The Realistic RooseveltIssue: Fall 2004
Theodore Roosevelt's foreign policy career lends itself easily both to hagiography and hostile caricature--particularly in a presidential election year. American advocates of the robust use of military force to deal with current challenges ranging from the terror threat to China often cite Roosevelt as a model statesman who wielded military power unapologetically and unilaterally for the sake of the national interest and thus see TR as the precursor of "national greatness conservatism." His swagger is best captured in his ultimatum to the kidnapping of an American citizen, Ion Perdicaris, by Ahmad ibn Muhammad Raisuli, a Moroccan warlord: "We want Perdicaris alive or Raisuli dead." Carving Panama out of Columbia, winning a difficult counter-insurgency campaign in the Philippines, and warning Japan with the display of the Great White Fleet were successful policies that can guide the conduct of a second Bush Administration or any other.