Psst. Let's Talk (Foreign) Affairs; Americans Have Not Had a Serious Presidential Debate over Foreign Policy since Jimmy Carter vs. Ronald Reagan. That Was a Generation Ago

Newsweek, February 23, 2004 | Go to article overview

Psst. Let's Talk (Foreign) Affairs; Americans Have Not Had a Serious Presidential Debate over Foreign Policy since Jimmy Carter vs. Ronald Reagan. That Was a Generation Ago


Byline: Fareed Zakaria, Write the author at comments@fareedzakaria.com.

Once we've worked through the various scandals, rumors and gossip surrounding the American presidential election, could we please have a substantive discussion? In nine months the United States will elect the most powerful individual in the world. Conventional wisdom is that all elections are mainly about economics, and that might well be true. But for the first time in decades we have a chance at having a serious national conversation about foreign policy. In the last two-and-a-half years the United States has been attacked by terrorists, has waged a global war on terror in response, has overthrown two governments and is still fighting guerrillas in Iraq and Afghanistan, while trying to rebuild these societies at the cost of tens of billions of dollars. If this doesn't get us talking about foreign affairs, nothing will.

Americans have not had a serious presidential debate over foreign policy since at least 1980, when Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan offered two distinctly different views of the Soviet threat. That was a generation ago. With the end of the cold war, foreign affairs simply disappeared from the political landscape, becoming a niche issue for the Council on Foreign Relations set.

Of course the world didn't go away, as we learned brutally on September 11, 2001. In fact, the years after the end of the cold war have begun to erase the distinction between home and abroad. When Russia had a banking crisis, it turned into a global panic. When China had public-health problems, SARS spread across the region. When Arab regimes have failed to modernize, we've all had to deal with terrorism. And during these years, America has become the world's sole superpower. So at a time when the globe was becoming smaller, when America came to occupy a historic position, when its actions were having a massive effect across the world, its leaders stopped talking to the public about foreign affairs. As a result, the American people have never had the conversation they deserve about America's role in this new world.

Foreign policy has made the occasional cameo appearance during campaigns. But without a sustained discussion, all that anyone remembers is sound bites and attitudes. In the last campaign the little tidbits we heard--Bush said he was against nation-building and in favor of humility--turned out to be deeply misleading. In retrospect, it would have been worth having had those thoughts fleshed out some. This time we could do better, and not simply through stump speeches. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Psst. Let's Talk (Foreign) Affairs; Americans Have Not Had a Serious Presidential Debate over Foreign Policy since Jimmy Carter vs. Ronald Reagan. That Was a Generation Ago
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.