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No single figure characterizes the contemporary era, but foreign affairs continue to ask much of American presidents and of the nation they serve. After the attacks of 9/11, George W. Bush waged a global “war on terror” that set aside traditional diplomacy in favor of U.S. military intervention abroad. During this time, the country’s urge to strengthen homeland security has led presidents to introduce new surveillance techniques and anti-terrorism laws that have, in turn, tested privacy laws developed in the pre-digital age.

War continues to influence the twenty-first century as the United States follows a doctrine that relies upon both shield and sword. At the same time, public reactions to e...

Image and text © National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, 2023

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