Serving three United States presidents, Ambassador Otto J. Reich has been a key player in helping forge American foreign policy in Western Hemispheric affairs and national security areas. The Reagan Doctrine’s policy objectives of rolling back Soviet communism counted Reich as one of its seminal foot soldiers.
First as assistant administrator of the Agency for International Development (1981-1983) and then the first director of the State Department’s Office of Public Diplomacy for Latin America and the Caribbean (1983-1986), he acutely marked a trend for Reagan’s freedom crusade, with particular emphasis in Latin America. The chapter of service under the 40th president’s tenure concluded as America’s ambassador to Venezuela (1986-1989).
The presidencies of George H. W. Bush (father) and George W. Bush (son) also bore witness to Reich’s diplomatic expertise. Acting as a private citizen, he served as the Alternate U.S. Representative to the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva (1991-1992), as well as Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs (2001-2002) and the Special Envoy for Western Hemisphere Initiatives (2002-2004), the latter two being in an official diplomatic capacity.
The interview with Ambassador Reich was enlightening. Drawing on his vast public life experience and expert testimony throughout pivotal periods in world history, this encounter proved to be a rendition of memorable anecdotes, as well as pristine observations of current political trends and the stark contrast between the American political climate of yesterday and today.
The interview examined the fruits of the salient National Security Decision Directives of the Reagan presidency, which served as the Gipper’s blueprint for the American foreign policy initiatives, which structured the doctrine that bears his name. Comparisons between the Reagan and Trump presidencies were made, as well as poking through the possible course the Biden administration will chart, which points to a 180-degree change. The future of the Republican Party was also a theme that was necessary to discuss.
Ambassador Reich’s insight, overall, presented an optimistic reading of freedom’s future, as well as the cohesiveness for the Republican Party after the 2020 election. Perhaps this is due to his ample life experience that renders his compass of the future with certain clarity and precision. This is part of El American’s series of short, informational interviews.