Second term of office and foreign affairs

 

1506.jpgMay 2008 | By Leopoldo Calvo-Sotelo, Director of Master in International Relations at IE School of Arts and Humanities

International relations are the Achillesâ?? heel of many a president when they first come to power, and their first reaction is to place it in the hands of a professional. But everything changes when it comes to re-election.

North American political commentators have coined the term “second term blues” to refer to the problems that usually affect the presidents of the United States during their second term of office. Often it is said that they are a combination of tiredness and arrogance that comes from power exercised over a long time. The experience of Spanish democracy has still not given rise to this type of problem, but certain trends in second terms of office can be identified in the field of international relations. It is particularly interesting to analyse successive appointments to the post of minister of foreign affairs.

Ministers of foreign affairs have always enjoyed special prestige in democracies. In North America, the world fame of the secretary of state has, on exceptional occasions, rivalled that of the president himself. This occurred with Henry Kissinger during the last stage of Nixon´s office and during the presidency of Gerald Ford. Whatever the case, only the secretaries of state (and not all of them) appear next to the presidents in the photos and memories of an era. For example, the presidencies of Truman and Eisenhower are inseparable from the figures of Dean Acheson and John Foster Dulles, respectively.

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