Swiss Cheese and Fudge

Clinton’s Foreign Policy Legacy

The Democrats’ sweeping victory in the recent midterm elections has sent political shock waves around the world, especially in the Middle East—the focal point of President Bush’s foreign policy on which the November election was largely a referendum.  Judging by the jovial mood with which the region greeted American voters’ desire for change, it seems that Arabs in general have reached the oversimplified conclusion that Democrats serve the interests of Middle East peace better than Republicans.  For example, the postelection analysis of Arab political writer Sami Moubayed quotes even a Syrian Ba’ath Party leader who longs for “The America of Jimmy Carter and the one of Bill Clinton.”

Clinton?  While George W. Bush’s wholesale adoption of dangerous neoconservative fantasies has certainly proved a dismal failure, those who long for the “good old days” of Clinton’s peacemaking efforts need to refresh their memories with regard to the record.  It is entirely likely that history will mark a pivotal turning point, vis-à-vis the peace process, at Clinton’s victory in the 1992 presidential election, when third-party candidate H. Ross Perot took 19 percent of the popular vote and arguably deprived incumbent President George H.W. Bush of another four years to finish implementing his comprehensive Middle East vision.  In retrospect,...

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