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Game Changers: Foreign Policy Events that Altered Presidencies Game Changers: Foreign Policy Events that Altered Presidencies

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Game Changers: Foreign Policy Events that Altered Presidencies

photo of Jenna  Zwang
November 7, 2011

Every president enters the White House with an agenda, one that he has pitched to citizenry throughout his entire campaign. However, when a surprise foreign-policy or national-security issue explodes onto the scene, the leader of the Free World can find themselves redefining their term and their policies based on their response. We take a look in pictures at the events that have shaped the modern presidents.

BAY OF PIGS, 1961: Fidel Castro is pictured at the front during the Bay of Pigs invasion in this 1961 photo. About 1,500 Cuban exiles, supported by the CIA, landed in Cuba in the Bahia de Cochinos (Bay of Pigs) on April 17, 1961, with the purpose of sparking a popular uprising and ousting the government of Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Most rebels were quickly captured or killed by the Cuban armed forces. While the operation was approved in 1960 by Dwight D. Eisenhower, it was John F. Kennedy who authorized the action. The failure of the CIA-backed invasion was a severe blow to the young Kennedy administration's ego, and also made Castro wary of any involvement on the part of the United States in Cuba's affairs.(CP Photo/Granma/Raul Corrales)

CUBAN MISSILE CRISIS, 1962: President John F. Kennedy tells the American people during a television and radio address on Oct. 22, 1962, that the U.S. is setting up a naval blockade against Cuba in retaliation for the Soviet and Cuban construction of military bases with the ability to strike the United States. Considered the closest the U.S. and Soviet Union came to nuclear war, Kennedy made a secret deal with Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev to remove American missiles from Italy and Turkey if Khrushchev removed those in Cuba. In the aftermath of the crisis, Kennedy signed the "Hot Line" agreement, creating a direct line of communication between Washington and Moscow to prevent further "misunderstandings."(AP Photo/Bill Allen)

IRANIAN HOSTAGE CRISIS, 1979-1981: One of 60 U.S. hostages, blindfolded and with his hands bound, is being displayed to the crowd outside the U.S. Embassy in Tehran by Iranian hostage takers, Nov. 9, 1979. The seizing of hostages was planned by an Iranian student group. Frustrated by the perceived American intervention in the Iranian Revolution, they were further angered by President Jimmy Carter's televised toast to the once-deposed Shah. The original plan was to only hold the embassy for a matter of days, but some say Carter's lack of ultimatum allowed the crisis to continue. "Operation Eagle Claw," the Carter-approved failed rescue attempt, was fraught with mechanical issues and poor planning. When the incident was made public, Carter's chances for reelection dwindled.(AP Photo)


BALKAN CONFLICT, 1990s: From left to right, a British U.N. soldier holds a small refugee child in Travnik, Bosnia and Herzegovina on May 17, 1993; Kosovo Liberation Army soldiers march along a central road on October 20, 1998; and troops of the U.S. 1st Cavalry deploy across the Saudi desert on Nov. 4, 1990, during preparations prior to the Gulf War. The George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton presidencies were marked by United States involvement in world conflicts. The conflicts in Bosnia, Kosovo and the Persian Gulf were similar in causal nature, with the United States defending the besieged party. Bush Sr. achieved record approval ratings during the Gulf War, while the Clinton administration was criticized in the press for allegedly exaggerating conditions in Kosovo.(AP Photo)

ATTACK ON U.S. EMBASSY, NAIROBI, 1998: Rescue workers remove a dead body from the collapsed building next to the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi on Aug. 8, 1998. Terrorist bombs exploded minutes apart outside the U.S. Embassies in both Kenya and Tanzania, killing at least 107 people, injuring over 2,200, and turning buildings into mountains of shattered concrete. In response, President Clinton ordered cruise-missile strikes in both Afghanistan and the Sudan in Operation Infinite Reach. He was sharply criticized when one of the targets turned out to be a pharmaceutical plant which provided 50 percent of Sudan's medications, after false intelligence said that the plant produced chemical weaponry. After the bombings, the U.S. increased aid to Kenya and recommitted itself to antiterrorism operations through the Antiterrorism Assistance Program.(AP Photo/Khalil Senosi)

ATTACK ON USS COLE, 2000: The U.S. Navy released this view of damage sustained on the port side of the Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Cole after a terrorist bomb exploded during a refueling operation in the port of Aden, Yemen, on Oct. 12, 2000. While Clinton condemned the act as terrorism, neither he nor President George W. Bush utilized military action, something they both were criticized for in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. Condoleezza Rice said the decision not repond with force was Bush's, as he said he was tired of "swatting flies."(AP Photo/U.S. Navy, HO)


SEPT. 11 ATTACKS, 2001: Smoke billows from one of the towers of the World Trade Center and flames and debris explode from the second tower, Sept. 11, 2001. President George W. Bush and the CIA received a large amount of vitriol for not preventing the attacks after receiving intelligence predicting them. The Bush administration announced the "War on Terror" with the goals of routing Osama bin Laden and Al Qaida to justice through a series of military and economic sanctions.(AP Photo/Chao Soi Cheong)

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