Presidents and Policies

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In a sea of platitudes and asinine commentaries offered daily by the press, "One Voice on Foreign Policy" [June 16] is a welcome, refreshing piece.

Harold Evans hit the nail on the head. It is insane for the parties to disagree on foreign policy and it "will advertise division and uncertainty to our enemies and confuse our friends." In this respect, I am convinced that the war in Iraq would have ended a long time ago if Democrats had, after voting for this war in Congress, followed the President's lead. Harmony in foreign policy would have other advantages: It would possibly create a friendlier atmosphere on domestic issues, although disputes on domestic issues would not have the same devastating effect in the world as disputes on foreign policy. It would stop many people from rewriting history. Instead for example we hear now from many quarters that the President lied about Iraq and WMDs when the big liar was Saddam himself. It would stop the fruitless search for a "new" Constitution or the "end" of the two-party system, or the myth of discovering an "Independent" candidate that would solve all our problems. Finding answers to our problems would no longer appear to be insurmountable.

George Naniche

Moraga , Calif.  

"One Voice on Foreign Policy" said John McCain was right and Barack Obama wrong stating the surge was working. It was but it was a tactical move to reduce violence. However we have lost the war strategically. Iran is the most powerful and dangerous to our interests of all Middle Eastern states. For years we supported Sunni Iraq in its long war with Iran. Now, however, we have helped create and are supporting a Shiite Iraqi government which allies itself with Iran and will whether we remain in Iraq or pull out. Strategically, we have lost the war.

Russell Olson

Pinehurst , N. C .  

The present administration tried to create a new precedent by making a case that it is okay to go to war with a country that we are certain has both the intent and the capability to do us harm. While never being able to prove intent, it certainly came to pass that they were just wrong on the capability part. Now the drama is being played out once again, with Iran center stage. Once again there is no way to prove intent. Iran might use nuclear weapons to bully its neighbors but it might just be interested in defending itself. Senator Obama's first comments on the matter were and remain correct. Yes, it is okay to talk to any leader of any country if they are important enough to be considering military action against. To say that we are willing to send our young men and women into harm's way to deal with a threat but that somehow dealing with the threat by sending officials of the highest level to negotiate and talk reconciliation is frankly asinine. Evans's article tries to drive home the point that major political figures should never disagree about foreign relation policies. I'm sure that that will be easy to do when we stop invading and bombing other countries purely in our selfish interests (who really believes it wasn't to secure oil resources?). There are many fights worth losing if winning requires actions that are incompatible with the foundational ideas of the culture that we have spent 200 years creating and refining. It is worth exposing oneself to danger not only because sometimes the danger is only imagined, but most importantly when, in fact, the danger is real then the response is evident and morally clear. America needs to improve its perception in the world. Start doing your part by talking about a U.S. foreign policy built on respect for the rule of law instead of our own self-interests.

David Mowers

Issaquah , W ash.  

I am always enlightened by your editorial page. "One Voice on Foreign Policy" spoke right to the point of what should be of great concern to our citizens. Egged on by a media that feeds on approval by its audience and therefore delivers opinions and news wrapped in entertainment, we are experiencing a presidential campaign that should be serious to its core, instead of churning on some part of a sentence, taken out of context, hoping to score a point. Many of us, who will not vote for Barack Obama, agree that he is presidential material, so at a future date, when he again will present himself as a candidate for the presidency, he may be ready to take on the heavy burden of that responsibility. As it is now, he is learning as he runs, and this country cannot afford this prolonged education in the perilous times, in which we live. Our enemies welcome his presence on the scene, but they must be left disappointed.

Emma-Stina Prescott

San Antonio  

Thank you for Harold Evans's "One Voice on Foreign Policy." I agree with his sentiments and his respect for bipartisanship in U.S. foreign policy. However, I do not completely concur with Evans's arguments supporting bipartisanship. Evans wrote, "I recall with nostalgia the days of Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower and John Kennedy, when a bipartisan foreign policy served so well in the Cold War." Evans continued, "Republicans...backed...the Truman Doctrine, the Marshall Plan, NATO, and the Korean War." The Marshall Plan was the brainchild of the Truman administration. Many historical records indicate that Truman himself was the Plan's originator. But Truman knew the U.S. political arena. To sell the Plan to a divided Congress, and to a skeptical U.S. public, Truman allowed, even encouraged the Plan to have George Marshall's name attached to it. And Congress passed the Plan that was connected to Marshall, a true citizen-soldier, a man with no self-serving agenda, a man beyond reproach—a truly remarkable human being. The genius of Truman was to devise the Plan; to recognize the partisanship that did exist and would sink the Plan; and to craft a solution, via Marshall, and save the Plan. Eisenhower recognized the importance of creating NATO as a military force to ensure peace in Europe. Selected to be NATO Supreme Commander, Eisenhower in 1950 "felt the job he was about to undertake was so important that he was ready to renounce the possibility of his becoming president in order to make NATO a success. By mid-1952, Eisenhower had done what only the consensus-building winning general of World War II could have done: He delivered NATO to the world. Then Eisenhower resigned from NATO, "to return to the States, to enter the Republican primaries, to keep Bob Taft from becoming president and ruining NATO," Stephen Ambrose explained in his book Americans at War. America's success in foreign policy in the 1950s was not because of bipartisanship. Success was due to the political genius of Truman and Eisenhower, supported by great men like Marshall, which overcame the bitter partisanship that, contrary to nostalgia, existed—and would have eviscerated the Marshall Plan and NATO. We should not hope for an end to partisanship. Rather, more realistically, we should hope for an end to the current (Bush) administration and the beginning of an administration to match those of Truman and Eisenhower, an administration that will forge a consensus that, years from now, people will nostalgically recall as bipartisanship.

Donald J. Carroll Jr.

Langhorne , Pa.