- The Washington Times - Monday, October 30, 2000

The next U.S. president faces the challenge of crafting a coherent foreign and defense policy strategy for an era of globalization and American primacy, according to former government officials from both major political parties.

They said he will need to be more consistently engaged in foreign policy than President Clinton has been, and both preserve America's global preeminence and decide what purposes it should serve.

At the same time, unless he works to shore up congressional support for internationalism and educates the public about the complexity of global affairs, he could create a domestic backlash against U.S. international involvement.

Speaking at a forum at the Brookings Institution, four former high-level Republican and Democratic government officials discussed the foreign and defense policy perspectives of Vice President Al Gore and Texas Gov. George W. Bush.

The meeting was the final one in Brookings' yearlong Priorities 2000 (P2K) national issues forums designed to encourage the presidential candidates to engage in thoughtful discussion of the issues.

Similarities, differences

Overall, the group found both similarities and differences between Mr. Gore and Mr. Bush on foreign and defense policy.

They noted that both are internationalists who want the United States to lead and be engaged in the world, and believe in free trade and a strong defense posture.

But there are important differences between the candidates as well, according to these former officials.

Richard Haas is director of foreign policy studies at Brookings, a former official in the George Bush administration and an advisor to George W. Bush. He said candidate Bush is an "unabashed, almost unconditional free trader," in contrast to Mr. Gore, who thinks environmental and labor issues should be part of trade agreements.

Richard Burt, a Reagan administration official, said Mr. Bush thinks bringing these issues into trade negotiations makes it harder to reach agreements. When these issues are attached to trade agreements, this creates an international infrastructure in which decisions are made at a supranational level, Mr. Burt added. Mr. Bush is uncomfortable with ceding U.S. sovereignty to international institutions, Mr. Burt went on, whereas Mr. Gore is a strong supporter of international organizations like the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Use of force

All the participants said Mr. Bush would be far more cautious than Mr. Gore about deploying U.S. force abroad and would be unlikely to do so for humanitarian purposes. He would only intervene in defense of vital interests, and most foreign policy analysts define humanitarian intervention as beyond national interests.

Mr. Bush also has a narrower definition of national interests than Mr. Gore does. His focus is primarily, Mr. Burt said, on Europe, the Persian Gulf and East Asia, and he gives Africa lower priority than any other area.

Mr. Gore has a more expansive approach to the definition of national interests and use of force, the analysts said. He talks about enforcing America's values abroad, according to Lee Hamilton, a former Democratic congressman from Indiana and now director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Mr. Haas said Mr. Gore has an almost Wilsonian approach.

Mr. Burt commented that Mr. Gore thinks the United States should be involved in nation-building attempts, such as Balkan reconstruction, but Mr. Bush would let regional powers in the case of the Balkans, Europe take the lead.

Out of the Balkans

Mr. Hamilton predicted that Mr. Bush would remove American troops from the Balkans as soon as he could because of public pressure. He also commented that while nation-building is not the role of the military, "United States foreign policy engages in nation-building all the time."

Jessica Tuchman Mathews, president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and a former Carter and Clinton administration official, said Mr. Gore has been "very close to the Pentagon" throughout his career and in his thinking. Moreover, she said, in this regard he is very different from President Clinton.

These differences over intervention may not be as significant as they seem, according to Ms. Mathews, because administrations tend to get dragged into "questionable" interventions by overwhelming public pressure. But, Mr. Hamilton said, this does suggest the candidates have different approaches to international problems.

The speakers said Mr. Gore believes in the importance of addressing the so-called new agenda of global and transnational issues, such as the world's ecological system, diseases and other new threats to security. Mr. Gore also favors what he calls forward engagement, or dealing with situations before they escalate.

Traditionalist, 'realist'

Mr. Bush, in contrast, is what Mr. Burt and Mr. Haas referred to as a foreign policy traditionalist and "realist," or someone who believes states are still the most important actors in the international system. They also said he plans to conduct a strategic review to set policy priorities.

In the defense area, Mr. Gore proposes spending more than Mr. Bush would. But Mr. Hamilton and the other speakers said that the more important difference concerns the proposed National Missile Defense (NMD) and arms control, which they said received inadequate attention during the campaign.

Mr. Bush favors the earliest possible deployment of NMD to protect the United States and its allies from nuclear blackmail by rogue states, even if this requires abrogating the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty with Russia. Mr. Gore favors the more limited systems that President Clinton has advocated, and he would put more emphasis on the ABM treaty as the linchpin of the U.S.-Russian arms control regime.

Regarding Mr. Bush's often-mentioned lack of foreign-policy experience, the former officials argued that experience is not always a good predictor of results and that judgment, confidence and a president's foreign policy team matter more.

America's allies

Mr. Bush has an executive leadership style. He would act on his instincts and those of his counselors and then make a decision. He is almost "Reaganesque," said Mr. Haas, because he would not be overwhelmed by detail.

Mr. Gore has only one major foreign policy adviser, Leon Fuerth, whereas Mr. Bush has a team of experienced foreign policy hands, Mr. Burt said. Mr. Bush's team is headed by Condoleeza Rice, who served in the Reagan and George Bush administrations.

Finally, the speakers were divided on the role of America's allies and multilateral cooperation in the Bush and Gore foreign policy approaches.

Ms. Mathews predicted that Mr. Bush would be more inclined toward unilateral and Mr. Gore, multilateral, approaches, but Mr. Burt and Mr. Haas argued that a Bush administration would practice multilateralism and place great emphasis on working with U.S. allies.

Mr. Burt, for example, said Bush advisor Miss Rice has argued in favor of a division of labor, in which allied powers take the lead in peacekeeping and crisis management with America providing logistical and intelligence support, or "an over-the-horizon presence."

Ms. Mathews said Mr. Gore believes in the need for multilateral efforts to curb terrorism, crime, corruption and other global problems. She expects that he would expend political capital on matters like paying America's U.N. dues and developing a "multilateral command-and-control apparatus."

• Louis R. Golino is a Washington-based foreign and defense policy analyst.

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