Nixon critical of Clinton's foreign policy performance in book due out Monday

April 29, 1994|By Gilbert A. Lewthwaite | Gilbert A. Lewthwaite,Washington Bureau of The Sun

WASHINGTON -- Hardly has Richard M. Nixon been laid to rest than his last thoughts are being given new life in a book to be released Monday that criticizes President Clinton for foreign policy failures and challenges the nation to find a 21st century "mission beyond peace."

"The reality of peace is that it is only the foundation upon which a more prosperous and just world can be built," the nation's 37th president writes in his 10th book. "This effort will require just as much determination, vision, and patience as the defeat of communism required."

His advice to Mr. Clinton, who often accepted Mr. Nixon's guidance on foreign policy and who eulogized him Wednesday: "The United States must lead. . . . The future beyond peace is in our hands."

To a nation facing what he termed a "deadly spiritual deficit," Mr. Nixon writes: "We must marshal the same resources of energy, optimism and common purpose that thrive during war and put them to work at home and abroad during an era when our enemy will be neither communism nor Nazism but our own self-defeating pessimism."

Part the memoirs of an elder statesman, part the point-scoring of a master politician and part the crystal-ball-gazing of a global strategist, "Beyond Peace," published by Random House, embraces the events, policies and personalities that have shaped the second half of this century and analyzes the prospects for the post-Cold War world.

Mr. Nixon describes a famous Clinton campaign slogan -- "It's the economy, stupid" -- as "good politics but poor statesmanship."

"There is a world of difference between campaigning and governing," he writes. "We cannot have a strong domestic policy unless we have a strong foreign policy. We cannot be at peace in a world at war, and we cannot have a healthy economy in a sick world economy."

Whether on Mr. Clinton's handling of Somalia, his involvement in Bosnia, his enthusiasm for the "Partnership for Peace" between NATO and the nations of Eastern Europe, the staffing of his Cabinet, or his approach to health care reform, the Nixon book frequently chides the president.

Somalia, Mr. Nixon writes, is "a lesson in how not to conduct U.S. foreign policy." What began as a popular humanitarian initiative in the Bush administration was converted into "a highly controversial nation-building project" under Mr. Clinton.

In Bosnia, he writes, the United States and its allies initially "vacillated, equivocated, orated, condemned, and ultimately did nothing to counter the Serbian onslaught," instead of lifting the arms embargo against the victims of the aggression.

The most important issue in the next century, he writes, is the success of economic and political reform in Russia.

He credits Mr. Clinton with supporting the reforms of President Boris N. Yeltsin but warns the West against "personalizing" Russian policy by "idealizing" Mr. Yeltsin.

On China, Mr. Nixon warns against "human-rights grandstanding," and says: "Today, China's economic power makes U.S. lectures about morality and human rights imprudent. Within a decade, it will make them irrelevant. Within two decades, it will make them laughable. By then the Chinese may threaten to withhold most-favored-nation status from the United States unless we do more to improve living conditions in Detroit, Harlem, and South Central Los Angeles."

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