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Everyone has weighed in on whether the United States should have led
NATO in the military operation against Serbia and its autonomy-seeking
province of Kosovo. Since we are already there, that subject is moot,
this time around. But what about future use of the U.S. military in
Our national ambivalence about intervention in Kosovo underscores the
fact that the Clinton administration has provided no leadership in
In a world growing smaller through technological advances and
expanding economic and strategic interdependence, it is time that this
nation begins a more thoughtful dialogue about foreign affairs. While
the electorate may have compliantly yielded to the exclusive mantra
“it’s the economy, stupid” in recent elections, it shouldn’t afford
itself that luxury in 2000.
With nuclear weapons proliferating among Third World nations like
wildfire and tensions growing between this nation and Russia, China,
North Korea, Iraq, Yugoslavia and others, the globe may be more unstable
and volatile than it has ever been.
Under Clinton’s leadership, this nation has no intelligible foreign
policy. He has drifted from situation to situation with the consistency
of a chameleon. Even if there were justifications for our decisions to
intervene in Haiti, Somalia, Bosnia and Kosovo but not in Rwanda, they
have certainly not been articulated by this president. No distinctions
have been made or even offered.
Before presuming to send our troops to their potential deaths in
foreign lands, our commander in chief should define our policy aims, our
strategic mission and our exit strategy. These matters, if feasible,
should be determined by the consent of the president and Congress and
then communicated to the American people.
What Clinton unmistakably has accomplished, though, is his
paradoxical de-funding of the military while multiplying its
This de-funding would at least have been logical if he had carried his
war-protesting mentality into the White House. But how does it make
sense that the most trigger-happy president in recent memory has
consistently blocked funding for guns and bullets?
It is as though he views military weapons as water guns that he can
fire at his pleasure at any perceived enemy in the global neighborhood
and just freely reload at the faucet when the next bully appears.
In this increasingly dangerous world, we can ill afford to elect
anyone as president who lacks a foreign-policy vision and a healthy
respect for the military.
As an electorate we should demand that the upcoming presidential
campaign features extensive discussion and debate over the
foreign-policy prerogatives of our government. At a minimum, we need to
hear from the candidates as to:
- What factors will govern their decision to use military force in
the future; (will humanitarian reasons alone be sufficient?).
- Whether as a nation we should be willing to fund the military, and
our defenses including SDI, commensurate with the role we expect it to
- What are the respective constitutional roles of the president and
Congress in declaring, administering, funding and conducting war. (There
has long been a legitimate debate over the respective constitutional
roles of the president and Congress. This president has displayed such
arrogance by unilaterally unleashing our instruments of war that a
casual observer might conclude that he views himself above the law.
- Whether our national interest must be at stake as a condition
precedent to foreign military intervention.
- How we shall define our national interest for that purpose.
- Whether NATO’s role should be limited to defending member nations.
- Whether and how we should allow China’s espionage and civil-rights
infractions to influence our trade policies with her.
- Whether we are going to continue to support the territorial and
political sovereignty of Israel or begin to pressure her to accommodate
nations committed to her destruction.
As a nation we can no longer pretend that our good intentions,
economic strength and technological and military superiority will permit
us to meander aimlessly in foreign policy matters. Even though travel,
communication and other technology have reduced many barriers between
the nations, many will always remain, which will ensure persistent
international tensions. As such, we must begin to determine the role we
want to play into the next century as the world’s foremost superpower.
The campaign for the 2000 presidential elections, featuring
candidates ranging from isolationists to internationalists, should serve
as the vehicle to begin this overdue national dialogue.
To find out more about David Limbaugh, and read features by other
Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate