Who was the least successful foreign policy president?
September 21st, 2012
05:01 AM ET

Who was the least successful 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. Yesterday, we looked at the best. Today we are looking at the least successful. (All views expressed here are, of course, the writers' own.)

George W. Bush

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: Because I’m a Democrat, some may seek to discount my negative assessment of George W. Bush as political. But the facts bear it out. Like Pearl Harbor, 9/11 was a real opportunity for forging a shared sense of purpose – this one squandered by telling Americans to go shopping not grow victory gardens and exploited politically by painting broadly with the “soft on terrorism” brush. On top of that, the Iraq War was among the worst strategic blunders in American foreign policy history. Sure, Saddam Hussein was eliminated: as someone who wrote a book about him, I don’t undervalue this. But any full net assessment of what was gained and lost comes out highly negative. Key alliance relations were damaged. Fallout was felt throughout the Middle East. The American economy took a $3 trillion hit. Our troops suffered over 4,440 casualties, many more injuries, and huge tolls on military families.  This was a war of choice, not necessity, and the wrong choice was made.

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

His take: There is little competition for the slot of worst: it is occupied by president No. 43: George W. Bush. Faced with the tragedy of 9/11, Bush deployed to Afghanistan without sufficient preparation or strategic insight into the country or the enemy (the word should be in the plural). Though many, including the current incumbent in the White House, considered this a necessary war, there is much to question on whether the war begun in October 2001 was the most appropriate way to handle al-Qaeda.  The Bush administration initiated a series of conflations that lumped al-Qaeda in with the Taliban and responded to an unconventional threat in an unimaginative and conventional manner.  The casualties – regional instability and over ten years of war – have been disproportionate to the objectives. However, for the United States, the context of 9/11 has largely but not exclusively rendered the discourse on Afghanistan to one of tactics and efficacy.

Iraq, of course, is the other kettle of fish.  The argument has been repeated so many times now, but this was a gratuitous disaster of the president’s choosing.  We are now all familiar with the narratives on Iraq from the early days after 9/11, the sweep them all up attitude, the further conflations of the ‘terrorists and the tyrants,” the absence of WMD, and the gratuitous rhetoric on democracy promotion and sanding up the dominoes.

The death toll has been incredible and unnecessary; the mid-term outcomes still uncertain.  At the end of his prescient book on the Johnson administration, Choosing War, Professor Fredrik Logevall warned that something like Vietnam could happen again.  The primacy of the president remained relatively speaking unchecked. Americans debated little prior to the war and turned deaf ears to others who warned against military intervention in 2002-2003, much as Johnson did in 1964-65.

These were wars of choice that dislodged the United States.  They exacted terrible human tragedy, huge financial costs, undermined the strategic position of the United States by the end of the 1960s and the end of the first decade of the 21st century.  No wonder Obama increasingly sounded like Eisenhower in his early years.  His deeper understanding of U.S. long term strategy and security suddenly seemed appealing as the narrative turned to one of nation building at home.  Still, even Eisenhower faltered with the CIA assisted overthrow of Mossadegh in 1953.  The long term unintended consequences that rebounded in 1979 ought to be considered more often as U.S. presidents launch into military interventions.

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

His take: George W. Bush did have an unprecedented challenge to deal with, in the form of the attacks of 9/11. He got off to a good start, launching a quick, small, efficient attack that dislodged the Taliban from power immediately.

But then the military let Osama bin Laden get away, and the Bush administration downplayed his importance. Instead, Bush launched the badly planned venture in Iraq.  There was little preparation for what came after the “mission” was “accomplished.” Bush also laid the groundwork for disaster in Afghanistan. His foreign policy statements, and unilateralism, sowed distrust and antagonism against the United States throughout much of the world (except Africa). He did improve relations with India, but only at a cost of alienating Pakistan, and weakening the anti-nuclear proliferation regime. His foreign policy ventures were obscenely expensive (a problem he exacerbated with excessive domestic spending.)  Perhaps the crash of 2008 wasn’t his fault, but he did not prevent it.  He left the country so much worse off than he found it in 2000 that the deterioration is astounding.

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

His take: George W. Bush became president when the United States, having outlasted the Soviets in the Cold War, was the self-proclaimed “sole superpower.” Yet through his reckless conduct of the utterly misconceived “global war on terrorism,” Bush squandered advantages that it had required decades to accrue. The result: protracted and unwinnable wars, thousands of Americans killed and many thousands more maimed, hundreds of billions squandered – for essentially zero return. Bush’s legacy: the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression; trillion dollar deficits as far as the eye can see; heightened anti-American sentiment through much of the Islamic world, while emerging rivals are eating our lunch economically.

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

His take: George W. Bush launched a war of choice in Iraq based on faulty intelligence about weapons of mass destruction that didn’t exist. Much as in Afghanistan, a brilliant initial military campaign in Iraq was not followed by a strategy for winning the peace. Bush squandered the sympathy that the world felt for the United States after 9/11 and diminished America’s soft power. His Freedom Agenda reflected lofty ideals that were not matched with a practical implementation plan or adequate resources. Bush’s heartfelt commitment to combating HIV and AIDS around the world and his creation of the Millennium Challenge Account represent the two bright spots on his foreign policy resume.

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

His take: The worst foreign policy president is easy: George W. Bush. A man of limited intelligence, vision, and knowledge of life beyond the United States, but a man of street-fighting political skills and a determination to persist, whatever the circumstances. A man working with advisors dedicated to the achievement of U.S. power as a perpetual state of dominance – the “unipolar era.”

It was a combination that, before 9-11, was already looking at the possibilities. The day after 9/11, it asked – as National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice was quoted as saying – “How do we capitalize on these opportunities?” And so one tragedy begat more tragedies. The plan to topple Iraq’s Saddam Hussein as the demonstration of U.S. unipolarity, sold on the basis of 9-11 and WMDs, would achieve the opposite: it illustrated vividly the limits of American power and, indeed, of American values.

We – not the American “we” but all of us around the world – are still paying the price of that ill-conceived quest.


Lyndon B. Johnson

James Lindsay:

His take: Sticking with the bipartisan theme, the two least successful foreign policy presidents are Lyndon Johnson and George W. Bush. Both Texans made the same mistake: they plunged the country into unnecessary and divisive wars. LBJ notched a few foreign policy triumphs – most notably the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty – though none rivaled his domestic policy achievements. But Vietnam stands as LBJ’s main foreign policy legacy. From overreacting to the Gulf of Tonkin incident in 1964 to the Tet Offensive in 1968, he consistently misread U.S. interests and North Vietnam’s resilience. The result broke his presidency.

James Lee Ray:

His take: Lyndon Johnson’s invasion of the Dominican Republic in 1965 was a harbinger.  There was no communist threat there. There clearly was a communist threat in South Vietnam.  And his suspicion that he might lose the election in 1968 if he “lost” South Vietnam to the Communists may have been well-founded.

Furthermore, he got caught in a trap that was not of his own making. The original mistake was not accepting the elections for Vietnam set up by the Geneva Accords in the 1950s. Ho Chi Minh would have won them, perhaps. But then Vietnam might have become a communist state like Yugoslavia, with which the United States could have had even amicable relations.

Johnson felt he was adopting a moderate, middle of the road policy, by only giving the military in Vietnam about half of what it asked for.  But he stuck to that policy until the generals wanted a million men, and he gave them only 500,000.  Even that wasn’t enough.

Conservatives will never forgive him for the Great Society (and they never seem to remember that his last federal budget led to a surplus, in 1969.)  And Liberals will never forgive him for the war in Vietnam.  In short, he was very unlucky.

And the rest:

Barack Obama

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

Her take: For worst, it is always tempting to crown Jimmy Carter, not least because he has become an intense version of his self-loathing, anti-democratic, anti-Israel presidency. But Carter did not change the world and despite his efforts, he didn’t change America either. That privilege falls to Barack Obama.

On the face of it, Obama has not seemed the worst of America’s foreign policy presidents. He initially sought to win the war in Afghanistan; he successfully honed anti-terrorism policies and capitalized on his predecessor’s interrogation strategies to find and order Osama bin Laden killed. These are important accomplishments, and notwithstanding his unattractive credit-grabbing, to be lauded.

But our foreign policy is inextricable from our economy; those who suggest that America cannot afford greatness are looking to our FY2012 $1.16 trillion dollar deficit; our planned trillion dollar cuts in military spending, our crippling debt to China and to the concurrent rise of important challenges to American power that have gone unchecked.

Once again, America is at a crossroads. The urgency of the post-9/11 era has passed and the fight against Islamist extremists has lost its appeal.  China is rising and seeks to dominate the Pacific. Europe itself can no longer project power and is consumed by the Euro fiasco. And that Reagan era vision – embraced by every President since – is at risk. Are we exceptional in our commitment to expanding liberty? Rolling back threats to our allies? Sharing our blessings? Or will we turn inward, our clarion call being “nation building here at home”?

The road chosen in the coming election will do a great deal to set our nation on its future path. Will we be a nation in decline, afraid of confrontation, indifferent to our allies and our values? Or will we be a nation that invests in greatness – not by making subsidized solar panels or government supported cars, but by recognizing that we alone have the power to move the world? If we stay on the path chosen by Barack Obama, we will be a nation in which more Americans enjoy disability payments than get new jobs, in which the percentage of Americans that work will continue to decline; in which entitlements explode and defense withers. That is the Obama legacy, in foreign policy and at home.


Jimmy Carter

Thomas Schwartz is professor of history at Vanderbilt University.

His take: Two presidents come to mind for very different reasons. Gerald Ford inherited a tarnished presidency from Richard Nixon, and a newly-empowered Congress frustrated his and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s foreign policy initiatives. Ford presided over the collapse of Saigon in April 1975 and saw his attempt to intervene in Angola stopped by Congress. Ironically enough, his gaffe during the presidential debate about Poland not being dominated by the Soviet Union may have caused his defeat in the election, even though Poland would indeed soon show considerable defiance of Moscow. Lyndon Johnson was an extraordinarily successful president in domestic affairs, but his singular failure to manage the Vietnam War damaged his overall foreign policy standing. Johnson did have more success in other areas of the world, including Europe and the Middle East, but Vietnam will always haunt his presidency.

The least successful president in foreign policy is, in my view, Jimmy Carter, and I reach this conclusion with a certain regret. Carter has important accomplishments to his credit, including the Panama Canal treaty and the Camp David Accords bringing peace between Israel and Egypt. However Carter so badly mismanaged America’s relations with Iran, leading ultimately to the hostage crisis, as well as misunderstanding the Soviet Union, leading to his surprised reaction to the invasion of Afghanistan, that he presented a picture of American impotence to the world, one which paved the way for his overwhelming defeat in 1980 by Ronald Reagan. The president sought to refocus America’s foreign policy on such noble and idealistic goals as the promotion of human rights, but his wavering commitment to allies, and his uncertain response to enemies, ultimately undermined even these important goals.

James Polk

Bruce Jentleson:

His take: James Polk, on the other hand, sought expansion through force rather than diplomacy. Polk was determined to annex Texas but faced a Congress that under his predecessor President John Tyler had refused to ratify a treaty of annexation. So he “stampeded Congress,” as Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. wrote, into a declaration of war by provoking a military confrontation with Mexico. Such machinations prompted concern about the precedent being set from a young congressman from Illinois. “Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation, whenever he shall deem it necessary,” wrote Representative Abraham Lincoln, “and you allow him to make war at [his] pleasure. Study to see if you can fix any limit to his power in this respect.”  While not the only president to abuse the war power, Polk was one of the first and more blatant.

soundoff (210 Responses)
  1. deep blue

    I agree that President Polk was the worst, for the reason listed in the article.

    September 21, 2012 at 7:15 am | Reply
    • ImWEBSPY

      I think the GOP is doing a social experiment, Accidently go to war on bad advice and kill and injure100 thousand needlessly. Take our money, jobs, homes, cars, give them to the banks and their friends on the way out of town.
      When were really good and poor get us to vote for a millionaire Mormon who calls us all a bunch of losers to win!

      September 21, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Reply
      • Jacoby

        youre absolutely right. they did that as an experiment. my goodness, the crap that stuck-up liberals can say.

        September 21, 2012 at 3:13 pm |
      • Jack Breiger

        Seriously, you think that a party that encompasses around 50% of America is hurting you as an experiment. The economic crisis is not the fault of the GOP, it is the fault of partisanism on both sides, two horrible presidents in GW Bush and Obama and a country that expects everything from our politicians and the government but won't take accountability for any of their own faults or even admit that they played a role in the financial debacle. Stop blaming the banks or a single party and think about our future.

        September 21, 2012 at 4:43 pm |
      • j. von hettlingen

        When Bush II met Queen Eliszabeth in 1991 during her visit to the White House as guest of Bush I, the junior introduced himself to the Queen as the "black sheep of the family", and asked her who was his equivalent in the Windsor family. Sadly, the Queen's reply, it was not recorded, Then on the south lawn of the White House in front of all the cameras, George junior turned to the monarch and winked at her on a public platform in front of 7,000 people.

        September 21, 2012 at 5:49 pm |
      • j. von hettlingen

        Don't forget! James Knox Polk was pressed by the hawkish Democratic party rivals to declare that the northern US border should extend to the Pacific along the line of 54' 40". The cry went out: "Fifty-four Forty or Fight." And there was no fight.
        In an act of statesmanship, the border was extended along the 49th parallel and peace has reigned ever since, apart from an incident or two later when Irish Fenian supporters raided across into Canada. Ireland was a thorn in the side of the relationship.

        September 21, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • JTyler

      If Polk is responsible for annexing Texas, then he did the greatest diservice to the US. Should have left it with someone else. Otherwise, how can it be anyone other than George W? The Iraw war is the greatest foreign policy maneuver in the history of this country.

      September 21, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Reply
      • viaquest

        How funny you are , the U.S. could not function without Texas for many reasons your aparently not equipped to understand, first of all it was not 'with someone else' it was an Independant republic with no need for the United States .Texas was never Annexed. Texans fought for freedom from Mexico while the rest of the country was stolen from Indians learn some history there bub! And there was this little barely heard of conflict called The Vietnam War where almost 60,000 Americans and hundereds of thousands of Asians died , you might have missed that one. I feel for every one of the 4400 American lives lost in Iraq but it was far from Vietnam!!! and far from the worst forigen policy disaster in American history! #jtylerisclueless

        September 21, 2012 at 4:46 pm |
    • JTyler

      I meant foreign policy disaster.

      September 21, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Reply
      • Cid

        You do realize that the Bush lineage does not originate in Texas, yes? The argument could similarly be made that we would never have had to endure some North Easterner from butchering an East Texas accent to appeal to the less informed, both in a manner that garnered support from rural America, and infamy from morons like yourself. The very fact that you and your ilk despised his cartoonishly Texan mannerisms made him all the more appealing to people who feel like you couldn't possible whine more. Whatsmore, the opposition party challenged him with someone who could very well have been in the same said cartoon except with a way of talking that would have made Uncle Pennybags balk at his own monocle.

        It is astounding that a group of people can so completely enshroud themselves in the cloak of intellectualism and fail so utterly against a figure the deride as an imbecile. Keep telling yourselves that you know what you're doing.

        September 21, 2012 at 6:57 pm |
    • chuckt20

      Carter and O'bama both hold the crown for the worst. Bring Bush 43 in it is just someone using something out of the O'bama play book. Guess we are seeing what happens in the middle east when you show weakness. Would love for everyone to live in peace and harmony, but you can't reason with someone that would send their own kid in a bomb vest to kill other people. "Trust , but verify" are usual conservative come backs and after this past week, i'm starting to understand. Dropping a bomb may not be the answer, but we need to be prepared to take some serious action. it's coming!

      September 21, 2012 at 4:06 pm | Reply
      • anon

        Well said, and so true!!!

        History repeats itself and cycles through the same patterns every thirty years or so. Romney will win the presidency just like Reagan won it from Carter in 1980.

        September 21, 2012 at 4:24 pm |
      • Always_Amused

        I see that the conservative BULLSHlT machine has snowed you over! There is NO president that comes ANYWHERE close to being as bad as George W Bush!! He is hands down, the worst president this nation has EVER endured evidenced by the very FACT that we are STILL suffereing SEVERELY from his ENORMOUS screw-ups!....

        September 21, 2012 at 4:45 pm |
      • Scott Boy

        What a shocker that a misguided liberal would ignore the present reality to take a dig at Bush. There are daily occurances that prove beyond any reasonable doubt that Obama is the countrys worst president in our great Country's history. Obama is weak and his apology tour in Egypt back in 2009 is coming back to roost. Fast forward to present day events and Obama is trying to stick with his lies that middle east unrest is because of a movie while everyone else including his spokesman says its terrioism. He is a dangerous fool that will be unemployed soon.

        September 21, 2012 at 5:37 pm |
    • Cid

      Horse hockey. Polk was a terrible domestic leader, I don't believe that can be disputed in an honest way. However, Texas was overwhelmingly clamoring for annexation and Mexico had more than twice gone back on a treaty. The Mexican American War was not so much an aggressive war of conquest, so much as a horrific blunder on the part of Mexican leadership seeking to retain a relatively small province (Texas might be big but its resources and effectively administered landmass were relatively small at the time).

      The quote from Abraham Lincoln only furthers to illustrate the fact that many Non-Southerners and Non-Democrats were divorced from reality; American Slavery had been spread to Texas over two decades previously, by Anglos that became the governing populace not because of any peasant army, but because for whatever disturbed reason had colonized the region in the absence of a similar effort by the Europeans who got there first. Polk was no more proactive in this regard than Jefferson purchasing the Louisiana Territory, and by a wide margin less than Andrew Jackson banishing a non-US population from the east. To suggest Polk is worse than either of these two predecessors is to have a revisionist view of history that can only stand firm if viewed from an inflexible ideological standpoint; that through some odd virtue white-European Mexicans were victimized by the white-European Americans in the Mexican American war. Only someone with that mentality can look at the Polk presidency and say, "The the President crossed the line." Horse hokey and absurdness, refined and given scholarly appreciation.

      To put this in perspective, slavery was in no way shape or form disappearing in the South, and Texas would have very likely (sadly I might add) have joined the South REGARDLESS of annexation if the war had occurred when it did. Had Polk not pushed for annexation and had the Mexican American War not happened, it is possible the strategy for the North's victory would have carried a fundamental weakness; an inability to contain and strangle the South.

      To proffer Polk for this list is to assume that the will of Anglos in Texas was for their republic and not for the United States, and this should understand that Sam Houston was extremely pro-American even to an extent pro-Union.

      September 21, 2012 at 6:47 pm | Reply
      • deep blue

        The annexation itself did not cause the war. Polk decided it was a good idea to send forces into disputed territory. When the forces were attacked in the disputed territory, he called for war, and got it.
        Sure, Mexico's government was a mess. Sure, the Lone Star Republic has coerced Anna to sign a treaty saying the Rio Grande was the border. That was no excuse for sending forces into the disputed territory with the intent of provoking a violent reaction that he could use as an excuse for war.

        September 27, 2012 at 8:54 pm |
  2. 100 % ETHIO

    Neither the above article writer(s), nor the commentators, have no accesses to know the key information that is available only for U.S. Presidents.

    Therefore, we never had the least (un)successful U.S. Presidents.

    Those who were on least levels, they lost the elections and never cross the line to be President.
    Look at our continuous genuine generosity for Jewish:-

    1) on November 02 1917, British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour promised a Jewish State.
    Since then, uncounted financial, Weapons, humanitarian, International Law, favouritisms on all aspects of Jewish lives has been granted by Great Britain around the Globe.

    2) some counted donations to Jewish, from the year 1948 until now, U.S. provided more than $160 Billions cash bilateral aid and 60% of U.S. aid including Military equipments goes to Jewish.

    3) U.S. aids to the World are incalculable. It is too much, continuelly.

    So, we don't have the least, except the most.

    September 21, 2012 at 7:24 am | Reply
    • phorse


      September 21, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Reply
      • huh?

        You took the words right out of my handle.

        September 21, 2012 at 3:06 pm |
    • sean

      He's trying to say that the general public has no idea what information the President(s) had at the time they made their decisions. Basically he's saying it's not fair for people who have no experience or expertise to play Monday QB. And he's correct in making that statement.

      September 21, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Reply
      • j-max

        Agreed... what right do taxpayers and voters have to criticize elected officials? We don't have access to the superb and infallible intelligence reports that they do, so we should all just shut our mouths, fill out our 1040s, and do as we're told. It's no one's job to judge the failures of presidents except those presidents, themselves... I believe they do it annually at a holiday get-together.

        September 21, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
  3. Broadbrush

    Barack Obam as one of the worst Presidents dealing with foreign policy? That is so over the top that it must be an atttempt to apply for a position on that fair and balanced Fox TV.

    September 21, 2012 at 11:37 am | Reply
    • Charles Homme

      And Bush is worst? Really? CNN/MSNBC democratic sycophants
      You may disagree with the Iraq war but we actually won it at a cost of a few thousand American lives.
      How about Johnson and Kennedy? They plunged us into SE Asia at the cost of nearly 60000 American lives and millions of Asians which ended in a humiliating withdrawl.

      September 21, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Reply
      • G'Man

        What did we win? I'm not tracking.

        September 21, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
      • fiftyfive55

        actually it was Eisenhower who first sent US advisers to Viet Nam and Johnson who escalated the war

        September 21, 2012 at 2:22 pm |
      • Charles Homme


        The escalation was under Kennedy and Johnson. The war didn't begin in earnest until Johnson.

        September 21, 2012 at 2:40 pm |
      • Chris Kleibacker

        Charles. We won in Iraq? News to me. Ask my son who served 4 combat tours and his dead buddies. Only 4000 dead! No big deal for you. You never served your country, and have no "skin" in the game. Typical of consertives, you love to brag that you pro military as long as someone else does the fighting.

        September 21, 2012 at 3:12 pm |
      • Inglourious

        Bush43 had a good foreign policy because the Iraq war cost only a "few thousand American lives" (+ a trillion dollars)?

        September 21, 2012 at 3:18 pm |
      • Charles Homme


        Did I say that? Maybe you should reread my post.

        September 21, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
      • Charles Homme

        Chris Kleibacker,

        You are clueless. I served in the military for nine years and my little brother is currently in Afghanistan. So STFU.

        September 21, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
      • Inglourious

        I read your post. You insult people who think of Bush43 as having the worst foreign policy record by dismissing theam as "sycophants". Seems obvious you are a fan of Bush's policy and his war of choice in Iraq because it cost only "a few thousand American lives" (your words).

        September 21, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
      • Dustin Goldsen

        The Vietnam war was initially started by the French and taken over by the US when Eisenhower was President. It was expanded under Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon so that was truly a bi-partisan blunder. By the way, it was one "war" that was never declared by Congress.

        As for Bush, responding to a national emergency by invading the wrong country really takes the cake. Iraq had nothing to do with the 9/11 attack. All it accomplished was turning a Suni government that did not get along with Iran into a Shia government that does.

        September 21, 2012 at 3:59 pm |
      • Jay

        Please tell me you didn't just say in a casual manner that "we won that war with just a few thousand casualties". You haven't a clue. You talk like you've been in a war. War wins nothing and nobody wins when people die. You're an idiot!

        September 21, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
      • Charles Homme


        Really? I talked about it relative to another war. Get it? Or am I typing too fast?

        September 21, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
      • Charles Homme

        Dustin Goldsen,

        Again, for the slow. I was comparing it to another war(ie Vietnam). So calling Bush the worst foreign policy president seems like leftist nonsense. Or don't you think the Vietnam war was a magnitude or two worse than Iraq?

        September 21, 2012 at 4:59 pm |
      • DClingman

        Your comparison of casualties is not comparable... Technologies of the 60s versus the technologies of today are so numerous and profound in the ability to protect and take men and women out of harm's way that it is possible, if accounted for, that the casualties suffered since GW Bush sent us into two wars can be measured as greater than the Vietnam era conflicts.

        September 21, 2012 at 5:00 pm |
      • Charles Homme


        You're kidding, right?

        September 21, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
      • Marta Paglianni

        Are you that LOCO LOCO, Bush and his pals invaded a nation that had nothing to do with 911, OBL or have WMD. And due to his crazy attack on that nation over 200,000 innocent Iraqi babies, women and men were killed by Bush and Cheney. THat is CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY!! They belong at the Hague and should be executed for that.

        September 21, 2012 at 5:15 pm |
    • G'Man

      I agree. Apparently Ms. Platka is a republican. And as to owing China... the last time I checked China owns 8% of U.S. debt. The Social Security trust fund is owed 19% (source Business Insider, maybe not the greatest source but a source none the less). I agree that GWBush should be on the list for Iraq alone.

      September 21, 2012 at 2:07 pm | Reply
      • marissa

        Ms. Pletka's analysis is pretty funny. "Obama is the worst foreign policy president ever! Well actually, on foreign policy he's been quite successful, but welfare disability socialism blah blah blah..."

        September 21, 2012 at 3:47 pm |
    • Margy2233

      So the president who did what Bush couldn't. You closed down one war and is in the process of closing another, got Kadaffa and is bearing done on the PM of Syria is not good at foreign policy. BECAUSE HE WILL NOT FIGHT BIBI'S WAR IN IRAN FOR HIM, he is good on foreign policy. As a poster you don't know what you are talking about. Just another hateful bigoted tea bag and republican.

      September 21, 2012 at 2:44 pm | Reply
      • viaquest

        Actually you are the clueless one, the time line for withdrawl from Iraq was set in place by Bush , Obama just followed along, there in no such person as kaddaffa, and the leader of Syria is a Dictator not prime minister which Obama has done nothing to, as 15,000 innocent people have died , so before you comment you might want just a small amount of education!! lets also not forget after 911 there were no attacks on American soil for 8 years , untill Obama took office then there were 3 in his first year

        September 21, 2012 at 4:03 pm |
    • Roger

      Sorry Fiftyfive55, Ike was planning to send US troops contingent with Britain participating. In the end he decided NOT to send troops to Viet Nam. Also HST had a hand in the failure, Ho Chi Minh came to Washington because he believed in the US, he came hat in hand to talk to HST to get support and HST wouldn't talk to him. Wasn't Harry a democrat also? Also forgotten was JFK who also had a hand in Viet.

      September 21, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Reply
      • Inglourious

        There were military advisers and CIA operatives in Vietnam during the Eisenhower administration. Ground (combat) troops arrived in 1965 during the Johnson administration.

        September 21, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
    • strangerq

      But then the military let Osama bin Laden get away, and the Bush administration downplayed his importance

      ^ I will never forget this, and will never forgive Bush or the GOP for it. Period.

      September 21, 2012 at 2:52 pm | Reply
      • viaquest

        Well since Bush was never in Afganistan looking for Osama i find it hard to believe it was his fault he got away, while hiding in an allied( that means supposedly friendly) country we could not look for him in , also tell me exactly what is now different since Osama has been dead ? name one thing that has changed , oh wait I can ... Pakistan now hates America, they used to be Allies, Secret American technology has been sold to China , The innocent doctor used as a spy is most likely going to die in prison for helping America find Osama, Osama was turned into a Martyr giving millions more Muslims reason to hate America , now in 22 countries protesters are screaming Death to America , and Praising Osama binLaden by name in crowds of thousands! But ofcourse in your little liberal world everything is peachy and you hate Bush for saying killing this man was not a priority , America dosen't hunt people to kill them , we are supposed to be a fair and just country. The raid and killing of Osama was far from a proud moment for Americans , a country of laws and justice kicks in a door and kills a man and his son in front of their families with no trial, no representation, now it's come out that he wasnt even armed!! then dump his body in the Ocean without ever proving he's even dead. Then basicly do the same thing to Gadhafi , shot in the head on a road by Spec ops!! but your President is the Savior right ...SMH

        September 21, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
      • Strategic Bob

        point of correction – it was not the military that let bin Laden escape at Tora Bora – it was the Department of Defense's civilian leadership, specifically Donald Rumsfeld, who disapproved the request for forces to seal the border. Rumsfeld also bears significant personal responsibility for the failures in post-conquest Iraq and for a host of unindicted war crimes that took place in Afghansitan, Iraq and Gitmo. It was the Republican ideology, together with Rumsfeld's incompetence and monomaniacal focus on military experimentation, rather than on fighting the wars, that hurt us so badly. And it Bush's fault for letting Rumsfeld carry on in his clearly failed approaches until any possiblity of success had been irretrievably lost.

        September 21, 2012 at 4:35 pm |
    • da Fuji

      What have you been smoking? Must be some really good shiiet! Osama orchestrated the mass murder of 3500 innocent civilians and Bush ordered the slaughter of over 4000 American sons, daughters, mothers and fathers by creatign an unnecessary war. Why? Because GOD told him to do so. I wish that were a joke and unfortunately Bush 43 came across like them Muslim fanatic nut jobs himself. Allahuakbar!!!!!! Ooppps sorry wrong language, I meant to say PRAISE JESUS!! HALLELUYA!!!! These comments come from a former US NAVY AE3 that served during the BUSH 41 war and toured the GULF twice on the mighty IKE CVN69!

      September 21, 2012 at 4:05 pm | Reply
    • da Fuji

      Danielle Pletka is married to Stephen Rademaker, who was in the George W. Bush presidential administration, was the Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Arms Control.
      No wonder! LOL

      September 21, 2012 at 4:07 pm | Reply
    • Strategic Bob

      To Charles Homme,

      for someone who spent nine years in the military, you sure didn't learn much about the things that count – like having a strategy, knowing who your enemy is, the critical importance of planning for all phases of an operation (rather than refusing to even talk about Phase 4, the aftermath, as Rumsfeld did). I could go on talking about the other things you apparently did not learn in your nine years, but I doubt you would understand them.

      And for what it is worth, I will see your nine years and bump another 25. I wore the uniform for 34 years and, unlike you, I did learn a thing or two.

      September 21, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Reply
    • Roger

      I agree, Obama has no place on this list. He has undone much of the damage caused by Bush with our allies. Bush, LBJ and Carter are the clear choices for worst foreign policy Presidents. The funny thing is that his father was a good foreign policy President, but also much more intelligent and had fought in a World War along with Eisenhower and Kennedy. War is never a good first option and should not be charged into lightly!

      September 21, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Reply
    • Yom

      Agreed. Danielle Pletka's convoluted explanation of why President Obama is the worst at Foreign Policy is nothing but a plug for the GOP and American "Greatness". Quite a few of us (obviously) feel that America's TRUE greatness is not born out of our military might. Not a very subtle campaign plug Ms. Pletka.

      September 21, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Reply
  4. huh?

    Colour me confused... yesterday's article had Carter listed as one of the best in foreign policy, and today's has hime listed as one of the worst. I was hoping these articles would be non-partisan and non-biased. When one president can make both lists, well so much for that hope.

    September 21, 2012 at 11:38 am | Reply
    • a slozomby

      i'd love to see a link to the article that had carter as one of the best. i bet it'd be hilarious

      September 21, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Reply
      • huh?

        The link's near the top of this page on the right hand side.

        September 21, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
      • Inglourious

        There have been no wars between Egypt and Israel since Carter brokered the Camp David Accords in 1978. Before that, there was a war every decade (1948, 1956, 1967, 1973).

        September 21, 2012 at 6:42 pm |
  5. huh?

    And Pol? His hands were tied when he got into office by Tyler – they were going to war because of Tyler's annexation of Texas whether Polk wanted to or not. At least he won it once he was forced into it. He peacefully negotiated the 49th parallel with British North America when members of his party were demanding war and declaring "54-40 or fight." Instead the negotiation he pulled off has ultimately led to the largest and most peaceful trade relationship in the history of the world. I don't get these historians conclusions at all.

    September 21, 2012 at 11:45 am | Reply
    • Randy Hunsucker

      Polk was a good president and his foreign policy matched the demands of the time. I agree with you on this one. Who are these silly "experts!" Hurray for Polk's MANIFEST DESTINY! He should be on the best list.

      September 21, 2012 at 2:38 pm | Reply
  6. huh?

    And did you notice the writer who chose Obama never actually mentioned a fault in his foreign policy? Not one specific, just more partisanship. Sigh, so much for a meaningful conversation on foreign policy history.

    September 21, 2012 at 11:47 am | Reply
    • Sammy Sosa

      My thoughts exactly...I went huh??...The writer gave credit to Obama's foreign policy and then said the economy is tied to foreign policy. Now, if we start that argument....

      September 21, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Reply
      • huh?

        If we go down that argument then FDR would be listed as the worst, or does inheriting the Great Depression make him different than somene who inherited the Great Recession? I was hoping for an honest discussion of foreign policy. As for Obama, it's an almost impossible thing to discern this early in the game. We will not know for some time as to the lasting implications of his foreign policy, the same could be said of George W Bush, though some of the results are already apparent, the long term impacts aren't completely clear yet.

        Did Polk know what the long term impact of noramlizing relationships with British North America would be? Doubtfully. Did he make the right call in retrospect? Absolutely. If you had asked a Dem or a Whig about the 49th parallel when he was in office or even 3.5 years after he left office, they would likely of said he messed up. Now, over 160 years later we can say it was one of the best foreign policy calls in the history of the United States if not the world. It's way too soon to tell with either Obama OR Bush.

        September 21, 2012 at 2:51 pm |
    • Charles Homme

      Well then let me fill in the blanks:
      -Clumsy withdrawl of Iraq
      -No victory in his good war in Afghanistan
      -Ignoring the Iranian protesters
      -leaving our allies in Eastern Europe high and dry in missile defense
      -can anyone say "reset"? How's that working out?
      -lead from behind

      September 21, 2012 at 1:47 pm | Reply
      • Randy Hunsucker

        -Iraq withdrawal wasn't clumsy. The war itself was.
        -I'm surprised the war in Afgan. is going this well. Those people have known only war, violence and non-education for centuries.
        -Iranian protesters?? They weren't ignored. Be patient. Hopefully the Iran governmet will collapse under the weight of the sanctions. Their economy is in free fall.
        -Missile defense... I thought we were still doing that? It's making the Russians mad, remember?
        -The reset has been successful as it can be. There is a lot to fix after Dubya!!
        -lead from behind... you can't escape this reality. We aren't the world's police officer. We shouldn't and can't control everything that goes on. It would be nice if everyone played fair and got along.

        September 21, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
      • 4sanity

        In reply to your reply, let me comment and pose some questions:

        -Clumsy withdrawl of Iraq – What clumsy withdrawal. He fulfilled a treaty signed by Bush to withdraw and return sovereignty to the Iraqis. Or are you advocating we stay as some part of neo-colonialism ?
        -No victory in his good war in Afghanistan. – Please define "victory" ? Kill every Afghan goat herder ? Build a Walmart in every town and a McDonalds on every street corner ?
        -Ignoring the Iranian protesters. Successful revolutions come from within. And overt American involvement would quickly lead the masses to an "anti-American" coalition. How would you like it if China were overtly to meddle in American politics and try to support a Tea Party backed revolution to take our country back ?
        -leaving our allies in Eastern Europe high and dry in missile defense. Did it ever occur to you that many of our friends in Europe don't want American missiles, under American control staged on their soil. Nothing like the thought of a potential President Sarak Palin with her finger on the button to make the Brits, Germans and French sleep easier.
        -can anyone say "reset"? How's that working out? – What reset ??
        -lead from behind. – Worked pretty well in Libya I'd say. No troops killed and the Europeans footed the bill.

        September 21, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
      • Charles Homme

        Randy Hunsucker,

        Wow. That is delusional nonsense.
        -Iraq is teetering toward an Iranian sphere of influence because of the sloppy withdrawl.
        -Afghanistan is a complete mess. BTW, where's the body count that was always prominent when Bush was in office?
        -Iranian protesters were completely ignored. What support did Obama offer again?
        -Missile defense is important for many more reasons than just Russia but it was important to Poland as a defensive measure against Russia. You oppose helping our allies? Russia has become more bellicose and dangerous since the the abandonment of the program. Another Obama fail.
        -If we're not the worlds police man why did Obama use the US military in Libya? Why is he reconfiguring the US military for an Asian conflict? Why does use predator drones all over the world?

        September 21, 2012 at 2:48 pm |
      • Charles Homme


        Libya worked out well? Really? Tell that to our ambassador.
        Obama doesn't even know if Eygpt is an ally. His Middle Easy policy is a failure.

        September 21, 2012 at 2:52 pm |
      • Charles Homme


        If you don't understand the "reset" reference you should really stay out of the debate.

        September 21, 2012 at 3:00 pm |
      • zlawyer

        Charles Homme: I think we are all blinded by partisanship from time to time, and since I affiliate with no parties, I'll help you with some of the facts:

        -Iraq withdraw was clumsy, I agree completely. We left there without a proper framework in place and political unrest could lead to another authoritarian ruler.
        -Afghanistan is actually not a mess, but Pakistan is the true problem. We have done a very nice job in ridding the Afghan region of much of its extremists but they have have matriculated into Pakistan. It was Bush's blind reliance on Pakistan that has made that region of the world messy.
        -The proper response to Iran is economic sanctions. A war-fatigued country like ours, fighting in one theater already, does not have the military numbers to sustain two wars (Iran is much bigger than Iraq too).
        -Obama and Russia signed a START Treaty yet again. This is good for nuclear nonproliferation.
        -No American troops were on the ground in the overthrow Libya. We lent our resources and let the rebels take care of their own business. Why invade another sovereign?

        September 21, 2012 at 4:14 pm |
      • Charles Homme


        I commend you for trying to not put on the blinders but I do disagree with your Libya and Russian assessments.
        -Its great that no Americans were killed but the results aren't very good.
        -And the Russia has become much nastier in our abandonment of our East European allies.

        September 21, 2012 at 5:03 pm |
      • MRF_2010

        Charles Homme – Give me an example of positive results being achieved in the middle east after a foreign country invaded or supported a violent uprising and regime change. The lesson we should have learned after Vietnam is, don't go in in the first place. We could have spent a fraction of the cost of war on building an absolutely massive intelligence network and we would have had Osama Bin Laden 6 years ago. Unfortunately it is much more difficult to divert the desired amount of tax dollars that way. Oh well, live and forget.

        September 21, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
    • Scott Pa

      I noticed that too! Not a real criticism at all and left me with the impression that the author wants a forceful president! To start a few more wars maybe?

      September 21, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Reply
  7. Broadbrush

    Presidents generally are a mixed bag. The successes are intertwined with mishaps and misadventures. Ronald Reagan was listed on the prior list as one of the best on foreign policy. I believe largely because the Soviet Union imploded. While I admit some strengths and some flexibility on his part he began his Presidency with the accommodation of the Iranian theocracy." Arms for hostages" if anyone remembers.He begame embrioled in Lebanon and after our embassy was blown up and hundreds killed he swiftly departed. He violated Congressional action and Iran-Contra happenned on his watch and under his nose. Grenada?

    Hard Power was his forte but soft power did not get a lot of attention. Finally he buddied up to Saddam Hussein and supplied weapons to him ,even precursors for chemical weapons ;and , of course, it was under Reagan that the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden were inlisted to get involved in Afghanistan. Now how did that work out?

    September 21, 2012 at 11:57 am | Reply
  8. Quigley

    That would be Pres. Woodrow Wilson(1913-1921). Had the U.S not entered WW1, Germany would have won and thus eliminating the probability of a second world war. Wilson unfortunately, was too open and trusting to the British who also duped him into jumping into the Russian Civil War(1918-1922) which claimed the lives of over 14 million Russians. WW1 left Europe in a very bad way thanks to the 1919 Versailles Treaty! Enough said.

    September 21, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Reply
    • Randy Hunsucker

      Wilson was also one of the best. He kept us out of war... at least until we were continously attacked! We had to act and we won the war. The Versailles Treaty... you don't know your history. Wilson did his 13 points or whatever number it was, but everyone at the table ignored him! He was the smartest person in the room.

      September 21, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Reply
    • Charles Homme


      You need to read a history of WWI. How were we attacked that provoked our enterance into WWI? Clue: we weren't.
      Wilson got all high and mighty and decided it was a just cause. Moral preening fool.

      September 21, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Reply
    • TR

      I am reading E.H.Carr right now, and I think he would agree with you completely, however, since we can only speculate what would've been if we've only had had one WW with Germany as a winner, I am inclined to think that we would be discussing right now who was the worst German President, and not the worse American one if that had actually happened.

      September 21, 2012 at 3:19 pm | Reply
  9. carol

    Tks for the amazing comments and opinions. For me G Bush was the worst.

    September 21, 2012 at 1:26 pm | Reply
  10. wgf

    "Are we exceptional in our commitment to expanding liberty? Rolling back threats to our allies? Sharing our blessings? Or will we turn inward, our clarion call being “nation building here at home”?"

    Neocon drivel.

    September 21, 2012 at 1:41 pm | Reply
  11. Fubarack Obamadinejad

    Obama is the worst by far, even Carter only had the one major problem in Iran, Obama has about 6-10 screw ups going at any given time.
    Obama is so bad he would claim the bottom three spots by himself.

    September 21, 2012 at 1:42 pm | Reply
    • Gene

      Can you state what those "screw ups" were?

      September 21, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Reply
      • Gene Jones

        The three I think are:
        1.) Releasing all the details on the Bin Laden raid – should have just said, we has killed in a "classified operation" in Pakistan and left it at that.
        2.) Negligence leading to ambassador Stevens death.
        3.) Lybia/Egypt are becoming obvious mistakes.

        September 21, 2012 at 3:49 pm |
      • Gene

        Nothing tangible in your response, if that's all you got, go do some research.

        September 22, 2012 at 8:39 am |
    • Scott Pa

      6-10 screw ups? Please enlighten us. Facts are tough, aren't they? Blind hatred is easy!

      September 21, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Reply
  12. Tonyh110

    who cares where any President ranks. Its clear Obama tried a different tack to the Reagan big stick and its failed. Also Reagans big stick worked because the Soviets were far more intelligent and civilised compared to most of these Mid East fanatics – so the big stick worked by merely demonstrating it. With the Mid East it won't be until we USE it thoroughly will we see any respect – encasing them in glass might be our only solution

    September 21, 2012 at 1:44 pm | Reply
  13. Ferhat Balkan

    I think most countries would agree that W Bush was the worst.

    September 21, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Reply
    • strangerq

      Agreed Bush was the worst.

      Romney would potentially be even worse, as he is incredibly stupid.

      Thinks Russia is our number one foe.

      Thinks we should 'kick the can down the road on Mid East peace'.

      Want's to go to war with Iran.

      He's just a freaking idiot.

      September 21, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Reply
  14. Dennis

    What surprises about Obama is the lack of any kind of cohernce, It's like they are making it up as they go.

    September 21, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Reply
  15. John

    Obama is, by far, the worst. I just saw on the news how the U.S. is spending $70,000 in advertising in Pakistan to denounce the anti-Islam film. Wow! So now our government is spending money to decry our right to free speech and apologize to a bunch of animals that will protest and kill people over less than the drop of a hat.

    September 21, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Reply
    • Boo

      Which news organization were you watching?

      September 21, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Reply
    • W.

      It is not appropriate to label any human as merely an animal as it reduces you to the level that they desire. I agree that we need our values, but there is some existential question: Is god on our side? They really believe in what they believe in and are willing to blow themselves up for it. That may be nuts, but it is discipline. Humans are sentient beings with consciousness, not some plains animal that is merely hunted for pleasure. I agree with some aspects of the argument that we should take a firm stand on values, but don't decry humanity.

      September 21, 2012 at 2:43 pm | Reply
  16. Boo

    All of you genuises bashing Obama – I have one question for you – WHAT DO YOU PROPOSE HE DO?

    September 21, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Reply
    • Tonyh110


      September 21, 2012 at 2:14 pm | Reply
  17. Randy Hunsucker

    Ms. Pletka's assessment that Obama has the worst foreign policy record as a result of the national debt is laughable.

    1/2 of the current deficit spending is a direct result of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, republicans block ending, 2 unpaid for wars thanks to "W", the near total economic collapse of 2007-2008, which we are still digging out from and finally, W's unpaid for prescription drug bill.

    So none of that was caused by the current President, yet she tags him as destroying our place in the world order because of the debt. I believe she is getting your presidents confused!!

    Thanks for the laugh Danielle Pletka!!! The weakest and most irrational bunch of words I've ever read.

    September 21, 2012 at 2:08 pm | Reply
  18. french defens

    I am a Republican, but I agree that George W Bush was the worst on foreign policy. The nonexistent threat of WMD used to justify the invasion of Iraq. Not having the wisdom his father had by not taking Baghdad. The invasion of Afghanistan. The high disregard of the value of our relationships with our allies. And, I could probably come up with a long list if I had the time.

    September 21, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Reply
    • Wes


      September 21, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Reply
    • John

      Nonexistant WMD? Ask Clinton in 99 about iraq's nuclear program. There is far too much koolaid to swallow. Obama continued Bush's foreign policy in Iraq and Afghanistan after campaigning against the same policy.

      September 21, 2012 at 4:43 pm | Reply
  19. ryche

    I dont know Boo, but what did you propose Bush do when we were attacked and was given intelligence that said saddam had weapons of mass destruction.. what should Bush have done.. ignored it... i love how you libs will brush away obamas lack of a coherent foreign policy, but hammer Bush's..

    September 21, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Reply
    • Randy Hunsucker

      I saw the same evidence that "Dubya" did and I didn't think there was a reason to go to war! Neither did most of the world and half of Americans. So, it was George W.'s fault for misreading the intelligence. His Secretary of State's presentation to the UN of the evidence was the weakest case I've ever seen! So, hammering W's foreign policy is justified.

      September 21, 2012 at 2:18 pm | Reply
      • the_dude

        You saw the same evidence that GW did??? What is your security clearance??? Or did you just read the headlines on moveon.org and claim they were the same as what GW saw?

        September 21, 2012 at 2:24 pm |
    • Wolfman

      The fact that you are turning this into a red vs blue debate disqualifies you from presenting a non-biased argument on this. Foreign policy is no a blue debate, it is not a red debate, it is an AMERICAN debate. We present a united front and universlly look at all aspects invovled w/o bias.

      September 21, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Reply
  20. 30Plus

    GW Bush wins this vote and with no sticky finger help from his family in Florida.

    September 21, 2012 at 2:10 pm | Reply
  21. Wolfman

    TBH, it's extemely early to place even George W. Bush on this list without a 20-30 year critique if the consequences of his actions as a foreign policy-first President.

    The fact that he is on the lsit so frequently speaks volumes about how disastrous his tenure, mostly motivated by neocon foreign policy advisors, was compared to other U.S. Presidents.

    Early to judge, but the practical bankruptcy of our country, thousands of American lives lost, global loss of U.S. soft power, and the inability to structure, develop, and succeed with a plan based on critical thinking and expectations in Afghanistan and Iraq will far outweigh any good that will come of the last decade of the War on Terror.

    A good man but a bad foreign policy President, unforunately given an extreemly tough situation with 9/11 that completely caused a 180 to his stated foreign policy doctrine (our doemstic policy will shape our foreign policy.)

    September 21, 2012 at 2:13 pm | Reply
    • huh?

      I agree it's far too early to clearly judge Bush – some of the failures are already apparent (as well as a couple of successes) but it will be a long time before we can clearly look at all the results of his decisions both good and bad. Like I said above, even four years after his leaving office Polk was still getting criticism over the handling of "54 or fight" and his refusal to go to war with British North America. No we can look back and realize that call established the beginnings of normalized relations with our two largest and most reliable allies – the UK and Canada (which is also our largest trading partner). No one in Polk's day saw that long term ramification and it was decades later where it could clearly be seen. It's way too early to pass judgment on Bush or Obama.

      September 21, 2012 at 3:28 pm | Reply
  22. bill davis

    Reminds me of Jimmy Carter and his 35 year old unemployed grandson...maybe him and Bill Carter can go sell some beer...for Obama's beer garden...

    September 21, 2012 at 2:20 pm | Reply
  23. the_dude

    Ofailure is the worst foreign policy president ever that goes without saying. Still if you look at the good he has done.....free cell phones , courtesy of the American taxpayer, for inner-city ghetto rats. Millions of illegals getting free school, food, housing, etc.

    September 21, 2012 at 2:23 pm | Reply
  24. twodeer

    I agree, previous article listed Carter as one of the best now this? Another item that is way too often overlooked is that Carter (NOT Nixon) normalized relations with China. Nixon opened the door to China, but Carter walked through it. This led to waves of Chinese student coming to the US to study, going home with this new found vision of free markets and freedom of speech and movement. As much as the Camp David Accords should be honored for its acheivement, I think this quiet act (China) needs to be better acknowledged as a foreign policy accomplishment. Oh, and let's not forget he softened our approach to Cuba and Latin America.
    Just becasue we didn't invade anyone under Carter, he is too often looked at as "soft." Such a pitty.

    September 21, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Reply
  25. zp

    In most recent years...Clinton didn't address the terrorist issue in his eight years, so Bush got hit with it right off the bat in his presidency. Bush kept our country safe by going on the offensive. Obama is the weakest foreign policy president ever – and with his astounding lack of leadership and judgment, has now placed our country's national security at risk.

    September 21, 2012 at 2:35 pm | Reply
  26. W.

    The goal of an army is to win a war, whereas the goal of the guerilla is not to lose. I think that there is a lesson in this when we cannot tell who the enemy is when they blend into society; unlike WWII when it was so well defined. We are in an entirely new political war-zone paradigm that does not need an enormous army, but a stealthy and ruthless one with dynamic flexibility. The goal of our Army now is to get back home safely and lick our wounds, then consider a new direction of defense.

    September 21, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Reply
  27. NAW3

    AEI is a partisan conservative think tank. It's no surprise that their scholar says Obama is one of the worst presidents – and then gives bogus reasoning that hides GWB's role in increasing the deficit.

    September 21, 2012 at 2:40 pm | Reply
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