WHERE THEY STAND
MAY 9, 1996
A NewsHour Presidential campaign feature begins tonight. Between now and the nominating conventions in August, President Clinton and Sen. Dole will be speaking regularly on issues that separate them and their candidacies. We will each week carry extended excerpts of those major policy speeches. Tonight, Sen. Dole, speaking today in Washington on foreign policy.
SEN. BOB DOLE, Republican Presidential Candidate: I believe the American people care deeply about how America is viewed in the world, and I believe that President Clinton's foreign policy track record of weakness and indecision and double talk and incoherence has diminished American credibility and undermined American interests.
Failures of leadership in Asia, such as coddling North Korea, lacking a strategic policy toward China, and the conspicuous absence of the President in the debate over Most Favored Nation status for China have eroded American power and purpose in the Pacific. And I'm here today to share the principles and policies that a Dole administration would advance in our relationship with Asia. Before I do, however, I would like to offer a brief critique of how the Clinton administration has mishandled relations of this strategic region.
Now there have been a couple of myths floating around recently and have taken hold about President Clinton's foreign policy. The first myth is just because President Clinton has done some right things in the past few months, he is a capable foreign policy President. The second myth is that because the President and I believe in international engagement, free trade, and peace in the Middle East, there are not major differences between us concerning America's global future. Well, as the next six months will make very clear, both myths are devoid of truth.
Our differences are vast and fundamental from expansion of NATO and the deployment of ballistic missile defenses to overt alliance on the United Nations and decisive action against the enemies of the United States. And recent efforts to reinvent the President's foreign policy image amount to little more than damage control. It's not competence or it's not vision. When President Clinton took office, America was flush with twin victories of the four-decade-long Cold War and the four-day ground war in the Persian Gulf. We were seen as the undisputed leader of the free world.
Under President Clinton's watch, however, North Korea forces have exercised defiantly in the demilitarized zone. China has launched missiles into the Taiwan Strait, and the Russian card is not a feature of Chinese diplomacy. The bottom line is American credibility in Asia is low and still declining and American interests are challenged throughout the region. So I believe it's time to restore American leadership in Asia and throughout the world.
No more overnight reversals, no more conflicting signals, and no more strategic incoherence. Our future security depends on American leadership that is respected, American leadership that is trusted, and, when necessary, American leadership that is feared. The global Cold War is over, but the 38th Parallel in Korea is still a very dangerous place. And more than 36,000 Americans are stationed in Korea, risking their lives to enforce the peace that 54,000 Americans and more than 3 million Koreans died building. And our strategic goals in Korea should be clear: Strengthening deterrence to preclude a second Korean War and creating the conditions to facilitate peaceful unification of the Korean Peninsula. President Clinton should apply to East Asia what he recently discovered about Israel. Missile defense is essential to our allies' security. Secretary of Defense Perry recently said a ballistic threat to Americans was more than a decade away. Well, I would challenge that optimistic assertion. Moreover, if the President visited American forces in his North Korean trip, he would have discovered the ballistic missile threat to Americans was literally only minutes away. So it's time for President to do more than just take credit for what President Reagan and President Bush initiated within Israel to address a ballistic missile threat.
It's time for the United States to work with South Korea and Japan, as well as other Asian allies on the development, testing, and deployment of a ballistic missile defenses, a Pacific democracy defense program, if you will. And our three countries have territory or military forces under direct threat of missile attack today. Our three countries have the resources and experience to work on missile defense programs today. And with American leadership, our three countries can have the political will and technological means to defend our territory and our people tomorrow. And let me turn now to U.S.-China relations.
I don't believe there's a more complex relationship in the world than our relationship with China, and not one that will have ultimately greater historical consequences. The list of concerns and problems in our relationship is long and growing: Transfers of weapons and technology to Pakistan and rogue states like Iran and North Korea, military pressure on Taiwan, unilateral claims to exclusive jurisdiction over far flung islands and sea bed resources in the South China sea, continued military build-up of air, sea, and land forces, border disputes with almost all neighbors, widespread violations of internationally recognized human rights, coercive abortion practices, repressive policies in Tibet, intellectual property rights violations, and restrictions on market access. Yet, incredibly, in face of all these urgent challenges, and they're more, President Clinton told the Chinese president last year that the greatest threat China posed to American security was China's pollution potential.
Now don't get me wrong. I want the Chinese to have clean air, but this type of strategic incoherence in Sino-American relations has contributed to the convictions shared by allies and adversaries alike that the American leadership in Asia is fragmented, contradictory, and uncertain. China is not Haiti and cannot be bullied by an American President. China is not Somalia, where interests are peripheral. China is the most important international challenge the U.S. faces as we enter the 21st century. And as far as Taiwan is concerned, I think we must make our commitment to the peaceful resolution, the difference between China and Taiwan, clear. The Clinton administration's policy of ambiguity, in my view, sends a signal of uncertainty to Taiwan and to China and to all of our Asian allies. Our policy should be unmistakably resolute. If force is used against Taiwan, America will respond. The United States should also reassess the decision not to provide Taiwan with advanced defensive weapons, such as AMRAM air-to-air missiles, the shoulder-fired Stinger ground-to-air missile, and coastal submarines and other anti-ship and anti-submarine weapon systems. And I think we also ought to be very forthright, right out front, right out in the open about our commercial relations with China. President Clinton was right in 1994 when he finally decided the extension of Most Favored Nation was the best way to promote our long-term interests in China, including greater respect for human rights and the rule of law. We should extend MFN to China not because it is in our economic interest but because it's in our national interest. And there's a big difference. To deny MFN for China would set back our relationship for more than two decades and send a disastrous signal of American withdrawal to our strategic allies throughout the Pacific Rim. And let me make it very clear, the denying MFN status would not free a single dissident, it would not halt a single missile sale, it would not prevent a single threat to Taiwan, or save a single innocent Chinese life.