WORLD

CLINTON’S NEW WORLD ORDER

ELECTED TO FIX THE ECONOMY, AMERICA’S NEW PRESIDENT FACES A DANGEROUS AND CHAOTIC WORLD

RAE CORELLI November 23 1992
WORLD

CLINTON’S NEW WORLD ORDER

ELECTED TO FIX THE ECONOMY, AMERICA’S NEW PRESIDENT FACES A DANGEROUS AND CHAOTIC WORLD

RAE CORELLI November 23 1992

CLINTON’S NEW WORLD ORDER

ELECTED TO FIX THE ECONOMY, AMERICA’S NEW PRESIDENT FACES A DANGEROUS AND CHAOTIC WORLD

WORLD

In the smouldering wreckage of Yugoslavia, the 16-month-long war, fed by implacable ethnic hatred, claimed more victims, many of them civilians. On the high plateaus of Angola in southwest Africa, 2,000 people were killed in fighting between government and rebel forces. In Belfast, negotiations towards ending 23 years of sectarian violence in Northern Ireland broke down, and in Washington, U.S.-brokered Arab-Israeli peace talks became stalled. The pattern of often-murderous, seemingly interminable strife was repeated again and again around the globe last week—in Israel, Lebanon and Liberia; in drughaunted Colombia and across the wintry expanse of southern Russia. “Make no mistake about it,” president-elect Bill Clinton said at a midweek Veterans Day ceremony in Little Rock, Ark., “this is still a dangerous and uncertain world.” Those dangers could prove to be as great a challenge for America’s 42nd chief executive as revitalizing the sluggish economy.

Several of Clinton’s predecessors found themselves confronted by more immediate perils early in their administrations. Dwight Eisenhower inherited the Korean War from Harry Truman and bequeathed the Bay of Pigs to John F. Kennedy. Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon both struggled with the Vietnam War. But those, for the most part, were welldefined issues directly involving the United States and over which it had some control. By contrast, the wars and rebellions facing Clinton, part of his legacy from George Bush, are distant, more complicated, far more numerous

and, in the long run, perhaps equally explosive.

While Clinton told the Arkansas veterans that he would rely on training, mobility and advanced weaponry to keep the United States “the strongest country in the world,” he remained noncommittal about his plans when speaking with world leaders who called with their congratulations. When Ukrainian President Leonid Kravchuk said that he would surrender his nuclear weapons provided that Russia paid for them, Clinton merely welcomed Kravchuk’s promise to “work hard to be a stabilizing factor.” The president-elect told Nigerian President Gen. Ibrahim Babangida that he welcomed his efforts to bring peace to neighboring Liberia—even though one side in that country’s bloody civil war has accused Nigeria of siding with its enemy. Similarly, in conversations with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and King Fahd of Saudi Arabia, Clinton said that he wanted the Middle East peace process to go forward, and voiced concern “about the possibility of a new hostile power in the region”—Iran, which has bought two submarines from Russia and is developing a nuclear program.

On the same day, Clinton’s office released his most detailed remarks so far on any foreignpolicy issue in an interview with the Washington-based journal Middle East Insight, given four days before the Nov. 3 presidential election. But even then, he carefully avoided some delicate subjects. Said Clinton: “I will act more vigorously to stop the spread of dangerous missiles in the Mideast and insist on a strong international effort to keep weapons of mass destruction out of the hands of nations like Iran, Iraq, Syria and Libya.” The candidate also expressed his support for Israel, saying: “Our policy must include not only an effort to reduce this spread but a reaffirmation of our strong commitment to maintaining Israel’s qualitative edge over its potential adversaries.”

In his first news conference, later in the week, Clinton promised that by the time he took office, he would have clearly defined foreign-policy and national-security goals. Among them: a reduced defence budget spread over several years, nuclear arms cuts with Russia and other nuclear powers, an international agreement limiting the proliferation of

all weapons of mass destruction and ensuring the continuity of the Middle East peace talks. However, that process bogged down last week when Israeli troops and Lebanese-based guerrillas pounded each other with rocket and artillery fire.

Clinton’s repeated references to the need for international co-operation in resolving disputes seemed to indicate that he will increase American support for the United Nations. Such an approach would reheve pressure on countries such as Canada. UN peacekeepers from Canada and Pakistan have already been deployed in the war-ravaged and starving east African nation of Somalia, where the U.S. state department has accused neighboring Kenya of meddling.

So far, the United Nations has not intervened in another conflict—the Liberian civil war. But U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Herman Cohen said last week that it may be time to play a role. At the same time, a spokesman for Angola’s UNITA rebels, which challenged the legitimacy of recent elections in which no candidate drew enough votes to become president, said in Washington that his people would accept the outcome of runoff elections if

the United Nations would supervise them.

But the United Nations will be of little help to Clinton in four trouble spots that could provide the stiffest foreign-policy tests of his administration. Neither the world body nor the European Community has been able to discourage the slaughter in the ruins of Yugoslavia where UN peacekeepers, trying to feed and protect fleeing civilians, have themselves come under fire. Secondly, Irish-Americans have pressured successive American governments to push for the reunification of Ireland. But Britain regards Northern Ireland, where factional tensions between Protestants and Roman Catholics continue to seethe, as part of its homeland and has steadfastly rejected outside mediation. And in Colombia, government forces and drug overlords are locked in a kind of bizarre civil war beyond the reach of Western nations exasperated by the uninterrupted export of narcotics.

However it is in the fourth region—the bickering and unstable countries of the former Soviet Union—that Clinton, like Bush, will probably become most deeply mired. Last week, Russian President Boris Yeltsin told

legislators in London that he faced the threat of a right-wing coup but that, if dissidents mounted one, he could handle it. On Dec. 1, Yeltsin will be challenged in the Congress of People’s Deputies, Russia’s top legislative body, by right-wingers demanding that he slow the pace of reforms. Yeltsin is likely to survive that battle, but Russia’s fragile experiment with democracy is far from assured. Among the thornier aspects of Russia-U.S. relations that Clinton will have to resolve: how to push forward with nuclear disarmament; deciding how much and what kind of assistance to furnish in order to head off economic disintegration; and how to reverse the noticeable decline in Russian willingness to support Washington’s line in international affairs. For the governor of Arkansas, managing the affairs of his predominantly rural state may, in retrospect, seem to have been child’s play next to dealing with a divided and turbulent world.

RAE CORELLI with HILARY MACKENZIE in Washington, MALCOLM GRAY in Moscow and correspondents’ reports

HILARY MACKENZIE

MALCOLM GRAY