The Clinton Presidency: A Foreign Policy for the Global Age

The Clinton Presidency:
A Foreign Policy for the Global Age

President Clinton understood from the beginning of his presidency that the most pervasive force in our world is globalization. He also understood that while globalization is inexorable, its benefits must be harnessed to advance our objectives of democracy, shared prosperity and peace. The way for America to exercise its influence today is to build with our democratic partners an international system of strong alliances and institutions attuned to the challenges of a globalized world, to ensure this system is genuinely open to all who adhere to clearly defined standards, and to be ready to stand up for those standards when they are threatened. The broad outlines of a foreign policy for the global age can’t be summed up on a bumper sticker, but they are reflected in the principles that have guided the Clinton foreign policy over the past eight years.

Our Alliances with Europe and Asia are the Cornerstone of Our National Security, but They Must be Constantly Adapted to Meet Emerging Challenges.

These core alliances are today stronger and arguably more durable because they are organized to advance an enduring set of shared interests, rather than to defeat a single threat. President Clinton broke new ground in 1993 by welcoming our European and Asian allies’ desire to play a more responsible role while maintaining our troops and adapting our alliances in both regions.

Working for a Peaceful, Democratic, Undivided Europe

  • Revitalized, adapted and expanded NATO from a static Cold War alliance to a magnet for new democracies, with new partners, members and missions; adapted its command structure; admitted Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic; created Partnership for Peace.
  • Led NATO in its first military engagement and stopped the killing in Bosnia. The peace we brokered in Dayton has been sustained, a civil society complete with active opposition parties and non-governmental organizations is taking root, and national and local elections have taken place throughout the country.
  • Took military action in Kosovo to stop ethnic cleansing and regional instability. Forced withdrawal of Serb forces and deployed an international presence in Kosovo — with a 47,000 strong NATO-led force providing security for the province. Achieved the safe and unconditional return of over 900,000 refugees, disbanded the Kosovo Liberation Army.

Adapting and Upholding our Alliance with Asia

  • Updated our strategic alliance with Japan through adoption of the Defense Guidelines and Joint Security Declaration to define how to respond together to post-Cold War threats.
  • Reduced the North Korean threat through deterrence, diplomacy. Negotiated the October 1994 Framework Agreement to freeze and dismantle North Korea’s dangerous nuclear weapons fuel production and a moratorium on long-range missile testing in 1999.
  • Strengthened cooperation with South Korea to move forward to engage North Korea. Jointly engaged in Four Party Talks and established Trilateral Group (the United States, Japan and South Korea) to coordinate North Korea policy which helped create the conditions for an eventual North-South dialogue.

Peace and Security for the United States Depends on Building Principled, Constructive, Clear-Eyed Relations with Our Former Adversaries.

We must continue to be mindful of threats to the peace — whether it is a Russian move against Georgia or a Chinese move against Taiwan — while maximizing the chances that both nations evolve internally toward greater democracy, stability and prosperity. To achieve both goals, we must continue to seize on the desire of both Russia and China to participate in the global economy and global institutions, insisting they accept the obligations as well as the benefits of integration.

Building on Our Relationship with Russia

  • Negotiated the exit of Russian troops from the Baltics, brought Russian troops into NATO missions in the Balkans and won Russia’s active support for a just end to the Kosovo war.
  • Brought Russia into the G-8, APEC, and into relationships with NATO and international financial institutions.
  • Reduced the nuclear danger. Deactivated/dismantled over 1,700 nuclear warheads, 300 missile launchers, 425 ICBM and SLBMs; strengthened security and accounting of nuclear materials; purchased 500 metric tons of weapons-grade uranium; reached agreement for the safe, transparent and irreversible destruction of 68 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium.
  • Supported economic reform and the creation of a market economy. More than 250,000 Russian entrepreneurs have received U.S. training, consulting services or loans. Today 70 percent of the Russian economy is in private hands.

Building on Our Relationship with China

  • Helped maintain peace in the Taiwan Straits and worked with China to maintain stability on Korean Peninsula.
  • Brought China into global non-proliferation regimes — Chemical Weapons Convention, CTBT and Biological Weapons Convention.
  • Negotiated terms for China’s entry into the World Trade Organization, with Permanent Normal Trade Relations. Most constructive breakthrough in U.S.-China relations since normalization in 1979 — will entangle China more deeply in a rules-based international system and change China internally.

Local Conflicts can have Global Consequences. The Purpose of Peacemaking, Whether by Diplomacy or Force, Must be to Resolve Conflicts Before They Escalate and Harm Our Vital Interests.

In a global age, arguments for peacemaking are even stronger: to defuse conflicts before they escalate and harm our interests. America’s dominant power is more likely to be accepted if it is harnessed to the cause of peace.

  • Middle East: Brought parties together at Camp David for first high level discussions of all permanent status issues. Helped forge agreements that led to the Declaration of Principles in September 1993 and the Interim Agreement on Palestinian self-rule in September 1995. Brokered the Wye agreement in October 1998, revitalizing the peace process after years of stagnation. Helped broker the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum against terrorism in September 1999, and the peace treaty between Jordan and Israel in October 1994.
  • Balkans: Stabilizing Southeast Europe by ending a decade of repression and ethnic cleansing in Kosovo. Led NATO alliance to victory in air campaign and ushering in international peacekeepers. Launched the Stability Pact to strengthen democracy, economic development and security throughout the region, and accelerating its integration with the rest of Europe and freeing Europe from a permanent refugee crisis and source of conflict.
  • Greece and Turkey: Encouraged Greek-Turkish rapprochement. Strongly supported Turkey’s European Union candidacy. Restarted talks toward a comprehensive settlement on Cyprus.
  • India and Pakistan: Helped them move from the brink of what might have been a catastrophic war in July 1999.
  • Northern Ireland: Helped broker the Good Friday Peace Accord, ending decades of bloodshed and empowering the people of Northern Ireland to determine their future.
  • Peru and Ecuador: Worked with other regional governments to halt the 1995 border war between Peru and Ecuador.
  • Eritrea and Ethiopia: Negotiated a final, comprehensive peace agreement between Eritrea and Ethiopia, signed on December 12, 2000. The agreement built upon the Cessation of Hostilities Agreement brokered by the U.S. and the Organization of African Unity in June 2000, and brought to an end what was at that time the largest conventional war on earth.

Not All Old Threats have Disappeared, but New Dangers, Accentuated by Technological Advances and the Permeability of Borders, Require New National Security Priorities.

One of the biggest changes we have brought about in the way America relates to the world has been the change in what we consider important. The Clinton Administration has defined a new security agenda that addresses contemporary threats — nonproliferation, terrorism, international crime, infectious disease, environmental damage.

  • Nonproliferation: Permanently eliminated nuclear weapons and their delivery vehicles from Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan. Signed the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and achieved the indefinite extension of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention.
  • Terrorism: Developed a national counter-terrorism strategy, led by a national coordinator. Brought perpetrators of World Trade Center bombing and CIA killings to justice. Prevented planned attacks against Millennium celebrations.
  • Cyber Security: Developed first national strategy to protect critical infrastructure, bringing together private sector and government. Increased funding on critical infrastructure protection by over 40 percent since 1998.
  • Chemical and Biological Weapons: Strengthened international support for and adherence to CWC/BWC. Equipped and trained first responders in 120 largest metro areas.
  • Environment: Brought climate change issues into the mainstream of our foreign policy. Negotiated Kyoto protocol in 1997 to establish a strong, realistic framework to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in environmentally strong and economically sound way.
  • Infectious Disease: Made the international fight against deadly infectious diseases a national security priority. Introduced the issue to the U.S.-EU Summit, the United Nations Millennium Assembly, and the G-8 Summit in Okinawa and mobilized billions from our international partners. More than doubled foreign assistance for HIV/AIDS. Working to accelerate the development of vaccines for AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and other major disease threats through the President’s Millennium Vaccine Initiative.
  • International Crime: Intensified interdiction efforts, cracking down on drug lords and providing $1.6 billion in assistance for Colombia. Combating trafficking in persons, especially women and children, with an integrated strategy that focuses on prevention, prosecution of traffickers and protection of and assistance to victims.

Economic Integration Advances Both Our Interests and Our Values, but Also Accentuates the Need to Alleviate Economic Disparity.

As the first president who has understood the connections of the global economy and its connection to our prosperity, President Clinton has led the United States toward its greatest expansion in world trade in history — from $4 to $6.6 trillion a year. President Clinton has opened markets for U.S. exports abroad and created American jobs through nearly 300 other free and fair trade agreements, contributing to the longest economic expansion in our history.

  • Completed the Uruguay Round of the GATT negotiations and created the WTO to reduce tariffs, settle trade disputes and enforce rules.
  • Ratified the North America Free Trade Agreement, cementing strategic trade relationships with our immediate neighbors. U.S. exports to Mexico grew 109 percent from 1993 to 1999, compared with growth to the rest of the world of 49 percent.
  • Strong U.S. growth and maintenance of open markets was in no small measure responsible for the recovery of the Asian economy which again is fueling global growth.
  • Helped rescue Mexico’s economy with $20 billion in emergency support loans that were repaid in full with interest.
  • Supported the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative at the G-7 Summit in Cologne in June 1999, to provide deeper multilateral debt reduction for poor countries with unsustainable debt burdens.
  • Won approval of Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China that will integrate it into the world economy through entry into the WTO, open Chinese market to U.S. exports, slash Chinese tariffs and protect American workers and companies against dumping.
  • Won approval of the Caribbean Basin Initiative enhancement legislation to promote economic prosperity in Central America and the Caribbean.
  • Launched and won approval for African Growth and Opportunity Act to support increased trade and investment between the United States and Africa, strengthen African economies and democratic governments, increase partnerships to counter terrorism, crime, environmental degradation and disease.
  • Opened trade in information technology, telecommunications and financial services through path-breaking WTO agreements that foster the global diffusion of the New Economy.
  • Normalized our relationship with Vietnam, culminating in the completion of a Bilateral Trade Agreement that will serve as a roadmap for economic restructuring in this country of 80 million people. This builds upon our longstanding cooperation for a full accounting of all U.S. missing in action.

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