The Clinton Legacy

By Colin Campbell; Bert A. Rockman | Go to book overview

10
Engaging the World: First Impressions of the Clinton Foreign Policy Legacy

EMILY O. GOLDMAN AND LARRY BERMAN

It has become commonplace to criticize the Clinton administration's foreign policy for being indecisive, incoherent, contradictory, confused, lacking vision and purpose. A virtual cottage industry has emerged around this theme. 1 Even when the president has been credited with articulating a clear set of foreign policy goals, he has been criticized for failing to develop the means to achieve them or to rally Congress and the American public on their behalf. A reframing of America's role in the world has always been, and will inevitably be, an evolutionary process. As one scholar points out, "historically, watershed events, such as the end of the Cold War, have produced new or revised visions of America's role or roles in world politics, although rarely has a single vision prevailed quickly." 2 We believe it is important to present a balanced assessment of Clinton's foreign policy accomplishments and shortcomings and to offer a more compelling explanation than has been advanced to date for his foreign policy. Has Bill Clinton left a legacy others can build upon, develop more fully, articulate more clearly, and implement more effectively? Will Bill Clinton's legacy be that of a president who took bold action to stop ethnic cleansing or will he be remembered as the president who committed America to a long-run engagement in the Balkans but was inconsistent on military intervention, having taken a "pass" on the genocide in Rwanda?

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