American Foreign Policy Term Paper

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Jimmy Carter's foreign policy in the United States of America, many have come up with very negative views and have highlighted more or less the same loop holes in his policy and administration that led to his failure, namely his misconceptions of views relating to public relations and his inept political and management skills. (Smith 1986; Hargrove 1988; Jones 1988)

Kaufman (1993, 3) on one hand, praised Carter for his true ideas, intentions and achievements, while on the other hand agrees with the negative judgments that have been made on his political span as the President.

While, Brinkley (1996, 552) was all in praise of Carter's improvisation skills to come up with a suitable policy for the Cold War before it was over, yet still blamed his inefficient public opinion skills and polls as the reason for the downfall of his foreign policy or its ineffectiveness.

However, what all these analysis have ignored is the fact that it was neither Carter, nor his administration that had an ignorant or relaxed attitude towards the public opinion polls and relations that actually led to the discouraging and futile foreign policy.

So if put simply: It was the inefficient and somewhat weak polling systems applied by the Carter administration that never provided him with a clear and lucid view of what the public ideas really were and how he should cope with them in his foreign policy. This in turn led to, what seemed from the outside, an ignorant attitude towards the public relations of the country, which as a result affected the foreign policy that the Carter government came up with.

Overview of Carter's Foreign Policy:

As previously discussed, Carter's overall intentions and accomplishments were worth the praise in his foreign policy, but the reason why his foreign policy failed to have a long lasting and strong effect was because of his poor leadership and management skills as well as his poor understanding of the public polls. His plan was good but implementation was weak. (Rosati, 1993)

Carter as a leader had many significant mistakes. His incompetence to successfully follow through with a plan with fruitful results was a direct result of bad management, his focus on human rights instead of lawful policies and techniques and his discouraging attitudes towards political marketing were a few of those leadership calls that led to an unpopular foreign policy. Thus, in the end, his ambition and aim of democratic foreign policy was left in the dark. (Rosati 1993; Melanson 1996; Rozell 1990; Jones's 1988; Hargrove 1988).

The post 1980 election period was where Carter's foreign policy suddenly had to change its focus to anti-Soviet control as opposed to what he had concentrated on previously: public polls, human rights, control of arms and ammunition. (Carter: America will meet 1980, 171). Whether this action took place due to a change in the attitude of the enemy or the change in the foreign policy makers, it was still not enough, though, to be able to justify itself to those who believed that, under the circumstances, the best way to sort things out would be to let the military take control.

There was one accomplishment in Carter's foreign policy that deserves a mention. He came up with an efficient and effective foreign policy that was a lucid interpretation to help the nation learn from the mistakes made and accomplishments achieved during the Vietnam War. However, there was yet again one set back. Carter was still unable to come with a foreign policy that could create a bridge between the public opinion polls or relations and the foreign policy endeavors itself, due to the rigid approaches of the policy that did not break down into simpler terms nor became politically advantageous for the president and his campaign (Andrew Z. Katz, 2000).

In addition to that, Carter tended to look over many Americans who still believed that some kind of military action would not only get him international support but would also get him fruitful results that had not been yet achieved, for example in the Iranian hostage crisis, a sort of military outlook, if had been taken by the president, would have gained his policy some international insight and encouragement (Andrew Z. Katz, 2000).

The result and verification analyzed from the polls, on the occasion of SALT, was again imbalanced as it did not emphasize on the damage control that needed to be done because of the circumstances formed by the Vietnam War (Andrew Z. Katz, 2000).

In the end, it again comes back to Carter's poor public polls' system and its ineffective link to its foreign policy that led to the failure of it on such a large basis. If the public polls administrators had some efficient and logical arguments to support their theories of a tougher approach to the foreign policies, Carter's foreign policy would have been a lot more valuable (Andrew Z. Katz, 2000).

Apart from having a weak relationship status between the foreign policy and public opinion polls, Carter's policy seemed, also, to conflict itself on many instances. Even though, the overall position of his foreign policy was an ineffective and unpopular one, there were some individual points that were extremely popular and were the basis for most of his accomplishments. Another conflict in his leadership was that even though he was a supporter of a democratic form of foreign policy and did eventually become a guardian of this kind of policy, yet he still searched for results and justifications of his policies in the polling results (Andrew Z. Katz, 2000).

He was a supporter of all good and great American thinkers and idealists, he appreciated their ideas and their provoking thoughts, yet it seemed that he did very little to implement these ideas into something that would benefit the people. His administration failed to see the views and opinions of the American people to be of any help to the making, comprehension and implementation of the foreign policy, even though Carter himself was an advocate of these very same people (Andrew Z. Katz, 2000).

Conceivably the biggest conflict in the Carter administration was their disinclination to let the public polls tell them or help them define the needs, wants and desires of people (Andrew Z. Katz, 2000).

However, with so many others prospects to Carter's leadership, his inability to create a strong bridge between the public polls and his foreign policy could simply be put as tough providence under the circumstances. One has to keep in mind that the analysis and research done by the officials in one's administration has a great influence on the decisions and actions that the leader takes. If the administrative team led by Carter had got their hands on to the right data and had come across the real trials that hindered a good relationship between the public polls and the foreign policy, then things would have turned out very differently. And if this would have been achieved in the beginning of the administrative rule of Carter's government, then he would have been able to take more advantage of the polls and create a stronger image in the international arena as well. Also, Carter's human rights' policies would have been more satisfactory and protected if the examination on the egalitarian peace had been speeded up (Andrew Z. Katz, 2000).

Even so, with all the facts mentioned above, it still had been Carter's decision as a leader to deal with the polls, foreign policies, as well as, human rights policies as he sought right (Andrew Z. Katz, 2000).

Another disadvantage for Carter and his administration to come up with a satisfying foreign policy were the international events, which the government could not have ignored, especially the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. Of course it again has to be said that the approach Carter's administration had towards public opinion and polling did help him achieve his goals for international intervention either. The Soviet invasion would have been a handful to handle for any government at that time, but what made it even more difficult for Carter was the fact that his public opinion approach failed to get any mass consent (Andrew Z. Katz, 2000).

Carter had to not only keep a clear idea of what the Americans wanted, but also had to keep in check the views of the internationalists, which proved difficult to do with a weak analysis of the situations and the policies that had to be adopted to handle them. He had to construct or create a midway so that the internationalists, as well as, the improvisers could be satisfied with his opinion of the public. Without this, it would be impossible for him to gain majority support and improve his administration in any other sphere such as polls, self-promotion or his workforce (Andrew Z. Katz, 2000).


To sum it all up, Carter as a leader had been incompetent to surround himself with a team of efficient and intelligent administrative officials, which in turn led to a…

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