U.S. Must Balance Values and Interests

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U.S. Must Balance Values and Interests

The leadership team of the future George W. Bush administration is slowly beginning to take shape. Interest is focusing especially on those to serve in foreign policy and security areas. The Bush administration has lined up Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, as well as the defense secretary to be designated, in its new foreign policy and security team. They are expected to serve as "private tutors" to Mr. Bush and stay at the fore of formulating U.S. foreign policy for some time to come, since Mr. Bush has virtually no experience in foreign and security affairs.

The basic foreign and security policy of the Bush administration can be summed up as "internationalism based on preserving the national interests of the United States." It espouses a position of intervening in international issues, but not sullying its hands over the issues that have no direct links with U.S. national interests. It plans not to dispatch its military forces to participate in United Nations peacekeeping operations, except to the areas of strategic importance for the United States. In its place, the United States is proposing a division of labor, entrusting the Balkan Peninsula to the European Union and East Timor to the allied Asian and Oceanic nations.

The Clinton administration was highly supportive of the UN peacekeeping operations, in which it participated actively based on Mr. Clinton''s principle that the United States cannot become a bystander while humanitarian disasters take place around the globe. Championing U.S. values, Vice President and Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore also supported the U.S. participation in peacekeeping operations.

In sharp contrast, the Bush camp maintained that the use of U.S. military force has to be limited to protecting U.S. national interests. During the campaign, it also criticized the dispatch of U.S. forces to regions with no U.S. national interests at stake.

The Bush administration''s foreign policy and security team also advocates unilateralism that places the highest priority on national defense, shifting the focus from the current arms management system based on international cooperation. The key example is the national missile defense system, which would unilaterally protect the United States from nuclear missile attacks. It is natural for Russia and China to oppose that system, Russia because it is concerned about abrogation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty that it signed with the United States in 1972. As for China, it fears the emergence of a theater missile defense system that encompasses Japan and Taiwan.

The new U.S. policy also has made the United Nations worry. During the Millennium Summit held in last September, the UN called for a UN-centered globalpeace and security system. Its goals could not be met if the United States decides to turn its back on UN peacekeeping operations and other global issues such as nuclear proliferation, poverty, environmental disasters, refugees and AIDS for the sake of protecting its national interests. The United States has already greatly scaled down its contribution to the UN regular budget as well as to the peacekeeping budget. It does not bother to hide its disdain for the United Nations by demanding reforms as the condition for paying its dues arrears, which amounts to a staggering $1.6 billion.

In this age of globalization, the United States has to steer its foreign policy towards achieving balance and harmony between the two goals of pursuing national interests and global security. Global security cannot be guaranteed if the Bush administration persists on a practical foreign policy that attaches importance only to national interests. While U.S. national interests are important, the new foreign policy and security team has to realize that international confidence in the United States as the world''s leader is just as important and valuable.

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