THE WORLD FROM.New York Democratic Conventioners Fret over Education and Other Domestic Issues but Ignore Once-Vital Foreign Policy

Article excerpt

LIKE weary world-travelers away for half a century, Americans returned home this year to a shocking discovery. Their housing is run-down, their streets are pot-holed, their air is dirty, their schools are decaying, their factories are closing, their cities are crime-ridden, their homeless are uncared for.

Making it even worse, their wallets are empty.

Several thousand Democrats assembled here July 13-16 to talk about all this, and the contrast with past party conventions was striking. In four days of speeches, press conferences, protests, rallies, and politicking, there was very little mention of foreign policy.

Bill Clinton, the Democratic nominee, spent 53 minutes and thousands of words in his acceptance speech discussing America's priorities for the next four years. Yet he devoted a mere 200 words to defense and foreign policy.

Mickey Kantor, campaign chairman for Governor Clinton, explains that with the disintegration of the Soviet Union, economics becomes the leading issue, both at home and abroad. Mr. Kantor makes it clear that without a powerful, world-class economy, the United States will not be able to exert its influence overseas in the post-cold-war era.

Clinton made a similar point in his acceptance speech. Quoting from the Democratic Party's new platform, he said: "The most important family policy, urban policy, labor policy, minority policy, and foreign policy America can have is an expanding, entrepreneurial economy of high-wage, high-skill jobs."

Clinton's views mirror those of the vast majority of US voters. Americans seem uninterested in foreign problems. Only 4 percent of them say foreign policy and defense should be the nation's most important priorities. …