Soggy Foreign Policy

January 22, 1999

A recent column in U.S. News and World Report talked about President Clinton's soggy foreign policy that should be more crunchy. Until I read the article, I thought words like crunchy and soggy apply to cereals, not to foreign policy. But a classic 1988 editorial in the Economist apparently changed all that.

Crunchy systems are those in which small changes have big effectsóleaving those affected by them in no doubt whether they are up or down, rich or broke, winning or losing, dead or alive. Sogginess is comfortable uncertainty. Bombing is crunchy, while agreements for weapons inspections are soggy. President Clinton prefers soggy response to crunchy responses.

Richard Holbrooke talks about in his book To End a War, that President Clinton was persuaded to order bombing of Serbian-held Bosnia only when informed that the U.S. was committed to a NATO plan to send ground troops to help British and French troops leave Bosnia. Only when confronted with a hazardous task of covering a retreat did the president agree to bombing.

A similar situation developed last month when President Clinton choose to bomb Iraq. Richard Butler's report along with Iraqi actions and the approach of the Muslin holy month of Ramadan forced President Clinton's hand.

This recent column demonstrates again how presidential character and personality affect foreign policy. President Clinton prefers a soggy response. He is a master at glossing over differences and forging an agreement. This is helpful in Northern Ireland when both sides want an agreement. It is less helpful in the Middle East. And it can be almost incapacitating when decisive action is warranted.

Although many people have wondered if some of the president's actions were merely a variation on the "Wag the Dog" scenario, I think this explanation is much better. The president prefers a soggy solution to a crunchy one, and that is why problems with UNSCOM and Saddam Hussein continue to plague this administration.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.

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