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Bill Clinton on Foreign Policy

President of the U.S., 1993-2001; Former Democratic Governor (AR)


Make good on our debt to the United Nations

Finally, it's long past time to make good on our debt to the United Nations. More and more, we are working with other nations to achieve common goals. If we want America to lead, we've got to set a good example. As we see so clearly in Bosnia, allies who share our goals can also share our burdens. In this new era, our freedom and independence are actually enriched, not weakened, by our increasing interdependence with other nations. But we have to do our part.
Source: Pres. Clinton's 1998 State of the Union message to Congress , Jan 27, 1998

End of Cold War brings incredible opportunity for change

BUSH [to Clinton]: Since I became President, 43 or 44 countries have gone democratic. This new world order to me means freedom and democracy. I think we will have a continuing responsibility, as the only remaining superpower, to stay involved. The Soviet Union is no more. Now we're working to help them become totally democratic through the FREEDOM Support Act that I led on.

CLINTON: The end of the cold war brings an incredible opportunity for change, the winds of freedom blowing around the world, Russia demilitarizing. It also requires us to maintain some continuity, some bipartisan American commitment to certain principles. Number one, we do have to maintain the world's strongest defense. Number two, if you don't rebuild the economic strength of this country at home, we won't be a superpower. Number three, we need to be a force for freedom and democracy. We need to use our unique position to support freedom.

Source: The Second Clinton-Bush-Perot Presidential Debate , Oct 15, 1992

Don't coddle tyrants in China; they respond when we stand up

Q: You've accused the President of coddling tyrants, including those in Beijing. What would you do?

CLINTON: Our relationships with China are important, and I don't think we want to isolate China. But I think it is a mistake for us to do what this administration did when all those kids went out there carrying the Statue of Liberty in Tiananmen Square, and Mr. Bush sent two people in secret to toast the Chinese leaders and basically tell them not to worry about it. When Congress insisted that we do something about China, look what has happened. China has finally agreed to stop sending us products made with prison labor not because we coddled them but because the administration was pushed into doing something about it.

BUSH: We were the first major country to stand up against the abuse in Tiananmen Square. We are the ones that worked out the prison labor deal. To do what Congress & Gov. Clinton are suggesting, you would isolate and ruin Hong Kong. Gov. Clinton's philosophy is to isolate them.

Source: The First Clinton-Bush-Perot Presidential Debate , Oct 11, 1992


Bill Clinton on 1990s Policies

1994: Briefed on Rwandan genocide but claimed ignorance

The callousness of our government is shockingly clear when you look back at the Clinton administration's position on the genocide that took place in Rwanda in 1994. For the three-month period starting in April that year, Hutu death squads slaughtered an estimated 800,000 Tutsis and moderate members of their own tribe.

A few years later, when Clinton visited Rwandan capital of Kigali, the president said: "It may seem strange to you here, especially the many of you who lost members of your family, but all over the world there were people like me sitting in the offices, day after day after day, who did fully appreciate the depth and speed with which you were being engulfed by this unimaginable terror."

The CIA's national intelligence daily, a secret briefing that went to Clinton and Vice President Gore and hundreds of senior officials, had almost daily reports on what was happening in Rwanda.

Source: 63 Documents, by Gov. Jesse Ventura, p.103 , Apr 4, 2011

1998: Signed onto International Criminal Court founding

Although billed as a successor to the Nuremberg tribunals, the International Criminal Court (ICC), in fact, amounts to a giant opportunity to second-guess the US and the actions we take in self-defense. The ICC's enormous potential prosecutorial power awaits only the opportunity to expand almost without limit. The Clinton administration initially signed the ICC's founding document, the Time Statue, in June 1998, but there was no prospect that the Senate would ratify it.

To date, the ICC has proceeded slowly, partly in the hope of enticing the US to cooperate with it, and the Bush administration succumbed to it in its final years. The ICC's friends under President Obama want to go even further. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said in 2009, for example, that it was "a great regret but it is a fact we are not yet a signatory" to the Rome Statute, signaling unmistakably what she hopes to do.

Source: Obama is Endangering our Sovereignty, by J. Bolton, p. 25-26 , May 18, 2010

Expanded US role to Somalian nation-building

Two Black Hawk helicopters were shot down over Mogadishu, killing 18. The US troop presence, which began under Pres. Bush, was initially sent to alleviate an acute starvation crisis brought on by political chaos. But under Clinton the mission had crept t rooting out warlords and providing security. McCain was having none of it: "Mr. President, our mission in Somali is over," he said on the Senate floor. "It is time to come home. Our mission is Somali was to feed a million starving who needed to be fed. It was not an open-ended commitment. It was not a commission of nation building, not warlord hunting, or any of the other extraneous activities which we seem to have been engaged in. If the President of the United States cannot say, 'Here is what we are fighting for in Somalia, that more Americans may perish in service to the goals, and here is why it is worth that price,' then, Mr. President, we have no right--no right--to ask Americans to risk their lives in any further misadventures in Somalia."
Source: The Myth of a Maverick, by Matt Welch, p.161-162 , Oct 9, 2007

Greatest regret: not sending troops against Rwanda genocide

Perhaps the most amazing reconciliation efforts in the world are those taking place in Rwanda. In 1994, killers from the Hutu majority slaughtered 800,000 Tutsis and their Hutu sympathizers in 90 days, mostly by using machetes. One of of my presidency is that I did not send forces as a part of a UN mission to stop it. In 1998, when Hillary & I visited Rwanda, I apologized for not doing more sooner and asked to meet with supervisors who were trying to put their country
Source: Giving, by Bill Clinton, p. 96 , Sep 4, 2007

1980: housed Cuban Marielitos; riots ensued against KKK

The summer of 1980 was the period of the infamous Mariel boatlift, in which President Carter welcomed all Cuban ‚migr‚s that Castro desired to export.

In the weeks that followed, more than 100,000 Marielitos washed upon America’s shores, and Carter did not know where to place them. He telephoned Governor Clinton, who said he would be willing to detain some of the escapees at Fort Chaffee, where they could be assimilated.

The detainees overflowed the grounds. The Arkansas KKK drove to Fort Chaffee to express its disapproval. As a result, a riot ensued between Cubans inside and KKK belligerents. Soon, law enforcement arrived, but for Clinton’s reelection, it was too late. The entire fiasco was captured by news organizations for all to see, and Arkansans, led by GOP candidate Frank White, asked why such a debacle had been permitted to happen.

A few months later, Bill Clinton was defeated.

Source: God and Hillary Clinton, by Paul Kengor, p. 59-60 , Jul 18, 2007

1994: “did not fully appreciate” Rwandan genocide

1994 saw the low point of Bill’s White House years--the genocide in Rwanda, which resulted in the loss of an estimated 800,000 lives in just a few weeks. Despite knowing what was happening, Bill effectively did nothing,as did his peers in other countries While they postponed taking action and pretended not to be aware of the genocide, hundreds of thousands died.

Hillary did not blame Bill for the inaction, but rather “the failure of the world, including my husband’s administration.” Bill later claimed that he and other world leaders “did not fully appreciate” what had been going on in Rwanda. In fact, his intelligence agencies and newspaper, radio, and TV journalist had made it all clear to the world. Hillary would have had to ignore the news for weeks, as well as the frantic pleas of human-rights activists and some members of Congress, not to know what was happening. There is no evidence she did anything substantial to help.

Source: Her Way, by Jeff Gerth & Don Van Natta, p.141 , Jun 8, 2007

1995: reached out to Irish Republican Army Sinn Fein leader

Many people thought the President was crazy when he gave Gerry Adams a visa in 1994 and again in 1995, and invited him to come to the White House for a St. Patrick's Day celebration. The president wanted to bring peace to Northern Ireland.

Many in Washington snickered. The idea of Bill Clinton reaching out to the leader of Sinn Fein, the political army of the IRA, was almost treasonous to some. Clinton truly believed Sinn Fein might be serious about negotiating to get rid of IRA stockpiles of weapons. The President had his eye on history and didn't care what anyone said. He always believed that when you negotiate, you have to negotiate with all sides. If you're going to get a lasting agreement, you have to have everyone sitting at the table with you. That's how you get true dialogue and compromise and ultimately a meaningful agreement. George W. Bush didn't see it that way, which was the No. 1 complaint you heard about him around the world. Clinton's vision had paid off in spades.

Source: What A Party!, by Terry McAuliffe, p.116-118 , Jan 23, 2007

Approved expanding Israeli settlements in West Bank

American opposition to settlement activity prevailed during the previous 4 decades, beginning when Dwight Eisenhower was president and extending through the terms of his successors, until 1993, when President Bill Clinton gave almost blanket approval to settlement expansion. President George H.W. Bush had been especially forceful in opposing specific Israeli settlements between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, even threatening to cut off financial assistance to Israel.

Israeli plans to retain far-reaching West Bank settlements will likely spell the death knell for prospects for the "road map for peace," the keystone of President George W. Bush's Middle East policy.

Source: Our Endangered Values, by Jimmy Carter, p.114-115 , Sep 26, 2006

1992: Helped refugees from Haiti, but only in Haiti

On Jan.5, I announced that I'd temporarily continue Pres. Bush's policy of intercepting & returning Haitians who were trying to reach the US by boat, a policy I had strongly criticized during the election. After Haiti's elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was overthrown by Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras in 1991, [many refugees fled].

When the Bush administration, which appeared to be more sympathetic to Cedras than I was, began to return the refugees, there were loud protests from the human rights community. I wanted to make it easier for Haitians to seek and obtain political asylum in the US, but was concerned that large numbers of them would perish in trying to get here, as about 400 had done just a week earlier. So, I said that, instead of taking in all the Haitians who could survive the voyage to America, we would beef up our official presence in Haiti and speed up asylum claims there. In the meantime, for safety reasons, we would continue to stop the boats and return the passengers.

Source: My Life, by Bill Clinton, p.463-464 , Jun 21, 2004

1993: Pushed $1.6B Russia aid package despite unpopularity

In March 1993, I got an assistance program I could support: $1.6 billion in direct aid to help Russia stabilize its economy, including money to provide housing for decommissioned military officers, positive work programs for now underemployed & frequentl unpaid nuclear scientists, and more assistance in dismantling nuclear weapons under the recently enacted Nunn-Lugar program; food and medicine for those suffering from shortage; aid to support small business, independent media outlets, non-governmental organizations, political parties, and labor unions; and an exchange program to bring tens of thousands of student and young professionals to the United States. The aid package was four times what the previous administration had allocated and three times what I had originally recommended.

We agreed to institutionalize our cooperation, with a commission headed by Vice President Gore and Russian prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, who worked through a host of difficult, contentious problems.

Source: My Life, by Bill Clinton, p.506-507 , Jun 21, 2004

Months of preparation went into Arafat-Rabin handshake

Bill was focused on preparations for the visit of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat and the signing of a Middle East peace accord. The meeting that took place on the White House lawn on September 13, 1993, was the result of months of negotiations in Oslo, Norway and was known as the Oslo Accords. It was important to establish our government’s support for the agreement because the US is the only country that could push both sides to actually implement the agreement’s terms and be trusted by Israel to protect its security.

On that day, Bill persuaded Yitzhak to shake hands with Arafat as a tangible sign of their commitment to the peace plan. Rabin agreed. Unfortunately, the handshake and agreement were seen by some Israelis and Arabs as a rebuke to their political interests and religious beliefs, which later led to violence and Rabin’s tragic assassination.

Source: Living History, by Hillary Clinton, p.184-185 , Nov 1, 2003

1993 Somalia crisis at same time as Russian coup attempt

Two Black Hawk helicopters had been shot down in Somalia. Details were vague, but it was clear that American soldiers had been killed and that there might be ongoing violence. Troops had originally been sent to the famine-ravaged country by President Bush on a humanitarian aid mission, but it had evolved into a more aggressive peacekeeping effort.

Then the news got worse: The body found of an American serviceman had been dragged through the streets of Mogadishu, an appalling act of barbarity orchestrated by the Somali warlord General Mohamed Aideed.

Bill was given terrible news about Russia, too. There had been an attempted military coup against President Boris Yeltsin. On October 5, in Culver City, California, Bill cut short a town hall meeting about health care reform and returned to Washington. Over the next few weeks, Bill, the news media and the nation were consumed by Somalia and the unrest in Russia, and health care reform took a backseat.

Source: Living History, by Hillary Rodham Clinton, p.191 , Nov 1, 2003

1980: Sent state troopers for refugee riot in Fort Chaffee

In spring 1980, hundreds of detained Cuban refugees were sent to a "resettlement camp" at Fort Chaffee, Arkansas. In late May, the refugees rioted and hundreds broke out of the fort, heading toward the nearby community of Fort Smith. County deputies and local citizens loaded their shotguns and waited for the expected onslaught. The situation was made worse because the Army, under a doctrine known as posse comitatus, had no police authority off the base and were not even empowered to forcefully keep the detainees--who were not technically prisoners--on the grounds. Bill sent state troopers.

I attended some tense meetings Bill held with the frustrated general in command of Fort Chaffee, and representatives from the White House. Bill wanted federal assistance to contain the detainees, but the White House message seemed to be: "Don't complain, just handle the mess we gave you." Bill had done just that, but there was a big political price to pay for supporting his President.

Source: Living History, by Hillary Rodham Clinton, p. 88-89 , Nov 1, 2003

1995: Pushed Mexican peso "bailout"; Mexico repaid all loans

Clinton refused to succumb to expediency on issues that he considered crucial--particularly economic issues. In Jan. 1995, with the collapse of the Mexican peso, Clinton was advised that if the US didn't create a $20 billion reserve fund for the Mexicans there could be a financial panic and the real possibility of a global economic collapse. On Jan. 30, Clinton asked for help in getting a Mexican "bailout" through the Congress. Gingrich said absolutely not.

Adviser Robert Rubin figured out a way to advance the Mexicans the money without congressional approval--but a poll showed that the public opposed the bailout by more than a 5-to-1 margin. "We pointed out to Clinton that there was no guarantee the support program would work," Rubin recalled. "And if it didn't work, it might be very damaging to his reelection prospects. But it didn't take ten minutes for him to make the decision. He just said, 'Let's do it.' "

The Mexicans, to the surprise of almost everyone, paid back the loan ahead of schedule.

Source: The Natural, by Joe Klein, p.141-142 , Feb 11, 2003

1990s: Supported military junta in Haiti

The Marines invaded Haiti in 1915, destroyed the parliamentary system, reinstituted slavery, killed nobody knows how many people (Haitians say about 15,000), turned their country into a plantation for US investors, and instituted a National Guard, which is a brutal, murderous force that has run the place pretty much ever since under US backing.

This continued right through to when Bush and Clinton supported the military junta directly, right through the worst terror. That was another thing that I saw personally for a couple of days. Right now, in Queens, NY, one of their leading criminals, Emmanuel Constant, is hidden by the US. He's already been sentenced in Haiti for terrorist crimes. He was the head of the paramilitary force that was responsible for killing maybe 5,000 people in Haiti in the early 1990s when Bush and Clinton were supporting the military junta. Haiti has tried to extradite him, but of course the US doesn't even bother responding, and the press won't even comment on it.

Source: Power and Terror, by Noam Chomsky, p. 74-75 , May 25, 2002

1994: Ousted Cedras and returned Aristide to power in Haiti

Clinton's handling of Haiti involved many policy reversals that culminated with the Carter mission. Some claimed that the development of a "crisis" in Haiti was Clinton's own doing. Prior to Carter's dealing with Cedras, Clinton did not have Democratic support for an invasion of Haiti.

There certainly are those who will claim that Clinton's approach to Haiti eventually worked, since Cedras was ousted and Aristide returned to power.

But political observers were not particularly impressed with the manner in which Clinton and Carter arrived at the agreement with Cedras. [Based on] the waffling evidenced in dealing with Haiti, what assurance is offered to Americans that the same lack of perspective is not present in foreign policy dealings of a grander scale?

[Despite the criticism], Clinton would have considered Haiti a foreign policy victory.

Source: The Dysfunctional President, by Paul Fick, p. 24-25 , Jun 1, 2000

Deeply involved in UK-IRA negotiations

[On April 9, British Prime Minister] Tony Blair sat shaking his head with his arms folded as we went through [the issues regarding Northern Ireland] one by one. [A member of Parliament] suddenly piped up, "It's all quite simple. Get Clinton to force Sinn Fein into line." Blair just sighed and looked like he wanted to curl up into a ball. We called Clinton and asked him to be on standby to make calls to [Sinn Fein leaders including Gerry] Adams.

On Sep. 3, we left for Stormont [the Belfast meetingplace for Northern Ireland talks]. Bill Clinton asked a great question--"What can I do to help?" Tony Blair said:

  1. Show the three governments working together
  2. Put pressure on Sinn Fein regarding weapons decommissioning
  3. Isolate pro-violence opinion in the US
  4. Economic help
[On June 30, at another negotiation round], Clinton took the line that the world would not understand if we failed to take this step forward now. [The "Good Friday Agreement" followed and led to peace in Northern Ireland].
Source: The Blair Years, by Alastair Campbell, p. 294-5&320&413 , Apr 9, 1998

North Korea must give up nuclear program to get economic aid

The Clinton Administration believed that if efforts to halt North Korea's nuclear buildup failed, other renegade states intent on building such weapons could be encouraged to proceed with their programs. North Korea was given two choices: continue its nuclear weapons program and face the consequences, possibly including war, or drop it and accept economic aid and normal relations with the US and its allies.

On June 20, 1994, North Korea responded that it would "never allow inspections" of two suspected nuclear waste sites and warned that sanctions would lead to war. China, an ally of North Korea, upped the ante in announcing its opposition to sanctions.

Nevertheless, the Clinton Administration went forward with plans to put the issue of sanctions before the UN Security Council for a vote, as a wary South Korea stepped up civil-preparedness measures. Three days later, North Korea relented, agreeing to freeze its nuclear program.

Source: State of the Union, by T.Blood & B.Henderson, p. 50 , Aug 1, 1996

During Russian crisis, stood arm-in-arm with Boris Yeltsin

The future of Russia will be determined by the Russians themselves. Therefore, we favor a sober, practical view of Russia's possible future--and a US military capability to match that more realistic view. But instead of this realism, the Clinton administration holds a romanticized view of the Russian Federation and its leadership, largely driven by the theoreticians at the Department of State. Even as Russian troops crashed the cities of Chechnya, President Clinton traveled to Moscow to stand arm-in-arm with President Yeltsin. Such displays are contrary to the interests of spreading democracy and ties to the West within the former Soviet Union and in Central and Eastern Europe. We favor a policy that leaves no doubt in the mind of any Russian leader that a return of Russia's imperial activity against its neighbors, or a resolution of military competition with the US, would be a tragic mistake.
Source: Agenda For America, by Haley Barbour, p.173 , Apr 25, 1996

Strategy: strength, peace, and open trade

    Our goal is constant: to make sure the US remains the greatest force for peace and prosperity on Earth. [Our] new strategy for the 21st century has three parts:
  1. Making the American people more secure by keeping our military and alliances strong to combat the major threats to our security, like the spread of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism.
  2. Leading the powerful global movement for peace and democracy.
  3. And creating much greater wealth at home by opening markets abroad.
Source: Between Hope and History, by Bill Clinton, p.147-148 , Jan 1, 1996

Support forces of reform in Russia

In Russia, we have worked steadily to support the forces of reform as Russia makes its historic transition to a free-market democracy. The recent elections were a stunning accomplishment-a victory not just for President Boris Yeltsin, but for the forces of reform and democracy. That election demonstrates that Russia’s best long-term hope is to continue its struggle to become a stable, democratic, market-oriented nation, secure within its own borders and at peace with itself and its neighbors. To the extent that we can help it achieve these objectives, the world will be an infinitely safer place. We have taken the same approach to bolster independence, market reforms, and democracy in Ukraine, the Baltic, the Caucasus, and Central Asia, and throughout Central Europe.

We want NATO to work with Russia and other institutions and other institutions of European integration to produce what in all Europe’s history has never before been more than a dream: a truly united, free Europe.

Source: Between Hope and History, by Bill Clinton, p.151 , Jan 1, 1996

Engage China but take a firm line

In Asia, our security strategy has four priorities: maintaining our military commitments to the region, supporting stronger security cooperation among Asian nations, providing leadership to combat emerging threats, and supporting emerging democracies. We have worked hard with China to see that it embraces nuclear nonproliferation; agrees to abide by the rules of free and fair trade; cooperates in regional and global security initiatives; and grants basic human rights to its own citizens-in short, to see that a resurgent China takes its rightful place as a leader for positive change for its own people, and for the world.

But we haven’t been shy about voicing our differences-and acting on them. When China conducted menacing military exercises in the Taiwan Straits, I sent the Seventh Fleet to the area to demonstrate out commitment to ensuring peaceful relations between China and Taiwan.

Source: Between Hope and History, by Bill Clinton, p.151-152 , Jan 1, 1996

Eliminate tax subsidy for doing business in Puerto Rico

Moynihan wanted to introduce Clinton to sensitive real-world politics. [Moynihan wanted to drop from Clinton's economic plan] a proposal to eliminate the tax subsidy for US corporations doing business in Puerto Rico. The subsidy was, Moynihan granted, indefensible. One company received a tax break of about $500,000 per worker. Some pharmaceutical firms got $150,000 per worker.

But that wasn't the point. Moynihan painted a doomsday scenario of what would happen if the tax credit were dropped. First, American firms would pull out of Puerto Rico, causing the unemployment rate to double to about 30% and creating an economic crisis. [That would affect the] upcoming plebiscite on statehood. In all, it would be a political nightmare. How would the US look in the world? So the tax, which would save some $5 billion over 4 years, just couldn't be done, Moynihan said. He could never let such a proposal out of the Finance Committee--for reasons, he noted, that couldn't be explained publicly.

Source: The Agenda, by Bob Woodward, p.175-176 , Jun 6, 1994

1980: Criticized for letting Cubans escape from prison

They rioted on June 1, and about two hundred of them escaped far enough down Highway 22 to make an impending siege of Baring, Arkansas, look possible, it was as if the worst fears of doomsayers had come true.

The image of rabid Cubans running through the streets of Arkansas past the homes of "good folks" became a perfect rallying point for the campaign efforts of Clinton's opponents. Frank White let out word throughout Arkansas that Bill Clinton had basically gone to Cuba, picked all the most violent and depraved criminals out of Castro's jails, and invited them to their state out of the perverse kindness of his heart.

Bill Clinton first saw the commercial in the governor's mansion in late October. After he watched the ad, Clinton turned to the others in disbelief.

"Do people really believe this stuff?" he asked. "Sure they do," someone said. Heads nodded.

Source: The Inside Story, by Judith Warner, p. 105-6 , Aug 1, 1993


Bill Clinton on Political Philosophy

OpEd: 1994: Installed Aristide in Haiti subject to US rules

By 1994 Aristide had been "civilized", and Clinton sent US forces to restore the elected president to a few more months in office. But on strict conditions: that he accept a harsh neoliberal regime, pretty much the program of the US-backed candidate he had defeated handily in 1990 election. Aristide's efforts to disband the army, which had been the bitter enemy of Haitians since its institution, were barred. Haiti was also barred from providing any protection for the economy.

There is nothing surprising about what followed: a 1995 USAID report observed that the "export-driven trade and investment policy [that Washington mandated will] relentlessly squeeze the domestic rice farmer," accelerating the flight to miserable slums that reached its hideous denouement in the catastrophe caused by the January 2010 earthquake--a class-based catastrophe, like many others, striking primarily at the poor whose awful conditions of existence render them particularly vulnerable (the rich escaped lightly).

Source: Hopes and Prospects, by Noam Chomsky, p. 11-12 , Jun 1, 2010

Pledged to Gorbachev to not extend NATO eastward

There is now justified concern about Russian reactions to US aggressive militarism. That includes the extension of NATO to the East by Clinton in violation of pledges to Mikhail Gorbachev, but particularly the vast expansion of offensive military capacity under Bush, and more recently, the plans to place "missile defense" installations in Eastern Europe. Putin is ridiculed for claiming that they are a threat to Russia. But US strategic analysts recognize that he has a point. The programs, they argue, are designed in a way that Russian planners would have to regard as a threat to the Russian deterrent, hence calling for more advanced and lethal offensive military capacity to neutralize them. A new arms race is feared.
Source: Hopes and Prospects, by Noam Chomsky, p.136-137 , Jun 1, 2010

1990s: Worked with religious leaders for African debt relief

I'll tell you a strange-bedfellows-type story. Arnold Schwarzenegger called me up, on debt relief for Africa. We put together a meeting with religious leaders over at the White House. I invited Pat Robertson to attend. Pat told me he had not visited the White House since Clinton became president, and I soon learned that Clinton's staff wanted to keep it that way. At one point, they actually asked me to disinvite Robertson, who had been highly critical of Clinton. The staffer cautiously advised the President that Pat Robertson was scheduled to attend the meeting, and the President looked at him hopefully and said, "Do you think he might come?"

The meeting took place, and at the end I could see Pat Robertson and Bill Clinton yukking it up at the front end of the room, and I turned to that anxious staffer and said, "Now do you believe in miracles?"

Good politics shouldn't be "us" or "them". It shouldn't be about winning or losing. Good politics should be about doing.

Source: Stand For Something, by John Kasich, p. 20-21 , May 10, 2006

Bush’s unilateralism strains international partnerships

[In thinking about Bush taking over], I thought that the international partnerships that we had developed in the aftermath of the Cold War could be strained by the more unilateral approach of the Republicans - they were opposed to the test ban treaty, the climate change treaty, the ABM Treaty, and the International Criminal Court.
Source: My Life, by Bill Clinton, p.951 , Jun 21, 2004

Foreign policy is domestic policy

Speechwriter Anthony Lake recalled, "in 1991 Clinton was preparing a foreign policy speech. I had written some language for it and he kept saying, 'Foreign policy is domestic policy.' That was not an immediately attractive concept for someone like me, and it took me more than a year to understand all the implications of it--but he was right."

Indeed, foreign policy had traditionally been practiced by a secular priesthood of academics, diplomats, and financiers who saw their work as different, higher and certainly more important than the tawdry business of domestic policy (which was considered a lowly legislative activity, as opposed to the distinctly executive nature of foreign affairs). This was, of course, nonsense--especially in a world where global economic trends had an increasing impact on American's domestic economy and where America's "soft" power (that is, its cultural and economic power) hade become a more pervasive influence than its military force.

Source: The Natural, by Joe Klein, p. 78-79 , Feb 11, 2003

Routinely provide intelligence info to the UN

Previous administrations have, on a carefully-prescribed basis, provided US intelligence information to the UN in circumstances that clearly advanced US national security interests. These instances have ranged from revealing overhead imagery during the Cuban Missile Crisis to information that has identified dangerous activities by rogue states, such as the weapons of mass destruction programs of North Korea or Iraq. But the Clinton administration has broken this vital nexus. Administration officials have argued that the US must provide intelligence information to the UN even in circumstances where it does nothing to advance American national security interests, to prove to the UN that our nation can be considered a regular and reliable source of intelligence information. This attitude dangerously treats the US as just another "consumer" of the US intelligence community, and the long-run erosion of the secrecy of our intelligence-gathering capabilities may be incalculable.
Source: Agenda For America, by Haley Barbour, p.235-236 , Apr 25, 1996

Engagement over escapism and isolation

There are some in both parties who would choose escapism over engagement, who would have us turn inward and ignore out international obligations as the world’s oldest democracy. These escapists have waged an all-out assault on the United Nations-even though it can help us share the cost and the risks of engagement. They have slashed our foreign affairs budget-even though it represents less than 2% of our overall budget. They oppose efforts to open markets through the GATT, WTO, or NAFTA. In short, they trumpet the rhetoric of American leadership and, at the same time, argue against the commitment of time, energy, and resources that leadership requires.

These escapists are just plain wrong-as wrong as their isolationist predecessors were in the years following the First World War. If we want to meet the challenges and seize the opportunities of this new era, we have to stay engaged. Our well-being as a nation and our strength as a people depend on maintaining our leadership abroad.

Source: Between Hope and History, by Bill Clinton, p.144 , Jan 1, 1996

Should not have tried to reason with Saddam the tyrant

In 1988 when the war between Iraq and Iran ended, we knew Saddam Hussein was a tyrant. We know he's dropping mustard gas on his own people, we know he's threatened to incinerate half of Israel. In '89 the president signed a secret policy saying we were going to continue to try to improve relations with him, and we sent him some sort of communication on the eve of his invasion of Kuwait that we still wanted better relations. The responsibility was in coddling Saddam Hussein.
Source: The Third Clinton-Bush-Perot Presidential Debate , Oct 19, 1992

Devise NATIONAL policy, not foreign vs. domestic

We must understand, as we never have before, that our national security is largely economic. The success of our engagement in the world depends not on headlines it brings to Washington politicians, but on the benefits it brings to hardworking middle-class Americans. Our ‘foreign’ policies are not really foreign at all.

We can no longer afford to have foreign and domestic policies. We must devise and pursue national policies that serve the needs of our people by uniting us at home and restoring America’s greatness in the world.

We need a national economic strategy as well as a human-development strategy that recognizes we are living in a world in which what people earn depends largely on what they can learn and whether their economies are organized for change. [We should therefore] emphasize education and training, encouraging private investment, and organizing for change.

Source: Clinton on Clinton, p.68-69, article “Alienated Americans” , Jul 2, 1980


Bill Clinton on Post-presidential Policies

Substantial debt relief & trade for poor African countries

When I took office, America had free trade agreements in place with three countries: Canada, Mexico, & Israel. By the time I left, we had agreements with 17, including developing countries such as Jordan & Morocco, and the young democracies of Central America.

To further boost African economies, we worked with G-8 partners to cancel more than $34 billion in debt from poor African countries. The initiative built on the substantial debt relief President Clinton had secured. A report by Bono's DATA organization concluded that debt relief has allowed African nations to send 42 million more children to school.

One vital economic initiative was the African Growth and Opportunity Act, which eliminated tariffs on most African exports to the US. Pres. Clinton signed AGOS; I worked with Congress to expand it.

I saw its impact firsthand when I met entrepreneurs in Ghana who exported their products to the US. A dressmaker named Esther told me, "I'm helping other women, and I'm helping my family too."

Source: Decision Points, by Pres. George W. Bush, p.350-351 , Nov 9, 2010

1999 Millennium Development Goals: forgive 3rd world debt

In 2000, the United Nations adopted the Millennium Development Goals. It pledged to cut in half the number of people living in extreme poverty (less than $1 a day) by 2015; to reduce by half the number of people suffering from hunger; children at least a primary school education, etc.

In 1999, the G8, the world's major economic powers, launched the millennium debt relief initiative to forgive the debts of the poorest highly indebted nations if they protected human r to put all their savings into education, health, or economic development. In 2005, the G8 leaders pledged another round of debt relief and promised to double aid to Africa, to $50 billion per year. But no one believes that even these big steps will be enough to enable the poorest African nations to reach the Millennium Development Goals.

Source: Giving, by Bill Clinton, p.117 , Sep 4, 2007

Taiwan: no independence; no recognition; no memberships

After Tiananmen Square, President George H. W. Bush sold F-16s to Taiwan. In 1996, when Beijing test-fired missiles toward Taiwan, Clinton ordered two carrier battle groups to the region to show American resolve.

When Clinton visited China, he acceded to Beijing's demand that he recite the "three nos." There would be, Clinton said, NO support for Taiwan's independence, NO recognition of an independent Taiwan, and NO endorsement of Taiwan's entry into any international organization.

Source: Where The Right Went Wrong, by Pat Buchanan, p.134-135 , Aug 12, 2004

Bush missed opportunity to unite US and the world

Bush had an amazing opportunity to bring the country together under his slogan of compassionate conservatism and to unite the world in the struggle against terror. Instead, they chose to use that moment of unity to push the country too far to the right and to walk away from our allies, not only in attacking Iraq before the weapons inspectors had finished their work, but in withdrawing American support for the climate change treaty, the anti-ballistic missile treaty, and from the nuclear test ban treaty
Source: Keynote speech to the Democratic National Convention , Jul 29, 2004

Advocate for Tibet-China discussion on human rights

When I advocated more freedom and human rights in China, [Chinese President] Jiang responded that America was highly developed, while China still had a per capita income of $700 a year. He emphasized our different histories, cultures, ideologies, and social systems. When I urged Jiang to meet with the Dalai Lama, he said the door was open if the Dalai Lama would first state that Tibet and Taiwan were part of China, and added that there were already “several channels of communication” with the leader of Tibetan Buddhism. I got a laugh from the Chinese audience when I said I thought that if Jiang and the Dalai lama did meet, they would like each other very much. I also tried to make some practical suggestions to move forward on human rights. For example, there were still Chinese citizens in prison for offenses no longer on the books. I suggested they be released.
Source: My Life, by Bill Clinton, p.793 , Jun 21, 2004

More interdependency with Canada and Mexico

At Maastricht in 1991, 15 European nations, including France, Italy, Germany, and Great Britain, decided to begin converting their free-trade zone into a political union and transferring their sovereign powers to a socialist superstate. In 2000, the president-elect of Mexico came here to propose a North American Union of Canada, Mexico, and the US. Though the erasure of our borders would mean the end of our nation, Vicente Fox was hailed in the US media as a visionary, and President Clinton expressed his regret that he might not be around to see it happen: "I think over the long run, our countries will become more interdependent. It will be the way of the world. I regret that I won't be around for a lot of it. But I think it's a good thing."
Source: The Death of the West, by Pat Buchanan, p. 4 , Oct 15, 2002

Death of Communism shouldn't mean loss of American Dream

On October 3, 1991, he announced: "All of you, in different ways, have brought me here today, to step beyond a life and a job I love, to make a commitment to a larger cause: preserving the American dream, restoring the hopes of the forgotten middle class, reclaiming the future for our children.

"I refuse to be part of a generation that fails to compete in the global economy and so condemns hardworking Americans to a life of struggle without reward or security.

"That is why I stand here today, because I refuse to stand by and let our children become part of the 1st generation to do worse than their parents. I don't want my child or your child to be part of a country that's coming apart instead of coming together."

Source: Clinton on Clinton, by Wayne Meyer, p. 52 , Nov 9, 1999

Progressive Internationalism: globalize with US pre-eminence.

Clinton adopted the manifesto, "A New Agenda for the New Decade":

Build a Public Consensus Supporting US Global Leadership
The internationalist outlook that served America and the world so well during the second half of the 20th century is under attack from both ends of the political spectrum. As the left has gravitated toward protectionism, many on the right have reverted to “America First” isolationism.

Our leaders should articulate a progressive internationalism based on the new realities of the Information Age: globalization, democracy, American pre-eminence, and the rise of a new array of threats ranging from regional and ethnic conflicts to the spread of missiles and biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons. This approach recognizes the need to revamp, while continuing to rely on, multilateral alliances that advance U.S. values and interests.

A strong, technologically superior defense is the foundation for US global leadership. Yet the US continues to employ defense strategies, military missions, and force structures left over from the Cold War, creating a defense establishment that is ill-prepared to meet new threats to our security. The US must speed up the “revolution in military affairs” that uses our technological advantage to project force in many different contingencies involving uncertain and rapidly changing security threats -- including terrorism and information warfare.

Source: The Hyde Park Declaration 00-DLC12 on Aug 1, 2000

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