With events from Belgrade to Jerusalem to Pyongyang dominating the headlines, foreign affairs -- a virtual non-issue the last four election cycles -- has taken on increased prominence in Campaign 2000. Both Al Gore and George W. Bush recognize that the United States stands alone as the world's only superpower, a status that comes with certain rights and obligations. They both support U.S. military efforts in Iraq and the Balkans and U.S. leadership in the global economy. And unlike the two major third-party candidates, Ralph Nader and Patrick Buchanan, they eschew isolationism and trade protectionism in favor of the promotion of democracy, economic growth and social progress. However, while Bush and Gore may agree on the same basic principles, they differ on the degree to which the United States should be the leader in the post-Cold War era. Gore believes the United States can and should impose its moral imperatives on other states, actively using U.S. troops to promote democracy and respond to humanitarian crises. He opposes unilateralism in favor of diplomacy, and would try to negotiate nuclear cuts and revisions to the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty before going forward with a National Missile Defense system. Bush, on the other hand, prefers a more limited internationalism. Believing that the U.S. should not impose its will on other states, he would be more limited in the use of American troops. As he said during last week's debate, he would not use U.S. forces for "nation-building" exercises and would only intervene where a clear national interest is threatened. Bush wants our allies to take on more peacekeeping duties and would call U.S. troops home from abroad. He would also proceed unilaterally with a missile shield, potentially spurring a new arms race with Russia and China. The question for voters is not whether the U.S. should assume leadership in the international system -- it has and will continue to do so under either candidate. Instead, you must ask whether the world's problems are indeed ours to solve -- and whether the U.S. should act on its own, or rather in concert with its allies and with a sense of caution toward its foes.Comments powered by Disqus
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