My Life, by Bill Clinton: on Foreign Policy


Al Gore: 1990s: Joint commission with Russia worked out many problems

In March 1993, I got an assistance program I could support: $1.6 billion in direct aid to help Russia stabilize its economy, including money to provide housing for decommissioned military officers, positive work programs for now underemployed and frequently unpaid nuclear scientists, and more assistance in dismantling nuclear weapons under the recently enacted Nunn-Lugar program. The aid package was four times what the previous administration had allocated and three times what I had originally recommended.

When Yeltsin and I got together on April 3, we agreed to institutionalize our cooperation, with a commission headed by Vice President Gore and Russian prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. The idea worked better than any of us could have imagined, thanks largely to the consistent and concentrated efforts made over the years by Al Gore and his Russian counterparts in working through a host of difficult, contentious problems.

Source: My Life, by Bill Clinton, p.506-507 Jun 21, 2004

Bill Clinton: 1992: Helped refugees from Haiti, but only in Haiti

On Jan.5, I announced that I'd temporarily continue Pres. Bush's policy of intercepting & returning Haitians who were trying to reach the US by boat, a policy I had strongly criticized during the election. After Haiti's elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was overthrown by Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras in 1991, [many refugees fled].

When the Bush administration, which appeared to be more sympathetic to Cedras than I was, began to return the refugees, there were loud protests from the human rights community. I wanted to make it easier for Haitians to seek and obtain political asylum in the US, but was concerned that large numbers of them would perish in trying to get here, as about 400 had done just a week earlier. So, I said that, instead of taking in all the Haitians who could survive the voyage to America, we would beef up our official presence in Haiti and speed up asylum claims there. In the meantime, for safety reasons, we would continue to stop the boats and return the passengers.

Source: My Life, by Bill Clinton, p.463-464 Jun 21, 2004

Bill Clinton: 1993: Pushed $1.6B Russia aid package despite unpopularity

In March 1993, I got an assistance program I could support: $1.6 billion in direct aid to help Russia stabilize its economy, including money to provide housing for decommissioned military officers, positive work programs for now underemployed & frequentl unpaid nuclear scientists, and more assistance in dismantling nuclear weapons under the recently enacted Nunn-Lugar program; food and medicine for those suffering from shortage; aid to support small business, independent media outlets, non-governmental organizations, political parties, and labor unions; and an exchange program to bring tens of thousands of student and young professionals to the United States. The aid package was four times what the previous administration had allocated and three times what I had originally recommended.

We agreed to institutionalize our cooperation, with a commission headed by Vice President Gore and Russian prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin, who worked through a host of difficult, contentious problems.

Source: My Life, by Bill Clinton, p.506-507 Jun 21, 2004

Bill Clinton: Advocate for Tibet-China discussion on human rights

When I advocated more freedom and human rights in China, [Chinese President] Jiang responded that America was highly developed, while China still had a per capita income of $700 a year. He emphasized our different histories, cultures, ideologies, and social systems. When I urged Jiang to meet with the Dalai Lama, he said the door was open if the Dalai Lama would first state that Tibet and Taiwan were part of China, and added that there were already “several channels of communication” with the leader of Tibetan Buddhism. I got a laugh from the Chinese audience when I said I thought that if Jiang and the Dalai lama did meet, they would like each other very much. I also tried to make some practical suggestions to move forward on human rights. For example, there were still Chinese citizens in prison for offenses no longer on the books. I suggested they be released.
Source: My Life, by Bill Clinton, p.793 Jun 21, 2004

Bill Clinton: Bush’s unilateralism strains international partnerships

[In thinking about Bush taking over], I thought that the international partnerships that we had developed in the aftermath of the Cold War could be strained by the more unilateral approach of the Republicans - they were opposed to the test ban treaty, the climate change treaty, the ABM Treaty, and the International Criminal Court.
Source: My Life, by Bill Clinton, p.951 Jun 21, 2004

Bill Weld: 1994: Supported $25B Mexico bailout

We asked the Congress to approve $25 billion in loans to allow Mexico to pay its debt on schedule and retain the confidence of creditors & investors, in return for Mexico's commitment to financial reforms & more timely reporting on its financial condition, in order to prevent this from happening again.

The risks were considerable, but I had confidence in Mexico's new president, Ernesto Zedillo. Besides, we simply couldn't let Mexico fall without trying to help. In addition to the economic problems it would cause both for us and for the Mexicans, we would be sending a terrible signal of selfishness and shortsightedness throughout Latin America.

I called the congressional leaders, explained the situation, and asked for their support. All of them pledged it. Several governors were also supportive, including Bill Weld of Massachusetts, who had a great interest in Mexico.

Congress would not pass the bill so we ended up providing the money to Mexico out of the Exchange Stabilization Fund.

Source: My Life, by Bill Clinton, p.642-643 Jun 21, 2004

Bob Dole: 1993: Post-Cold War Russia aid avoided post-WWI errors

In March 1993, I got an assistance program I could support: $1.6 billion in direct aid to help Russia stabilize.

Although a public poll said that 75% of the American people were opposed to giving Russia more money, and we were already in a hard fight for the economic plan, I felt we had no choice but to press ahead. American had spent trillions of dollars in defense to win the Cold War; we couldn't risk reversal over less that $2 billion and a bad poll. To the surprise of my staff, the congressional leaders, including the Republicans, agreed with me. At a meeting I convened to push the plan, Senator Joe Biden, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, strongly endorsed the aid package. Bob Dole came around on the argument that we didn't want to foul up the post-Cold War era the way the victors in World War I had done. Their shortsightedness contributed mightily to World War II, in which Dole had served so heroically.

Source: My Life, by Bill Clinton, p.506-507 Jun 21, 2004

Bob Dole: 1994: Supported $25B Mexico bailout

We asked the Congress to approve $25 billion in loans to allow Mexico to pay its debt on schedule and retain the confidence of creditors & investors, in return for Mexico's commitment to financial reforms & more timely reporting on its financial condition, in order to prevent this from happening again.

The risks were considerable, but I had confidence in Mexico's new president, Ernesto Zedillo. Besides, we simply couldn't let Mexico fall without trying to help. In addition to the economic problems it would cause both for us and for the Mexicans, we would be sending a terrible signal of selfishness and shortsightedness throughout Latin America.

I called the congressional leaders to the White House, explained the situation, and asked for their support. All of them pledged it, including Bob Dole.

Congress would not pass the bill so we ended up providing the money to Mexico out of the Exchange Stabilization Fund.

Source: My Life, by Bill Clinton, p.642-643 Jun 21, 2004

Chris Dodd: 1994: Supported $25B Mexico bailout

We asked the Congress to approve $25 billion in loans to allow Mexico to pay its debt on schedule and retain the confidence of creditors & investors, in return for Mexico's commitment to financial reforms & more timely reporting on its financial condition, in order to prevent this from happening again.

The risks were considerable, but I had confidence in Mexico's new president, Ernesto Zedillo. Besides, we simply couldn't let Mexico fall without trying to help. In addition to the economic problems it would cause both for us and for the Mexicans, we would be sending a terrible signal of selfishness and shortsightedness throughout Latin America.

I called the congressional leaders to the White House, explained the situation, and asked for their support. All of them pledged it, including Senator Chris Dodd.

Congress would not pass the bill so we ended up providing the money to Mexico out of the Exchange Stabilization Fund.

Source: My Life, by Bill Clinton, p.642-643 Jun 21, 2004

Colin Powell: 1994: Pushed last-minute deal to avoid Haiti invasion

On Sept.16, in a last-minute attempt to avoid an invasion, I sent Pres.Carter, Colin Powell, & Sam Nunn to Haiti to try to persuade Gen.Cedras and his supporters in the military and parliament to peacefully accept Aristide's return and Cedras's departure from the country.

For different reasons, they all disagreed with my determination to use force to restore Aristide. Though the Carter Center had monitored Aristide's overwhelming election victory, Pres.Carter had developed a relationship with Cedras and was skeptical of Aristide's commitment to democracy. Powell thought only the military and the police could govern Haiti, and that they would never work with Aristide.

As the deadline for our attack approached, President Carter called me pleading for more time to persuade Cedras to leave. Carter desperately wanted to avoid a forced invasion. So did I.

Cedras promised to cooperate and to leave power by Oct.15, as soon as the general amnesty law required by the UN agreement was passed.

Source: My Life, by Bill Clinton, p.616-618 Jun 21, 2004

George Bush Sr.: 1991: Returned asylum-seeking refugees from Haiti

On Jan.5, I announced that I'd temporarily continue Pres. Bush's policy of intercepting & returning Haitians who were trying to reach the US by boat, a policy I had strongly criticized during the election. After Haiti's elected president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was overthrown by Lt. Gen. Raoul Cedras in 1991, [many refugees fled].

When the Bush administration, which appeared to be more sympathetic to Cedras than I was, began to return the refugees, there were loud protests from the human rights community. I wanted to make it easier for Haitians to seek and obtain political asylum in the US, but was concerned that large numbers of them would perish in trying to get here, as about 400 had done just a week earlier. So, I said that, instead of taking in all the Haitians who could survive the voyage to America, we would beef up our official presence in Haiti and speed up asylum claims there. In the meantime, for safety reasons, we would continue to stop the boats and return the passengers.

Source: My Life, by Bill Clinton, p.463-464 Jun 21, 2004

George W. Bush: 1994: Supported $25B Mexico bailout

We asked Congress to approve $25 billion in loans to allow Mexico to pay its debt on schedule and retain the confidence of creditors & investors, in return for Mexico's commitment to financial reforms & more timely reporting on its financial condition, i order to prevent this from happening again.

The risks were considerable, but I had confidence in Mexico's new president, Ernesto Zedillo. Besides, we simply couldn't let Mexico fall without trying to help. In addition to the economic problems it would cause both for us and for the Mexicans, we would be sending a terrible signal of selfishness and shortsightedness throughout Latin America.

I called the congressional leaders and explained the situation. All of them pledged their support. Several governors were also supportive, including George W. Bush, whose state would be hardest hit if the Mexican economy collapsed.

Congress would not pass the bill so we ended up providing the money to Mexico out of the Exchange Stabilization Fund.

Source: My Life, by Bill Clinton, p.642-643 Jun 21, 2004

Hillary Clinton: 1995: Spoke as voice of United States on Latin America trip

While I was dealing with Bosnia at home, Hillary was off on another trip, this time to Latin America. In the post-Cold War world, with America the world's only military, economic, and political superpower, every nation wanted out attention, and it was usually in our interest to give it. But I couldn't go everywhere, especially during the budget struggle with Congress. As a result, both Al Gore and Hillary made an unusually large number of important foreign trips. Wherever they went, people knew they spoke for the United States, and for me, and on every trip, without fail, they strengthened America's standing in the world.
Source: My Life, by Bill Clinton, p.674-675 Jun 21, 2004

Jimmy Carter: 1994: Negotiated last-minute deal to avoid Haiti invasion

On Sept.16, in a last-minute attempt to avoid an invasion, I sent Pres.Carter, Colin Powell, & Sam Nunn to Haiti to try to persuade Gen.Cedras and his supporters in the military and parliament to peacefully accept Aristide's return and Cedras's departure from the country.

For different reasons, they all disagreed with my determination to use force to restore Aristide. Though the Carter Center had monitored Aristide's overwhelming election victory, Pres.Carter had developed a relationship with Cedras and was skeptical of Aristide's commitment to democracy. Powell thought only the military and the police could govern Haiti, and that they would never work with Aristide.

As the deadline for our attack approached, President Carter called me pleading for more time to persuade Cedras to leave. Carter desperately wanted to avoid a forced invasion. So did I.

Cedras promised to cooperate and to leave power by Oct.15, as soon as the general amnesty law required by the UN agreement was passed.

Source: My Life, by Bill Clinton, p.616-618 Jun 21, 2004

Joe Biden: 1993: Strongly endorsed $1.6B Russia aid package

In March 1993, I got an assistance program I could support: $1.6 billion in direct aid to help Russia stabilize.

Although a public poll said that 75% of the American people were opposed to giving Russia more money, and we were already in a hard fight for the economic plan, I felt we had no choice but to press ahead. American had spent trillions of dollars in defense to win the Cold War; we couldn't risk reversal over less that $2 billion and a bad poll. To the surprise of my staff, the congressional leaders, including the Republicans, agreed with me. At a meeting I convened to push the plan, Senator Joe Biden, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, strongly endorsed the aid package. Newt Gingrich was passionately in favor of helping Russia, saying it was a "great defining moment" for American and we had to do the right thing.

Source: My Life, by Bill Clinton, p.506-507 Jun 21, 2004

Newt Gingrich: 1993: $1.6B Russia aid package was "great defining moment"

In March 1993, I got an assistance program I could support: $1.6 billion in direct aid to help Russia stabilize.

Although a public poll said that 75% of the American people were opposed to giving Russia more money, and we were already in a hard fight for the economic plan, I felt we had no choice but to press ahead. American had spent trillions of dollars in defense to win the Cold War; we couldn't risk reversal over less than $2 billion and a bad poll. To the surprise of my staff, the congressional leaders, including the Republicans, agreed with me. At a meeting I convened to push the plan, Senator Joe Biden, the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, strongly endorsed the aid package.

Newt Gingrich was passionately in favor of helping Russia, saying it was a "great defining moment" for American and we had to do the right thing. Newt was trying to "out-Russia" me, which I was only too happy to have him do.

Source: My Life, by Bill Clinton, p.506-507 Jun 21, 2004

Newt Gingrich: 1994 peso collapse was first crisis of 21st century

We asked Congress to approve $25 billion in loans to allow Mexico to pay its debt on schedule and retain the confidence of creditors & investors, in return for Mexico's commitment to financial reforms & more timely reporting on its financial condition, in order to prevent this from happening again.

The risks were considerable, but I had confidence in Mexico's new president, Ernesto Zedillo. Besides, we simply couldn't let Mexico fall without trying to help. In addition to the economic problems it would cause both for us and for the Mexicans, we would be sending a terrible signal of selfishness & shortsightedness throughout Latin America.

I called the congressional leaders to the White House, explained the situation, and asked for their support. All of them pledged it, including Newt Gingrich, who aptly described the Mexico problem as "the first crisis of the 21st century."

Congress would not pass the bill so we ended up providing the money to Mexico out of the Exchange Stabilization Fund.

Source: My Life, by Bill Clinton, p.642-643 Jun 21, 2004

Paul Sarbanes: 1994: Supported $25B Mexico bailout

We asked the Congress to approve $25 billion in loans to allow Mexico to pay its debt on schedule & retain the confidence of creditors & investors, in return for Mexico's commitment to financial reforms & more timely reporting on its financial condition, in order to prevent this from happening again.

The risks were considerable, but I had confidence in Mexico's new president, Ernesto Zedillo. Besides, we simply couldn't let Mexico fall without trying to help. In addition to the economic problems it would cause both for us and for the Mexicans, we would be sending a terrible signal of selfishness and shortsightedness throughout Latin America.

I called the congressional leaders to the White House, explained the situation, and asked for their support. All of them pledged it, including Senator Paul Sarbanes of Maryland.

Congress would not pass the bill so we ended up providing the money to Mexico out of the Exchange Stabilization Fund.

Source: My Life, by Bill Clinton, p.642-643 Jun 21, 2004

Robert Bennett: 1994: Supported $25B Mexico bailout

We asked Congress to approve $25 billion in loans to allow Mexico to pay its debt on schedule and retain the confidence of creditors & investors, in return for Mexico's commitment to financial reforms & more timely reporting on its financial condition, in order to prevent this from happening again.

The risks were considerable, but I had confidence in Mexico's new president, Ernesto Zedillo. Besides, we simply couldn't let Mexico fall without trying to help. In addition to the economic problems it would cause both for us and for the Mexicans, we would be sending a terrible signal of selfishness and shortsightedness throughout Latin America.

Congressional leaders pledged their support, including Republican senator Bob Bennett of Utah, a highly intelligent, old-fashioned conservative who quickly grasped the consequences of inaction and would stick with us throughout the crisis.

Congress would not pass the bill so we ended up providing the money to Mexico out of the Exchange Stabilization Fund

Source: My Life, by Bill Clinton, p.642-643 Jun 21, 2004

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