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Foreign Policy

  • A respect for the rights of other peoples to determine their forms of government and their economy will not weaken our democracy. It will inevitably strengthen it.

  • International politics, by and large, are a depressing study.

  • Americans don't usually have to think about Canadian-American relations, or, as they would put it, American-Canadian relations. Why think about something which you believe affects you so little? We, on the other hand, have to think about you whether we like it or not.

    • Margaret Atwood,
    • "Canadian-American Relations: Surviving the Eighties," Second Words: Selected Critical Prose ()
  • ... we ought to realize by now (see Korea, see Vietnam, see Afghanistan, see Iraq, see Iran) that deploying the US military, or dealing billions of dollars a year of arms to our ally of the moment that can serve as a regional rival to our enemy of the moment, is not always the best way to make threats go away. Our military and weapons prowess is a fantastic and perfectly weighted hammer, but that doesn't make every international problem a nail.

  • Although most governments in the world are, as they always have been, autocracies of one kind or another, no idea holds greater sway in the mind of educated Americans than the belief that it is possible to democratize governments, anytime, anywhere, under any circumstances.

  • Vietnam presumably taught us that the United States could not serve as the world's policeman; it should also have taught us the dangers of trying to be the world's midwife to democracy when the birth is scheduled to take place under conditions of guerrilla war.

  • I felt that America's duty was not to try to do everything itself, but to foster a sense of commitment that would bring out the best in every country.

  • ... the purpose of foreign policy is to persuade others to do what we want or, better yet, to want what we want.

  • Journalists clamored to know everything about our meetings, even though the negotiators were pledged to secrecy. To deflect questions, I told reporters that peace talks were comparable to mushrooms, thriving only in the dark.

  • The best ambassador is a warship.

  • ... diplomacy would be easy if we only had to talk to our friends. But that is not how one makes peace.