Critics charge that savvy dictators such as Uganda's president Yoweri Museveni have manipulated U.S. foreign policy by appealing to its need to fight terrorism. Others suggest U.S. should adopt a policy of realpolitik and work with any type of government who can be helpful.
- Other criticisms. The U.S. has been criticized for its historical treatment of native Americans. For example, the treatment of Cherokee Indians in the Trail of Tears in which hundreds of Indians died in a forced evacuation from their homes in the southeastern area, along with massacres, displacement of lands, swindles, and breaking treaties. It has been criticized for the war with Mexico in the 1840s which some see as a theft of land. It was the first and only nation to use a nuclear bomb in wartime. It failed to admit Jews fleeing persecution from Europe at the beginning of World War II, as well as immoral policy for the Vietnam War.
- Lack of vision. Brzezinski criticized the Clinton presidency as having a foreign policy which lacked "discipline and passion" and subjected the U.S. to "eight years of drift." The short-term election cycle coupled with the inability to stick with long term decisions motivates presidents to focus on acts which will appease the citizenry and avoid difficult long-term choices.
- Presidency is over-burdened. Presidents have not only foreign policy responsibilities, but sizeable domestic duties too. In addition, the presidency is the head of a political party. As a result, it is tough for one person to manage disparate tasks, in one view. Critics suggest Reagan was overburdened, which prevented him from doing a good job of oversight regarding the IranContra affair. Brzezinski suggested in Foreign Affairs that President Obama is similarly overburdened. Some suggest a need for permanent non-partisan advisers.
- Dollars drive foreign policy. There are indications that decisions to go to war in Iraq were motivated by oil interests; for example, a British newspaper The Independent reported that the "Bush administration is heavily involved in writing Iraq's oil law" which would "allow Western oil companies contracts of up to 30 years to pump oil out of Iraq, and the profits would be tax-free." Whether motivated by oil or not, U.S. policy appears to much of the Arab world to have been motivated by oil. Some critics assert the U.S. decision to build the Panama Canal was motivated largely by business interests despite claims that it's motivated to "spread democracy" and "end oppression." Andrew Bacevich suggests policy is directed by "wealthy individuals and institutions." Some critics say U.S. foreign policy does reflect the will of the people, but blames the people for having a "consumerist mentality" which causes problems. In 1893, a decision to back a plot to overthrow the rulership of Hawaii by president Harrison was motivated by business interests in an effort to prevent a proposed tariff increase on sugar; Hawaii became a state afterwards. There was speculation that the Spanish-American War in 1898 between the U.S. and Spain was motivated by business interests in Cuba.
- Presidents may lack experience. Since the constitution requires no prior experience in diplomacy, government, or military service, it is possible to elect presidents with scant foreign policy experience. Clearly the record of past presidents confirms this, and that presidents who have had extensive diplomatic, military, and foreign policy experience have been the exception, not the rule. In recent years, presidents had relatively more experience in such tasks as peanut farming, acting and governing governorships than in international affairs. It has been debated whether voters are sufficiently skillful to assess the foreign policy potential of presidential candidates, since foreign policy experience is only one of a long list of attributes in which voters tend to select candidates. The second Bush was criticized for inexperience in the Washington Post for being "not versed in international relations and not too much interested."
- Presidency has too much authority. In contrast to criticisms that presidential attention is divided into competing tasks, some critics charge that presidents have too much power, and that there is the potential for tyranny or fascism. Some presidents circumvented the national security decision-making process. Critics such as Dana D. Nelson of Vanderbilt in her book Bad for Democracy and columnist David Sirotaand Texas law professor Sanford Levinsonsee a danger in too much executive authority.
- Difficulty removing an incompetent president. Since the only way to remove an incompetent president is with the rather difficult policy of impeachment, it is possible for a marginally competent or incompetent president to stay in office for four to eight years and cause great mischief. In recent years, there has been great attention to this issue given the presidency of George W. Bush, but there have been questions raised about the competency of Jimmy Carter in his handling of the Iran hostage crisis. Ironically, a president who was arguably the most skillful in foreign policy, Richard M. Nixon, was impeached, but for offenses linked with domestic politics.
- President may be incomp