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Jewish World Review Nov. 28, 2000 / 1 Kislev, 5761

Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.

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What Clinton hath wrought -- A WHIRLING DERVISH would envy the public relations "spin" Samuel Berger is performing concerning President Clinton's foreign policy accomplishments. In a friendly interview with Washington Post columnist Jim Hoagland published on Sunday, the lobbyist for Communist China-turned-National Security Advisor to the President even went so far as to claim that "I hate [the word ‘legacy'] and I forbid it here." This sure will come as news to the thousands of Clinton Administration personnel who have been working non-stop over the past year to produce what have been explicitly called "deliverables" for the Clinton legacy.

Chances are, however, that as much as Sandy Berger hates the term, the rest of us are going to loathe the content of this President's legacy -- and all that is left in its wake. What Berger claims is the "beginning of a foreign policy for the global age" looks a lot more like the detritus of a "me-generation" Administration, willing to do anything to secure desired short-term results, without regard to the long-term consequences. Recent developments in four areas are cases in point:

  • Phony "nation-building." When President-elect George W. Bush challenged Vice President Gore during the campaign about the Administration's penchant for using U.S. troops inappropriately, the Veep was indignant. He went so far as to compare what he and Bill Clinton were doing in Bosnia, Kosovo and Haiti to what George Marshall and Douglas MacArthur did for Europe and Japan, respectively.

    Nothing could be farther from the truth. To be sure, elections have been held with some regularity in all three nations. But unlike the post-World War II efforts to create viable democracies and economies, the Clinton-Gore team was more concerned with creating the appearance of tranquility than creating the conditions needed to assure it over the long haul. This gave rise to the worst of both worlds: huge expenses to the United States and little, if any, durable progress to show for it.

    In fact, despite billions of dollars spent and the squandering of U.S. military personnel and resources on what have tended to be open-ended constabulary operations, nothing approximating functioning governments and societies are to be found in any of these three beneficiaries of American intervention and largesse. To the contrary, Clinton is bequeathing to his successor situations in Bosnia, Kosovo and Haiti that are ripe for renewed bloodletting, leaving a President Bush with few attractive options.

  • Fraudulent "peace processes." The process conjured up at Dayton in 1995 is not the only one to come a cropper even before Mr. Clinton leaves office. His insistence on Israeli concessions deemed necessary to secure yet another agreement with the Palestinians before the 2000 election encouraged Arafat to hold out for still more -- and to incite violence against Israel to get it. Far from a Peace Prize, the upshot is a region on the verge, if not actually in the opening stages, of its first major Arab-Israeli conflict since 1973.

    We can only hope that President Bush will recognize that, if a durable peace can be achieved at all in the Middle East, it will not result from negotiations in which the United States bribes or euchres Israel into compromising its sovereignty and its ability to defend itself. President Clinton has proven that this approach only whets Arab appetites to realize the abiding goal of destroying the Jewish State altogether.

  • Feckless diplomacy to counter proliferation. Unfortunately, the Dayton and Oslo accords look like works of genius compared to the agreements the Clinton-Gore team has conjured up in the name of curbing the spread of weapons of mass destruction and their long-range ballistic missile delivery systems. Last week, the Administration announced that it would not impose sanctions on the world's leading proliferator, Communist China, for its failure to adhere to previous non-proliferation agreements on the grounds that Beijing had just made a new promise not to transfer dangerous technology to its rogue state clients.

    This act of appeasement makes a mockery of Administration warnings to Russia of unspecified but "serious consequences" if the Kremlin follows through on its stated intention no longer to be bound by an agreement barring the sale of advanced weaponry to Iran -- an agreement forged in secrecy in 1995 by Vice President Gore and honored in the breach by the Russians ever since. President Bush will have his work cut out for him restoring American credibility and effectiveness in the fight against Chinese, Russian and others' ominous trade in weapons of mass destruction and related technologies.

  • Mindless multilateralism: President Clinton is leaving behind a mess in two other areas as well -- a multilateral process on Global Climate Change that has just foundered in the Hague; and a new multilateral process bearing on access to outer space intended to be propelled by a bilateral accord with Russia that has just been launched in Vienna.

    Although the Kyoto process seems in extremis at the moment, unless President Bush directs otherwise, it will doubtless be resuscitated and once again pose a threat to American economic growth and sovereignty, with uncertain -- if any -- benefit to the earth's temperature.

    Even more troublesome to the incoming Bush Administration may be the Clinton-Gore effort to tie its successor's hands with respect to space policy. Where the United States clearly requires its own rapid, reliable and cost-effective means of putting payloads into space, if Mr. Clinton has his way, his legacy will be an undue and strategically reckless U.S. reliance on Chinese and Russian rockets for access to space and accords that effectively preclude promising alternative American approaches (such as reusable, vertical-launch/vertical-landing technologies).

There is, of course, one bit of good news. Assuming Vice President Gore stays beaten, the Nation at least has a chance of undoing, rather than perpetuating, the Clinton legacy in international relations. Accomplishing that must be one of President Bush's top priorities.

JWR contributor Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. heads the Center for Security Policy. Send your comments to him by clicking here.


11/21/00: HE'S BAAAACK
11/14/00: The world won't wait

© 2000, Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.