October 11, 2004
If Americans are cowboys, what are Europeans?
Our European friends love to castigate conservative American presidents for pursuing "cowboy diplomacy." It's a mystery to me why they consider this a putdown. A century ago our first cowboy president found his way onto Mount Rushmore. Theodore Roosevelt took enormous pride in his cowboy status. The frontier wisdom TR applied to foreign policy still resonates: "Don't bluster, don't flourish your revolver and never draw unless you intend to shoot." In other words: Be tactful in your dealings with foreign countries. Never issue a threat unless you have the power and the will to make good on it. Sound diplomacy; it certainly worked for Roosevelt, as savvy a diplomat as ever inhabited the White House. Europeans, however, seem to have John Wayne or Gary Cooper rather than real—life cowboys such as Roosevelt in mind when they rail against cowboy diplomacy. So it's worth examining Hollywood's idealized version of the Old West. Let's look at two of the greatest Westerns ever made: High...(Read Full Article)