Bush Forced to Focus on Foreign Policy

ByABC News
April 4, 2001, 4:27 PM

W A S H I N G T O N, April 5 -- These days President Bush may be feeling a bit like Michael Corleone, who lamented his forced return to the Mafia underworld in The Godfather: Part III, saying, "Just when I thought that I was out, they pull me back in."

Bush arrived at the White House ready to implement a foreign policy based largely on disengagement from the world.

But from the USS Greeneville's deadly collision with a Japanese fishing vessel to the diplomatic fallout over alleged spy Robert Hanssen to the ongoing standoff with China over a crippled U.S. spy plane, forced to land in Chinese territory, world events have forced Bush to become actively engaged in international affairs.

'Deliberate Disengagement'

On the campaign trail, Bush promised a "humble" foreign policy. During the opening weeks of his presidency, he ordered a sweeping review of U.S. military deployments abroad, pulled back from the Middle East and Northern Ireland peace processes, discontinued negotiations with North Korea, considered a possible curtailment of aid to Russia and explored ways to disentangle the United States from the Balkans.

Ivo Daalder, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and the former director for European affairs at the National Security Council, says Bush has exhibited a clear "unwillingness" to engage in foreign policy.

"The striking thing in this administration is a deliberate, non-engagement in much of international affairs," he says. "An unwillingness, an extraordinary reluctance, to use American power to shape the international environment in ways that promote our interests and values."

The president has also shown that he will place domestic considerations above international relations concerns, pulling out of the Kyoto protocol on global warming saying it was unfair to the U.S. a move which drew harsh criticism from the 15-member European Union; and pressing his proposal to build a national missile defense system in the face of the strong opposition of such traditional allies as Great Britain and Japan.