THE headline above this story was as valid 200 years ago as it
is today, but that makes life no easier for President Clinton, who
still hasn't hit his stride as commander in chief.
In fact, even though a few things have gone right for Mr.
Clinton in recent days - Somali captors released Army helicopter
pilot Michael Durant and the Senate endorsed Clinton's revised game
plan for Somalia - he has still looked like a sacked quarterback
with members of both teams (and some spectators, too) piling on top
of him. "The only difference here is there's no referee to blow
the whistle," says William Maynes, editor of Foreign Policy
The piling on continued Oct. 19 as the Senate considered the
defense appropriations bill and amendments that would limit
Clinton's ability to send United States troops to Haiti, which is
preparing for the scheduled return Oct. 30 of President
An amendment by Senate minority leader Robert Dole (R) of Kansas
would limit the use of funds for military operations in Haiti
without advance authorization from Congress. Another amendment,
sponsored by Sens. Don Nickles (R) of Oklahoma and Thad Cochran (R)
of Mississippi, would require that US troops in a United Nations
operation serve only under US command.
US warships are positioned off the coast of Haiti. Not too far
down the road, Congress will also consider sending US troops on a
peacekeeping mission to Bosnia.
Secretary of State Warren Christopher complained Oct. 18 that
"any provision which preconditions the ability of the president to
use the armed forces is offensive to the Constitution."
But that hasn't stopped even Clinton's staunchest foreign policy
allies on the Hill from weighing in with at least gentle criticism
of his handling of crises in Somalia and Haiti. Sen. Patrick Leahy
(D) of Vermont, chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee
on foreign operations, has chided the Clinton team for not
articulating a post-cold-war foreign policy.
Rep. Lee Hamilton (D) of Indiana, chairman of the House Foreign
Affairs Committee, couches his criticism by blaming Congress as
well. "The difficulties in Somalia really come down to our failure
- the president's failure and Congress's failure - to define what
the policy was and articulate it effectively, consistently, and
strongly," he said in an interview.
Although the American public is in no mood to send its young men
and women off on foreign adventures, it is "inclined to give the
president the benefit of the doubt," Representative Hamilton