American Foreign Policy Was Strong in '95, but Challenges Lie Ahead from Bosnia to Mideast, Russia to N. Ireland, US Has Played Central Role in Promoting Peace

By Lee H. Hamilton. Lee H. Hamilton of Indiana is a ranking Democrat on the House International Committee. | The Christian Science Monitor, January 5, 1996 | Go to article overview

American Foreign Policy Was Strong in '95, but Challenges Lie Ahead from Bosnia to Mideast, Russia to N. Ireland, US Has Played Central Role in Promoting Peace


Lee H. Hamilton. Lee H. Hamilton of Indiana is a ranking Democrat on the House International Committee., The Christian Science Monitor


CONDUCTING American foreign policy today is hard work, especially with the decline of bipartisanship and a more-assertive Congress. Even so, the past year has seen important US foreign-policy achievements: a peace agreement in Bosnia and a revived NATO alliance; progress toward peace in the Middle East and in Northern Ireland; a permanent Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty and a continued freeze of North Korea's nuclear program.

Challenges lie ahead. Bosnia poses risks for 20,000 American troops. Haiti's stability is open to question. So is Russia's political direction. Relations with Japan and China require closer attention. Mexico's financial crisis could reignite. The US is still working to define its role in the post-cold-war world.

Bosnia. The Bosnia peace agreement is the most significant foreign- policy accomplishment of 1995, and the deployment of US troops as part of a NATO force the most controversial. Facing a failed UN mission in Bosnia, the administration pushed for a stepped-up NATO air campaign and sponsored diplomatic efforts that produced the peace agreement signed in Paris this month. Though not ideal, the agreement serves US interests. It stops the killing, ends the longest war in Europe since World War II, maintains Bosnia as a single state, and reunifies Sarajevo. It protects human rights, allows refugees to return, and obligates all parties to cooperate with the war crimes tribunal.

I share concerns about the safety of US troops in Bosnia, but I believe the US runs greater risks if it does not participate. Without US troops, there would be no peace in Bosnia. US credibility would be damaged, and NATO would be in disarray. US leadership is key to Europe's peace and stability.

Middle East. This past year also saw progress toward peace in the Middle East, despite the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. Israel and the Palestinian Authority signed a comprehensive agreement that extends Palestinian rule to the population centers of the West Bank, mandates Israeli troop withdrawals and Palestinian elections, and spells out the details of peaceful interaction between Israelis and Palestinians. The US was not directly responsible for this agreement, but it helped the parties overcome stumbling blocks at crucial stages in the negotiations. America has kept the peace process on track, particularly in recent efforts to bring Israel and Syria together for direct talks in the US.

Northern Ireland. The US helped broker and sustain last year's cease-fire in Northern Ireland, pressing for all-party talks, including direct dialogue between the British government and Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Irish Republican Army. For the first time in a generation, Ireland is at peace. …

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