The Clinton Roller Coaster

  • S. Mahmud Ali


William Jefferson Clinton, like Jimmy Carter, brought an outsider’s views to Washington. He, too, abjured the capital’s formalities, preferring to be called Bill Clinton. On the campaign trail, his critique of Bush’s China policy had been pointed, but like Carter, he, too, would adopt a pragmatic approach to global complexities and Beltway politics. Clinton established the economic focus of his presidency early on. He would make “the economic security of our nation a primary goal” of U.S. diplomacy, which would be “based on a restructuring of our armed forces to meet new and continuing threats to our security.” Defense spending would be “prudently” reduced, “but potential aggressors should be clear about American resolve.” Clinton would root policy in democratic principles, boosting “the hope of freedom to millions all across the world who have endured decades of oppression.”5 He pledged to support “those who share our values, because it is in the interests of America and the world at large for us to do so.” His idealistic preinauguration address to the diplomatic corps must have sent a chill down the spine of Chinese diplomats present in the audience.


Ballistic Missile Defense Spending Constructive Engagement Spratly Island China Relation 
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© S. Mahmud Ali 2008

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