Independence vs. Isolationism

Posted: Jul 23, 2001 12:00 AM
While President Bush is on another international trip, Democratic leaders are so busy undermining him that they don't realize it is they, not Bush, who are compromising the international stature and strategic interests of the United States. With Sen. Daschle and his ilk, it's always the same two-faced MO. With one face they are forever lecturing Republicans about bipartisanship, while with the other they simultaneously engage in the fiercest brand of partisan warfare imaginable. As the president was preparing to embark on his latest trip, Sen. Daschle unsheathed his verbal sword, this time invoking the "I" word. "I think we are isolating ourselves, and in so isolating ourselves, I think we're minimizing ourselves. I don't think we are taken as seriously today as we were a few years ago." When all else fails, Democrats portray Republicans as isolationists. Clinton did it when the Republican Senate refused to ratify his reckless Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Now they are doing it again with Bush. Mr. Daschle is playing fast and loose with the term (isolationist) to paint Bush as an extremist. To the contrary, there is not an isolationist bone in Mr. Bush's body, nor that of his major foreign-policy advisers. Bush is an unabashed free-trader and is fully prepared to insert himself into foreign affairs provided the strategic national interests of the United States are involved. Daschle is confusing isolationism with independence. He apparently believes that we have to kowtow to foreign governments and avoid rankling them at all costs. But Bush knows that this nation must conduct its own foreign policy, not allow other nations to commandeer our ship of state. He is not isolating America from other nations by failing to yield to their unreasonable demands on missile defense and the environment. If Bush were an isolationist, he would thumb his nose at his foreign critics and cancel his trips. Instead, he is engaging them and seeking to persuade them of the reasonableness and necessity of his policies. By staking out his positions on missile defense and global warming, and not deviating from them at the slightest sign of foreign protest, Bush has enhanced his status among world leaders and earned their respect. Our European allies aren't abandoning us and are even praising Bush. British Prime Minister Blair appears to be softening on missile defense, and dismisses reports of a rift between himself and President Bush. Likewise, Russian President Putin denied that there was a Sino-Russian alliance against the United States and insisted that Moscow isn't planning any joint action with Beijing to stop the United States from developing a nuclear missile shield. Far from alienating Putin, Bush has won him over, all without sacrificing a fraction of our vital interests. Remember the last time George Bush went to Europe? The national media and the Democrats wouldn't stop wringing their hands and whining about how much damage he was sure to inflict on America's relations with European and Asian nations. Bush, they said, would alienate foreign leaders and jeopardize world peace by proceeding with a national missile defense and refusing to get on board the Kyoto Climate Treaty. The Associated Press lamented, "President Bush came into office promising a 'humble' foreign policy, yet his administration has managed to irritate friend and foe alike." Sen. Daschle agreed, "I think Bush ought to listen to foreign governments. I think he needs to hear their concerns because they're real." Yet, none of the predictions of doom came to pass. Bush's trip was uniformly considered a resounding success. But did the media or the Democrats register the slightest embarrassment at their failed prophecies? There was nary a red face among the bunch, much less words of apology when Bush conducted himself with aplomb. With his inaugural trip, Bush was just laying the foundation. Indeed, early signs from his current international trip indicate that foreign nations are warming further to Bush and that he is facing less criticism from them over these hot-button issues than he did last time. For once in their political lives, Sen. Daschle et al. should subordinate their partisanship addiction to the national interest. They should watch Bush and learn and have the decency and patriotism to hold their fire at least until he returns to American soil.