Bradley supports more reliance on organizations to end crises

Presidential contender says U.S. should not enter every global hot spot

November 30, 1999|By Paul West | Paul West,SUN NATIONAL STAFF

MEDFORD, Mass. -- Contending that the United States cannot be the world's policeman in the post-Cold War world, Bill Bradley said yesterday that he would rely more heavily on organizations such as the United Nations in responding to crises around the globe.

In his first campaign event devoted to international affairs, the Democratic presidential contender said that the United States cannot give "an open-ended humanitarian commitment to the world." With ethnic conflicts currently raging in 32 different hot spots, Bradley said, the decision to intervene militarily must be made on a case-by-case basis.

"It is much better to deal with those situations in a multilateral context, and that means more and more authority through the United Nations being used," the former New Jersey senator told several hundred faculty and students at Tufts University's Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.

"I believe if we used more of that, we'd have better results. I think that the United States can get spread very thin over a wide territory in the world and not have the impact that we seek to have in places that we do get involved.

Bradley, who has been critical of the Clinton administration's military involvement in Bosnia and Kosovo, said U.S. forces should be employed only when American interests are at stake and military involvement is consistent with "our values" as a nation.

One "clear" case that warranted military involvement, he said, was Iraq in 1991. Though he left his audience with the impression that he supported the Bush administration's decision to invade Iraq, Bradley voted against the use of force when the Senate considered the matter.

A campaign spokesman, Eric Hauser, said that Bradley had supported military action against Iraq but felt that economic sanctions should have been given more time to work before troops were sent in. "It was a matter of timing," Hauser said.

Vice President Al Gore, then a senator from Tennessee, was among ten Democrats who voted in favor of the invasion. Gore's campaign has criticized Bradley as inexperienced in foreign policy.

The Bradley campaign decided to stage yesterday's foreign policy event, which included a question-and-answer period, to try to demonstrate his mastery of the subject. He will give a more comprehensive speech on the subject later, an aide said.

In response to a question about trade, Bradley, an ardent free-trader, proposed that environmental groups be permitted to intervene by filing "friend-of-the-court" briefs in disputes before the World Trade Organization.

He said that labor and environmental rights should be "considered" in drafting trade rules, but stopped short of saying that they should be made mandatory, as labor unions and others are urging in demonstrations outside this week's WTO sessions in Seattle.

Acknowledging that some U.S. workers would be hurt by expanded trade, as companies move jobs overseas, Bradley recently advocated "earnings insurance" for workers who are forced to move from high-wage to low-wage jobs. Details of the plan have not been announced.

Hauser, the campaign spokesman, said Bradley broke no fresh ground on foreign policy issues during the hourlong appearance. But he did lay down some broad principles that would guide his conduct as president.

Like other candidates for president, including Republican front-runner George W. Bush, Bradley called for an end to the partisanship that has marked the conduct of U.S. foreign policy in the 1990s.

Bradley, however, has been criticized for putting politics ahead of principle at several key junctures. In the mid-1980s, after initially supporting President Ronald Reagan's request for aid to the Contras fighting the Nicaraguan government -- for which he was harshly criticized by liberal Democrats -- Bradley reversed course and opposed aid two years later.

In 1991 and 1992, he pushed the Republican administration of President George Bush to impose conditions on China before granting Beijing most-favored-nation trade status. But one year later, with a Democrat in the White House, Bradley reversed field and supported favored-nation status without conditions.

During his 18-year Senate career, Bradley was active on arms control issues and helped initiate a program that sends high school students from Russia and the former Soviet republics to the United States to study.

He has been particularly critical of Clinton and Gore for relying too heavily on developing a relationship with President Boris N. Yeltsin, at the expense of developing closer ties with the Russian people.

Bradley will make his first campaign stop in Baltimore on Thursday, when he addresses a national group of black state legislators at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.

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