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Roosevelt top foreign-policy U.S. president, survey says

A recent survey conducted by researchers at the College of William and Mary ranked Franklin Roosevelt as the best president for U.S. foreign policy in the last 100 years. George W. Bush finished a distant twelfth, with less than one percent of the foreign policy experts surveyed ranking the sitting president among the most effective foreign policy leaders. Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, Bill Clinton,Top 10 Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Theodore Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy and Woodrow Wilson completed the top ten ranked by the more than 1,100 faculty of international relations who completed the survey. Complete results from the survey will be featured in the next issue of Foreign Policy magazine expected on newsstands Feb. 27.

The Teaching, Research and International Politics (TRIP) survey was conducted by researchers led by government professors Mike Tierney and Susan Peterson. The team, including government professor Amy Oakes and their former student Daniel Maliniak, queried international relations scholars at more than 1,200 four-year colleges and universities in the U.S. and Canada.

The survey examined views on teaching, the international relations discipline, and contemporary issues in international politics.

“Most surveys show us what the public thinks about various foreign policy issues,” said Tierney. “This survey shows us what the experts think.”

The survey is part of a larger project which includes a database of all international relations articles published in the twelve top peer-reviewed international relations and political science journals from 1980 to 2006.

Peterson, who is also the Dean for Educational Policy in Arts and Sciences added, “We hope this combined data will provide scholars with a tool to evaluate and describe changes in the discipline over time, explore the influence of teaching on the foreign policy views of students and future policy makers, and shed light on the relationship between the academy and the policy world.”

The response rate was high for the survey. In the United States 41% of those questioned responded to the online survey, and among Canadian scholars the response rate was 40%.

“Obviously, we were quite pleased with the response rate,” said Maliniak. “It shows that the scholars care about the discipline in general and the answers to questions we were asking in particular.”

The survey, part of a series of questionnaires started in 2004, asked respondents to address everything from teaching methods and research inspiration to foreign policy “hot spots” and the prospects for a stable democracy in Iraq.

“IR experts strongly agree that the U.S should pursue free trade policies, increase foreign assistance through multilateral institutions, work through the UN, and avoid wars like Iraq,” Tierney said.

Complete survey results are available online at For additional information contact Michael J. Tierney at 757.221.3039 or Susan Peterson at 757.221.2498.