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. Randy

    How did Republicans manage to erase Reagan's Beirut disaster from the memory banks? It's like it didn't even happen, apparently. Congress and even some of Reagan's own advisors warned against it but Mr. Tough Talk just went ahead and sent our people into a war zone with no clear objective. Then when our people were killed, including 220 Marines, he pulled us out. Terrorist training films in the following decades were known to cite this episode as proof that America is a "Paper Tiger" that is definitely worth attacking. Reagan had exactly the opposite effect on the world that his worshippers have come to believe.

    All the macho posturing and sleazy deals with dictators of the Reagan/Bush years led directly to the first Gulf War and to 9-11 and the wars we're still mired in today.

    September 20, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Reply
  2. SThomas

    Jimmy Carter.... are you kidding me??? He was as worthless at this as Obama is.

    September 20, 2012 at 5:12 pm | Reply
    • Randy

      Turn off Fox and read a book that wasn't written by Sean Hannity. Just a friendly suggestion. 🙂

      September 20, 2012 at 5:22 pm | Reply
  3. Mike

    George Washington. A warrior and a statesman. No other president can ever do what he did for our country.

    September 20, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Reply
    • krehator

      Thumbs up

      September 20, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Reply
  4. uriahhheapp

    It is amazing to me that a pair of skin sacks(Reagan & Bush) would make the list of foreign policy mavens. The senile driveling idiot sent Marines off to be blown up, chase a bunch Cubans out of Grenada. Gorbachev gets credit for bringing down the wall. That idiot switched SS cash for T-Bonds in attempt to crash social security. And Bush the smart idiot (oxymoron) whose idiot son gave us two wars that someone else has clean-up. AMAZING!!!!!!!!

    September 20, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Reply
  5. zapper

    Reagan's "successes" in dealing with the Soviets (in quotes because Andropov's and Gorbachev's reforms along with the failed war in Afghanistan and economic recession had much more to do with the fall of the USSR than Reagan saying "tear down this wall") were overshadowed by his huge failures in South America. As a new generation of conservatives tries to crown Reagan as their hero, they conveniently forget his support for despots who murdered their own people and his war against peasant coffee growers in Nicaragua funded by the illegal selling of weapons to Iran that occurred right under his nose, if not to his knowledge. The last 30 years has revealed just how dumb an idea that was.

    September 20, 2012 at 5:15 pm | Reply
    • jim111506

      You're kidding, right? Are you seriously worried about the brown South American horde? Cull the horde! CULL THE BROWN HORDE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      September 20, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Reply
  6. Jimmie

    Obama looks to Carter the second worst president (after Obama himself), where he learned how to BOW.
    Romney looks to Reagan, the man who brought down the Soviet Union, freed eastern Europe and made America proud.

    September 20, 2012 at 5:16 pm | Reply
    • krehator

      "Obama looks to Carter the second worst president (after Obama himself), where he learned how to BOW."

      Really I guess that's why Iran waited until he was gone. I guess that is why he refused to negotiate with terrorists but Reagan did the minute he got into office.

      September 20, 2012 at 5:24 pm | Reply
  7. Bruce

    Nixon was the best braking down the Wall with China with a pingpong tournament

    September 20, 2012 at 5:17 pm | Reply
  8. krehator

    Washington. The only president to put the nation before himself and party. Warned us of getting into foreign affairs. Also valued individual rights more than any other.

    September 20, 2012 at 5:18 pm | Reply
  9. rudix

    all at the new book The Dimension Machine

    September 20, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Reply
  10. jodog

    Regan was a Union buster and did not stop until the new air traffic controllers start letting planes fall out of the sky.

    September 20, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Reply
  11. 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 5:24 pm | Reply
    • zapper

      Clinton did carry out an attack on bin Laden, but it failed to kill him.

      September 20, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Reply
  12. p4perspective

    Jimmy Carter is responsible form the mess in the middle east. Had he not been behind bringing back the Ayatollah from exile in the late 70's, and getting him back in power in Iran, there's a much better chance that the middle east would be far more stable and less volatile than it is today. Obama just managed to throw gas and a match on the kindling all in the name of his "Arab Spring". What a mess. Obama may go down as the worst president in US History.

    September 20, 2012 at 5:25 pm | Reply
    • Jeff Cox

      Jimmy Carter was around when Lot and Abraham went separate ways?

      I have news for you, Chief. The middle east issues were sure there before Carter. But I don't expect a partisan hack like you to accept that.

      September 20, 2012 at 5:40 pm | Reply
  13. jodog

    Jimmy Carter was a good president, please tell me how numerous equipment can all fail at the same time in a mission to bring our troops home, was there a setup?

    September 20, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Reply
    • cleareye1

      He was let down by the military. It was not intentional by any means but they just failed. Had the rescue been a success, Carter would have served 2 terms and we could have avoided the Reagan scam that has built today's economic disparity. Trickle down?? Your leg maybe!

      September 20, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Reply
  14. carlos

    reagan, reagan, reagan????????????????????????????????????

    jim111506 you are the equivalent of a non legitimate human being......

    September 20, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Reply
    • jim111506

      Funny monkey want banana?

      September 20, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Reply
  15. jim111506

    [From the movie, Roots]

    "What's your name, boy?"
    "Kunta Kente."
    [Whip!, Whip!, Whip!]
    "What's your name, boy?"
    "Toby."

    I just adore that scene.

    September 20, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Reply
    • wade

      What is your malfunction? I've read nearly every comment you've written on this blog, none of them have anything to do with foreign policy. All you have to offer is the most racist swill you can concoct. I don't know if you're trying to be funny, exercise your freedom of speech, or are just trying to start a reaction. Listen, people actually do come to these things to share real ideas and opinions, and I'm sure that nearly everybody writing here, republican and democrat/conservative and liberal alike, are all offended by your 19th century mentality. I honestly hope you one day die of Lou Gehrig's disease.

      September 20, 2012 at 6:01 pm | Reply
      • jim111506

        I'm a troll, wade, just trying to get a reaction. Thank you for your amusing reaction. Now, if you're too dense to recognize an obvious troll when you see (read) one, then you deserve to spend the rest of your life in a state of naive confusion and frustration. You hope I die of Lou Gehrig's disease? That's pretty harsh. "Today, I consider myself the luckiest troll in the world ...."

        September 20, 2012 at 6:30 pm |
  16. Michael Sawyer

    The problem is that we do not get greater disclosure of the president's records till the 50 year mark. We thought Truman was a terrible president till his archives revealed he was actually one of our best. There is much we do not know about Reagan, Bush I or II, Clinton or Obama.

    September 20, 2012 at 5:41 pm | Reply
  17. cleareye1

    Clinton would easily come in ahead of Reagan. Reagan was nothing more that Hollywood publicity. He was to the presidency as Paris Hilton is to acting! Nice enough fellow personally, but completely in the dark while the minions ran wild. They stabbed him in the back too (North/Poindexter).

    September 20, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Reply
  18. AZLADYY630

    When it comes to FDR – the rest of the Presidents on the list pale in comparison. Without his efforts, we probably would not even be allowed to have this conversation. He not only led the charge to defeat the Axis powers, he was able to keep Joseph Stalin happy and soothe the ego of Winston Churchill.
    His family was just as wealthy if not more wealthy than Mitt Romney – but he certainly did not act like only the rich people in this country counted for anything. I believe that Roosevelt had a true love for this country and gave his all to put her back on her feet during the depressin and he did it again in WWII. He truely was part of the "Greatest Generatioon"

    September 20, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Reply
  19. sobertodaydave

    I think that Abraham Lincoln deserves an honorable mention. While he is primarily known for his efforts at ending slavery as well as the War Between the States, he was also successful at holding off two major powers, France and Great Britain from entering the War on behalf of the South. Folks also forget his successful threats that pushed Maximillian and France out of Mexico. Not bad while you're trying to reunite a divided country.

    September 20, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Reply
  20. Bob

    Another piece that looks at the world through the rear-view mirror rather than addressing today's realities head on. The past may be a nice place to visit, but we can't live there. I know many Americans would like to. We long for the good old days when there was enough wealth floating around loose that even working people could get ahead. But the world, and this country, have changed drastically since any of the presidents mentioned above were in office. Reagan presided over the dismantling of American science and education, two things that were critical to making us a world power. His foreign policy ideas were that of a feudal war lord, only fought with taxpayer dollars in an arms race that benefited no one but the defense contractors and left both the Soviet and U.S. economies a shambles. The battle between the political ideologies of communism and capitalism is over, as far as the rest of the world is concerned. We lost, and there is no way that we are ever going to convince people who have safe streets, guaranteed pensions and health care, free public education through graduate school and equal rights for all of their citizens that our way is better. Americans who have been discriminated against since time immemorial and still live in poverty are even starting to doubt it. We need a president who sees the world and this country as they are today. Romney would like to start gearing up for war again, refuses or is incapable of understanding the implications of global climate change, and thinks the rich should get an even bigger share of the national swag than they already do. Obama seems to be the only one who is willing to accept that most of the difficulties we face right now are new and unprecedented, and that the solutions of the past will no longer work. He also recognizes that the rate of change in the world is accelerating, and that we cannot lead again if we keep falling farther and farther behind in science and technology. Even if I thought Romney was on the side of the poor and middle class I would not want him in the White House. His thinking is stuck too far in the past, in the American he and I both grew up in. But he does not seem to be able to keep pace with a rapidly changing world. He is not only out of touch with the American people, but out of touch with reality itselfl. Obama, like FDR, seems ready and willing to try new approaches to new problems and is willing to ask the American people to understand that the times, they are a changin', and that they are going to have to change with them. I think he's the best man for the job. I think he deserves another four years.

    September 20, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Reply
    • US

      sorry man but it's too early to say much about Obama foreign policies. In any case this article is about PAST presidents.

      September 20, 2012 at 6:35 pm | Reply
    • jim111506

      Bob, no one cares what you think, dear. We're not going to reelect your nigra for you either. It's over, Bob. Obama has done a fine job of reminding the American body politic of the poverty of liberalism. No more social constructivism; no more pretending that the mean American nigra I.Q. is over 85. We shall not re-nig in 2012!

      September 20, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Reply
  21. US

    Teddy Roosevelt and Reagan/Bush senior

    September 20, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Reply
  22. bob e

    I think the long term effects of the foreign policy of george hwbush and ronald reagan were very bad to say the least.

    September 20, 2012 at 6:40 pm | Reply
    • US

      Would love it if you you can expand a tidy little on your idea...

      September 20, 2012 at 8:23 pm | Reply
  23. Ferhat Balkan

    Without a doubt, hands down Jimmy Carter was the best in foreign policy. In 2002, President Carter received the Nobel Peace Prize for his work "to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development" through The Carter Center.

    September 20, 2012 at 7:15 pm | Reply
  24. krm1007 ©™

    Which US President had a more robust foreign policy is irrelevant in the context of todays world. it is a mess out there and all U Presidents have contributed to it. Let us focus on what is relevant: Let us, for starters, thank one of our allies for their contribution to us and the world.

    PAKISTAN !!!!

    THANK YOU …. THANK YOU…. THANK YOU!!!!
    FOR MAKING USA SAFE FOR MAKING THE WORLD SAFE>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Since Sep 11, 2001, over 200,000 Pakistani civilians, armed forces personnel have either sacrificed their lives or wounded; more than 3.5 million have been displaced while the country has lost over
    US $ 1 Trillion due to terrorism.

    Despite sacrifices, Pakistan was still engaged in 'the war for world peace”.

    No other country has even come close to selflessly sacrificing so much.

    Pakistan, no one can ever repay you enough for your contributions.
    You deserve a permanent seat in the UN Security Council for your contributions to world peace and emergence of a new world order. We welcome your rise as the new regional military power. God Speed.

    September 20, 2012 at 7:17 pm | Reply
    • jim111506

      Pakis are dirty monkeys.

      September 20, 2012 at 7:31 pm | Reply
    • sad

      Yes Pakisthan has helped and it has also hindered. Regional power? You have got to be kidding! First clean up your house before you pretend to be the leader of the region. Don't forget the 13 year old girl who was arrested for supposedly burning the bible, the murder of lawyers who spoke up earlier to help a Christian woman, the women with acid eaten faces, the gun totting mobs killing shea muslims and their own people. You created the Taliban in the first place. Please!!!

      September 20, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Reply
  25. sad

    Ehud Barrack of Israel has said that Obama has worked with Israel more than even George Bush. Check CNN interview – those were his own words. Obama did not create islamic countries and Obama or any other US president cannot stop the revolutions in any of these places. Diplomacy always helps. Obama never apologized for the crazy movie about Islam. Saying so is a lie. The envoys in Egypt made a atatement disowning the contents to be diplomatic – that is there job. Obama called the president of Egypt and said whatever he said and Mr. Morsi immediately called off the demonstrations planned for that Friday. Obama cannot stop attacks the same way Bush could not stop 9/11 Read the history and list all the attacks and check who were the presidents at that time. There were republicans and democrats so don't just blame one and not the other. Jimmy Carter is a Christian and not a racist. He spoke up about the conditions of Palestinians. I am no friens of Pakisthan but calling them dirty monkeys is just based on bias and anger. It is terrible that the Islamic world errupts in violence when ever Mahammad is criticized. There was a Fatwa on Salman Rushdi because of the book he wrote which was not as terrible and bad as the latest video.

    September 20, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Reply
    • US

      Why don't you ask Netanyahu what he thinks today about the Obama administration.

      September 20, 2012 at 8:25 pm | Reply
  26. kgt

    Without a doubt, the best foreign policy president EVER is Obama. After all, He personally took the shot that killed Osama Bin Laden.

    September 20, 2012 at 10:25 pm | Reply
    • jim111506

      True story: My wife's employer (a labor union) set up a "voluntary" phone bank in '08 urging members to vote for Obama. One confused "volunteer" was overheard urging a member to vote for Osama Bin Laden.

      September 20, 2012 at 10:38 pm | Reply
  27. Michael Ramsay

    James K. Polk.

    Not only did he peacefully settle the Oregon border dispute with Britain, leading to a favorable trading relationship with Canada, he (for better or worse) settled our Southern and Western Border concerns with Mexico. While there may be a dispute over his role in the provocation in Texas resulting in our eventual take over of Mexico City, he clearly intended to solve our California desires/problems.

    Additionally, he laid the ground work for our eventual (albeit overly colonial) control of the Isthmus of Panama. Without US control there, global trade would significantly be hindered, along with US interests.

    Simpler times indeed..? He came to office with 4 goals. Accomplished them in 1 term, and left office, and America, much better off.

    Would that our politicians today learn a lesson or two.

    September 20, 2012 at 10:36 pm | Reply
  28. Al

    Not sure who the best is, but I know who the bottom two are, and the order matters not they both stand at an even level. And the losers are James (Jimmy) Earl Carter and Barrack Hussein Obama hands down.

    September 20, 2012 at 10:47 pm | Reply
  29. NONSTOP

    Jimmy Carter was probably the poorest President in my lifetime. He was also probably the most honorable and honest man to ever occupy the White House. It takes a charismatic crook to govern the American people (sadly).

    September 20, 2012 at 10:56 pm | Reply
  30. Robyn

    Was the high point of Mr. Reagan's foreign policy "exceptionalism" when he broke the law by selling weapons to terrorists in Iran who kidnapped, tortured and murdered Americans in order to break the law again by giving the dirty money to terrorists in Nicaragua so that they could kidnap, torture and murder Nuns? What a peach of a President.

    September 20, 2012 at 11:06 pm | Reply
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