|A PLATFORM OF DEFENSE|
August 1, 2000
Two senators and Bush's foreign policy adviser discuss the Republican candidate's take on foreign affairs.
WARNER: For perspective on George W. Bush's view of America's superpower
role, we turn to Robert Zoellick, foreign policy adviser to Governor
Bush- - he held a senior post in the State Department under President
Bush; Kay Bailey Hutchison, a Republican Senator from Texas-- she serves
on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee; and Gordon Smith, a Republican
Senator from Oregon-- he's on the Foreign Relations Committee. Welcome
Bob Zoellick, if Americans go to the polls, they vote for George W. Bush in November, what are they going to be getting as compared to Al Gore on that central question, that is, is how America uses its just overarching strength at this point in the world?
ROBERT ZOELLICK, Bush Adviser: Well, I think the most critical role the United States can play is as a coalition and alliance leader. There's a lot that we can do by ourselves, but there's more if we can bring others along. And I think frankly one of the problems over the past seven and-a-half years is that while the United States has great power, if it's combined with inconsistency and unpredictability, even our friends around the world start to ask questions. And so part of what you're going to hear tonight is the Republican Party talking about its strategy, some of the ideas that it thinks is important, showcasing some of the people that are going to be part of that, because at the end of the day to be successful, you also have to bring along your public. And I think that again is going to be one of Governor Bush's objectives, to have a foreign policy that's successful in the world, builds on alliance leadership, but ultimately is sold to the American public as well.
|Bush versus Gore|
MARGARET WARNER: Does that sound a lot different to you from Al Gore, or just is he saying, George W. Bush would do it better?
SEN. GORDON SMITH, (R) Oregon: We've had many, I think, very zigzagged signals from the Clinton/Gore administration that relates to engagement and withdrawal. I think what you're going to see from George Bush is what I would describe as realistic engagement, leading our alliances, staying involved in international organizations, but at the same time, never losing sight of America's national interest, nor surrendering our sovereignty. I think that that will be central to his leadership.
MARGARET WARNER: But we hear Democrats and Republicans using phrases like that, America's national interest, but in the end it comes down to how you define it. How do you expect George W. Bush will be different from Al Gore?
SEN. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON, (R) Texas: Well, I think Al Gore has not separated himself from the Clinton/Gore administration. And you have seen an unpredictability and the willingness to spread our troops around the world without any real strategy, no exit plan and not even coming to Congress and talking.
MARGARET WARNER: I'm sorry, Senator Hutchison, I'm told people can't hear you because there's something wrong with your mic. So let me just go back to Bob Zoellick. Again, let's try to get specific here. What about Kosovo and Bosnia? Would a President Bush move quickly to withdraw?
ROBERT ZOELLICK: No, I don't think he would. In fact, what he's said is that he believes that is a key issue for the United States because of our alliance commitments and the role we play with our European allies. But over time, and I think this is an important point, he would expect them to take on a greater role in that because he does believe in priorities. And our priorities are not just the civil wars around the world. They have to be dealing with the big powers of Russia and China, they're dealing with the question of weapons of mass destruction, missile threats, and the questions of megabucks. And that is a big difference with the Clinton/Gore administration, because everything is on their agenda. I think people recognize, if you try to do everything, you're not going to be very successful. You have to set priorities. You have to have a strategy.
SEN. GORDON SMITH: I think the point that Senator Hutchison was making is that this President and this Vice President have over- committed our military and under-funded our military. You can't have it both ways.
|Bush in Kosovo, Rwanda and Somalia|
MARGARET WARNER: All right. But let's get even more specific. You have been very skeptical of our involvement in the Balkans, both in Bosnia and Kosovo. What would you expect from a President Bush immediately on taking office on that score? Would you expect him to take steps to start pulling out?
SEN. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON: No. I don't think anyone would say start pulling out. But I think he would come in, he would call all the parties together, he would assess what it's going to take to really make a difference. We cannot stay in the Balkans for 50 years without progress, without an idea of what it's going to take to really bring lasting peace. And then once the parties come together and we have a game plan, then I think he will bring a coalition of people around the world, allies who want to play a role, plus Russia, which could play a very productive role here, and try to work things out there. What many of us have disagreed with the Clinton/Gore administration about is that there is no progress. There is no strategy. And I don't think Governor Bush as President would put our troops in harm's way ad infinitum and certainly with no exit strategy.
MARGARET WARNER: All right. So what if a new situation came up, another Rwanda, another Somalia? Somalia, his father did send in troops. Rwanda, President Clinton did not. What would he do in a situation like that?
ROBERT ZOELLICK: Well, first off, again, what I want to try to emphasize a little bit is that you keep focusing on some of what I consider to be the more peripheral issues. You want the talk about free trade, you want to talk about great powers, nuclear issues. Those are going to be the centerpiece issues. Now, on the type of things you're talking about, I think you have to decide case by case. But one of the key decisions you have to make is, do you have clear objectives? Are you willing to deploy the means to achieve those objectives? And are you willing to explain it the Congress and the American people - because that is not what we've done, and that's one of the reasons why you had a Democratic Senator start to lead an effort this year to try to pull our forces out of the Balkans. That wasn't a Republican effort. It's because people don't know where we're going with these things.
SEN. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON: The other thing is President Bush is going to be committed to peace through strength. As Bob said, we're talking about the ankle biter issues. The big issue is, we are at risk of having an incoming ballistic missile, and we have no defense. And President Bush is going to go forward and work for a defense that will work so that we are protected and so that our men and women in the field are protected, wherever they may be.
MARGARET WARNER: And do you think he would go ahead with that even if our allies, not to mention Russia, remained very nervous or even hostile to the idea?
SEN. GORDON SMITH: He'll go ahead with it if he believes it's in America's national interest. When you have leaders of other countries talking about taking out Los Angeles, for example, I don't know of a leader of this country that should ever take that lightly. We need to defend this country first. And our allies need to understand that. But we have to focus on a system that will work.
MARGARET WARNER: One final topic, much has been made of Governor Bush's inexperience in foreign affairs. How has he gone about preparing himself, educating himself in this area?
ROBERT ZOELLICK: Well, as I think some of the people you see tonight, I'd like to believe the Republican Party is a pretty strong team. We used to work with you when you used to cover this subject, so we had good exposure. I think from the start in 1999 he talked to a lot of people. He's focused on particular issues. But let the record start to show itself. He's supported the president on the China WTO issue this year when Vice President Gore was nowhere to be seen. He's the one that stepped up and helped the President on this Balkans resolution. And he's the one that came out with a nuclear security initiative where Al Gore has not taken on this issue of his supposed expertise in ten years. So, there's already a record out there on top of his experience with a country like Mexico, which many people I think in this country recognize is going to be a key part of our foreign policy.
MARGARET WARNER: How much of the comfort level you feel in him as a potential President in this area has to do with the team around him?
SEN. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON: I think he has good instincts, but I think he has strengthened a future Bush administration with his choice of Vice President. He went to a person who has foreign policy experience and Washington experience. He's surrounding himself with Colin Powell, who has the military experience, as he pointed out, which adds another very important layer. And then you have Condoliza Rice and many of his advisers like Bob Zoellick and others who have wonderful experience in this area. So I think he is rounding out a team, and I think it's very complementary.
MARGARET WARNER: And so what do you think he has to do to persuade Americans that he can lead in this area?
SEN. GORDON SMITH: American people are sophisticated and know that no man or woman knows everything. And part of how you judge a leader is their wisdom in picking people that fill in the blanks or provide the backstop where they have weaknesses. I think with the selection of Dick Cheney, who has literally helped to lead this country through a war, he's demonstrated that beautifully.
MARGARET WARNER: All right. Thank you all three very much.
SEN. KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON: Thank you, Margaret.
ROBERT ZOELLICK: Thank you.