Center for American Progress

RELEASE: Today’s Foreign Policy Debates Could Stand to Take a Look at Truman’s Legacy
Press Release

RELEASE: Today’s Foreign Policy Debates Could Stand to Take a Look at Truman’s Legacy

Washington, D.C. — The events of recent months have put President Barack Obama’s national security policies and his legacy front and center. From the effort to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, to the brokering of one of the most important nuclear nonproliferation agreements in decades, President Obama’s foreign policy has garnered support and criticism from many corners of the national security sphere.

In an issue brief released today, the Center for American Progress takes a look at some of those foreign policy initiatives and compares them to another president’s administration, one that was similarly beset with deep national security questions and vitriolic domestic politics but was ultimately proven to be a success: the administration of Harry Truman.

“Just a few short years after the end of World War II, President Harry Truman was faced with significant issues of rebuilding Europe, containing the rise of Soviet Russia, and dissention within the ranks of his own armed forces,” said Rudy deLeon, CAP Senior Fellow and author of the paper. “Through this, he was able to put in place a plan to bring the war-ravaged continent back to strong economic standing while doing his best to stop the spread of communism. Derided at the time, President Truman’s legacy has been far more favorable—as will that of President Obama, who despite similar domestic political threats to his national security legacy has notched several significant diplomatic and foreign policy wins that history could view as successful once the era’s partisan lens has evaporated.”

President Obama has overseen the slow drawdown of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and brokered an historic nuclear deal with Iran, among other accomplishments. Similar to President Truman, he achieved these goals under intense opposition from Congress and other quarters. Current leaders should look to the Truman legacy for lesson in how to successfully pursue foreign policy objectives.

Click here to read the paper.

For more information on this topic or to speak with an expert, contact Tom Caiazza at tcaiazza@americanprogress.org or 202.481.7141.

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