FROM THE ANTHOLOGY: Essays for the Presidency

A Republican Looks at Foreign Policy

President George H.W. Bush at the White House, August 29, 1990. Gary Cameron / Reuters

Perspective is always difficult to apply to events of the day. Centuries hence, however, historians will surely conclude that this generation of Americans stood poised on a hinge of history. Beginning with the east European revolutions of 1989 the world has witnessed an astounding cataract of events, the triumphant culmination of forty years of steadfast alliance diplomacy.

America’s principal adversary, the once-formidable Soviet empire, has collapsed from without and within. Militarily the threat of sudden Muscovite aggression and of nuclear Armageddon has diminished to imperceptibility. Philosophically communism is in retreat, pell-mell. Economically the liberating logic of the free market has challenged the world’s remaining Marxist governments with contrasting models of such greater efficiency and opportunity that the demise of centralized-planning regimes is heralded, with only the time frame in doubt.

Through a strategy of economic development and political containment the United States and the community of free nations have achieved a more decisive victory over Bolshevism than could ever have been gained through war.

Meanwhile only one short year ago in the Persian Gulf, President Bush assembled an unprecedented international coalition to uphold the rule of law. For the first time since Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, an American president has defined his presidency with a theme—New World Order—developed in action (or more precisely, reaction) rather than as campaign sloganeering.


Absent stark Cold War contrasts, the challenge for American leadership in the decade ahead will be to chart a course that is inclusive, not exclusive, of perspectives developed beyond our shores. America must look to constructive internationalism; to Pacificism, rather than pacifism; to Atlanticism rather than mere alliance-ism; to leadership of the Americas, rather than insular America First-ism.

The politics of hard times at home, however, has led some in American public life to suggest myopically that Russian roulette be played with our economy and national security by retreating from larger world affairs. At a time when public frustration with Congress has never been higher, a legislative

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