U. S. world view
By Kimberly Stevens
Former United States president George Bush took an opportunity Tuesday night at Johnson Coliseum to share some views on foreign policy--and he even put in a plug for the city's most notable former citizen in the process.
The Huntsville Item
Bush, who became the 22nd in Sam Houston State's Distinguished Lecturer Series and the third recipient of the Sam Houston Humanitarian Award, was discussing his view on "America First"--a policy focusing on domestic issues at the expense of foreign concerns which he believes relegates other nations to second-class status.
"The distinguished Texas statesman for whom this university is named wouldn't have stood for our treating any nation like that," Bush said, referring to former Texas president and patriot Sam Houston.
Bush's main focus in his speech Tuesday was U. S. foreign policy in terms of American leadership in future world events.
"In some ways it is an inherently tough topic because our role in the world today means so many things to so many people," said Bush.
Bush said America is now gauged by issues in Asian and Chinese economics as well as the currency crisis, whereas during his presidency America was measured more by its reaction to Soviet leadership.
Bush pointed to two divergent views on America's role in the world. The first coincides with Bush's policy during his presidency in that it sees America as the world's watchdog.
The second view, which he attributed to extremists on either side of the political spectrum, is what he terms "America First."
However, Bush pointed out two problems with this approach.
First, trade can be adversely affected by this inward focus. This puts America at a disadvantage in promoting regional stability, and in the long term can cause a loss of American credibility.
"When you lose your credibility in this international arena, you forfeit your leadership," said Bush.
The second problem Bush sees with this type of focus is the feeling that we can "bash countries abroad" by elevating ourselves to a superior position over other nations. This leads to negative feelings among neighboring countries.
Bush believes America should continue to work on extending free trade to the south, saying he wants to "live long enough to see this hemisphere be totally democratic and totally committed to free trade."
"We should lead with principle, we should lead with clarity, we should stay engaged in global affairs and work with our allies and set a clear direction of the world we want to live in," Bush said.
Bush believes that a good nation must keep its word, which entails paying our debt to the United Nations.
Bush stressed that only the United States has the ability to address issues such as international terrorism, international drug trade and nuclear proliferation on a global scale. And while he doesn't think America should become the world's policeman, it does have an obligation to help keep world peace.
"We've got to stay involved with China," said Bush. "We don't want to make an enemy out of this country. They are a dominant country in the region."
Bush concluded with a plea to the "young people of Sam Houston State."
"Public service, helping someone else, has got to be an ingredient of every single one of you who are privileged to get an education at this wonderful university," he said.
Any service will do, according to Bush, from helping a child without parents to starting a YMCA program.
"I still believe that politics is a noble calling," he said. "I believe involvement by citizens is absolutely mandatory if you want to be a good citizen.
"To me, what matters now is family, faith, and friends."
Posted March 11, 1998
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