American Presidents in Diplomacy and War

In commemoration of Presidents' Day, this week's review analyzes foreign policy decision-making of US presidents from George Washington to Barack Obama.

American Presidents in Diplomacy and War: Statecraft, Foreign Policy, and Leadership

Parker, Thomas R. Notre Dame, 2023
212p index, 9780268207236 $45.00, 9780268207250 $35.99

American Presidents in Diplomacy and War book cover.

Parker (George Washington Univ.), who spent 30 years in diplomatic and military affairs in the White House, the intelligence community, and the Defense and State Departments, offers nine short essays on presidential leadership from Washington to Obama. In the opening chapter, “What Makes Successful Statecraft,” Parker offers 10 factors or warnings to consider in decision-making. The pithy units focus to a large degree on how, in specific circumstances, administrations either succeeded or more often failed to meet the prescribed standards. Parker highlights that prudence, learning from experience, and adaptability are hallmarks of successful presidents. He seems to lean toward bold actions but warns that leaders must have the means, both material and psychological, to support their goals. His greatest criticism is erratic behavior, as opposed to steadfastness, and he points to numerous instances in recent administrations. Also, one must contemplate the long-term benefits and the costs of short-term decisions, regardless of whether they are popular or unpopular. This is an interesting read, packed with insight. Students at all levels and general readers will find it a useful counter to the simplistic soundbite pontifications of many contemporary aspirants for political leadership.

Summing Up: Highly recommended. General readers through faculty; professionals.
Reviewer
: J. P. Dunn, Converse University
Subject: Social & Behavioral Sciences – Political Science – U.S. Politics
Choice Issue: Apr 2024


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