A corollary to reactive and disinclined foreign policy is loss of international respect. Most of the Republican Party presidential candidates are invoking the memory of Ronald Reagan in attempting to establish their credentials.
As Lloyd Bentsen said to Dan Quayle during the 1988 campaign — you’re no Jack Kennedy — so too, no candidate of either party at the moment has emerged as a Ronald Reagan.
Americans have felt more secure under some presidents than others. The virtue of Ronald Reagan in the international arena is that he was believable and respected.
Regardless of political parties, diplomats serve at the pleasure of the president. Rarely does a president take issue with the performance of a particular diplomat.
However, if a diplomat has a problem following through with established policies, it is incumbent on that diplomat to resign, as some did during the Vietnam war under President Nixon.
Then there are other presidents, such as Jimmy Carter, whose foreign policy doesn’t inspire confidence and who are dismissed by other leaders.
As a U.S. diplomat overseas during Reagan’s presidency, I found espousing American interests was enhanced by foreign leaders’ perception of Reagan. His “American cowboy” image was only part of it.
Foreign leaders recognized that Reagan truly believed in America and its special role in the world and that he would not hesitate to take action to defend and protect American interests.
This is what has been missing the last several years in American foreign policy. Our leadership capitulates to unsavory parties, forsaking leverage we have developed through our strengths as a nation. Without any resolve to put our adversaries’ feet to the fire, our government leader’s reliability is impinged upon.
Today, many world actors are testing and believing that American leadership has gone soft, that there is virtually no risk the United States will take.
The United States is now faced with emboldened Russia and Iran, both seeking to usurp any residual American and Western influence in the Middle East, while China and North Korea flex their muscles in Southeast Asia. Meanwhile, jihadists thrive in the vacuum created by American disengagement.
Our friends in both regions are concerned, with reason, that the United States no longer has their backs, that they are on their own to work out whatever accommodation they can.
Along with the distrust of our allies, our country has become less secure.
Foreign Service Officer
Cobby Creek Lane