SAN DIEGO - ``The Clinton Administration has tried to turn foreign policy into a type of social welfare,'' Nixon-era Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger said at a forum this week where panelists decried what they see as the failure of the Clinton White House to effectively manage foreign policy issues.
Kissinger was one of four former Republican Secretaries of State who spoke at the forum, sponsored by the Washington-based International Republican Institute. Former National Security Agency chief Brent Scowcroft, who credited Republicans with restoring the greatness of the United States following ``the Democrats' failure in Vietnam,'' moderated the event at the Wyndham Hotel.
Kissinger said that the role of the United States in world politics may become ``irrelevant'' if the current Administration's policies are continued.
Kissinger was especially critical of U.S. involvement in Bosnia. ``We will repeat the experience of Somalia and find ourselves caught in a civil war'' if the United States continues its present position in Bosnia, he warned.
``The military annex divides, and the political [annex] tries to bring the groups together. They are not compatible,'' Kissinger said of the Dayton Accords' main objectives.
George P. Shultz, a Reagan-era Secretary of State, warned of growing problems for the United States unless President Clinton's interaction with the United Nations changes. He said that the United Nations can keep peace but cannot make peace, and that in relying on the organization to solve all of Bosnia's problems, Clinton has ruined the international team's effectiveness in the region. He concurred with a statement by Kissinger that the White House often uses the United Nations ``as an excuse for inaction.''
Alexander M. Haig Jr., Shultz's predecessor in the Reagan Cabinet, said the United States cannot have an ``arrogance of power'' and ``assume that success here means we can make other countries shape themselves after us.''
Haig said he hoped the recent conflict between China and Taiwan over the island nation's elections would wake up the Administration to the possibility that military conflicts can emerge from mismanagement of foreign policy.
Lawrence S. Eagleburger, Secretary of State during the Bush Administration, was the most critical of the four on Clinton's foreign policy record. Eagleburger, a career diplomat, said the President has no knowledge of foreign policy and has not been willing to listen to those who do, either.
He said that there are no examples of ``staying power'' in Clinton's policy and that instead the President has used a ``get in and get out'' strategy that only worsens his foreign policy problems.