GUNTER: When It Comes To America’s Image Abroad, It All Starts From The Top


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In politics, perception is reality. When it comes to foreign policy, perception is vitally important — in fact, it’s critical. The perception of America’s commander-in-chief has a direct influence on other countries’ actions and foreign policy. When it comes to the sitting U.S. president, the importance of how the president of the United States is perceived on the international stage can determine the course of action for foreign nations when it comes to diplomatic relations. Simply put, a weak U.S. presidency destroys foreign policy.

President Ronald Reagan knew this and used it brilliantly for all Americans’ benefit. President Trump understood this as well. Under President Trump’s leadership, America was strong and steadfast in appearance, in policy, and in action. By placing American First and projecting American strength around the world, President Trump, like Reagan, put forth a successful and effective American foreign policy.

Both Reagan and Trump were resolute and unwavering, leading to American strength at home and peace abroad.

President Trump’s foreign policy approach avoided conflicts and mitigated the aggression of our adversaries. He tempered the belligerent actions of North Korea and Iran and created stability in many regions around the world.

Today, these regions are unstable. This instability is the result of Biden’s appearance of being mentally and physically weak. President Biden, by all accounts, is frail. From falling off bicycles to tripping on airplane stairs – Biden’s image of weakness and “continual confusion”, sends a clear message to our adversaries and provokes unwanted behavior, namely aggression.

The Biden administration and President Biden’s weak positions and stoic responses to not only our allies but also our adversaries’ holds a striking resemblance to the Carter administration and his foreign policy of appeasement.

For President Carter, his incompetence and failed foreign policy was by all accounts naïveté and poor judgment, and his failure to understand that perceived weakness in his presidency was interpreted by our adversaries accordingly and led to reactive aggression and more conflict by our adversaries. President Carter’s failures and weaknesses were historic and unrivaled, and Americans suffered miserably.

Accommodating the enemy does not soften the blow. It only invites more aggression and hostility and nations who are smart enough to recognize America’s moment of weakness under the Biden administration are taking full advantage. We are currently more concerned with fighting a “reactive” proxy war in Europe, compensating for President Biden’s initial weakness, and inviting adversaries to take a notorious “slice” of a country’s sovereign territory.

The office of the presidency was never meant to acquiesce to the whims of communist regimes and corrupt governments. The appeasement policies of Jimmy Carter invited the former Soviet Union into Afghanistan and emboldened the mullahs of Iran, setting the stages for decades of terror and conflicts which America is still dearly paying the price for today.

Our foreign adversaries respect strength. A strong, tough and zero-tolerance policy from the United States means a safer and more peaceful world. Ronald Reagan’s “peace through strength” approach did not ignite a war with the USSR. It produced mutual respect and peace in the aftermath of a turbulent Carter Administration.

President Trump mirrored that same approach.

As President Trump’s 24th US Ambassador to Iceland, we understood President Trump’s vision of strength and resolve. Meeting with prime ministers and foreign ministers, we demonstrated America’s commitment to the region, both politically, militarily, and financially.

We completed and dedicated America’s new US Embassy, projected strength throughout the Arctic, and supported our fellow Icelandic NATO Allies. We supported and hosted multiple NATO exercises including Dynamic Mongoose, demonstrating to our adversaries America’s resolve in the High North, while strengthening our communication and abilities to work with our NATO allies. We demonstrated America’s resolve to be vigilant and protect the High North, regardless of the pandemic gripping countries around the globe.

President Trump’s adoption of the peace through strength policy resonated throughout the region much like President Reagan’s historic Nuclear Disarmaments meetings with Mikhail Gorbachev at the Reykjavik Summit in 1986. This Summit was a crucial step in ending the Cold War.

The beginnings of nuclear disarmament and dialogue with Gorbachev were not hindered by Ronald Reagan’s strong image and resolve, nor by his calls to “tear down this wall” or calling out the “Evil Empire.” Rather, Reagan’s approach created an opportunity for dialogue and peace from a position of strength because our enemies knew the rhetoric wasn’t hot air. President Trump understood this well and we carried this vision out with his guidance in Iceland and the High North. We presented strength, unity, and resolve.

The United States is the greatest nation on earth, and the Office of the Presidency should reflect our strength. We are a nation where the freedoms and liberties we hold dear are etched on the hearts of every American patriot. We need a president who does not cower to other nations but stands strong on the world stage making sure our leadership and strength is understood and clearly received by our allies and adversaries alike.

Jeffrey Ross Gunter served as ambassador to Iceland under the Trump administration from 2019-2021.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller.