- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 8, 2000

Americans will be looking at the face of their next president Wednesday morning, the new leader of this great nation, wondering what lies ahead. It has been a grueling, exciting 16-month process, which again leaves one to marvel at the extraordinary, and ultimately unique institution of American democracy. No other country in the world elects its leaders quite the way Americans do.
As this page goes to print, it is too early for results. Still, whether the front page today carries the picture of President Bush or President Gore, both will find challenges and problems to be faced in the international arena. With the example of the outgoing Clinton administration as a cautionary instance, the new crop of presidential advisers ought to have grappled with the direction they want to set for the next four years.
International issues to be confronted are succinctly discussed in the new collection of essays published by the Potomac Foundation, "U.S. Leadership in the 21st Century," edited by Paula Dobriansky, head of the Washington office of the Council on Foreign Relations, and Bruce Weinrod, managing director of International and Trade Associates, and a former assistant secretary of defense under President Bush. It is, of course, probable that a Bush administration would find rather more to like here than a Gore administration, given that a number of the contributors are veterans of the Bush and Reagan administrations and some have been among George W. Bush's advisers in the campaign.
"Given the complexity of the current environment, the traditional Cold War categories and formulations are no longer adequate; nor is a reflexive approach which advocates policies primarily because they run counter to those of the present administration. What is needed, rather, is a positive framework based upon deeply rooted U.S. principles and values but adapted to the new realities of international politics in the 21st century." Such a framework must have "political, security, and economic dimensions," the editors write.
After watching Americans flocking to the polls yesterday, in the orderly exercise of their democratic rights, it is easy to appreciate the fundamental point made by Lawrence Lindsay, economic adviser to Mr. Bush, that "America is not just a country; it is also a cause." He adds: "The universality of our belief in political, cultural, and economic freedom is what attracted people to our shores and made them Americans." It is important not to lose sight of that dimension.
American leadership in economic terms, therefore rests on two pillars strength and vision. That takes a strong dollar, which means foregoing the short-run domestic political advantages that derive from dollar manipulation (and which characterized President Clinton's first term) and it means a strong commitment to free trade, guided by the rules and arbitration of the World Trade Organization. It means building a "global financial architecture" that injects more realism and accountability into international financial transactions, i.e. a more modest role for institutions such as the International Monetary Fund. Universal principles are also the foundation for democracy-building, which is addressed here by Constantin Menges, professor of International Studies at Georgetown University. He divides it into two categories, democracy-building as a matter of principle, and "strategic democratization" the kind designed to turn foes into friends. Few would disagree that a world of democracies is more likely to be a friendly place; the real question is what means do we use to promote it. Mr. Menges lists a range of options for support of pro-democracy forces, none of which include the use of force, which as we saw in Haiti, ultimately did not do much good.
The United States, however, also has interests that are truly national, and it should be no shame to acknowledge this after all, every other country does. That involves in military terms national missile defense to protect the American heartland and forces abroad. It involves nursing strong military alliances in Asia and Europe. Refreshingly, the section on "U.S. Interests in Europe," authored by Jeffrey Bergner, former staff director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, sees an advantage for the United States in a unified Europe an argument not often heard in these parts. While acknowledging that relations may become more complicated, he sees no threat to U.S. interests were the EU to produce a military force that could act independently. "Let us suppose further, for example, that the European Union would use this force to remove Milosevic from power in Serbia and impose a stable peace in the Balkans. What would be wrong with that? Would that threaten U.S. interests?" In other words, American leadership and allied burden-sharing ought not to be exclusive.
The real challenge for the next president will be to combine the idealism which, even if ineffectually, has underpinned the Clinton foreign policy, with the sense of realism and seriousness of purpose that is the trademark of Republicans. If you go too far in one direction, messianic rhetoric and bungled, overextended operations are the result. Go too far in the other, and narrowly defined national interest becomes too limiting. Ronald Reagan managed to get it right in the last phase of the Cold War. The next president will still be looking for the formula for the 21st century world.
E-mail: helle.bering@washtimes.com.

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