April 1

Robert Kagan [“The president’s paradox,” op-ed, March 27] hypothesized that President Obama’s foreign policy may be unpopular because Americans are not grateful to Mr. Obama for giving them a foreign policy they want but nonetheless are not proud of. I disagree. As Mr. Kagan pointed out, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush got high marks on foreign policy even after the former intervened in Bosnia and Kosovo and the latter invaded Iraq. Ronald Reagan’s invasion of Grenada did not hurt the popularity of his foreign policy, although the Iran-contra affair later did. In those cases, the public grudgingly, if not admiringly, accepted the presidents’ actions. Disillusionment with the justification and results of the Iraq war caused Mr. Bush’s foreign policy approval rating to plummet.

Americans admire and respect in their presidents decisiveness, honesty and commitment to principles. The president’s retreat from the red line he drew in Syria is one reason many Americans see Obama as indecisive and poll-driven rather than principled.

Sergio Kapfer, Bethesda