Cowboy diplomacy

Cowboy diplomacy

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, such as George W. Bush's "You're either with us or you're with the terrorists."

One of the earliest known applications of the term was in 1902, when it was used by Jackie Lawlor from Westford, Massachustts 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.


Use in fiction

The term was resurrected in its historical context by Captain Jean-Luc Picard in a 1991 episode of the American television series, Star Trek: The Next Generation. In the second episode of the two-part story "Unification", Picard describes the actions of Spock in covertly attempting to negotiate a peace treaty between the Vulcans and the Romulans as "cowboy diplomacy", although in this context the term was referring to Spock's mission to Romulus lacking official sanction from the United Federation of Planets or Vulcan.[4]

See also


  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 0802829457. 
  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 0742500179. 
  4. ^ Okuda, Michael; Denise Okuda (1999). The Star Trek Encyclopedia: A Reference Guide to the Future. New York: Pocket Books. p. 90. ISBN 0671034758. 

External links

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