FORMER Vice President Dan Quayle says ``foreign policy ... will be a weak point'' for Bill Clinton in the 1996 elections, and could boost Republican prospects for recapturing the White House.
President Clinton ``spends very little time on national security matters,'' Mr. Quayle says. ``He doesn't show any interest in it.'' The result: flawed policies in Bosnia, Somalia, Haiti, North Korea, and other flash points.
Quayle, who spoke with reporters at a Monitor breakfast on Friday, was particularly critical of the president's strategy toward Haiti. Mr. Clinton favors tougher trade sanctions. He also supports the return of elected Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and possibly an invasion to oust that country's military rulers.
The former vice president accuses Clinton of responding to emotion on the Haitian issue, particularly the hunger strike by Trans-Africa lobbyist Randall Robinson.
``He is responding to the left wing of the Democratic Party,'' Quayle says. ``When you're president of the United States, you cannot govern by emotion, especially in foreign policy.... This is life or death.... This is [deciding] whether we're going to risk American men and women serving our country to return Aristide to power.''
ALTHOUGH Mr. Aristide was elected, he does not support democratic values, Quayle insists. The former vice president says he is ``vehemently opposed'' to Aristide's return. Quayle calls on Clinton to make a U-turn in Haiti.
``We ought to consider lifting the sanctions, along with a political settlement [which] would not include either [military commander Lt. Gen. Raoul] Cedras or Aristide.''
He says: ``If Bill Clinton uses the [US] military, he feels perhaps this solves some of his domestic [political] problems.... If he invades, it's going to dominate the news for weeks, and perhaps months. It is wrong.''
Tougher trade sanctions are also a mistake for two reasons, Quayle says. First, sanctions actually strengthen the military. Second, they are ``starving the people of Haiti.
``The military is stronger today than it was ... six months ago,'' he says.
Another critical concern revolves around North Korea's nuclear weapons capability, Quayle says. He describes the situation as ``far more serious'' than it was only 18 months ago.