The IMF has repeatedly denied that aid money was siphoned off, and offered independent audits as evidence. Mr. Chernomyrdin issued a statement in Moscow today denying the accusations and threatening to sue Bush for slander. “I think Mr. Bush Jr. should be getting ready for a court hearing on the issue,” Chernomyrdin said. Bush stood by his statement, but softened his tone today, saying it was “general knowledge” that people in Russia had taken IMF aid, but “it might not have been [IMF money]; it might have been another aid.”
GORE: One of the big issues that doesn’t get enough attention is corruption in official agencies like militaries and police departments around the world, customs officials. That’s one of the worst forms of it. We have to lead by example and help these other countries that are trying to straighten out their situations. This is an absolutely unique period in world history. The world’s coming together. They’re looking to us. Are we going to step up the plate as a nation the way we did after World War II, the way that generation of heroes said, O.K., the United States is going to be the leader. And the world benefited tremendously from the courage that they showed in those post-war years. I think that in the aftermath of the cold war, it’s time for us to provide the leadership on the environment, leadership to make sure the world economy keeps moving in the right direction.
The power of example is America’s greatest power in the world. And that means, for example, standing up for human rights. It means addressing the problems of injustice and inequity along lines of race and ethnicity here at home because in all these other places around the world where they’re having these terrible problems when they feel hope it is often because they see in us a reflection of their potential.
GORE: We did actually send troops into Rwanda to help with the humanitarian relief measures. I think in retrospect, we were too late getting in there. We could have saved more lives if we had acted earlier. But I do not think that it was an example of a conflict where we should have put our troops in to try to separate the parties for this reason. One of the criteria that I think is important in deciding when and if we should ever get involved around the world is whether or not we can really make the difference with military force, [and] if we have allies. In the Balkans we had allies, NATO, ready, willing and able to go and carry a big part of the burden. In Africa we did not. [Hence] I think it was the right thing not to jump in, as heartbreaking as it was. But I think we should have come in much quicker with the humanitarian mission.
BUSH: I think during the campaign, particularly now during this difficult period, we ought to be speaking with one voice. I appreciate the way the administration has worked hard to calm the tensions. I call on Chairman Arafat to have his people pull back to make the peace. I think credibility is going to be very important in the Middle East. I want everybody to know, Israel’s going to be our friend. I’m going to stand by Israel. Credibility is formed by being strong with your friends and resolute in your determination. It’s one of the reasons why I think it’s important for this nation to develop an anti-ballistic missile system that we can share with our allies in the Middle East, if need be, to keep the peace. To be able to say to the Saddam Husseins of the world or the Iranians, don’t dare threaten our friends. It’s also important to keep strong ties in the Middle East because of the energy crisis we’re in.
A: We ought to have foreign aid. Foreign aid needs to be used to encourage markets and reform. Often we just spend aid and we feel better but it ends up being spent the wrong way. An egregious example is Russia where IMF loans ended up in the pockets of powerful people and didn’t help the the nation. I don’t want to see the IMF as a [means to bail out bad loans]. It needs to be available for emergency situations. I want to make sure the return is good.
BUSH: I’m not sure the role of the United States is to go around the world and say this is the way it’s got to be. I want to empower people. I want to help people help themselves, not have government tell people what to do. I just don’t think it’s the role of the United States to walk into a country and say, we do it this way, so should you. We went into Russia, we said here’s some IMF money. It ended up in Chernomyrdin’s pocket. And yet we played like there was reform. The only people who are going to reform Russia are Russians. I’m not sure where the vice president’s coming from, but I think one way for us to end up being viewed as the ugly American is for us to go around the world saying, we do it this way, so should you. I think the United States must be humble and must be proud and confident of our values, but humble in how we treat nations that are figuring out how to chart their own course.
BUSH: They ought to look at us as a country that understands freedom where it doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from that you can succeed. I don’t think they ought to look at us with envy. It really depends upon how [our] nation conducts itself in foreign policy. If we’re an arrogant nation, they’ll resent us. If we’re a humble nation, but strong, they’ll welcome us. Our nation stands alone right now in the world in terms of power. And that’s why we’ve got to be humble and yet project strength in a way that promotes freedom. We’re a freedom-loving nation. If we’re an arrogant nation, they’ll view us that way, but if we’re humble nation, they’ll respect us.
GORE: I agree with that. One of the problems that we have faced in the world is that we are so much more powerful than any single nation has been in relationship to the rest of the world than at any time in history, that there is some resentment of US power.
BUSH: I think the administration did the right thing in that case. I do. It was a horrible situation. No one liked to see it on our TV screens, but it’s a case where we need to make sure we’ve got an early warning system in places where there could be a ethnic cleansing and genocide the way we saw it there in Rwanda. And that’s a case were we need to use our influence to have countries in Africa come together and help deal with the situation. The administration made the right decision on training Nigerian troops for situations just such as this in Rwanda. And so I thought they made the right decision not to send U.S. troops into Rwanda.
BUSH: Africa’s important. And we’ve got to do a lot of work in Africa to promote democracy and trade. It’s an important continent. But there’s got to be priorities. And the Middle East is a priority for a lot of reasons as is Europe and the Far East, and our own hemisphere. Those are my four top priorities should I be the president. It’s not to say we won’t be engaged [in Africa], and working hard to get other nations to come together to prevent atrocity [like in Rwanda]. I thought the best example of handling a [genocide] situation was East Timor when we provided logistical support to the Australians; support that only we can provide. I thought that was a good model. But we can’t be all things to all people in the world. I am worried about over-committing our military around the world. I want to be judicious in its use. I don’t think nation-building missions are worthwhile.
I mentioned the Balkans. Haiti is another example. I supported the administration in Colombia. It is in our interests to have a peaceful Colombia. We need to have a military presence in the Korean peninsula not only to keep the peace in the peninsula but to keep regional stability. And we need to keep a presence in NATO. But the use of the military needs to be in our vital interest. The mission needs to be clear and the exit strategy obvious.
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