The Right Coast

August 31, 2005
Clintonian Foreign Policy: Eight Years of Sleep-Walking
By Mike Rappaport

Charles Krauthammer has a wonderful essay in Commentary on Neoconservatism. It begins:

The post-cold-war era has seen a remarkable ideological experiment: over the last fifteen years, each of the three major American schools of foreign policy—realism, liberal internationalism, and neoconservatism—has taken its turn at running things. (A fourth school, isolationism, has a long pedigree, but has yet to recover from Pearl Harbor and probably never will; it remains a minor source of dissidence with no chance of becoming a governing ideology.) There is much to be learned from this unusual and unplanned experiment.
Krauthammer devestatingly describes the Clintonian experience in liberal internationalism:

It is hard to be charitable in assessing the record. Liberal internationalism’s one major achievement in those years—saving the Muslims in the Balkans and creating conditions for their possible peaceful integration into Europe—was achieved, ironically, in defiance of its own major principle. It lacked what liberal internationalists incessantly claim is the sine qua non of legitimacy: the approval of the UN Security Council.

Otherwise, the period between 1993 and 2001 was a waste, eight years of sleepwalking, of the absurd pursuit of one treaty more useless than the last, while the rising threat—Islamic terrorism—was treated as a problem of law enforcement. Perhaps the most symbolic moment occurred at the residence of the U.S. ambassador to France in October 2000, after Yasir Arafat had rejected Israel’s peace offer at Camp David and instead launched his bloody second intifada. In Paris for another round of talks, Arafat abruptly broke off negotiations and was leaving the residence when Secretary of State Madeleine Albright ran after him, chasing him in her heels on the cobblestone courtyard to induce him, to cajole him, into signing yet another worthless piece of paper.

Leon Trotsky is said to have remarked of the New York intellectual Dwight Macdonald, “Everyone has a right to be stupid, but Comrade Macdonald abuses the privilege.” During its seven-and-a-half year Oslo folly, the Clinton administration abused the privilege consistently.
Its funny. Clinton was so worried about his legacy that he tried over and over again to get Yasser Arafat to sign a peace deal. What Clinton did not realize is that symbolized and was his legacy.