Clinton Seeks Diversity in Foreign Policy Advisers Mix of Internationalists and Conservatives Would Face New Era of Spreading Democracy

By George D. Moffett Iii, writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, October 7, 1992 | Go to article overview

Clinton Seeks Diversity in Foreign Policy Advisers Mix of Internationalists and Conservatives Would Face New Era of Spreading Democracy


George D. Moffett Iii, writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


CAN hawks and doves roost in the same nest? Bill Clinton may be about to find out.

To guide him through the complexities of the post-cold-war era, the Arkansas governor has gathered birds of various feathers into his circle of foreign policy advisers. So far they have easily coalesced around a broad platform that accents economic recovery at home, promoting democracy abroad, and international engagement to deal with regional conflicts. But if Clinton is elected, say diplomatic analysts, they could find devils in the details as they attempt to hammer out a new American foreign policy.

"The Clinton team ranges from Wilsonian internationalists, who want to make the world over in America's image, to realists who have a sharper view of the limits of what we can do overseas," says John Judis, author of a new book on the American foreign policy establishment. "There might be tension between those wings."

"The fit will actually be pretty good," responds Harvard professor Joseph Nye, a Clinton adviser.

"If hawks and doves used to differ on the degrees of disarmament and relations with the Soviet Union, they don't differ at all on things like stopping nuclear proliferation, which will be the major issues now. The kinds of things that used to be so divisive are greatly diminished." Experts from Carter era

Clinton has brought onto his foreign policy team former Carter administration officials known to favor working through multilateral institutions like the United Nations, including State Department veterans Anthony Lake, now a professor at Mount Holyoke College, and Samuel Berger, a Washington lawyer.

The Clinton circle also includes Rep. Les Aspen (D) of Wisconsin, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Michael Mandelbaum, a Johns Hopkins University professor, and others who are more conservative. Clinton has also reached out to a group of hawkish Democrats - among them former Reagan State Department human rights chief Richard Schifter - some of whom broke with the party during the McGovern era.

At odds back then on issues ranging from the Vietnam War to military spending to whether to negotiate arms agreements with the Soviet Union, Democrats now are far less divided and on far less apocalyptic issues. Cold-war venom removed

"A lot of the venom of the fight has been extracted by the end of the cold war," says Charles William Maynes, editor of Foreign Policy magazine. "You can disagree with someone over the trade issue, but you don't think he's a traitor because he doesn't share your position."

"I wouldn't say that it's healed, but it's knitting," adds Penn Kemble, a Washington foreign-affairs consultant with ties to conservative Democrats, speaking of the rift that once divided Democratic hawks and doves.

Analysts say unity within the Clinton camp would be tested on four main issues if the Arkansas governor is elected:

* Promoting democracy abroad. Responding to an impulse defined by Democratic presidents like Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt - and underscored in a major policy speech delivered by Clinton in Milwaukee last week - many Clinton advisers say America's primary mission is to make the world more democratic.

But as conservative journalist Michael Lind and others have noted, promoting democracy could be hard to reconcile with the views of key US allies. Turkey and Saudi Arabia, for example, have solid reservations about the spread of democracy among Iraq's Shiites.

More troubling is the issue of what to do when democracy threatens to empower antidemocratic groups, such as Muslim fundamentalists in Algeria.

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Clinton Seeks Diversity in Foreign Policy Advisers Mix of Internationalists and Conservatives Would Face New Era of Spreading Democracy
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