The US Needs a Bipartisan Approach to Foreign Crises

Throughout our history as a nation, the President typically spoke for the US when dealing with foreign crises. The political party leaders and politicians either supported the President or they remained quit on the subject in an effort to show a united front in responding to foreign crises. With this protocol, it would be the responsibility of the President to take the initiative to discuss how the US should respond with his cabinet officials and key members of both parties in Congress. The lines of communication and consultation must be wide open during any foreign crisis, especially where the US has vital interests in the area. Once a plan of action is created, then the President can implement it and keep the Congress apprised during the process regarding further developments and need for any additional responses. Following this protocol ensures that the United States speaks with one voice and with the concurrence of Congress. Additionally, the President would be in contact with key foreign leaders to gain their perspectives on the situation with back briefs to the leadership of both parties in Congress. The development of a strong consistent course of action with periodic updates by the President to Congressional leadership and key allies is extremely important because much of the world looks to the United States for leadership during troubled times.
Lately, however, the White House and the Congress have ignored this practical protocol and what we have now is the President formulating the US response with minimal or no input from Congressional leaders. Consequently, many members of Congress are speaking out with their own plan of action which is typically very critical of the White House’s plan. The President needs to provide the leadership to work with the leaders of both parties to pull together the differing viewpoints in Congress and forge a bipartisan plan to deal with foreign crises. If our elected representatives cannot do this and instead, insist on presenting to the world a fragmented and ineffective US response to crises, then it will be extremely difficult to build a coalition of countries to form an international response. We need to return to the common sense protocols of joint White House and Congressional communication and consultation to present a united America with a strong bipartisan voice to the world.
Paul Okum has 40 years’ experience with the Federal Government in the Departments of Transportation, Interior, Army, and Defense in leadership positions, including being a US Army officer and a director of a human resources office in the Department of Defense. Okum has written “Leadership DNA,” a guide book about identifying, selecting, and developing natural born leaders. The book also explains how to deal with poor performing leaders before they cripple an organization.
For more information about Paul Okum and “Leadership DNA,” visit

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