- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 25, 2000

News on several important foreign-policy fronts has not been encouraging lately. U.S. Middle East policy has been rapidly spiraling out of control from the Gaza Strip to Iraq, and China is becoming an increasingly belligerent "strategic partner." Meanwhile, Americans have just learned that Vice President Al Gore negotiated secret deals in 1995 with Russia. Those accords allowed Russia to provide advanced conventional arms and nuclear technology to Iran without incurring the penalty of U.S.-imposed sanctions that would otherwise be required under the terms of get this the Gore-McCain act passed by Congress in 1992. How much longer must the nation endure this foreign policy amateurism?

Electing George W. Bush president on Nov. 7 would end the practice of conducting foreign policy on the run. And it would bring to Washington the likes of Condoleezza Rice, Mr. Bush's principal national security aide. Miss Rice displayed the clear-headed, realistic, long-term thinking one could expect from a Bush administration when she explained why Mr. Bush would seek a new division of labor with America's NATO allies. In a recent interview with the New York Times, Miss Rice revealed that peacekeeping operations in Bosnia, Kosovo and perhaps other conflicts would become a European responsibility, while America focused on deterring and, if deterrence failed, fighting large-scale wars in the Persian Gulf, Asia and other troubled areas in the world. "The United States is the only power that can handle a showdown in the gulf, mount the kind of force that is needed to protect Saudi Arabia and deter a crisis in the Taiwan Strait," Miss Rice matter-of-factly observed, adding an obvious corollary: "Extended peacekeeping detracts from our readiness for these kinds of global missions."

What an eminently sensible proposition. Indeed, the 1991 Persian Gulf War and last year's bombing campaign over Kosovo clearly proved that the United States was the single power when it came to projecting force abroad. After eight years of the Clinton-Gore administration's financial and operational neglect of the U.S. military it's worth recalling that the relatively small Kosovo conflict reduced the military's inventory of air- and sea-launched cruise missiles far below levels required by military doctrine the rebuilding task will be a major priority. Moreover, as Mr. Bush has made clear, it will be the United States that spearheads a "robust" ballistic-missile defense program designed to protect not only the American mainland but U.S. allies as well, including European members of NATO. These are major undertakings, the accomplishment of which cannot be threatened by America's unnecessary participation in extended peacekeeping operations, which can easily be handled by our European allies.

"This comes down to function," Miss Rice told the Times. "Carrying out civil administration and police functions is simply going to degrade the American capability to do the things America has to do. We don't need to have the 82nd Airborne escorting kids to kindergarten." Unfortunately, a Gore administration would continue to pursue the harebrained "nation-building" schemes that have so enamored Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Referring to Mr. Bush's intentions, Mrs. Albright unaccountably insisted, "This is damaging to American foreign policy." Is there any aspect of the foreign policy discussion the administration does not consider "damaging"?

On the positive side, it is becoming increasingly apparent that foreign policy amateur hour will end Jan. 20 at noon. It cannot arrive soon enough.

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