- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 19, 2000

Foreign policy will take on a stronger face in the new Bush administration, providing continuity by fulfilling previous commitments and ingenuity by building up a military that is severely overtaxed and which lacks the necessary resources. Former Gen. Colin Powell, George W. Bush's pick for secretary of state, and Condoleezza Rice, his national security adviser-to-be, have the resources to do it. Miss Rice was the top Russia expert on the National Security Council during the previous Bush administration. Gen. Powell has 35 years of experience in the military and was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Bush and Clinton administrations. Both have been trusted Bush advisers, and their unified new foreign policy platform calls for reassessing peacekeeping missions in collaboration with U.S. allies and bolstering national security.

What the new platform does not spell is isolationism. Rather, it calls for carefully selecting which conflict areas the United States is best equipped to handle. The peacekeeping and military forces will have better resources, and greater ability to enter conflict areas with a defined mission and exit strategy.

Unlike the Clinton administration, which used the reduced threat of the Cold War as an excuse to scale back military funding, the Bush foreign policy platform addresses the realities of terrorism, and the demands continually being placed on the United States to intervene in conflict areas around the globe.

This will mean getting the national missile defense system back up to speed, a job President Clinton decided in September to leave to his successor. This system will be an "essential part of overall strategic force posture, which consists of offensive weapons, command-and-control systems, intelligence systems, and a national missile defense," Mr. Powell said in his acceptance speech.

In keeping with the goal to streamline peacekeeping missions, the two new top picks called for reassessment on the ground in Bosnia and Kosovo, in collaboration with U.S. allies. The United States would "find ways that it is less of a burden on our armed forces," Mr. Powell said. This would include substituting other forces, such as police units, for U.S. troops on the ground.

The Middle East would be a top priority, but the Bush administration is supportive of the Clinton administration's efforts during Mr. Clinton's remaining weeks in office, they said. To that end, Palestinian and Israeli diplomats are starting another round of peace talks today in Washington in the hopes that some framework for a peace agreement can be reached before Mr. Clinton leaves office. Part of maintaining the peace is addressing the risk posed by those who do not keep it. Mr. Powell has not forgotten Iraq, which is developing weapons of mass destruction. In that vain, he wants to "re-energize the sanctions regime" against Saddam Hussein.

Bridge-building with the closest neighbors to the United States, who have been almost forgotten in the Clinton administration, will be a key part of the platform as well. Re-establishing good relations with Latin America, Mexico and Canada would serve as core to the administration's foreign policy, Miss Rice said.

For an administration only finally made legal six days ago, the platform provides quite a formidable start.

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