By analyzing how America’s greatest presidents displayed their mastery of statecraft, American Presidents in Diplomacy and War offers important lessons about the most effective uses of national power abroad.
American Presidents in Diplomacy and War chronicles the major foreign policy crises faced by twelve American presidents in order to uncover the reoccurring patterns of successful and less successful uses of diplomatic, economic, and military power. In this brief and highly readable book, Thomas R. Parker reveals how America’s most successful leaders manage events instead of allowing events to control them.
Parker explores how the U.S. presidency, from the days of the early Republic to the present, shaped the world. Ranging from George Washington to George H. W. Bush, Parker shows how successful statecraft requires the understanding of complex situations, the prudent evaluation of various courses of action, the ability to adapt and to anticipate, and personal determination. Parker compares each of these leaders to their contemporaries—reasonable political leaders who nonetheless made serious mistakes, such as Thomas Jefferson and Barack Obama—to examine the dangers of being unable to strike the right balance of aggressiveness and caution and to examine the costs of inexperience and ambivalence toward military power. The book concludes by discussing the increasingly complex international situation of today, particularly the manifold challenges posed by China and Russia to U.S. foreign policy, and the continued necessity of effective statecraft.
Preface Introduction 1. What Makes for Successful Statecraft 2. Washington, Hamilton, Jefferson and Madison: The Diplomacy of Realism versus the Diplomacy of Ideology and Uncertainty 3. Abraham Lincoln: The Diplomacy of Prudence 4. Theodore Roosevelt: From Nationalist to Realist 5. Franklin Roosevelt: The Diplomacy of Guile 6. Truman and Acheson in the Korean War: When Reasonable Leaders Stumble into Disasters 7. Nixon and Kissinger in the 1973 Arab-Israeli War: The Ability to Adapt and to Anticipate, and the Mastery of Complex Negotiations 8. Carter and Brzezinski and the Fall of the Shah of Iran: Values and Interests 9. George Herbert Bush and the First Gulf War: The Diplomacy of Determination 10. Obama: The Reluctant Foreign Policy President Conclusion
Thomas R. Parker is a professorial lecturer at George Washington University and author of The Road to Camp David. He worked for thirty years in diplomatic and military affairs for the White House, U.S. Defense Department, State Department, and the intelligence community.
“This book by a well-known American defense expert and former Pentagon official emphasizes the importance of understanding the possibilities and limits of American power and military force for conducting the nation’s foreign policy in a wise and balanced way. It is very well written and argued and deals with some of the most important and pressing issues in U.S. foreign policy from George Washington to the present.” —Klaus Larres, author of Uncertain Allies
"Parker has an excellent feel for the policy-making process, which is combined with a deep understanding of history. Whether or not one fully agrees with the book’s clear and vigorously stated point of view, I believe many readers will find it provocative, engaging, and well worth their time." —David Paull Nickles, author of Under the Wire: How the Telegraph Changed Diplomacy
"An enlightening and insightful assessment of the foreign policy statecraft of several American presidents." —New York Journal of Books