American history is one of the most unexplored fields of study because very few post-New Deal “historians” know anything about it.
Consider the example of “foreign policy” historians.
The entire problem with this discipline, as it is with all Progressive institutions, is that it is concerned exclusively with the question of whether any person or event expanded the power and wealth of Progressive bureaucracy, with one of the most prominent of these institutions being the sprawling, crooked, bureaucratic apparatus known as academia.
Progressive ideology is nothing more or less than the totalitarian ideology that power-crazed Progressive bureaucrats must have dictatorial power because they are “trained” in something pretending to be “science.”
Naturally, Progressive “historians” write “history” on behalf of the ideology that says bureaucrats, a class which includes the bureaucrats populating college history departments, deserve absolute, unquestionable, power and infinite sums of tax money.
Which means “historians” cannot be trusted to write history that is anything more than propaganda on behalf of themselves.
Interestingly, one does not see them commit many errors of fact.
Their errors really center around the interpretation.
Now, it is true that historians have always been politically biased (even those who strive to be the most objective) and history is open to interpretation.
However, there has never been a previous time when historians gained political power more directly from their interpretation of history than today: To advocate for giving dictatorial power and money to academic bureaucracy is directionally no different than advocating for giving dictatorial power and money directly, individually, by name, to the historians themselves.
Which means the conclusions of the “best” historians of the Progressive era are inherently less trustworthy than those of any of the best historians of previous eras.
Yes, past historians curried favor with elite decision makers. But this was done without their having any expectation of becoming more than advisors to the powerful.
But in this Progressive era – an era defined by the unprecedented historical mistake of creating government by bureaucracy – historians for the first time ever are creating history with the unwavering, religious certainty, that they, the bureaucrats of the history departments, are heads of state: Communist ruling classes, who are looking more and more like Nazis the more genders Progressives invent out of thin air, generally did not choose bureaucrats for leadership positions. Senior posts went primarily to members of the military, intelligence agencies, industrial managers, or members of the founding revolutionaries.
To be sure, Communist bureaucracies (with the sole exception of the military) could never set policy independently of senior Communist leaders because they were controlled by Communist leadership.
Nothing like the Progressive system where completely unaccountable (non-military) bureaucracies, of all kinds, can independently set policy, with or without the support of Western heads of state, would have been tolerated for a second by Stalin under his system, or the post-Stalin oligarchical system of the Politburo.
By definition Stalinism was government by Stalin.
Which means, by definition, Stalin and only Stalin, in his infinite wisdom, was permitted to set policy. Policy could certainly not be set by Soviet bureaucrats independently of Stalin’s will.
Stalin’s “Monarchical” attitude to bureaucrats – as agents who were strictly advisors for, completely servile to, and whose employment was entirely at the mercy of either a glorious head of state, like Stalin, or, to a numerically limited, and largely well-defined, group of senior oligarchs – was exactly the same attitude of Mao, the Kim dynasty, Fidel Castro, and every Communist government that ever existed.
Notice that the difference between Communist governance and Progressive governance is NOT the fact that their respective bureaucracies are “Deep.”
Both systems, and their immediate successors in Russia and China, had “Deep States” in the sense they had large/expansive government bureaucracies.
The difference, the difference that makes Progressive governance orders of magnitude more dysfunctional than Communist governance, lies in the fact that the Progressive state sets policy independently of the (nominal) leadership of “Democratic” Western nations, whereas Communist governments exercised strict, absolute, unquestioned, Monarchical or Oligarchical control over the policies their bureaucracies were tasked with.
By politically advocating for their own personal, unaccountable, power to set policy, the modern foreign affairs historian is also the first foreign affairs historian to not rank historical figures on the success or failure of their foreign policies.
Instead they are only ranked by how much power they gained for Progressive bureaucratic institutions, with barely any thought given to whether their diplomatic policies were effective or not.
This wrong way of thinking can be illustrated by how historians rate US Presidents on their positions towards UN peacekeeping operations.
The success of the purported policy of US peacekeeping is never, or only in passing, judged on standard of whether the peacekeeping was succesful or not.
UN peacekeeping operations are riddled with corruption scandals such as cases in Africa where UN personnel sold female refugees and children into sex slavery.
But the Progressive “historian” never does what an actual historian would do, which is judge the value of UN peacekeeping by factoring in the wide-ranging corruption that frequently accompanies UN operations.
This is because the foreign policy of peacekeeping is not what Progressive historians are judging when they review UN peacekeeping.
In reviewing US Presidents and their relationship to the UN these “historians” only care if a President gave unaccountable power and power to the UN, regardless of how poorly the UN performs at its purported mission.
Their attitude of little to no interest in the policy outcome of peacekeeping so long as the UN bureaucracy is strengthened is exactly the same mentality Progressives take to every one of their purported policies.
For example, assuming their climate models are correct, the fact that Progressive energy policies cannot mathematically stop global warming with carbon reductions in the West when the absolute increases in Chinese and Indian carbon output dwarf the absolute reductions from Western nations (the total amount of carbon sent into the atmosphere by all nations is what affects world temperatures in Progressive climate models, not where the carbon output geographically originates from) never deters Progressives from pushing for carbon reductions in the West which, by the Progressive’s OWN climate models are incapable of affecting temperature.
This is because Progressive environmentalists do not care that their temperature reduction policies are mathematically impossible to achieve because of the enormous carbon output of China and India.
The actual purpose of Progressive climate policy (as with all of their policies) is really about enriching Progressive bureaucracies with tax money and the bureaucratic power to distort, and interfere with, and control, the lucrative dollar energy market.
As long as Progressive regulators can control the energy market and prop-up politically favored, multi-billion dollar renewable energy corporations that could not exist without Progressives distorting the market with anti-carbon regulations (the “renewable” industry does not have the technology to produce reliable, carbon-neutral, energy that avoids California-like power blackouts and “Flex alerts”, except for nuclear energy, which Progressives also oppose) then Progressives could not care less if the climate warms anyway.
Rejecting this mainstream-crackpot approach, the ranking of US Presidents on foreign policy – to the genuine historian – must be ranked on the quality of the policy outcomes.
In that spirit, here is an assessment of post-New Deal US Presidents using the standard of how consistent their diplomacy was with Alexander Hamilton’s Federalist foreign policy.
Which is a biased standard, but is never the less a foreign policy standard, not a pseudo-foreign policy standard that judges foreign policy by how well it expanded the wealth and power of Progressive bureaucracy.
Gerald Ford, of course, has to be excluded out of fairness since his time was simply spent as a caretaker in the aftermath of Watergate. While he did what he could under the circumstances, and though he made no serious foreign policy errors, his decisions simply weren’t important enough to judge him alongside the other Republican Presidents.
1) Eisenhower – Ike takes the top spot among 20th century GOP Presidents because he pioneered a new American foreign policy that balanced new strategic concepts of containment and nuclear deterrence, vigorous rollback of Soviet expansion primarily with the use of proxy wars, as well as alliance building with client dictators who were willing to become aligned with NATO in exchange for America adopting selective neutrality towards any domestic oppression our client dictators engaged in. The example set by Eisenhower in the 1950s created the foundation of Republican foreign policy realism for the rest of the Cold War and later culminated in the Condor Principle and the logical successor to Cold War realism, Hamiltonian Regionalism.
2) Trump – Although Trump did not create realism like Ike did, he did bring strategic coherence to Republican foreign policy (which was adrift and purposeless after the dissolution of the USSR in 1991) by adopting Cold War thinking for the modern era. Whereas Ike, Nixon, and Reagan were each pursuing some variation of containment and deterrence policy that was already the Party consensus in their times, Trump signlehandedly redefined and clarified the purpose of Republican foreign policy. Trump’s realism correctly identified China as America’s primary opponent and he linked strategic competition with China to Hamilton’s economic policy of trade protectionism. He further demonstrated the interrelationship between American Capitalism with American diplomacy by reviving the Condor Principle with foreign dictators and focusing the military only towards conflicts where American economic and security interests were involved (Take the oil!), and wisely downplayed defending “human rights.” Beyond this, Trump simply applied all of the traditional tactics of foreign policy realism (tactics which are complex and varied) when and where they were best suited: Trump contained when containment was the right policy, he used force when force was the right policy, he waltzed beautifully with Kim Jong Un along the entire Korean DMZ when waltzing beautifully with Kim Jong Un was the right policy, he applied the Condor Principle when the Condor Principle was the right policy, and he withdrew when withdrawing was the right policy.
3) Reagan – He broke the Cold War stalemate by restoring Eisenhower’s aggressive policy of rollback and containment of the Soviet Union, continued the successful tradition of the Condor Principle of Ike and Nixon whereby America declared neutrality concerning human rights abuses so long as foreign nations stayed out of the Soviet sphere, and combined it with a novel arms buildup that overstretched the Soviets. Contrary to the opinion of many power hungry “historian” bureaucrats there was no guarantee the USSR would have collapsed peacefully without Reagan. North Korea and Cuba both limped on after 1991 (modern China has adopted a classic Fascist economic model which combines aspects of traditional Socialism with corporate cronyism). The Soviet Union could quite possibly still exist to this day if Reagan hadn’t pressured its weaknesses when Progressive “historians” of the time insisted the USSR was going nowhere.
4) Nixon – Although Reagan was needed to break the stalemate of Nixon’s détente, détente in its time was a badly needed break from the multiple proxy wars America and the Soviets fought from 1948 to 1968. No, Nixon did not start the Vietnam War as Progressive “historians” would misdirect people into thinking. That was the fault of a Progressive, Lyndon Johnson. He did end the Vietnam War about as well as any President, Republican or Democrat, could end a conflict that had (at most) moderate strategic importance to the outcome of the Cold War. For some reason “South Vietnamization” did not work to prop up South Vietnam like “South Koreanization” propped up South Korea after the Korean War, but it isn’t clear if a different President would have done better on this aspect than Nixon. Nixon also gets, somewhat, bad marks from some Republican pundits for opening China to the US and the subsequent, failed, policy of exporting Western industry to China. But Nixon’s mission to China had little to do with an economic agenda. The point of his going was diplomatic. Primarily to split China away from its alliance with Soviet Russia, which was successful and forced a number of Russian concessions after Nixon’s visit. Secondarily, Nixon went to either stabilize or resolve multiple Asian conflicts America had been involved in, or could become indirectly involved in, such as setting the stage to wrap up Vietnam, the status of Taiwan and the (at the time) presence of US troops on Formosa to defend it from it from the Chinese mainland, the conflict between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, and the stalemate on the Korean peninsula. Economics were not a concern because no Western business in 1972 would have dreamed of outsourcing manufacturing to China considering the economic basket case Mao’s China was then. In fact, if I recall correctly, it was technically illegal under Chinese law of the time for most foreign businesses to even operate in China. Nixon’s visit was diplomatically one of the great successes in American foreign policy, and none of the outstanding issues America had in Asia at the time could have been managed well without involving communications with Beijing in some form or other.
5) George Herbert Walker Bush – He doesn’t get nearly enough credit for overseeing a peaceful end to the Cold War everywhere, except Yugoslavia. Progressive “historians” largely take for granted the Soviets would have wrapped it up without taking much of the world down in flames with them. But it did not need to all end peacefully in 1991. Indeed, the Soviet Empire may have been the only world empire to ever close shop peacefully. The credit for this uniquely stable outcome must go to the first Bush for managing relations with Moscow in a skillful, reassuring way, at a time when the Russians could have been at their most unstable. Bush also gets Federalist Party merits for the successful execution of the Gulf War, which was a textbook use of Hamiltonian foreign policy: On Hamiltonian grounds the war was entirely justifiable on the economics of America acting to secure Kuwait’s vital oil fields (Take the Oil! perfectly encapsulates Hamiltonian justification for armed force), the use of force was appropriate to the mission of expelling the Iraqi military from Kuwait, and as soon as our ends were achieved we moved back into a containment posture against Iraq. The diplomatic maneuvering before, during, and after the War was also very well done with the White House handling a complex diplomatic balancing act with friends, enemies, and frenemies in the Middle East and with European and Asian states that had a strong economic interest in seeing Kuwait’s oil fields return to normal. The only flaw, arguably, was that the military coalition assembled by America was somewhat unwieldy – fewer allied troops with more of a regional interest in seeing Iraq thrown out of Kuwait, and therefore with more of a combat capability and willingness to engage in combat instead of being “multilateral” decoration, would have been preferable. Otherwise, it was a perfect operation.
6) George Walker Bush – Not only far and away the worst foreign policy President on this list, he is also the worst of all Republicans including among the Federalist and Whig precursors to the GOP. Out of all Presidents, only Lyndon Johnson was clearly worse on foreign policy. It is arguable that Obama was worse than the second Bush for destroying Gadhaffi’s reign over Libya (because of the terrible precedent it sets for nuclear arms agreements) after George W. Bush convinced him to give up his nuclear weapons. Another point in favor of this argument is Obama’s allowing ISIS to sweep across the Middle East, Europe, and the United States because – for completely inexplicable reasons that cannot even be guessed at – Barack Hussein Obama did not order the US military to attack ISIS aggressively no matter how terrible their terrorist attacks were. There were surprisingly few airstrikes against ISIS strongholds during Obama’s Presidency, whereas it is quite likely G.W. Bush would have at least gone on the attack against ISIS. Nevertheless, even if Obama were objectively a worse foreign policy President, that doesn’t speak much in favor of Bush. If Bush had any positive diplomatic legacy it was that he (unintentionally) paved the way for Trump to revive the Condor Principle used with great success by Eisenhower, Nixon, and Reagan due to Bush showing how Democracy cannot be imposed on nations not suited for it. By backing a military dictator the Condor Principle averts the time and resource investment needed to prop up a fragile Democracy by simply installing a military dictator who can impose harsh measures against civilians that the US military would not want to directly implement itself during a military occupation.