Jewish World Review Oct. 27, 1999/17 Mar-Cheshvan, 5760
http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- IN THE REAL WORLD of domestic politics, Republicans have a tougher road to hoe than Democrats. So, why do they always want to make it harder on themselves?
They begin the battle for ideas with several PR strikes against them, so they have to be just a little bit smarter when it comes to selling their ideas. The trouble is, they aren't.
Just think about it. Republicans are always depicted as mean-spirited ogres, and the liberal press does everything it can to further that image.
Instead of being properly portrayed as champions of liberty, Republicans are fraudulently accused of:
But with the Reagan-engineered victory in the Cold War and the Bush-led triumph in the Gulf War, Republicans have vindicated themselves and have pretty much owned foreign policy issues.
President Clinton took office with a draft-dodging cloud hanging over him and with little foreign policy mandate. Since taking office, he has gutted the military budget while expanding our overseas commitments. He has rarely met an instance of foreign unrest that he believed was inappropriate for U.S. intervention.
Clinton's foreign policy has been as aimless as it has been ambitious. In very few of his internationalist adventures has he bothered to articulate a justification for our intervention, least of all the vital security interests of the U.S.
Last week, Clinton's national security adviser, Sandy Berger, in a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, expanded on a theme first propounded by President Clinton after the Senate rejected his nuclear test ban treaty. The theme: Republicans have fallen into a "new isolationism."
Well, the charge has been made. Are the Republicans good for it? Of course not, and Clinton knows better. But "isolationism" has a negative ring to it. It fits nicely into the portrait Clinton and liberals always try to paint of Republicans.
The intended implication is that Republican capitalists care only about themselves and have no compassion for the less fortunate in their own country, much less for those in other nations.
But the truth is that before Clinton called Republicans isolationists, Republicans were accusing each other of the same thing. As I have written before, certain Republicans have denigrated other Republicans who opposed the Kosovo intervention as Buchananites, meaning "isolationists."
All Republicans, both hawks and doves, believe that U.S. military intervention in foreign countries is appropriate only when our vital national interests are at stake, though they don't always agree to when that is.
Before the Clinton pejorative "isolationists" sticks, Republicans should try to forge a consensus as to what constitutes our vital national interests. Do we have an interest, for example, in Serbia but not in Rwanda? Why?
Those who refuse to ratify nuclear treaties that may result in our unilateral disarmament or that surrender decisions concerning our nuclear security to international bodies cannot fairly be called isolationists. They are patriots.
Republicans cannot prevent Bill Clinton from mischaracterizing their
positions, but they don't need to aid and abet him. But unless they get
about the business of defining themselves on foreign policy beyond this
nuclear treaty, Clinton will define them by
10/25/99: A matter of freedom