In Box

In Hindsight: First Terms

As U.S. President George W. Bush's first term draws to a close, FP dips into its archive for a look at first terms of the past. 

"[T]he almost aggressive reassertion of American idealism by the Carter administration in its first year was one of its greatest achievements. There have been too many disappointments and difficulties since then for most Americans to appreciate today how welcome the tone set by Carter and his team was at that time…. Abroad, many governments were as suspicious of American flings of idealism — easily translated into, or perceived as, alarming mixes of naiveté and benevolent arrogance — as they usually are of brutal and cynical power plays by big states."
-Stanley Hoffmann
"Requiem" (Spring 1981)

"After hopefully proclaiming a new world order, [George H.W.] Bush acted as though some invisible hand would construct it for him…. [T]he glory of Bush’s shining moment, the victory over Iraq, faded like a desert mirage. In its aftermath came serious doubts about his judgment and his credibility."
-Thomas Omestad
"Why Bush Lost" (Winter 1992-93)

"[T]he Clinton administration embarked on a two-year binge that ended in disaster and humiliation…. American credibility and influence have declined at a time when this country’s power is unmatched. That is an amazing — and sad — feat."
-William G. Hyland
"A Mediocre Record" (Winter 1995-96)

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