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!

One comment on “Presidents And Difficult Diplomacy: TR, FDR, Truman, JFK, Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Clinton, Obama

  1. Ale Weisman July 17, 2015 1:05 pm

    I am so grateful to our President. He managed to prevent a war with the great Persian nation while simultaneously legitimizing Iran as a normal international actor in good standing and achieving its recognition as “a very successful regional power” as the President said. Also the conventional-arms and ballistic-missile embargoes on Iran which are completely unjust and an intervention on Iran sovereignty, will be eventually lifted. Another benefit in this road towards international justice and equality among nations is the fact that Iranian imports — of sophisticated Russian and Chinese weapons will be untouchable since we are never going to attack Russian and Chinese transports. So Iran will finally achieve its legitimate place as a regional and even world power after years of US imperialism in the region. Fortunately ten years of imperialistic international sanctions will irretrievably vanish overnight since neither Europe, Russia and China will reimpose these unfair sanctions even if Iran does not comply! I always wondered , why can we have nukes, but not Iran? Who are we to say no? They have just as much rights as America. Anyway, I am also pleased to learn that under this final agreement, Iran has the right to deny international inspectors access to any undeclared nuclear site and if there are inspections, after 24 days, only countries with diplomatic relations can send inspectors. Meaning the US cannot. It is only fair that this be so since the US imperialist policies intervened in Iran for decades. Iran just like the US is a sovereign nation, both are morally and legally equivalent and it would be an insult to any country in the world to accept “anytime, anywhere” inspections. I am sure we would not accept that from anyone, so why should Iran? In the end, I am thrilled to see that finally the US is acting as just one nation among many other nations and not imposing its imperialistic goals as America always done. It is good to see that we do not act as morally superior to any other nation, that America do not act as a superpower bully. Just like Obama said ” there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive.” I am so happy that this is no longer so, and that America is no longer a “special” country, that the imperialistic notion of American “exceptionalism” is finally over! Also the legitimizing of Cuba’s communist system is also a step forward. How can the America arrogantly claim that Cuba sponsors terrorism when Cuba has a much better healthcare system that takes care of everyone? So we must celebrate! Only if America no longer acts like a country with superpower status can there be peace and equality on earth! After all who are we to impose our worldview on others?

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