AMERICAN foreign policy has become an endless series of inconclusive consultations that has "dismayed" European allies, said Sen. Richard Lugar (R) of Indiana, ranking minority member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, at a Monitor breakfast yesterday.
"I'm not sure the president himself has core values he wants to bring out," says Lugar, so he is drawn to "endless consensus-seeking."
A high-ranking State Department official was roundly countered by the rest of the Clinton administration this week when the official spoke of a minimal role for United States leadership in the world. But the same point has been made by Secretary of State Warren Christopher and other administration officials and appears to reflect the direction of US policy, says Lugar.
Polls may show that the public is not willing to risk any military engagement in the former Yugoslavia, he says. But "the American people would never favor any of the Bosnian options unless the president explains to them why Europe matters."
During the campaign, Bill Clinton's position on many foreign affairs matters "essentially said America must lead," says Lugar. But in office he has lapsed into a drift marked by seminar-like meetings that reach few decisions. If American rhetoric continues to be marked by withdrawal from the world, he adds, "we will be tested endlessly."
Less than three weeks ago, President Clinton told Lugar directly that US policy was to lift the arms embargo on the Bosnian Muslims. That policy has been overrun by Russia-backed alternatives.
"People began to realize the [policy] vacuum was so big that even the Russian foreign minister can come into it," Lugar comments.