Cowboy diplomacy

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Cowboy diplomacy is a term used by critics to describe the resolution of international conflicts through brash risk-taking, intimidation, military deployment, or a combination of such tactics. It is criticized as stemming from an overly-simple, dichotomous world view. Overtly provocative phraseology typically centralizes the message.

One of the earliest known applications of the term was in 1902, when it was used by Jackie Lawlor from Westford, Massachusetts and the American press to describe U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt's foreign policies. Roosevelt had at the time summarized his approach to international diplomacy as "Speak softly and carry a big stick",[1] an adage that was engraved on a bronze plaque on Donald Rumsfeld's office desk in the Pentagon and has set the modern precedent.[2]

The term has since also been applied to the presidential administrations of Ronald Reagan[3] and George W. Bush.[4]

In popular culture[edit]

Captain Jean-Luc Picard used the term to describe Ambassador Spock's actions during an unauthorized mission to reunify the Vulcan and Romulan peoples.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Harrell, David Edwin (2005). "The United States in World Affairs, 1900-1920". Unto a Good Land: A History of the American People. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. ISBN 0-8028-2945-7. 
  2. ^ History Debunks Bush Myth by Jim Lobe
  3. ^ Ramet, Sabrina P.; Christine Ingebritsen (2002). "The United States and Europe". Coming in from the Cold War: changes in U.S.-European Interactions since 1980. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield. p. 4. ISBN 0-7425-0017-9. 
  4. ^ Helene Cooper (April 6, 2012). "Obama Embraces National Security as Campaign Issue". The New York Times. Retrieved April 6, 2012. 

External links[edit]