The chosen Presidents for this assignment are Kennedy, Nixon, Ford, and Carter. Kennedy is known for some domestic progress on civil rights as well as a foreign policy seeking to stabilize the nuclear conflict with Cuba and the Soviet Union. This strengthened the U.S. economically globally. Nixon established a new policy of U.S. and Chinese relationships that had political and economic positive consequences. Nixon also adopted monetary restraint to maintain lower inflation.
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President Ford was a leader during the economic recession and the energy crisis. He had to manage the domestic policy of tax cuts combined with the foreign policy of working with OPEC to control oil prices. Carter had a unique approach to foreign policy which highlighted moral principles and placed the United States in conflict with some nations such as Iran and affected the economy due to oil prices. Carter pushed through the Crude Oil Windfall Profits Tax, a domestic energy package meant to fund the energy sector and make the U.S. more self-reliable (Hill & McCubbin, 2017).
The policy choices of these Presidents had a profound impact on the United States that had generational consequences. Although most sought to strengthen the position of the U.S. both domestically and internationally some of their choices compromised it as well. Nixon had a strong foreign policy that redefined Cold War politics, but his domestic agenda and personal political pursuits with Watergate fundamentally undermined the social trust in politicians.
Meanwhile, Carter was a rather timid President, that took a reasoned moral approach to things. While domestically, he ensured American long-term energy independence, his foreign policy resulted in a lot of controversies and was the explicit cause of multi-decade tension with Iran. These Presidents ultimately believed in the public interest of their policy, and justifications were made to support it in the historic and socio-economic context of the time.
The policies sought to improve on the life of Americans, both through large legislation as well as nuanced policies that only historians remember. However, it was all passed through a strong democratic process as each President built upon the foundations set by predecessors and employed new tools and ideas.
The Constitutional interpretation is generally that the United States cannot engage in preemptive warfare or strike unless certain conditions of self-defense are met, as on par with international law. For the majority of its history, U.S. administrations other than George W. Bush have maintained that stance where the country cannot respond with force unless “a necessity of self-defense, instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation” (Kielsgard, 2012, p. 319). The imminent threat must exist and be proven by the federal government to engage in a preemptive type of warfare.
Human rights and morality should be a central aspect of U.S. foreign policy because the United States is a representation of democracy and freedom, it was built upon fundamental human freedoms and rights that few other countries have. For decades, the world has looked to the United States as a moral authority and bringer of freedom against oppressive regimes. Human rights should be considered as part of foreign policy because of the influence that the socio-economic influence the U.S. holds and its resources create the possibility of helping new democratic societies to form.
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The shift in foreign policy towards a more political and economic approach of self-interest in recent decades has led to the deterioration of certain world affairs ranging from human rights to climate change (Nye Jr., 2019). Therefore, in foreign policy decision-making, human rights must be considered to maintain moral responsibility and accountability for human-affecting consequences.
Hill, C., & McCubbin, L. (2017). Five presidents: My extraordinary journey with Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.
Kielsgard, M. D. (2012). National self-defence in the age of terrorism: Immediacy and state attribution. In A. Masferrer (Ed.), Post 9/11 and the state of permanent legal emergency: Security and human rights in countering terrorism (pp. 315-344). London, UK: Springer.
Nye Jr., J. S. (2019). What is moral foreign policy. Texas National Security Review, 3(1). Web.