Gore Misses in Malaysia
By Sara McPeak
As a guest in the country of Malaysia, at a meeting of the Asia-Pacific
Economic Cooperation Business Advisory Council, Al Gore outraged his
host, Prime Minister Mohamad, by choosing to support a protest movement
aimed at ousting Mohamad. Gore's praised the protesters and accused the
Malaysian government of suppressing a democratic movement.
Has anyone in the Clinton cabinet bothered to educate Mr. Gore on the
basics of foreign policy?
Here are a few basics, to get Gore started: As global partnerships are
steadily replacing nationalistic corporations, U.S. foreign policy
becomes a paramount issue. U.S. foreign policy equals detente plus
strong commitment on stated perimeters covering actions which might be
perceived as threatening. In each and every foreign country mores,
customs and religions form the basic identity of that nation and U.S.
foreign policy should not and cannot be perceived as a moral or
religious tool to bring other nations into the fold of democracy and
freedom. U.S. foreign policy must be set in place prior to any global
summit meetings whether financial or technical in nature, as a basic
necessity for successful and orderly progress.
Meanwhile, Malaysian reaction to Gore's faux pas included expressions of
disgust and outrage as well as calls of bigotry and prejudice. The very
movement Gore sought to uphold is worried about a backlash due to U.S.
interference. A concerned Universiti Malaya professor and supporter of
the reform movement was quoted in the Wall Street Journal as saying,
"It's much easier now for people around Mahathir and the local media to
say that this whole movement for change is sponsored by people outside
-- an American agenda."
Malaysians reacted nationalistically which should surprise no one. It is
acceptable to push a political and social agenda in one's own country,
but quite another matter in a setting where the culture is not
understood by the speaker.
Our agenda should not have been an attempt to push American policy as
our foreign policy. But because this administration waffles in each and
every instance of foreign concern, Gore had no earlier decisive
precedents boosting his credibility at the podium. In fact, the
Malaysian incident became one more loss for America in the yardstick or
global status. The U.S. will continue to be the loser in international
pursuits as long as this administration refuses to develop and follow a
strong foreign policy -- one that will be understood and believed by the
other nations of the world.
This article copyright © 1998 by Sara McPeak, and may
not be reproduced in any form without the express written consent of its
author. All rights reserved.