- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 22, 2000

Under normal circumstances, voters considering whom to support for president should look favorably upon extensive foreign-policy experience. Vice President Al Gore, for example, can boast of deep, wide-ranging experience on the foreign-policy front lines. But Mr. Gore's case is anything but normal. Virtually all of his extensive foreign-policy experience within the Clinton-Gore administration has led to disaster, or will likely do so in the future.

The reason for these failures is simple: Mr. Gore's views about the United States' role in the world are deeply wrong-headed, from his support of "nation-building" schemes in Somalia and Haiti to his reflexive embrace of any agreement that purports to control arms. Moreover, Mr. Gore and his boss have shown themselves to be incapable of providing the financial and operational means necessary for America to pursue a realistic foreign policy, let alone one motivated by idealism beyond all.

By contrast, Mr. Bush, who should be the first to admit that his foreign-policy experience does not include all the carcasses Mr. Gore's has managed to accumulate, offers a coherent and consistent approach, including the financial muscle, to achieve America's foreign-policy goals. Concerned about the Clinton-Gore administration's propensity to deploy troops around the world, Mr. Bush clearly outlined his strategy for troop deployment during last week's debate. "It must be in the national interests; it must be in our vital interests whether we ever send troops," he argued. "The force must be strong enough so that the mission can be accomplished. And the exit strategy needs to be well-defined."

Mr. Bush considers himself a "clear-eyed realist." Mr. Gore, on the other hand, has a laundry list of foreign-policy priorities every bit as long as his domestic list. The vice president calls his approach "forward engagement," and engage he would. In Mr. Gore's world, U.S. national security would be threatened by AIDS, environmental problems and the global distribution of income. Specifically, a Gore foreign policy would encompass "education and empowerment of women, improvement of child and maternal health and culturally appropriate access to information and technologies for family planning." In other words, Mr. Gore's "nanny state" would evolve into a "world nanny," presumably ruled by Mr. Gore himself as Nanny-in-Chief. Fareed Zakaria, managing editor of Foreign Affairs magazine, accurately describes the vice president's approach as "messianic."

Debacles abound in the Clinton-Gore record. Nowhere is this more clear than in Russia, where Mr. Gore's influence has been paramount. The Russian economy barely afloat today only because the price oil, its primary export, has soared nearly plunged into the abyss in 1998 after being plundered by the friends of Mr. Gore's partner, the corrupt former prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin.

Alas, oil isn't the only product Russia is capable of exporting. The others include advanced conventional weapons, as well as ballistic-missile and nuclear technology. It has recently come to light that Messrs. Gore and Chernomyrdin entered into secret agreements in 1995 that permitted Russia to escape sanctions mandated by U.S. law for selling weapons to Iran. Among other advanced conventional arms, Russia has sold Iran modern diesel submarines and sophisticated torpedoes that would enable the terrorism-sponsoring nation to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz, through which roughly 20 million barrels of oil flow each day. Last Tuesday Bill Gertz of The Washington Times reported that a second secret 1995 agreement between Mr. Gore and Mr. Chernomyrdin required the vice president to hide from Congress the fact that Russia was exporting nuclear technology to Iran. This is the same country that announced on Thursday that a 110,000-strong "Islamic militia" was prepared leave Iran for Palestinian territories to help liberate Jerusalem. Surprising only to Mr. Gore, Russia has blatantly violated its commitment to stop shipping arms to Iran by the end of last year. The mind boggles.

In the Middle East, the sanctions applied to Iraq have completely unravelled, emboldening Saddam Hussein to seek a patch of territory near Israel from which he would be only too pleased to "exterminate Zionism." One can only imagine what weapons of mass destruction Iraq has produced in the two years during which there have been no inspections. Meanwhile, the fact that the Clinton-Gore administration has no energy policy has made the United States and the world extremely dependent upon the 3 million barrels of oil produced each day by who else? Saddam Hussein. The mind boggles still more. The administration is so clueless on the Middle East that Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, on the day she left for the hapless Middle East summit in Egypt, asserted that the United States imported no oil from Iraq. In fact, the Department of Energy reports that the United States imported 23 million barrels from Iraq in July, the latest month for which data are available.

Since the Mideast "peace process" collapsed in the aftermath of the ill-advised Camp David summit, where Yasser Arafat refused to take "yes" for an answer, Palestinians have resorted to mass violence, shattering the Oslo accords. Yet, the United States refused to veto a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning Israel for the Arafat-sanctioned violence, which predictably accelerated. With the entire Middle East on the verge of war, Mr. Gore's campaign had the audacity to accuse Mr. Bush, who has been extremely reticent to criticize the administration's disastrous Mideast policies, of politicizing the issue. This, from the crowd that dispatched Mr. Gore's own political hit men Stanley Greenberg, Bob Shrum and James Carville to Israel in 1999 to defeat the less pliable Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in favor of the far more elastic Ehud Barak. At the behest of a self-absorbed, Nobel Peace Prize-seeking Bill Clinton, Mr. Barak later offered once-unthinkable concessions to Mr. Arafat, who answered with Molotov cocktails hurled by children. The mind boggles still more.

Just as Jimmy Carter had far more foreign-policy experience than Ronald Reagan in 1980, so too does Al Gore have more experience than George W. Bush in 2000. But Mr. Gore's experience is as dismal as Mr. Carter's was. And Mr. Bush offers the same "clear-eyed realism" that Mr. Reagan did. America and the world cannot afford four more years of naive idealism practiced by someone with the job description of Nanny-in-Chief.

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