Bill Clinton's Foreign Policy Legacy

By Howell, Llewellyn D. | USA TODAY, January 2001 | Go to article overview

Bill Clinton's Foreign Policy Legacy


Howell, Llewellyn D., USA TODAY


THERE WILL BE a Bill Clinton foreign policy legacy and it will be positive, despite substantive critiques and the ravings of the hard-core right. The legacy will essentially be determined and evaluated in the terms established by Ronald Reagan in his first campaign for the presidency: "Are you better off now than you were eight years ago?" The answer is "yes," but it's not a simple yes.

The trouble with using the "better off" standard is that the world itself is not the same as it was eight years ago, and a foreign policy to deal with it is working against a moving target. Yale University historian John Gaddis criticized Clinton's foreign policy in 1999 as being one that ignored the tradition of preserving the sovereignty of great powers and the assumption of a structured client state system. However, the international strategic paradigm has shifted dramatically in the past 10 years. The Cold War is over.

It is over because the Soviet Union, which had been operating on a shoestring and a quart of vodka, fell--primarily due to its own weight. Russia no longer has client states, nor do the other contenders for great-power roles. The era of great powers won't come again, at least not in the strategic military sense. Clinton was right about international relations as well as domestic politics when he argued that "It's the economy, stupid!"

Power in the globalized system is economic power. America's power resides in its inventiveness, productivity, and market strength, not in the size of its military or ability to fight two 20th-century wars at once. Other powers can rise, but few are in sight that can challenge on these three criteria. China comes closest, with growing impact on two counts--productivity and market strength. India has both inventiveness and market strength. Europe could have all three, but there isn't really any unified Europe yet, so we are still looking at France as its own contender for whatever power status is available.

Getting China into the World Trade Organization and the net of a million interdependencies is the equivalent of tying down Gulliver. Among the Lilliputians at work in this effort are countries such as Malaysia, Colombia, Bosnia, and Zambia, small states whose interdependencies with the U.S. and, eventually, China make them weak by themselves, but powerful in combination.

The combinations are economic, not military. These alliances show up as free-trade areas, the Group of 7 (plus), regional trade organizations, and, importantly, the United Nations. We can't possibly expect the "small powers" to stay poor and disorganized forever. Sooner or later, powerful forces like Singapore and Chile will arise and coalesce. Their strength will be in economic, not military, linkages. A coherent foreign policy had better look to the future. Clinton's has.

International stability in the future is much more likely to be undermined by terrorism and simple (but brutal) crime than by large-scale military conflicts between states. The forces to respond to such problems are police, not armies. Yet, in the hail of criticism of Clinton's foreign policy, the solitary agreement from the traditionalists and realists is on the expansion of NATO, clearly a Cold War instrument directed at large foreign enemies around military organization. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Bill Clinton's Foreign Policy Legacy
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.