HIV-AIDS Epidemic

Reelected Presidents And Foreign Policy

An interesting trend of reelected American Presidents is their tendency to become deeply involved in foreign policy matters. This is true since the dawn of America as a world leader in the time of Theodore Roosevelt.

The question is whether this is a planned strategy, or a simple reaction to events, or both.

After Theodore Roosevelt won his full term, having succeeded William McKinley after his assassination, TR became involved in aggressive policy making, criticizing Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany over Morocco at the Algeciras Conference of 1906, and taking leadership of relations with Japan.

Woodrow Wilson, after keeping us out of war in Europe, called for our entrance into World War I a month after his second inauguration, and then went to the Versailles Peace Conference after the war, and worked, unsuccessfully, to convince the US Senate to ratify the Versailles Treaty and membership in the League of Nations. He also committed troops, along with Great Britain, France, Italy, and Japan, to attempt an overthrow of the Soviet Union regime under Nikolai Lenin.

Calvin Coolidge, elected after succeeding Warren G. Harding in 1923, became involved in the promotion of the Kellogg Briand Pact in 1928, an attempt to outlaw war as an instrument of international policy.

Franklin D. Roosevelt moved the nation closer to dealing with the German Nazi, Italian Fascist, and the Imperial Japanese threat before and during the early part of the Second World War, and then took us into the war after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in his third term, and pushed for an alliance with the British and the Soviet Union during the war, and advocated the formation of the United Nations as the war was ending.

Harry Truman, after succeeding FDR upon his death in 1945, and winning his own election in 1948, helped to form the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, took America into the Korean War, and gave aid to the French in the Indochinese War.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, in his second term, engaged in diplomacy with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev at Camp David in 1959 and secretly planned to overthrow Cuban leader Fidel Castro.

Lyndon B. Johnson, after succeeding the assassinated John F, Kennedy in 1963, in his full term, escalated American involvement in Vietnam to a full scale war that divided the country, and invaded the Dominican Republic in 1965.

Richard Nixon, after being reelected, became engaged in the Yom Kippur War in 1973, saving the possibility of a Soviet intervention in the Middle East, and also arranged the overthrow of the Chilean President, Salvador Allende.

Ronald Reagan, in his second term, engaged in arms agreements with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev; bombed Libya over its claim of a 200 mile territorial limit; and supported overthrow of dictatorial regimes in Haiti and the Phillippines.

Bill Clinton, in his second term, brought about peace in Northern Ireland; became engaged in war against Serbia over Kosovo; and engaged in counter terrorism actions against Osama Bin Laden and other terrorists.

George W. Bush, in his second term, conducted a “surge” in Iraq, and promoted action against the HIV-AIDS epidemic in Africa.

The question is what Barack Obama will end up doing in the field of foreign policy, and whether he will initiate it, or react to events he cannot control.