and a Marxist second. Besides, we were helping the French, what a waste of money...

        September 20, 2012 at 3:01 pm |
    • MarcusP

      FDR supported an independent Vietnam under Ho Chi Minh. If it wasn't for Truman, the Vietnam war would have never happened

      September 20, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Reply
  16. The Sanity Inspector

    Reagan, for winning the Cold War. Liberal cartoonist Jules Feiffer had enough honesty to acknowledge it at the time:

    When that fool, Reagan, called the Soviet Union `The Evil Empire,` I knew we were headed for war. . . .
    When that fool, Reagan, gave a blank check to the arms race, I knew the odds favored nuclear annihilation. . . .
    When that fool, Reagan, launched Star Wars on the premise that the Soviet Union would go broke trying to keep up . . .
    I knew he was a dangerous kook living in never-never land. . . .
    When the Soviet Union went broke, surrendered its empire and called off the Cold War, I knew it was Gorbachev`s genius and Reagan had nothing to do with it. . . .
    Because if that fool, Reagan, was right all along. . .
    What kind of fool am I?

    September 20, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Reply
    • Darth Cheney

      Reagan didn't win the cold war, he just ran a solid anchor leg when we were already well ahead in the race.

      September 20, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Reply
      • northernstar

        So if Reagan had nothing to do with ending the Cold War; then Carter would have been able to end it !! There is no way that a continued USA policy of "Babying" the Soviets would have ended anything. We would still have the Soviet Union here today had Reagan not changed our policy. If Carter had been re-elected; Carter would have been lending money to the Soviets to keep their economy going.

        September 20, 2012 at 4:17 pm |
    • doug

      Yup, libs can lie, which is all they ever do, remember a time when one was honest? me neither, but we were losing the cold war under Carter, Raegan saved not only our country but the world from Soviet rule. Another 4 years of Carter and I would be typing in Russian.

      September 20, 2012 at 4:22 pm | Reply
  17. Lamesauce

    Calvin Coolidge, hands down

    September 20, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Reply
  18. patNY

    Of Course Reagan would win the Cold War....he treated the US treasury like a bottomless pit to outspend the USSR, but left us debt ridden and budget defecit dependent on foriegn loans from China. Meanwhile, Russia is laughing at us all the way to the bank.

    September 20, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Reply
  19. Bosco56

    Hands Down...Ronald Reagan! "We begin bombing in five minutes!" No one F'd with the USA. As a matter of fact, Iran released the hostages as he was sworn in. Smart move on their part!

    September 20, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Reply
    • deep blue

      right, because when hostages were held in Lebanon under Reagan's watch, he told Iran that they needed to get their allies to cut it out. He sent missiles to punctuate the point. Except, the missiles weren't armed, and they sent us money back so we could fund war in Nicaragua.
      Bribes with arms deals for hostage takers? They must be quaking in their boots.

      September 20, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Reply
  20. Gulcherboy

    I won't put them in any order, but how about a top five that includes: James Monroe, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt and Harry Truman?

    September 20, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Reply
  21. Ben

    James K. Polk is the best. America reaches from sea to shining sea thanks to his Manifest Destiny. And Texas too.

    September 20, 2012 at 1:07 pm | Reply
    • huh?

      Peacfully establishing the 49th parrallel border with the UK/Canada when many in his party were calling for war (54-40 or fight) definitely puts him in the running.

      September 20, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Reply
    • Alan

      Amen

      September 20, 2012 at 5:03 pm | Reply
  22. The Sanity Inspector

    Bush the Elder was not a great President, but he was equal to his moment.

    September 20, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Reply
  23. spynnal

    I am no Nixon fan, but I thought his dealings with China when they were still a rather closed society were pretty impressive.

    September 20, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Reply
    • The Sanity Inspector

      He also saved Israel from extermination, by a massive airlift of supplies during the 1973 Yom Kippur war.

      September 20, 2012 at 9:53 pm | Reply
  24. Jocho Johnson

    Bill Clinton did a good job, he got Israelis and Palestinians as close to peace as they ever have been

    September 20, 2012 at 1:17 pm | Reply
  25. Tom

    Underrated, could have easily taken a 3rd term had he not had a stroke. Had Europe listened to him in 1919, there would have been no second world war. Had the U.S. listened to him, there would have been no Cold War. Woodrow Wilson is the single most underrated foreign policy president.

    September 20, 2012 at 1:21 pm | Reply
    • vahellbilly

      ??? Too progressive and was rather weak, concerning world-affairs pre WWI.

      September 20, 2012 at 1:48 pm | Reply
    • X

      Absolutely not. Woodrow "He kept us out of the war" Wilson was terrible. He sent US troops to die in France simply because he wanted to be the Professor and re-order European politics based on his utopian visions. His league of nations was a joke that Congress rightly shot down (we have sent billions to the UN, with nothing to show for it).

      September 20, 2012 at 2:59 pm | Reply
    • JB

      Or one could argue that if Wilson hadn't sent our people to meddle and die in Europe, the war may have had a different outcome. It was in part thanks to Wilson sending our people over there that the Allies were victorious and decided to stick it to Germany with the treaty of Versailles. The only note Wilson deserves is that he was a president who undertook a massive propaganda campaign to gain support for the war, initiated a draft, and sent thousands of Americans to die in a war that we really did not have a stake in.

      September 20, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Reply
  26. amac

    Listing George H. W. Bush among the greatest foreign policy presidents is ridiculous. He just happened to be president when the Soviet Union collapsed; neither he nor any of his predecessors had anything to do with making that happen. And to add insult to injury, when Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania were declaring their independence from the former Soviet Union and countries were rushing to embrace that independence, Bush Sr. held back officially acknowledging same for at least a day if not longer. His subsequent excuse/apology? "Nobody will remember who was the first country to acknowlege their independence, anyhow."

    As an aside, I'll also never forget Bush senior infamously declaring to a reporter who asked him if he, a former diplomat and U. N. Ambassador, favored the foreign policy side of his job to the domestic side: "You got that right."

    September 20, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Reply
    • X

      HW Bush was great. The Lithuania situation was much more complex than you realize-there were a lot of hard-liners in the USSR that wanted to intervene directly to prevent the breakup of the USSR. Eisenhower's greatest sin was encouraging Hungary to rebel against Soviet influence knowing full well that the US would not step in when the tanks rolled in to Budapest and when Nagy was killed. Bush acted prudently, supporting the cause of the Baltics without sending the wrong signals like Ike did in E Europe.

      September 20, 2012 at 2:55 pm | Reply
  27. hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

    hindu, worst presidents of USA in recent history, start with hindu ignorant Reagan, American debt before him, less than a trillion dollars, end of his term 6 trillion dollars, hindu, ignorant papa bush, American debt 8 trillion dollars, end of Clinton time, 5 trillion dollars, 3 trillion dollars paid off, end of hindu criminal son Bush term, national debt up to 9 trillion dollars, and hindu ignorant Obama 14 trillion dolls, all to please hindu Jew's, criminal self centered, hindu sanatans, criminal goon man god's of Mithriac hindu's, pagan Christian's, follower's of hindu Mithra ism, pagan savior ism labeled as Christianity to hind, fool humanity. visit limitisthetruth.com/blog.html and click on word Choice on website to open file.

    September 20, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Reply
    • vahellbilly

      What is it with you and Hindus??? I see your posts on other blogs and yuou have the same rant... What gives?

      September 20, 2012 at 1:50 pm | Reply
      • hinduism source of hindufilthyracism.

        Word hindu is based on Latin word hindered, negative, Hun, great, Han, to be in greatness, hin, to be negative to both of them, hindu, a noun in negativity, hinduism, way of negativity. hope you get it.

        September 20, 2012 at 2:03 pm |
    • KLARGAR

      Will you please see a doctor and go back on your meds. What in gods name are you talking about you incessantly post your Hindu hate drivel in response to anything it could be about flower growers in Holland and you post the same nonsense. Please go away and stop wasting electrons.

      September 20, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Reply
    • KLARGAR

      What is your problem, didn't take your meds? Using a really poor translation engine? you keep posting the same bizarre nonsense in every forum. Either learn English so you can get your point across whatever the hell it may be , stop taking powerful hallucinogens, See a good Psychiatrist or all of the above. In the meantime please go away.

      September 21, 2012 at 8:56 am | Reply
  28. George

    I am the liberal to end all liberals, but I agree that George HW Bush was the best in my lifetime. He was a former CIA director, yet he used sheer diplomacy to rally Arab nations against Saddam's illegal takeover of Kuwait. I know it was all about oil, but he understood very well the power of many voices coming together against that invasion. He gets my vote, although I cannot honestly say I agree with a single thing he did on the domestic front.

    September 20, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Reply
  29. Ali Baba

    BARACK HUSSEIN OBAMA!

    He will prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. Obama will make North Korea a democracy. All our enemies are afraid of Barack.

    September 20, 2012 at 1:37 pm | Reply
    • Are U Serious

      Iran is closer to getting nuclear weapons than they were four years ago? You have no idea what you are talking about....do you not see what is happening in the middle east on a daily basis?

      September 20, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Reply
  30. Shawn

    James K. Polk and Nixon

    The Iranians didn't release hostages during Carter because it would've seemed as shameful to their own people that they let Carter win. They waited it out purposely until Reagan took office. That whole thing was psychological and its a shame it tarnished Carter's record yet made Reagan look like some tough guy.

    September 20, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Reply
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