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Presidents Ranked by Diplomatic Management


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This is my attempt at calculating a president's non-military foreign policy accomplishments, although there is necessary overlap between military and non-military diplomacy. These are the categories considered:

  • Notable improvement or worsening in relations with a major power
  • Major foreign policy goals accomplished or failed, regardless if they were good or bad for America.
  • Major lasting foreign policy accomplishments, regardless if they were good or bad for America.
  • Overall global relations better/worse than they were for predecessor.
  • Attempts at international beneficence implemented
  • US Sphere of influence noticeably increased
  • Historically excellent/disastrous foreign policy, which considers what historians and the majority of Americans generally consider a failure. It is less certain for more recent presidents. 

Since FDR, presidents have more accomplishments but they also have more failures, so it sort of balances things out. 

Here's the ranking for presidents by Diplomatic Management:

  1. FD Roosevelt (again, no one will beat a four-termer)
  2. T Roosevelt (Had almost no failures or slip ups. Has the highest ratio of success.)
  3. Truman (This impressive considering how many points that are also deducted from him)
  4. Jefferson (Too many historians put emphasis on his disastrous embargo.)
  5. Monroe
  6. Wilson (Would rank waaaay higher had US joined League of Nations)
  7. Polk
  8. McKinley
  9. Reagan (Also, surprising considering many deducted points)
  10. Washington
  11. GHW Bush
  12. Tyler
  13. Grant
  14. Eisenhower (lots of deducted points, including from starting US involvement in Vietnam)
  15. Nixon (Huge points for China but lost a lot of little points, partially because Congress often thwarted him)
  16. Carter
  17. B Harrison
  18. Coolidge
  19. Clinton
  20. Lincoln
  21. Harding
  22. Kennedy
  23. Van Buren
  24. A Johnson
  25. Cleveland (1st term)
  26. Obama (Not the best part of his legacy)
  27. J Adams
  28. Jackson (almost non-existent foreign policy record for such a major figure in presidential history)
  29. Taylor
  30. Fillmore
  31. Madison (gets hit hard for worsening relations with the UK, not using diplomacy, failed policy attempt at acquiring Canada, etc.)
  32. Pierce
  33. Hayes
  34. Ford
  35. JQ Adams
  36. Taft
  37. Hoover
  38. Cleveland (2nd term)
  39. Biden **Shouldn't count**
  40. WH Harrison **Shouldn't count**
  41. Buchanan
  42. Garfield **Shouldn't count**
  43. Trump (Had chances of success, failed policy goals on China and North Korea, including weakening of relations with NATO allies).
  44. Arthur (Almost everything he touched didn't work. Practically no FP successes.)
  45. LB Johnson (Vietnam pretty much consumed his entire foreign policy. He failed there, and being bogged down there, also hurt him in potential success elsewhere.)
  46. GW Bush (His double wars have led to a host of unmanageable, and unwinnable FP problems that exist today. Not the FP master that his father was. Where his father built a coalition, Bush had to act almost unilaterally, which worsened relations with several countries. Bush is actually tied with LBJ in last in regards to score. Of the two, Bush has a chance to rise above LBJ if issues in the Middle East and Central Asia are resolved quickly, leading to a peace and prosperity. If this happens, Bush can gain some credit for laying the groundwork for a safer, more peaceful Asia.)
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