ANALYSTS who say that George Bush lacks a foreign policy plan for the "new world order" are wrong. The president's actions reflect a coherent and consistent perception of two major international threats.
These threats are nuclear proliferation and the loss of market access. Each threat, for President Bush, absolutely demands a foreign-policy response. Both regional nuclear wars and closed markets would devastate the United States economy. And where the two threats combine, as they do in the former Soviet Union, Europe, the Middle East, South Asia, and East Asia, they produce major US foreign policies.
US foreign policy has a far different pattern now than it did a few cold-war years ago. The travel itineraries of Bush, Secretary of State James Baker, and their top aides confirm the potency of both nuclear proliferation and market access to produce coherent and consistent policies.
In China, Mr. Baker sought human rights and market-access reforms to forestall congressional action that could damage US-Chinese trade. He also wanted Chinese restraint in selling nuclear and missile technology to Iran, and assistance in checking North Korea's nuclear program.
In Japan, issues of market access and nuclear proliferation again combine. Besides opening Japanese markets, efforts are made to gain Japan's aid in preventing North Korea from going nuclear.
In India, Under Secretary of State Reginald Bartholomew implored the Indian government to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty and cancel the sale of a research reactor to Iran. He also discussed a Pakistani proposal for a nuclear-free zone in South Asia.
In the Persian Gulf, the US went to war to prevent Iraq's use of Kuwaiti oil revenues to finance its nuclear program. War, not diplomacy, was the only way Bush could obliterate Iraq's development of nuclear weapons.
In the Middle East, Baker is engaged in a high-risk peace process in order to defuse the conflict before weapons of mass destruction, mainly nukes, come into play. Oil installations as well as massed Arab forces would be the prime targets of Israeli nuclear strikes. This targeting would deny Arabs the oil revenues necessary to buy the weapons that would sustain their forces in the war. Incidentally, this targeting would ravage the world - and the US - economy.
As to the Soviet Union, Bush reversed his previous cautious policy on aid. He did so in September when the Soviets revealed their precipitous shortfall in oil exports and their difficulty in arranging control of nuclear weapons. The prospect of four republics with nukes stirred Bush and the G-7 nations to use credits and debt forgiveness to pressure the republics to cooperate politically and economically. This policy crashed on the rocks of Ukrainian nationalism and Yeltsin's commonwealth. Aid shifted to
the republics. Assistance in oil technology, granting recognition, and help in the conversion of the arms industry and in the modernization of the civilian sector now serve as inducements to resolve the nuclear problem.
In Europe, the strong stand for the preservation of a US-led NATO supports interests of nuclear stability and freer trade with the European Community.
To deal with the loss of support at home, Bush's foreign policy posture is larded with platitudes. Pronouncements on democracy, human rights, and on the untiring US efforts for peace seek to compensate for the lack of domestic policies.
Bush's foreign policy vision elicits the following conclusions:
* The US is essentially accepting the world - complex, diverse, just, and unjust - as it comes.
* The US will not be the world's policeman.
The Bush administration neglects international conflicts that involve neither nuclear proliferation nor market access. The civil wars in Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Timor, and Somalia vanish from the administration's purview. The mess in Haiti is turned over to the Organization of American States. Struggles for democracy in Africa merit scant attention. Responsibility for the Cambodian settlement is delegated to the United Nations.
* The US, although it appears to define its national interests broadly, defines them narrowly. No attempt is made, beyond nuclear nonproliferation and free trade, to coordinate the foreign policies of the world community. Problems of world population, the environment, refugees, hunger, housing, illiteracy, and health are largely ignored. The "Free World" is dead, and with it, US global leadership.
Without power (cash), without an enemy (communism), and without an ideology, Bush has formulated his foreign policy vision on the necessity that everyone - the US, Europe, Japan, China, India, and others - must tend to their own national interests. The collapse of one superpower has brought down the other. The world is literally beyond control. And this is the reason why Bush sees nuclear nonproliferation and market access as the vital twin pillars of the new world order.