US Foreign Policy Plate Is Full
President-elect may need `new vision' to guide in complex, less stable world. CHALLENGES FOR CLINTON
NEEDED by Jan. 20: a foreign policy vision. Must be comprehensive, long-term, able to guide United States policy around the world. Suggestions welcome.Skip to next paragraph
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If presidents resorted to the classified pages to fill their administrations, that advertisement might well be placed by President-elect Clinton. His domestic-oriented campaign rhetoric notwithstanding, Mr. Clinton may find his administration focusing on foreign affairs.
On Inauguration Day, US armed forces almost certainly will still be in Somalia, and may soon be committed to stopping Serbian aggression against Bosnia or Iraqi aggression against the Kurds and Shiites.
Problems that will continue to simmer include ethnic unrest in the former Soviet republics, US relations with China, Iran's growing military power, and keeping the Middle East peace talks going.
Beyond those immediate challenges, analysts say, Clinton will have to work out a longer-term security system - possibly through the United Nations but almost certainly under US leadership - to preserve peace and stability around the world.
"Clinton is going to need to formulate and articulate and then sell a new vision of US national interests and of the US position in the world," says Jeswald Salacuse, dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University in Medford, Mass.
Such a vision is needed, Dean Salacuse and other analysts say, because of the stunning transformations that have swept the world since the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall. In 1993, the US confronts a challenge similar to the one it faced after the end of World War II: to forge a new world order under US leadership. Period of `minimal stability'
In some ways, the opportunity today is even greater than it was in 1945, because the US is now the only superpower. But the challenges are also greater, since there is no US-Soviet competition to provide international stability.
"The world is much more likely to be turbulent and tense, creating minimal stability," says Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was national-security adviser to President Carter. Running a foreign policy in that environment, Dr. Brzezinski adds, will be a "full- time job" and "very difficult."
While there is less danger of nuclear war or communist expansion today than in previous decades, there are a host of lesser dangers that will confront the Clinton administration. As Brzezinski puts it: "The 1970s were the period of maximum danger [for the West]. This is the period of maximum complexity."
The big question is whether the Clinton administration's foreign policy team contains a grand thinker capable of articulating a vision of US policy - someone in the mold of George Kennan, the author of the 1947 "X" article that popularized the "containment" doctrine.
Secretary of State-designate Warren Christopher is not known as a foreign policy theoretician. Thus the task of forging a foreign policy vision will probably fall to Clinton himself or to national security adviser Anthony Lake and his deputy Samuel Berger.
During the campaign, Messrs. Lake and Berger, who served as Clinton's principal foreign policy advisers, spelled out a policy that emphasized promoting human rights and democracy abroad, but that was sketchy on specifics. Even supporters of the Clinton administration concede it will lack a conceptual framework in foreign policy - although some argue this is actually a virtue.
"There are no great overriding theories, which can result in being in a straitjacket," says Donald McHenry, who was US ambassador to the United Nations from 1979 to 1981. "Christopher will take problems on their merits, not force them into some kind of intellectual theory."
Salacuse suggests that, while his foreign policy advisers may not outline a wide-ranging Weltanschauung, Clinton himself may be up to the task. The president-elect, he says, is "not someone who's uninterested or unknowledgeable about foreign policy." Bosnia may be early test
Early on, the "Clinton doctrine" is likely to be defined in Bosnia, where the United Nations seems helpless to stop the Serb-backed siege of Sarajevo.
"Iraq's invasion of Kuwait was the first test of how the US deals with aggression after the cold war. The second case is Bosnia," says Joshua Muravchik, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington.
He argues that if Clinton does nothing about Bosnia, that could destroy the hope of collective security that should be a pillar of the new world order. The other pillars of the emerging world order are greater democratization and the spread of the free market, he argues.
"Democracy is spreading in waves around the world as it never has in human history. It's a special moment in the triumph of American ideas," Mr. Muravchik says. "[Clinton] has to find ways to try to nurture and encourage the worldwide democratization."