Richard Nixon

Historic Leaders Of The Senate Foreign Relations Committee

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is one of the most important of all committees in the history of that body, having begun as early as 1816.

It is one of the most significant committees, with many future potential Presidential seekers wishing to be seen as “experts” on American foreign policy.

It is a committee often in conflict with the President of the United States on strategy and policy toward other nations.

There have been many colorful leaders of the committee, both Democrats and Republicans, who have become famed or notorious for their principles and impact on American foreign policy.

The committee again has become focused on as part of the heated debate over the Iran nuclear deal, and its recent former Chairman, John Kerry, is now the Secretary of State, charged with gaining the support of the committee, which, clearly, however, under Republican control, is a lost cause.

Among its leaders have been Presidential nominees Rufus King, Henry Clay, and John Kerry; President James Buchanan; and Vice Presidents Hannibal Hamlin and Joe Biden.

Such prominent political figures, other than those mentioned above, who served as Chairman of the committee include: Thomas Hart Benton, Charles Sumner, John Sherman, Henry Cabot Lodge, Sr., William Borah, Arthur Vandenberg, J. William Fulbright, Frank Church, Charles Percy, Richard Lugar, Claiborne Pell, Jesse Helms, and present Chairman Bob Corker, with Fulbright serving the longest as Chairman, 16 years from 1959-1975.

Those who made the most news included Lodge fighting Woodrow Wilson on the Versailles Treaty and League of Nations; Vandenberg playing a crucial role in backing the containment policy of President Harry Truman, despite them being from different parties; Fulbright fighting against the Vietnam War under Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard Nixon; and Helms being a major problem for Bill Clinton on many foreign policy issues.

Diplomatic Relations With Unfriendly Governments: Soviet Union, People’s Republic Of China, Vietnam, Cuba, And Now Issue Of Iran

When it comes to the issue of foreign policy and international relations, the controversy over whether the United States should have diplomatic relations and embassies in nations that are our rivals, our opponents, is a constant debating point.

Clearly, when the United States is at war with a foreign government, diplomatic relations cease.

Also, if a foreign government chooses to break off diplomatic relations on its own, then clearly there will be no diplomatic relations.

But other than these situations, the idea that, somehow, refusing to deal with an unfriendly government is beneficial does not ring true!

There are always good reasons to have a diplomatic channel, a way to relate to and deal with a hostile foreign government, if for no other reason, to allow discussion of contentious issues that may arise, including hostages, military and naval challenges, and providing for humanitarian interventions when there are natural disasters.

After all, even if governments do not get along, the people of the United States need not see other nations’ people as enemies!

And failure to recognize changes of government never works in our behalf, as witness our long diplomatic isolation of the Soviet Union from 1917-1933; of the People’s Republic of China from 1949 to 1979 (although Richard Nixon visited China in 1972 and started trade, cultural and tourism contacts); of Vietnam (from 1975 when the Vietnam War finally ended until 1995); and now of Cuba from 1961 to this month.

It turns out the diplomatic isolation of Cuba lasted 54 years, way beyond the 16 years of the Soviet Union; the 30 years of China; and the 20 years of Vietnam.

Nothing was accomplished by the diplomatic isolation of Cuba, and while the government of that nation is a dictatorship, as with Russia, China, and Vietnam, we cannot decide that a dictatorship, as reprehensible as it is, can be, somehow, made to change by ignoring them and refusing to deal with them.

If we were to use that as a guide, that a nation was run as a dictatorship and therefore we would not deal with that nation, then we would have to suspend diplomatic relations with most of the world’s 193 nations.

But we have dealt with brutal dictatorships regularly in Latin America, Asia and Africa, as well as Eastern Europe.

We could wish the world was like us; Canada; Australia; New Zealand; and Western European nations; Japan; and selected nations in Latin America, Asia, and Africa, but we must deal with the world as it is, not the way we wish it was!

So, the issue of Iran, a hostile nation engaged in trouble making in the Middle East; calling for the extermination of Israel; calling the United States “the devil”; and gaining nuclear energy information rapidly, cannot be ignored.

It is better to deal with Iran, as much as they are willing, as the people of the nation are clearly not in support of their theocratic Islamic regime, and we are not going to gain by a war with Iran, a large nation with large population, which, if we went to war, the effect would be to unite the nation in nationalistic fervor to defend the homeland.

The answer is, if possible, not only to get the nuclear deal negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry to be ratified, but also to attempt to ameliorate the danger and threat of Iran through further diplomatic engagement!

The Uncertainties Of American Politics: Envisioning Donald Trump As Possible President!

Some observers are starting to wonder whether billionaire celebrity Donald Trump could actually be elected President of the United States!

It would seem to be impossible, a crazy idea!

And yet, when one looks at history, one has to consider the following:

In 1911, who would have thought that a recently elected Governor of New Jersey, and former Princeton University President, named Woodrow Wilson, would become President in the Presidential election of 1912?

In 1959, who would have thought that a mediocre Senator of Catholic religion, named John F. Kennedy, would overcome his faith and become President in the Presidential election of 1960?

In 1967, who would have thought that a losing Presidential candidate in 1960 and losing gubernatorial candidate in California in 1962, named Richard Nixon, would overcome his losses and bad press and become President in the Presidential election of 1968?

In 1975, who would have thought that an obscure one term Governor of Georgia, who many ridiculed, named Jimmy Carter, would overcome his obscurity and Southern heritage, to become the first elected Southerner to the Presidency in the Presidential election of 1976, since Zachary Taylor in 1848?

In 1979, who would have thought an aging actor, who had already tried twice for the Presidency, named Ronald Reagan, would overcome disadvantages to become President in the Presidential election of 1980?

In 1991, who would have thought the governor of a small Southern state, Arkansas, named Bill Clinton, would overcome a sex scandal that had destroyed Gary Hart in 1987, and go on to become President in the Presidential election of 1992?

And in 2007, who would have thought that a mixed race African American with the strange name of Barack Hussein Obama, would overcome Hillary Clinton, and go on to become President in the Presidential election of 2008?

So who is to say that Donald Trump cannot overcome obstacles and go on to become the 45th President of the United States in the Presidential election of 2016?

A “Nice”, “Authentic” Person, Not A Mean Spirited, Uncaring Person: What People Want For Their Next President!

Americans are confused and upset about the uncertainties facing the nation, due to the political split in Congress and in the state legislatures. They might seem to cheer on a nasty, bullyish candidate who, momentarily, appears to vent their frustrations. But when emotions calm, that is not what the American people are looking for!

They want someone who is a “nice guy”, “authentic”, “real”, “truly concerned” about the issues and problems, confident and sure of himself, and a good debater who can overcome his opponents with his facts, knowledge, and charm, and convince the American people he is the right person for the Presidency! Joe Biden fits that description precisely, and even his opponents in the Republican Party, including Lindsey Graham, Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, and many others, respect and like him personally!

No Republican Presidential candidate fits that bill, not one of them.

Neither does Hillary Clinton fully evoke that feeling, and Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley simply do not have the ability to go all the way, and Sanders has the issue that most Americans are totally ignorant of the word “Socialism” and its meaning, and that harms his candidacy!

Face it, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, Chris Christie, Bobby Jindal, Mike Huckabee, Rick Santorum, Dr Benjamin Carson, Rand Paul, Lindsey Graham, Rick Perry, Carly Fiorina—all of these come across as mean spirited and uncaring.

Jeb Bush, John Kasich and Marco Rubio come across in a somewhat better fashion, as does George Pataki and Jim Gilmore, but none of them have the personality and genuine nature of Joe Biden!

We have never elected a President since World War II, with the exception of Richard Nixon, who was not likable when elected. Lyndon B. Johnson, while not that likable, was in office before he faced election, as was Harry Truman, so they are not included. But all the others, despite whatever shortcomings they had, were likable when they were elected, except for Nixon.

We want to “like” our President, and the Republican Party has a major problem with “likability”, which guarantees they will lose, even to a candidate such as Hillary Clinton, who is not seen as particularly “likable”, while Sanders, O Malley and Joe Biden are all very “likable”. But Biden stands out over O’Malley and Sanders!

Is Al Gore Or John Kerry Viable As A Presidential Candidate In 2016? The History Of Henry Clay, Abraham Lincoln, Franklin D. Roosevelt, And Richard Nixon!

Speculation has risen not only that Vice President Joe Biden might announce for President, but also that former Vice President Al Gore and Secretary of State John Kerry, both who lost the Presidency to George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004 respectively, might decide to try for the White House yet again.

Although Hillary Clinton seems to many like a shoo-in for the Democratic Presidential nomination in 2016, there are signs of discontent with her, and feelings among many that she is too secretive, not trustworthy, and not all that likable.

The odds are still heavily in favor of her nomination, but there are many who feel Biden, and possibly Gore and or Kerry, should consider running, as it is felt that Bernie Sanders, while performing well right now in regards to crowds and fund raising, ultimately cannot be expected to win the nomination, with his Socialist connections being harmful, due to many Americans misunderstanding the term, and being told it is harmful and dangerous.

But the question arises about Gore and Kerry, that they have both been out of the Presidential game for a very long time, with Gore out 16 years and having no public office since his loss in 2000, despite having won the popular vote over George W. Bush; and Kerry, having served in the Senate after his defeat, until he became Secretary of State after Hillary Clinton left the State Department in 2013, but being out of the Presidential race for 12 years by 2016.

So history is a guide here.

It turns out four Presidential candidates had been out of the Presidential field for very long times, as follows:

Henry Clay lost the Presidential race in 1824, and then 8 years later in 1832, he was nominated again. Then 12 years later, in 1844, he was nominated for the third and last time. Twelve years is a long time!

Abraham Lincoln last held public office in 1848, when he left the House of Representatives after one 2 year term. But then, 12 years later, he ran for President and won!

Franklin D. Roosevelt ran for Vice President in 1920 and lost, and then was sidelined by polio, not running again for public office until 8 years later, when he won the Governorship of New York in 1928. Four years later, and 12 years after losing the Vice Presidency, he won the Presidency in 1932!

Finally, Richard Nixon lost the Presidency in 1960 and lost, then ran for California Governor in 1962 and lost, and yet came back 6 years later, after 8 years out of office, and yet won the Presidential Election of 1968!

Are Al Gore and John Kerry as long shots as Clay, Lincoln, FDR, and Nixon were?

That is the issue to confront, and this author would say that while both of them seem “long shots”, we have had other “long shots”, who few thought had a chance to win the Presidency, and in recent times yet—John F. Kennedy (Catholic issue) in 1960; Jimmy Carter (Southern issue) in 1976; Bill Clinton (Sex Scandal issue) in 1992; and Barack Obama (Race issue) in 2008!

So literally, anything is possible in American Presidential politics!

Promotion Of Equal Justice: Barack Obama And Prison Reform

President Barack Obama yesterday did something no President has ever done–visit a federal prison In Oklahoma, and talk with officials and inmates who are in prison for long periods of years for nonviolent criminal offenses realted to drugs.

The fact that we have about one percent of the population in prisons, many of them for drug offenses, has become a national issue, with Republicans, such as Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky joining Democrats such as Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey calling for reform.

Obama is making this a national commitment to reform our entire justice system, which sees so many more African Americans and Hispanics languishing in prison, while whites are able to avoid the large percentage of drug convictions.

The War on Drugs of Richard Nixon was made more strict and harsh under Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton in particular, putting people with nonviolent offenses, who committed three such crimes, being sentenced to life.

Now Obama has commuted the sentences of 46 drug offenders in prison for a long time, and has done close to 100 such commutations, making him the moat active President since Lyndon B. Johnson in that regard.

Equal justice is his mission, and he is well on the road to that accomplishment, through the hard work of Attorney General Loretta Lynch, following up on the excellent work in this area of former Attorney General Eric Holder!

Presidents And Difficult Diplomacy: TR, FDR, Truman, JFK, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Clinton, Obama

Presidents have to deal with recalcitrant nations in diplomacy, including nations that are our adversaries.

The key is to promote agreements, with the ability to verify and hold nations accountable, under international agreement. It is not an issue of trust, as many nations see other nations as rivals, but rather the ability to come to agreements with the understanding that violations can lead to a confrontational situation if they are not kept.

Presidents have regularly taken bold steps in diplomacy with other nations, whereby they suffered from strong criticism as being naive and weak, but history tells us they actually demonstrated courage and principle, that international agreements could be upheld if both sides wish to avoid military confrontation.

So we have President Theodore Roosevelt negotiating agreements with a newly ambitious Japan after the Russo-Japanese War.

So we have President Franklin D. Roosevelt deciding to establish diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union after 16 years of non recognition.

So we have President Harry Truman deciding to recognize Israel, and in so doing, alienating Arab nations in the Middle East.

So we have President John F. Kennedy agreeing to the Nuclear Best Ban Treaty in 1963 with the Soviet Union, and it is still in effect today. This came after the Cuban Missile Crisis, which many believed the result would not be obeyed by the Soviet Union, but they did precisely what was required under the settlement.

So we have President Richard Nixon, who made arms limitation agreements (SALT I) with the Soviet Union, and opened the door to contacts with the People’s Republic of China, both moves that are now hailed, although criticized at the time.

SO we have President Jimmy Carter accomplishing something no one would have believed, an agreement between Israel and Egypt, and mutual recognition, in what became known as the Camp David Accords. Additionally, Carter decided to recognize the Communist government in China as being China, rather than Taiwan.

So we have President Ronald Reagan, after calling the Soviet Union an “evil empire”, negotiate arms agreements with Mikhail Gorbachev.

So we have President Bill Clinton bringing about peace between the Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland, an event that seemed impossible of achievement, known as the Good Friday Agreements of 1998. He also established diplomatic relations with Vietnam, a generation after the end of the divisive war in Vietnam was lost.

So now we have President Barack Obama negotiating an agreement to prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons, with five other nations engaged in the process, and to prevent war, while guaranteeing the security of Israel and Arab nations. Like all the others, it is a gamble, as no one can be sure of Iran’s ultimate actions, but it has worked out in all of the other cases. He also has established diplomatic relations with the government of Fidel and Raul Castro in Cuba.

And yet, nothing is a panacea, as Russia and China still present a challenge, but progress was made to avoid war, and that is happening again now, with the understanding that if the agreement is broken, war is always an ultimate alternative!

Theodore Roosevelt And Gifford Pinchot Turning Over In Their Graves At Republican Party War On National Parks And Other Environmental Concerns!

The Republican Party a century ago had leaders who cared about the environment, and promoted conservation as a basic national policy.

Governor and later Senator Robert LaFollette, Sr. of Wisconsin; Senator George Norris of Nebraska; US Forestry Service Director and later Governor of Pennsylvania Gifford Pinchot; and President Theodore Roosevelt, all of them progressive Republicans in domestic affairs, made the promotion of national and state parks and monuments a priority. They set a standard for Democrats who followed their lead, including Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and now Barack Obama, who just announced three new national park designations in California, Nevada, and Texas. Obama has added 260 million acres and 19 national monuments in office, making him one of the great leaders on that endeavor. We should also mention Republican President Richard Nixon, who despite many faults and shortcomings, did enough to be rated number two among Presidents on the environment, by a conservation group.

Additionally, we were fortunate to have such outstanding Secretaries of the Interior as Harold Ickes under FDR; Stewart Udall under JFK and LBJ; Walter Hickel under Nixon; Cecil Andrus under Carter; and Bruce Babbitt under Clinton to emphasize the importance of the environment in all of its manifestations.

But the Republican Party of present times is anti conservation, anti environment, fights the concept of global warming and climate change, and has allowed itself to come under the influences of wealthy energy interests that would love to mine uranium in the Grand Canyon; destroy native American and paleontological sites; and conduct fracking for natural gas, despite the vast dangers to health and safety, including water pollution and greatly increased earthquake activity, as in Oklahoma, for instance. The Koch Brothers have had a particularly deleterious effect on the issue of the environment. And Republican Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma is the worst possible enemy of the environmental movement in Congress, and is head, by seniority, of the Senate committee that deals with the subject.

The failure to see the importance of preserving our natural treasures is mind boggling, and those groups involved in promoting the environment know they have a massive challenge to keep what was given to us, and until the 20th century, was being gutted by rapacious capitalists in the oil, coal, natural gas, uranium, and lumber industries who only saw, and still see, only the almighty profit motive, including lack of concern for danger to wildlife!

Jimmy Carter: The Most Underrated, Unappreciated President Since World War II!

Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter celebrated their 69th wedding anniversary today, a year and a half shorter in duration then George H.W. and Barbara Bush’s marriage, the two longest in Presidential history!

Both George H. W. Bush and Jimmy Carter have reached the magic age of 90, with Bush 91 on June 8, and Carter to be 91 on October 1.

It is a blessing that both are still with us, but it would seem as if Jimmy Carter is likely to outlive Bush, based on health conditions right now.

Bush is being, properly, appreciated in his 90s, but Carter remains the most underrated, unappreciated President since World War II.

The critics, mostly Republicans, conservatives, and right wing supporters of Israel’s often extremist government, are always on the attack, and this blogger has heard from audience members when he gives lectures, that Jimmy Carter is an anti Semite, which is farthest from the truth!

Jimmy Carter could be said to be anti Israel’s government, when it has been right wing extremist, as for instance, it is now under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But people forget how he managed to bring about the only enduring moment in the Middle East since World War II–the Camp David Accords—which brought together former warriors and enemies, Anwar Sadat of Eyypt and Menachim Begin of Israel, despite their being far apart on the issues of Middle East peace.

This is the most impressive and enduring moment of the Carter Presidency, and is not fully appreciated for what it was and is, even today! And Carter is most certainly NOT an anti Semite, and there are many Jews in America who are not pro Israel automatically when the government there is right wing extremist as it is now!

Carter also brought about the Panama Canal Treaty, an historic event; promoted Human Rights, a fundamental principle of this man of high morality, who would eventually win the Nobel Peace Prize; and worked to free the hostages in Iran peacefully, as frustrating as that was, rather than bomb Iran and see all 52 Americans killed in response, the likely result had he gone “hawkish”.

If the attempted rescue in April 1980 had worked out, it is likely that Jimmy Carter would have had a second term, and Ronald Reagan would be a footnote in history!

Carter also became the third best environmental President in American history, after Theodore Roosevelt and Richard Nixon; promoted free elections, human rights, democracy all over the world through the Carter Center; condemned violence against women and mistreatment of the poor around the world; emphasized the spreading of health care and education to the deprived parts of the world; and even condemned the most extreme right elements of his own Baptist faith.

He became the most activist former President in American history, and has survived longer after his time in office than any President, now going on 34.5 years on July 20. And his Vice President, Walter Mondale, survives at 87.5 years of age, making them the longest lasting Presidential-Vice Presidential team ever in American history!

Jimmy Carter is not perfect, in or out of office, but he is a very decent man, well meaning, brilliant in intellect, and the author of 27 books, including his new book, released today, entitled: “A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety”, a worthwhile read!

It is clear that only when he passes from the scene, like Harry Truman, will he come to be appreciated for the great man and human being he is, always trying to do his best, but humble enough to be willing to concede his shortcomings, much of which he expresses in this new book!

The Odd, Unusual History Of Democratic Presidential Contenders For 2016

It is not well known or recognized, but it is reality that more than half of the Democratic Presidential contenders for 2016 were actually NOT always identified as Democrats.

We have Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the most successful Independent and Socialist in Congress in American history! He has allied with the Democrats in caucuses for years, but only finally declared himself a Democrat when he announced his candidacy for President.

We have Lincoln Chafee, who is the son of a former Republican Senator, John Chafee, who was also a Richard Nixon cabinet member as Secretary of the Navy in the 1970s; succeeded his father in the Senate as a Republican; then became an Independent when he ran for Governor of Rhode Island; and only in 2013 switched his loyalties to the Democratic Party.

We have newly announced former Senator Jim Webb of Virginia, who switched from Republican to Democrat before running for the Senate in 2006, but was a Ronald Reagan cabinet member as Secretary of the Navy in the 1980s, just as John Chafee was more than a decade earlier.

And then we have Hillary Clinton, who as a high school student was a supporter of Republican Barry Goldwater for President in 1964, although she never registered as a Republican!

Only Martin O’Malley of Maryland and likely future candidate Joe Biden have an “unblemished” record as Democrats throughout their lives!