August 17, 1992 GOVERNOR CLINTON'S FOREIGN POLICY THE LOS ANGELES SPEECH GEORGE BUSH HAS A
August 17, 1992
GOVERNOR CLINTON'S FOREIGN POLICY
THE LOS ANGELES SPEECH
GEORGE BUSH HAS ACHIEVED MORE IN AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY IN A SINGLE
TERM THAN ANY OTHER AMERICAN PRESIDENT SINCE THE EARLY DAYS OF THE
REPUBLIC. BILL CLINTON HAS NEVER MADE A FOREIGN POLICY DECISION IN
o Bill Clinton is taking on the "Bear" Bryant of foreign policy
and trying to tell him that he doesn't know how to rack up
victories. Months after George Bush has compiled a magnificent
record, Clinton is carping about game strategy and play
selection -- complaints he never voiced at the time. With
George Bush providing Western leadership:
-- The West won the Cold War.
-- Eastern Europe was liberated.
-- Germany was peacefully united within NATO.
-- The Soviet Union disintegrated, communism collapsed.
-- We smashed the Iraqi army and dashed Saddam Hussein's plans
for conquest and nuclear weapons.
-- Israel and all its Arab neighbors, for the first time in
Israel's 44-year history, sit at the same peace table.
-- President Bush has won Russian agreement to eliminate four-
fifths of superpower nuclear weapons and most of the
nuclear weapons in the world; Russia has agreed to destroy
the most destabilizing missiles ever built.
-- Panama was liberated and its drug-running dictator was
brought to justice; El Salvador and Nicaragua have became
-- And the President is creating the world's largest free
trade area to create hundreds of thousands of new American
WHILE THE PRESIDENT'S EXPERIENCE, SKILL, AND VISION ENSURED A FINAL
VICTORY IN THE COLD WAR, CLINTON'S INEXPERIENCE COULD LOSE THE
o Clinton gave a serious national security policy speech in Los
Angeles on August 13. Because of the gravity of the subject,
his criticisms of President Bush and Clinton's own policy
prescriptions both deserve careful examination.
o Shutting America Out of the World Economy: Clinton said his
first foreign policy priority was to restore America's economic
vitality. But Clinton's plan would hurt, not revitalize the
American economy. American business must have global markets to
sustain production lines and offset the skyrocketing R&D costs
of high technology products. Opening the world's markets means
a policy of free trade. But Clinton, imprisoned by Democratic
special interests and Big Labor, cannot bring himself to pair
the words "free" and "trade" (nor did the Democratic platform).
Clinton has even backed away from his earlier support for the
North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Though he has said
that he puts economics first, Clinton did not even mention NAFTA
in a speech to a Southern California audience the day after the
agreement was announced. Clearly, establishment of the largest
free trade area in the world has dropped off his economic
Clinton also misjudges American competitiveness. He ignores the
record-breaking growth in U.S. exports and world-beating
productivity, particularly in manufacturing. He continues to
promote radical environmental measures -- such as an unnecessary
increase in auto efficiency standards -- that would sacrifice at
least 300,000 American jobs. His spending increases would crowd
out private investment. His economic design would increase the
budget deficit by at least $200 billion over four years, and
erase the significant progress that America has made in the last
four years in lowering interest rates, keeping inflation down,
and cutting the foreign trade deficit.
Nor does he understand how to bring down trade barriers. He
declared that the stalemate in GATT derives from US weakness.
He does not seem to understand that the GATT standoff comes from
American strength and will -- to fight against Europe's
agricultural subsidies. America's farmers and cattlemen are
ready to compete with those from any other nation. American
pressure to achieve cuts in European subsidies will make this
o Defense Policy: Clinton would slash America's defense by nearly
$60 billion more than the President's careful defense
reductions. To cite just one example, the Arkansas governor
advocates a ten carrier Navy. But independent Congressional
Budget Office analyses show that such a force would have been
too weak to support America's Gulf War victory. Clinton's
defense cuts will also put as many as one million Americans out
of work. He would turn a sensible defense drawdown into a
freefall, cracking the morale and readiness of our military,
bringing back the dispirited "hollow" army of the Carter era.
The man who, as Governor of a small state, got kicked out of
office for letting unarmed Cuban refugees roam around the West
Arkansas countryside, is not the man to plan America's national
security needs into the next century. George Bush, the man who
oversaw the most successful and extensive mobilization of
American fighting men and women in decades, is.
o Gulf War Waffle: Though he persists in claiming that "I
supported the decision to use force to get Saddam Hussein out of
Kuwait," the truth is that Clinton said absolutely nothing on
the issue until two days after Congress voted to authorize the
use of force. At the time Clinton's instinct was to continue
sanctions instead of taking decisive action: "I agree with the
arguments of the people in the minority on the resolution --
that we should give sanctions more time and maybe even explore a
full-scale embargo ... before we go to war," (AP, as printed in
the Pine Bluff Commercial, 1/15/91). But, he could not resist
waffling -- trying as usual to have it both ways: "I guess I
would have voted with the majority if it was a close vote. But
I agree with the argument the minority made" (Arkansas Gazette,
o Support for Yeltsin and Democracy in Russia: In his speech on
August 13th, Clinton charged that the President "snubbed Boris
Yeltsin." Unfortunately for Clinton, Yeltsin's own words prove
the emptiness of his charge: addressing the U.S. Congress this
June, Yeltsin thanked the President by name, and the American
people, for supporting Russian democracy against the dark forces
Clinton, in his speech in Los Angeles, emphasized the need to
encourage democratic forces. But he failed the most important
test of judgment, the rise of democracy in Russia. He went to
Moscow in June 1991, at the time Yeltsin was running for the
office of Russian president. Clinton did not meet with Yeltsin;
yet, he found time to talk to Yeltsin's opponent (Bakatin), a
Communist Party hack. Then Clinton publicly accused Yeltsin of
manipulating the election, suggesting that Yeltsin had scheduled
it "in a hurry so the other candidates wouldn't have time to get
known" (Arkansas Gazette, 6/13/91). He recklessly took sides
against the man leading the future of democracy in Russia.
o Clinton Falters During the August Coup in the Soviet Union,
1991: Two weeks before the August 1991 coup, Clinton praised
President Bush for "handling the Soviets well today" (Washington
Times, 8/1/91). Now he finds it politically convenient to
change his mind and criticize the President. But when
democratic reform in the Soviet Union faced its gravest threat
during the August coup, Clinton typically dithered. After the
President had branded the plot "misguided and illegitimate" and
while the resurgence of democratic forces was still in doubt,
Clinton granted the coup plotters a measure of legitimacy,
saying: "We'll just have to wait and see what the intentions of
the new president and that team who are apparently in control
are" (Arkansas Gazette, 8/19/91).
o Clinton Comments on Bush and Gorbachev: In Los Angeles, Clinton
analogized the end of the Cold War to the dawn, an inevitable
force of nature. He thus shows startling ignorance of diplomacy
and its instruments, misreads history and does not grasp
American strategy and tactics that make all the difference. For
example, he charges that the President should have abandoned
Gorbachev and rushed faster to recognize the Baltic states and
the new nations in the former Soviet Union. Clinton's reckless
idea of undermining Gorbachev prematurely, while he was still
the essential agent of a peaceful transition, would have
threatened perestroika, halted Soviet withdrawal from Eastern
Europe and Germany, caused a crisis with our allies, and led to
a Soviet veto in the United Nations of the resolution backing
war against Saddam Hussein.
o Creating Democracies: Bill Clinton says that the central
purpose of his foreign policy would be to spread democracy.
Yet, since 1989, at least thirty-nine countries have moved from
communism or authoritarianism toward democracy: from the former
Soviet Union, to the countries of Eastern Europe, to the freely-
elected government in Panama.
o Clinton's Self-Professed Role Models -- Jimmy Carter and George
McGovern: While American Embassy personnel were being held
hostage in Teheran, Clinton thought Jimmy Carter was performing
his executive role brilliantly: "Iran has helped him enormously
because people are seeing in him again what they thought they
saw when they elected him -- a smart, good, solid, profoundly
thoughtful and firm man doing his best in a difficult time ..."
(Arkansas Gazette, 12/30/79).
Last September, in a tribute to George McGovern, Clinton said,
"History has borne you out, and I'm still proud to have worked
for you." This remarkable statement was excised by the Clinton
campaign from official speech texts distributed to the media.
o Clinton and the Middle East: Clinton accused the President of
mishandling the peace process and the issue of loan guarantees
to Israel. Yet, just this week, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak
Rabin complimented the President's decisiveness in defeating
Saddam, destroying the most dangerous threat to Israel's
security. It is because of George Bush's extensive skill and
experience that today Israel has achieved face-to-face
negotiations with all of its Arab neighbors -- the top
diplomatic objective of the Jewish State since it was founded in
o Yugoslavia: Clinton's statements have wandered in defining the
war aims he proposes for American military action in the
Balkans. Following Clinton's stumbling performance, the Boston
Globe reported (on 8/10/92) that Clinton seemed "vague, hesitant
and uncharacteristically [sic] unsure of himself on several
questions." The Globe concluded that Clinton was "muddy about
what he had in mind when it came to military force in the
Balkans, seemingly suggesting that simply contemplating its use
was a policy end capable of achieving a foreign policy result."
George Bush has had to face the wrenching decision of whether to put
America's fighting men and women in the line of fire. He moved
decisively in the Persian Gulf and Panama when America's interests
were directly threatened. He understands the need to have clearly
defined military missions, clearly obtainable political objectives,
and to think through these options -- especially where American lives
could be put at risk -- before speaking. Clearly, Clinton does not.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank