Most communist-friendly President of the United States?

Which American president was the most tolerant of communist states?


  • Total voters
    46
Nov 2013
586
Kingdom of Sweden
Which American president during the Cold War (1947-1991) would you say was the most friendly towards communism, or at least most willing to negotiation and peaceful coexistence with the Soviet Union and other communist states?
 
Last edited:
Aug 2017
48
Tijuana, Mexico
Should have had FDR as an option but failing that then Jimmy Carter. He was weak on everything.
I agree. FDR is the clear winner.

It has been said that Jimmy Carter turned the Panama Canal over to a communistic nation (China). Be that as it may, Carter was indeed weak, but my nomination for second place goes to Barack Obama with Bill Clinton in third place.

If you leave out the cold war (as the title of the question does) or include post cold war presidents (as the list does with George H.W. Bush) I believe Obama merits second place for his treatment of North Korea. Plus, although Russia is no longer a communistic nation its leader (Putin) is a communist thus it can be argued that Obama also deserves a place on the list for his failure to fulfill our treaty obligations to the Ukraine when Russia invaded the Crimea (something he wanted to do but was constrained from doing when George W. Bush was president).

Had Bill Clinton launched the preemptive strike against North Korea he considered launching (instead of listening to Jimmy Carter) we wouldn't be in the mess we are today with North Korea. But Obama sat on his hands with both North Korea and the Crimea so he gets my vote for second place and Clinton for third place.
 
Last edited:

Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,728
Dispargum
How could it be anyone but Nixon? Pulled out of Vietnam, sold grain to the Soviets, established relations with Communist China, etc.

The expression "Only Nixon could go to China" stems from the fact that all of the other presidents were afraid of being labeled as 'soft on Communism' so they advocated policies of toughness on Communism. Only Nixon had the chops to talk to the Communists and not be labeled a pinko.
 

Sam-Nary

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
6,855
At present SD, USA
In a way... Nixon.

People all want to say, "Carter, because he was weak." The failure of certain policies is not the same as consciously supporting certain actions or ideologies. The argument that Carter was weak, if it is to be taken in such context is to directly accuse Carter of deliberately designing his policies to fail. But that didn't happen... or it wasn't his intent. In fact many of his policies, which directly challenged the Soviet Union with regard to their human rights record were in fact rather counter to the point of "the most friendly towards communism, or at least most willing to negotiation and peaceful coexistence with the Soviet Union and other communist states." One can argue that Carter's policies failed, but failure is NOT the same thing as intention. It'd be like arguing that Lee INTENDED for Meade to beat him at Gettysburg...

In terms of actual action that showed actual policy that showed willingness to "coexist" with the Soviet Union or other Communist states... the best example was Nixon and his policy of détente. Look at it with a comparison to earlier Presidents...

FDR was in a position where he couldn't really do ANYTHING about the Soviet Union that wouldn't weaken America's positons against Nazi Germany in WW2. Saying that Roosevelt should have been considered is akin to saying, "we should have let Hitler win the war and murder ALL of the Jews, because the Nazis were SO much BETTER." And within the schemes of politics, about the only thing that Republicans and Democrats can really agree on is that "Hitler was bad." So the question then remains as to what could FDR have done that would both A) stop the Soviets AND B) defeat the Nazis at the same time.

Truman's policies where HARDLY friendly toward the Soviet Union. And in fact, Truman was far more confrontational with them than Roosevelt would have been. There is the first sort of meeting between Truman and Stalin's foreign minister and Truman essentially talked down to him and lectured the man. The foreign minister responded, "no one ever talked to me that way..." Truman answered, "Well, be respectful to your people and I won't have to do so again." The idea that Truman was Communist friendly was nothing more than a McCarthy attack over not starting WW3 over Korea or China. In other words, it was about perceived failures and not over what Truman actually did.

While Eisenhower took America OUT of the Korean War and didn't actually respond to the Hungarian crackdown by the Soviet Union, it should be noted that there was a certain amount of context for both events. With Korea, Eisenhower he had campaigned in opposition to Truman's handling of the war and really had nothing he could do to try and stay there without hurting his chances and it is likely that he would have seriously opposed the Soviet move in Hungary had the French, British, and Israelis not invaded Egypt at roughly the same time. And the fact that Eisenhower did increase America's involvement in Vietnam and that he LET McCarthy run rampant, until he went after the Army, would demonstrate on policy where Eisenhower ultimately remained confrontational with the Soviet Union.

JFK actually accused Eisenhower of not being confrontational enough with the Soviet Union and in many ways tried to step up the pressure on the Soviet Union and took Khrushchev to the brink over Cuba. However, Kennedy's assassination really makes it hard to see on how he really would have stood over relations with the Soviet Union for long. And with LBJ, while he may not have supported the Soviet Union's actions or the war in Vietnam, he DID willingly fight in Vietnam for fear of facing the sort of attacks that ultimately took down Truman.

Then comes Nixon and Détente. Did Nixon support Communism? No. His support for McCarthy during his time as Vice President shows that, but the policy of Détente shows a drastic change from his predecessors. In this, while the US may not have supported the Soviet Union, neither was it going to take many of the stands against the Soviet Union on many issues that hid predecessors would have and in many ways, Détente served to try and isolate the Soviets by turning to... COMMUNIST China. Nixon turned the Communist Chinese, which Truman, Eisenhower, JFK, and LBJ had not recognized, and recognized them under the recognition that the Communist Chinese under Mao were NOT sitting quite so well with the Soviet Union at the time. However, this doesn't mean that Mao wasn't a Communist. In fact, Mao's own ideology hadn't really changed from the 30s during the Chinese Civil War or from the start of his reign over mainland China in the 50s. The only thing that had changed was that Stalin had died and Mao decided that HE was the Communist world's leader, NOT Khrushchev. And Nixon turned to Mao as a potential ally against the Soviet Union as a result of that...

Which by a point of policy is an action of support/tolerance of some form of Communism in some way, even if Communist ideology in and of itself isn't supported.
 

Sam-Nary

Ad Honorem
Jun 2012
6,855
At present SD, USA
I believe Obama merits second place for his treatment of North Korea. Plus, although Russia is no longer a communistic nation its leader (Putin) is a communist thus it can be argued that Obama also deserves a place on the list for his failure to fulfill our treaty obligations to the Ukraine when Russia invaded the Crimea (something he wanted to do but was constrained from doing when George W. Bush was president).
One, Putin isn't a Communist. Not anymore, anyway. His present Party Affiliation, The All-Russia People's Front, is described as "Center Right" on Wikipedia, and based on his strong arm tactics, militarism, and active working to establish a Cult of Personality around Putin... I would personally think that Putin is closer to the extreme right, as many of those actions are NOT in common with any Communist or Leftist ideology as we know it.

Two, exactly what treaties are there that bind the US to defend the Ukraine from Russia? The government that the coup toppled in the Ukraine was heavily pro-Russia and had NO treaties with the US. And while the post-coup government was more pro-US than pro-Russia, about the only treaty that would have demanded a US military response to the Russian invasion or its seizing of the Crimea would be Article Five of NATO, BUT neither the pre-coup or post-coup Ukrainian government had applied or been accepted into NATO. As such there is NO treaty that demanded America go to war with Russia over the Ukraine.

Third, your own point contradicts itself. The thread deals with actual support for Communism. If Obama wanted to respond to the Ukrainian situation forcefully but couldn't... how is he supportive of the action, assuming Putin is still a Communist? Failure does no equal support. Support would mean that the actual actions were done to deliberately achieve the result, which would mean the intended policy was "successful."

Fourth... a lot of this is getting way TOO close to topics non-grata, I'm probably just as guilty for replying...
 

Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
6,171
US
How could it be anyone but Nixon? Pulled out of Vietnam, sold grain to the Soviets, established relations with Communist China, etc.

The expression "Only Nixon could go to China" stems from the fact that all of the other presidents were afraid of being labeled as 'soft on Communism' so they advocated policies of toughness on Communism. Only Nixon had the chops to talk to the Communists and not be labeled a pinko.
In a way... Nixon.

People all want to say, "Carter, because he was weak." The failure of certain policies is not the same as consciously supporting certain actions or ideologies. The argument that Carter was weak, if it is to be taken in such context is to directly accuse Carter of deliberately designing his policies to fail. But that didn't happen... or it wasn't his intent. In fact many of his policies, which directly challenged the Soviet Union with regard to their human rights record were in fact rather counter to the point of "the most friendly towards communism, or at least most willing to negotiation and peaceful coexistence with the Soviet Union and other communist states." One can argue that Carter's policies failed, but failure is NOT the same thing as intention. It'd be like arguing that Lee INTENDED for Meade to beat him at Gettysburg...

In terms of actual action that showed actual policy that showed willingness to "coexist" with the Soviet Union or other Communist states... the best example was Nixon and his policy of détente. Look at it with a comparison to earlier Presidents...

FDR was in a position where he couldn't really do ANYTHING about the Soviet Union that wouldn't weaken America's positons against Nazi Germany in WW2. Saying that Roosevelt should have been considered is akin to saying, "we should have let Hitler win the war and murder ALL of the Jews, because the Nazis were SO much BETTER." And within the schemes of politics, about the only thing that Republicans and Democrats can really agree on is that "Hitler was bad." So the question then remains as to what could FDR have done that would both A) stop the Soviets AND B) defeat the Nazis at the same time.

Truman's policies where HARDLY friendly toward the Soviet Union. And in fact, Truman was far more confrontational with them than Roosevelt would have been. There is the first sort of meeting between Truman and Stalin's foreign minister and Truman essentially talked down to him and lectured the man. The foreign minister responded, "no one ever talked to me that way..." Truman answered, "Well, be respectful to your people and I won't have to do so again." The idea that Truman was Communist friendly was nothing more than a McCarthy attack over not starting WW3 over Korea or China. In other words, it was about perceived failures and not over what Truman actually did.

While Eisenhower took America OUT of the Korean War and didn't actually respond to the Hungarian crackdown by the Soviet Union, it should be noted that there was a certain amount of context for both events. With Korea, Eisenhower he had campaigned in opposition to Truman's handling of the war and really had nothing he could do to try and stay there without hurting his chances and it is likely that he would have seriously opposed the Soviet move in Hungary had the French, British, and Israelis not invaded Egypt at roughly the same time. And the fact that Eisenhower did increase America's involvement in Vietnam and that he LET McCarthy run rampant, until he went after the Army, would demonstrate on policy where Eisenhower ultimately remained confrontational with the Soviet Union.

JFK actually accused Eisenhower of not being confrontational enough with the Soviet Union and in many ways tried to step up the pressure on the Soviet Union and took Khrushchev to the brink over Cuba. However, Kennedy's assassination really makes it hard to see on how he really would have stood over relations with the Soviet Union for long. And with LBJ, while he may not have supported the Soviet Union's actions or the war in Vietnam, he DID willingly fight in Vietnam for fear of facing the sort of attacks that ultimately took down Truman.

Then comes Nixon and Détente. Did Nixon support Communism? No. His support for McCarthy during his time as Vice President shows that, but the policy of Détente shows a drastic change from his predecessors. In this, while the US may not have supported the Soviet Union, neither was it going to take many of the stands against the Soviet Union on many issues that hid predecessors would have and in many ways, Détente served to try and isolate the Soviets by turning to... COMMUNIST China. Nixon turned the Communist Chinese, which Truman, Eisenhower, JFK, and LBJ had not recognized, and recognized them under the recognition that the Communist Chinese under Mao were NOT sitting quite so well with the Soviet Union at the time. However, this doesn't mean that Mao wasn't a Communist. In fact, Mao's own ideology hadn't really changed from the 30s during the Chinese Civil War or from the start of his reign over mainland China in the 50s. The only thing that had changed was that Stalin had died and Mao decided that HE was the Communist world's leader, NOT Khrushchev. And Nixon turned to Mao as a potential ally against the Soviet Union as a result of that...

Which by a point of policy is an action of support/tolerance of some form of Communism in some way, even if Communist ideology in and of itself isn't supported.
These posts for Nixon make sense. One could argue he was tolerant, even if his efforts were for detente or some kind of thawing of relationships. Of course, inactivity can be seen, tacitly, as tolerance as well. That was Carter for sure. Perhaps it was due to the aftermath of Vietnam, but Carter was in no mood for confrontation or even competition.
 
Jun 2014
177
Cal Poly
I think out of the choices I'm inclined to say Nixon, much for the reasons already stated. Allowing South Vietnam to fall, détente with the USSR and the PRC. From what I can tell, it very much embodies the kind of soft approach that his rival Barry Goldwater lambasted in Conscience of a Conservative. Nixon also contrasts quite drastically with Reagan's later hostile approach. So at least in comparison to the GOP's other biggest figures at the time, Nixon certainly stands out.

I think Bill Clinton maybe should be mentioned, since his nuclear deal with North Korea seems to have been a major blunder. As Clinton said: "This agreement will help to achieve a longstanding and vital American objective: an end to the threat of nuclear proliferation on the Korean Peninsula."

It seems this strategy was poorly conceived. I don't know if you could call this deal "tolerant" per se, but it's certainly a mistake that seems derived from an underestimation of the North Korean ideology.

I also saw Obama mentioned and while I don't know he was in much of a position to substantially "tolerate" communist countries due to the relative lack of them these days, he did allow the Chinese to expand and build islands and military facilities in the South China Sea.
 

jackydee

Ad Honorem
Jan 2013
4,569
Brigadoon
Im going to say FDR with Nixon a close second. I mean at least Nixon believed it worthwhile fighting communists in Vietnam. FDR, or at least too many within his administration, would barely have put up a fight had Soviet backed communists overthrown the Mexican Government.