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U.S. foreiegn policy is a major WAIS concern. WAIS is nonpartisan, but we want presidential hopefuls to be informed and thoughtful. WAIS asks that they think beyond the crise du jour, and remember lasting problems, such as our relations with Mexico. Some Stanford faculty have criticized four members of Hoover, including Provost Condoleezza Rice, for serving as advisers to Republican presidential hopeful, Texas Governor George W. Bush. I sent all four a copy of the memo in which I raised questions about his foreign policy. Not one replied. Either it rates low on his agenda or it has not been formulated yet. From my evidence, he seems neither well-informed nor thoughtful.
The other Republican hopeful, Senator John McCain of Arizona, just gave a splendid address on the Balkan crisis to the Center for International and Strategic Studies in Washington, D.C. He was well-informed, lucid and forceful, and he answered questions well. The problem is that the American political system is a race for votes and money, which California and Texas have in abundance, but Arizona does not. However, in terms of WAIS criteria, McCain is the better of the two candidates. It looks as though my Hoover colleagues are backing the wrong horse. He may have good horse sense, an electoral asset.
On the Democratic side, Bill Bradley is collecting votes and money in California, stressing that he was a visiting professor of international studies at Stanford last year. Again, the weird juxtaposition of Hoover and Encina Hall, home of international studies. The two buildings have backed rivals on the issue of global warming, and now of political warming. By WAIS criteria, Bradley is the better of the two Democratic leading candidates.
I stress that I am a Mugwump, and we are not running a candidate.
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The above memo contrasted the clear command of foreign affairs displayed by Senator John McCain and the painful fuzziness on the subject of Governor George Bush. The memo suggested that the Hooverites who are advising Bush are backing the wrong horse. One WAISer, clearly a Bushophile, said Bush could learn from them. Well, I would not want to entrust a crowded bus on a dangerous mountain road to a learner driver.
Now, in "The Kosovo test," The Economist (4/10-16/99) gives the same assessment of the two men, adding that McCain is working with Richard Lugar, one of Congressī best informed men on international affairs. The article concludes that "In the end, what will matter most is campaign money," of which Bush has plenty. Is our foreign policy for sale?
Ronald Hilton - 04/14/99
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John Wonder, whom WAISers know from his previous statements, expresses the isolationist position:
"With respect to John McCain, I think one must distinguish between a "clear command of foreign policy" and "clear foreign policy of his own". McCain has the latter, but I am not sure he has the former. I am completely tired of the expression "the only superpower" to describe the United States. It seems to me we arrived at having the potential for being a superpower by minding our own business, and not trying to play lady bountiful to the rest of the world. If we disperse our resources in war (which is the most wasteful of all enterprises) we will inevitably decline. The lessons of history are painfully clear. Occasionally wars are necessary, but this is usually quite obvious."
My comment: I think John McCain has both. Undoubtedly the situation is complex; Bill Ratliff has called for an end to the bombing. At the same time, the situation is simple. NATO is the hope of the West, indeed of the world, and the enemies of the West would love to see NATO break up. It must not be allowed to happen.
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My messages to the Hoover Institution advisers of Governor Bush asking that he state his foreign policy seem to had an effect, since he has now made a statement, published in the New York Times under the title "Bush Finally Speaks on Foreign Policy." Amazingly, he said nothing about Latin America, meaning either that he does not give it a high priority or he is still hesitating.
His statements are cautious and vague, as though he were not quite sure of himself. Robert Gard says he can depend on advisers, i.e. my Hoover colleagues. It is true that there have always been eminences grises such as Dean Acheson, Henry Kissinger and George Shultz to advise presidents (some, like Truman, not well-versed in foreign affairs). The world is so complicated that a president must listen to his advisers.
Senator John McCain is much more forthright, thus disturbing people like John Wonder. Bush spoke of the foreign policy split in the Republican Party, and said that isolationism and protectionism [Pat Buchanan] might spread like wildfire; he presumably does not want to alienate any faction. Elizabeth Dole is even more forceful than McCain, so they would be natural allies.
Which approach is better? Tony Blair has been forthright, Jacques Chirac equivocating. On this point, history is ambiguous. Hitler was decisive, and did not listen to his advisers. On the other hand, Churchill was even more decisive, dismissing his critics. I remember when most Englishmen thought he was impulsive and obstinate to the point of madness, while Neville Chamberlain was respected as prudent and safe. It was Churchill, not Chamberlain, who saved the West and the world.
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Robert Gard clarifies his position on Governor Bush and his candidacy:
"What I meant to say is that if Bush is the front runner and not well informed on foreign policy, we should be supportive, not critical, of faculty colleagues who are informing and advising him. Clearly, he can't delegate to advisors if/when he assumes office as president; but since he appears to have a reasonable chance of winning, we should hope that he receives the best pre-election advice available while he has the time to absorb it. So I'm grateful to "experts" who may be trying to educate him. "
My comment: So am I. The Presidentīs job involves a vast number of skills, the first one being an ability to sell himself to the public. On every subject he needs advice. The question is. are my colleagues, for whom I have great respect, backing Chamberlain or Churchill? Chamberlain, an honorable man, won first. Churchilkl had great difficulty selling himself.
I still do not know why Governor Bush did not mention Latin America in the outline of his foreign affairs agenda.
Ronald Hilton - 04/20/99