Bill Clinton, The Unmentioned Success
Bill Clinton is not seen as a successful president in the area of foreign policy, but his record in military intervention is one of the best in American History.
The American media has taken the stance that Bill Clinton is desparately in search of a defining foreign policy achievement. The question of Clinton's foreign policy success can best be decided by an impartial examination of their results. While there is room for arguement over the historical effect of the Clinton Presidency in a number of areas, Mr. Clinton has been one of the most successful presidents in imposing the general will of American policy goals and interest since the beginning of the Cold War Era.
While the media focus on the Clinton Presidency is generally on the fact of his scandals, and missteps with Congress, there has been little objective evaluation of his foreign policy. The media could suggest with some justification that it was his mishandling of the issues of health care and gun control that led to the first Republican majority in Congress in over 40 years.
There is evidence to indicate that as a party leader and a moral representative Bill Clinton is an absolute failure. While all these judgement could be made by a reasonable person, a close examination of Clinton's foreign policy, especially where military intervention was used paints a different picture. It could easily be argued that Bill Clinton was the most successful President since start of the Cold War.
Examining the geo-political situation when Clinton took office in 1993 can serve to make this point. The United States faced conflict and defiance to its stated goals in Haiti, where a military strongman deposed a democratically elected president who had the support of the US.
A twelve-year struggle in what had been Yugoslavia had degenerated into "ethnic cleansing" with the governments of Europe impotent to act. North Korea seemed on the verge of developing and deploying nuclear missles, while making aggressive jesture toward South Korea. US troops were deployed as part of a United Nations Peacekeeping force in Somalia. At the same time two of the longest standing conflicts; Northern Ireland and the Middle East, seemed to be moving away from what seemed like possible breakthroughs. At the same time Iraq was starting to test the resolve of the US and the UN with its resistance to weapon inspection.
Now seven years later we find that not only have many of these problems been settled, additional attempts to test the will of American foreign policy, such as in Kosovo, have been thwarted through military intervention with a minimum loss of life by US military personnel. Following the diaster in Somalia, Clinton achieve an unequalled string of successful dipomatic and military iniatives. US military interventions in Haiti, Bosnia, Iraq, and Kosovo not only resulted in clear cut victory for stated American policy goals it did it without the loss of life of military personnel in combat.
The goal of any foreign policy is to achieve your policy goals while stopping short of armed conflict. Using this criterion Bill Clinton has still had remarkable success. His landmark negotiation of the Middle East peace accords and his actions in de-escalating violence in Northern Ireland, moderating North Korea only serve to underline his success.
It is in the comparison to the other Post World War II presidents that Clinton's achievement really shine. To be sure he has had the benefit of not having to face a Soviet Union, but in historical terms Clinton measures favorably to: Bush (Clinton has had more interventions with less loss of American life) who left office with the conflicts mentioned earlier unresolved; Reagan whose withdrawl from Lebanon following the loss of over 200 American military personal is still one of the worst diasters since Vietnam; Jimmy Carter and Lyndon Johnson will always be associated with their inability to bring conflicts to a rapid closure favorable to US public opinion.
Bill Clinton has been one of the most successful Presidents in history when it comes to the results of military intervention. At the same time his successful high-profile mediation of disputes makes his argueably one of the most successful Presidents ever as a deal maker. Of the many things that can be said of the Clinton Presidency history could never accurately describe his foreign policy as failed.