Clinton's Foreign Policy: Between the Bushes, 1992-2000

Clinton's Foreign Policy: Between the Bushes, 1992-2000

Clinton's Foreign Policy: Between the Bushes, 1992-2000

Clinton's Foreign Policy: Between the Bushes, 1992-2000

Synopsis

This volume examines Bill Clinton's foreign policy during the years 1992-2000, emphasizing his adaptation of the elder Bush's "New World Order" outlook and his relationship with the younger Bush's "Americanist" foreign policy.

Excerpt

The presidency of Bill Clinton belongs to that most remote of historical periods: the day before yesterday – the day before the 9/11 terror attacks, the day before the invasion of Iraq, the day before the presidency of George W. Bush. Clinton’s presidency constitutes the era from which political analysts, journalists and political scientists have retired, and to which professional, document-oriented historians have yet to direct their attention. In some respects, the final decade of the twentieth century, preoccupied by the ‘culture wars’ and with the sexual activities of the American nation’s Chief Executive, seems like a lost world. In other ways, Bill Clinton and the memory of his presidency remain the very warp and weft of contemporary US politics. So, from differing viewpoints, Bill Clinton was the president who failed to protect Americans from international terrorism; the president who sacrificed American jobs and economic self-sufficiency to the ravages of unrestrained global economics; the president who valued alliances, and whose ambassadorial skills enhanced America’s international standing; the president who squandered a brilliant foreign policy inheritance, bequeathing to his successor a hollow military and a directionless diplomacy. Adapting the titles of various articles written from a variety of points across the political spectrum during the 1990s, the 42nd president of the United States was a leader who presided over ‘foreign policy as social work’ and the ‘end of idealism’. He was a ‘new moralist on the road to hell’, a president distinguished by ‘fatal distraction’, the ‘bully of the free world’.

The purpose of this book is to provide an account of Clinton’s foreign policy, viewed from sufficient distance to establish a sense of perspective. My standpoint is that of the contemporary historian, writing well before most relevant documentation has become available, but still willing to offer interim judgements. This first chapter discusses Clinton’s changing reputation and offers some reflections on how to assess presidential leadership of foreign policy. It will introduce the leading personalities associated with Clinton’s foreign policy and also consider a major preoccupation of the entire study: the peculiar nature of foreign policy and foreign policy-making in the post-Cold War era – the period ‘between the Bushes’. Chapter 2 provides a brief survey of policy context and development, as well as of Clinton’s decisional style and organisation and the role of Congress. The discussion will then move on to the search for an integrating philosophy in a globalising . . .

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