- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 14, 2001

A slim majority of participants in a grass-roots organization devoted to the study of foreign policy issues finds Secretary of State Colin Powell's plans for the use of American troops superior to the approach taken by the previous administration.

In an annual poll of the Foreign Policy Association's nearly 30,000 participants, 51 percent supported what they termed the Powell Doctrine, which they said envisioned a military "whose primary role is to deter threats to vital security interests with overwhelming force."

The approach taken by the Clinton administration, which also used U.S. forces in humanitarian and peacekeeping missions around the world, was supported by 35 percent of those responding, said the New York-based FPA in its annual National Opinion Ballot Report 2000.

When asked which president set the best model for the past century, respondents chose Woodrow Wilson over Theodore Roosevelt by a 2-to-1 margin.

"Wilson's setbacks notwithstanding, idealism trumps realism and trust in international organizations outweighs the pursuit of national interest," said the report.

Produced annually, the opinion paper is the compilation of ballots taken as part of the Foreign Policy Association's Great Decisions program, in which discussion groups formed nationally concentrate on eight foreign policy issues each year.

This year, 28,028 ballots were received from program participants whom the FPA described as "highly educated and informed" and not a representative sampling of the American public. An average of 3,500 participants sent in ballots for each topic.

According to the findings, Great Decisions participants supported:

• Palestinian statehood.

• Relaxing sanctions against Iraq to permit humanitarian relief.

• Normalizing relations with Iran.

• Letting the United Nations take the lead in defining criteria for humanitarian intervention.

• Using U.S. troops in the event of invasion of South Korea or Saudi Arabia.

Great Decisions participants opposed:

• The exploitation of U.S. military superiority to seek world hegemony.

• Getting tougher with Russia over its war in Chechnya.

• Using U.S. troops if mainland China invaded Taiwan.

• Monetary unification of the Western Hemisphere to counter the euro.

According to the poll, Great Decision participants ranked Harry Truman as the best postwar president for his handling of foreign policy, given his involvement in establishing the United Nations, the Marshall Plan and NATO.

Respondents were gloomy about Russia and its prospects for the future.

"Whatever progress the successor to the Soviet Union has made in creating democratic institutions and dismantling the command economy, six in 10 participants are pessimistic about Russia attaining the qualities of a civil society," the poll found.

On European monetary unification, participants overwhelmingly felt the dollar was secure. By a 2-to-1 margin, they said they doubted the new currency, the euro, would become a serious rival anytime soon.

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