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Bush lays out foreign policy vision

November 19, 1999
Web posted at: 5:43 p.m. EST (2243 GMT)

SIMI VALLEY, California (CNN) -- Saying a president must be a "clear-eyed realist," Texas Gov. George W. Bush set forth Friday his foreign policy vision of a "distinctly American internationalism."

Gov. George W. Bush  

The GOP presidential front-runner said America must "encourage stability from a position of strength," setting national defense as the "first focus" of a Bush Administration, and pledging to develop and deploy missile defense systems.

"The empire has passed, but evil remains," Bush said from the Ronald Reagan presidential library in California. "Armies and missiles are not stopped by stiff notes of condemnation."

But Bush, who has been criticized for his lack of international policy experience, carefully laid out a larger vision for the United States' role in leading the world into the next century -- rejecting the isolationist impulses of some of his competitors for the Republican presidential nomination.

VideoWatch Bush's first major international policy speech.
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"We are no longer fighting a great enemy. We are asserting a great principle that the talents and dreams of average people, their warm human hopes and loves should be rewarded by freedom and protected by peace," Bush said. "Let us reject the blinders of isolationism, just as we have refused the crown of an empire."

Bush emphasizes balance, consistency and patience in developing and maintaining relationships with strategic partners around the world, including South Korea, Japan, the Philippines, Australia, Thailand and India, as well as responding to crisis situations. He lent specific importance to tending to relations with China and Russia.

"China and Russia, are powers in transition ... If they become America's friends, that friendship will steady the world. But if not, the peace we seek may not be found," he said.

Warning that under a Bush Administration China will be "respected as a great power ... unthreatened, but not unchecked," Bush criticized President Bill Clinton's Administration saying, "China is a competitor, not a strategic partner."

But Bush's harsh warning for China on the issues of human rights, espionage and the protection of Tiawan, did not extended to trade.

"The case for trade is just not monetary, but freely with China and time is on our side," Bush said, promising that if he wins the Oval Office "China will find in America a confident and willing trade partner."

Bush also had strong warnings for Russia.

"We cannot buy reform in Russia for Russia, but we can be Russia's ally in self-reform. Even as we support Russian reform, we cannot excuse Russian brutality," Bush said, referring to the Russian military's actions against Islamic guerillas in Chechnya. "The Russian government will discover ... it cannot learn the lessons of democracy from the textbook of tyranny."

The governor decried the latest reports of financial mismanagement in Russia, saying, U.S. "assistance, investments and loans should go directly to the Russian people, not to enrich the bank accounts of corrupt officials."

Bush also denounced the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and called for international institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to be more "more transparent and accountable," while promising to support payment of the United States's dues to the United Nations only if the U.N. also pledged to reform.

The speech marked Bush's first extensive detailing of his foreign policy vision, but his campaign promises it won't be the last. Campaign sources tell CNN's Candy Crowley that in addition to Russia and Europe and China and Asia, Cuba and the United States' neighbors are also a high priority for Bush. One he will soon address in more detail.

CNN's Candy Crowley contributed to this report, written by Janine Yagielski.


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Friday, November 19, 1999

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