Bradley intends to show command of issues in his foreign policy debut

Democrat to emphasize use of technology, trade to address world poverty


WASHINGTON -- In his first major campaign event on foreign policy, former Sen. Bill Bradley will use a meeting with students tomorrow to cast himself as a committed internationalist who believes that America's vital interests abroad can best be advanced through the free flow of goods, capital and ideas across national boundaries, his aides said.

Bradley, who is running for the Democratic presidential nomination, will also argue during an appearance at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University near Boston that the Pentagon budget should not be increased above current levels and that military spending should be redirected toward fighting new threats, including terrorism, biological warfare and nuclear proliferation.

And echoing one of his long-standing criticisms of the Clinton administration, Bradley will contend that U.S. policies toward Russia have failed to stem corruption, political instability and economic decay there. Vice President Al Gore, who is Bradley's lone Democratic rival, has played a central role in overseeing policy toward Russia.

Bradley campaign leaders are counting on the Fletcher School event to showcase what they consider the candidate's command of complex international issues, gained in part from serving on the Senate Intelligence Committee during eight of his 18 years in Congress. To demonstrate his facility with those issues, Bradley plans to outline his foreign policy views through a question-and-answer session with students, instead of through a speech prepared with the help of advisers.

"He can handle any foreign policy question from anybody at any point," Eric Hauser, Bradley's press secretary, said.

Bradley himself has said that he thinks many voters use foreign policy as a yardstick to measure the depth, stature and trustworthiness of presidential candidates. "I believe it is a very real way that people assess a candidate, because they ultimately are asking themselves that question: Whom do I trust with my life?" he told reporters this fall.

The Gore campaign has begun trying to paint Bradley as naive and inexperienced in foreign affairs, saying he lacks a clear policy vision and is inconsistent about when to use military force overseas.

For instance, the Gore campaign has criticized Bradley for voting in 1984 against sending aid to Nicaraguan rebels fighting the Sandinista government and then reversing field and voting for it in 1986.

Bradley, one of only 11 Democratic senators to support President Ronald Reagan's aid package for the rebels, said at the time that he became convinced the measure was needed to prevent the Nicaraguan government from trying to undermine democratic states in Central America.

Though his Fletcher School appearance will be his first prominent foreign policy event of the campaign, Bradley has been gradually laying out his vision for America's role overseas. At the core is the idea that technology and trade can spread prosperity to even the poorest nations, bring greater stability to global hot spots and encourage the growth of democracy.

In a speech before an Iowa nuclear disarmament group in September, he argued that a central goal of U.S. foreign policy should be to reduce poverty worldwide. "If we do these things, we'll be a nation that has a clearer idea that we're not only standing up for our ideals domestically, but we're also influencing the world by knitting the world into a closer whole," he said.

Properly used, Bradley has argued, the global marketplace can provide powerful incentives to governments to resolve ethnic conflicts and improve human rights. Citing the case of Indonesia, where pro-Jakarta militias terrorized civilians in East Timor this year, Bradley has said that the Indonesian government should be denied financial help from the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund if it does not prosecute militia leaders who are accused of mass murder.

"A globalized economy begins to exert new pressures to do things that serve the overall interests of human rights," he said in Iowa.

At the same time, Bradley has often urged caution about using U.S. military forces to quell ethnic disputes or calm regional tensions. In the Senate, he voted against sending troops to push Iraq out of Kuwait in 1991, saying he wanted to try economic sanctions against Baghdad first. He also questioned whether it was in the United States' strategic interests to deploy American forces in Bosnia. And he described American policy in Kosovo as "bomb-and-hope diplomacy" that could have been avoided with earlier diplomatic intervention.

"I don't think the United States has either the resources nor the will to be the policeman to the world," he has said on many occasions during the campaign.

Instead, Bradley says, America needs to increase its reliance on the United Nations to resolve regional conflicts.

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