JOHNSON CITY, TENN. — JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. -- Just a day after an inconclusive White House summit on the Middle East, Republican Bob Dole delivered a blistering indictment of President Clinton's foreign policy, accusing the president of being more interested in public relations than foreign relations.
Insisting that he wanted to talk about Clinton's entire record and not just the "crisis of the moment" in the Middle East, Dole said Clinton's foreign policy is "rudderless and illusory" in dealing with such countries as Israel, Iraq, North Korea, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Somalia, Haiti and Cuba.
"President Clinton inherited a strong, secure country at peace. Four years later, our friends no longer respect us and our enemies no longer fear us," Dole said.
The renewed attack on Clinton's foreign-policy record -- which Dole earlier had called "scattershot" and a study in "strategic incoherence" -- was the Republican challenger's strongest yet.
"Bill Clinton's record is a string of failures dressed up for television as victories, a foreign policy of neglect, posturing, concessions and false triumphs. Too often, American promises broken and American friends betrayed lie in its wake."
He said that American power inherited from President George Bush has been squandered through a foreign policy of neglect or indecision, followed by idle threats, then concessions, and finally a declaration of victory regardless of the outcome.
"This is not foreign relations, it is public relations," said Dole. "It does not defuse problems, or even confront them. It merely postpones and deepens their worst consequences. It sacrifices enduring American interests to the White House's short-term political fixes."
His speech to a business group in Johnson City came after a week in which Clinton dominated national news as he called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to the White House to discuss violence that killed 70 Arabs and Israelis.
While Dole had made a few comments critical of Clinton since the fighting started last week, he held off a broad attack on Clinton's foreign policy until the summit was concluded, said Dole spokesman Nelson Warfield.
Dole discussed the speech yesterday morning at a breakfast with retired Gen. Colin L. Powell and former White House chief of staff Kenneth M. Duberstein.
White House spokesman Mike McCurry shot back immediately after the speech, saying Dole is being advised by "nattering naysayers of gloom."
Dole's foreign policy advisers, McCurry said, "have a very gloomy perspective on the world. This president has a more hopeful view. Bob Dole unfortunately has got advisers who used to be somebody in the 1980s who long for the days of the Cold War, when life was a lot simpler because there was a common enemy."
McCurry said Clinton administration successes include the end of war in Bosnia, a nuclear weapons treaty with North Korea, a peace process in Northern Ireland, and Middle East peace efforts that have left Israel in the "most secure position in decades."
Dole saw things in many of those same places differently.
"In the last three years, you and I have seen a series of photo opportunities, treaty signings, staged handshakes and even military theatrics -- all designed to create the impression of foreign policy progress," Dole said.
Dole and Clinton plan to spend the next couple of days preparing for Sunday night's debate in Hartford, Conn. Dole returned to his south Florida condominium last night for debate rehearsals, while Clinton traveled to Lake Chautauqua, N.Y., for his debate preparations.
Pub Date: 10/04/96