Debt Consolidation

An America That Leads (chapter seven)

Posted on: June 05, 2008
Written by: UWSA Staff
What does America stand for? Only a few years ago we were the exemplar of nations. America set the pace for the world in inventiveness, in creating jobs, in raising living standards. Abroad, we shaped the trading and monetary systems as master of a smooth-running economy, as custodians of a strong currency and as financiers of the world. Our economic might underwrote peace and prosperity. It provided the military strength to repel Soviet threats to democracy. It provided for the resurrection of the great nations in Europe and the Pacific. It became the global engine of reform, of growth, of hope for the future.

The world once looked to us with wonder. Now they look at us and wonder. Foreign leaders are alarmed by our runaway debt, our social problems, our failing educational system. They express chagrin, and sometimes even contempt, at our political leadership.

Only an economically strong United States can preserve world peace, promote democracy, encourage expanding markets, and serve as a beacon of promise for the potential of mankind.


Our highest foreign-policy priority is to get our house in order and make America work again. This is not isolationism or nationalism. It is common sense. The world needs a strong, purposeful United States. We cannot lead others or be a reliable partner if we are weak and divided at home. Getting the American house in order is the point of departure for a new American foreign policy.

Second, we must realize that far too many of our foreign policy structures are based on doctrines of the 1940s. They are old and out of date. We need to create new structures for the 1990s and the new century. That means changing a lot of things. We must restructure the White House staff and the organization of the state and defense departments. We must update our security arrangements and rethink overseas deployments. We must reform the alphabet soup of international agencies we have put in place over the past fifty years to deal with the world that used to be from the UN to NATO, GATT, IMF, and the World Bank.

We have much to change to provide for a foreign policy in keeping with the needs of the world that is, rather than the world that was. Too much taxpayer money and administrative effort is being needlessly consumed by outdated policies and outdated structures.


For far too long, Washington has maintained an artificial distinction between domestic and international policy. The "high" politics of defense and diplomacy has received too much attention at the expense of the "low" politics of the economy and jobs. To succeed in the world of today, we must view domestic and foreign policy in terms of a single, interwoven net of national interests.

America's position in the world today depends as much on the productivity of our labor and the performance of our schools as it does on the number of missiles in our arsenal. At the same time we cannot achieve our goals of rebuilding our country without having trade and financial cooperation with other nations.

Trade means jobs. Fair and equitable trade means more jobs. Jobs mean a higher standard of living, a healthier economy and a lower deficit. That produces a stronger America that can buy more from our allies. An American policy of fair and equitable trade is good for all nations.

We must be frank about our trade position. It cannot be improved by making excuses or berating others who out compete us.

Too often, our political and business leaders seem to respond only by complaining. They whine and bluster. That's the response of losers.

It's time that Americans responded like winners. We should replace the political appointees who are sent from Washington to fail to negotiate advantageous agreements. We need to put in their place experienced, hard-nosed negotiators from outside politics who know how to achieve good deals.

We need to learn from the Japanese and the Europeans. They are not our enemies. They are our allies. However, they are tough competitors. We just have to get our act together so that we can out compete them fair and square. Also, we have to negotiate harder. The Europeans and the Japanese out negotiate us at every turn in trade talks.


To the Japanese, I would say this: we will get our house in order as you and all our allies have suggested. In turn, we demand that you share more fully in keeping the world safe for future generations.

You must shoulder more of the burden of stationing U.S. troops and ships in your region. You must cooperate with us on the environment, on rebuilding the former Soviet Union, in multinational peacekeeping efforts, in defusing nuclear risks, in sharing in the burden of handling refugees, and in creating conditions for global economic growth, including in the United States. We can no longer accept the excuse that the Japanese are unique or different. We are all citizens of the world.

Elsewhere in the Pacific, we must pursue markets aggressively. The USA is as economically integrated into the Pacific as Germany is in the European Community. Japan is our second largest trading partner. Beyond Japan are China, Korea, and other Asian countries. All told, we trade 30 percent more across the Pacific than we do across the Atlantic. The Asian/ Pacific region is the fastest growing sector of the world economy. If we are smart, we can sell a lot of American products there. We must place a high emphasis on penetrating the vast markets of the Pacific basin.

China deserves special attention as a remaining bastion of communism. The present administration has spent its time coddling a geriatric central government when the real action is taking place in the provinces. Beijing still may be playing the old communist song, but the provinces are dancing to capitalist tunes. While we talk to a deaf leadership, free markets are developing all across the country. They have solid examples close at hand. Hong Kong is already the tenth largest economy in the world. Taiwan has the largest foreign exchange reserves in the world. The 63 million people of Guangdong Province are becoming voracious consumers. We must construct a diplomacy that deals with the complexity of this vast land and advances an agenda of democracy. Someone once said that free markets produce free minds. Through a concerted policy of engagement we can help the Chinese people attain their goals of political liberty and democratic institutions. Once open to free trade, a door can't be shut to free thought.

We must also begin thinking of new ways to share the burden of maintaining peace in the Pacific. At present, the security of the region is maintained by five security agreements that we maintain under bilateral agreements. There is no collective security device like NATO in the Pacific.

It will take perhaps a generation, if not more, to devise collective security measures that encompass cultures as different as Japan and China, India and Indonesia. We must begin discussions now. Unlike the current administration, the next one must think more progressively on this front.


We must nurture our successes across the Atlantic. NATO is the most successful military alliance in history. Yet we must not hang on to NATO just for the sake of preserving a venerable institution. It is time to develop a successor mechanism.

There are risks in Europe. All is not milk and honey there. That said, Europeans are better equipped than ever to manage those risks.

We can no longer make the argument that U.S. forces are needed in Europe to provide front-line protection of the United States.

We cannot justify using U.S. taxpayers' money to station troops on German soil to protect Western Europe from potential intra-European strife. The Europeansthanks in part to our presence for the past 45 yearshave the ability to do this themselves. Everyone is aware of the age-old tensions that occasionally raise their ugly heads in Europe. Keeping U.S. troops on European soil to ward off those historical impulses in the age of democracy is akin to a parent leaving a light on in a child's room at night to ward off ghosts. It is hard to justify "night light" troops at U.S. taxpayer expense.

We will not withdraw completely from Europe. We will stand ready to come to the aid of our European allies. However, we want them to take the lead and bear the lion's share of the burden in providing for their own security.

The former Soviet Union presents an unusual burden and a special responsibility for the United States and the rest of the world. the breakup of the Soviet empire is fraught with crises. Nationalism and ethnic strife are inevitable consequences of the unwinding of artificial geographic and cultural arrangements imposed by Stalin and his successors. There is potential for nuclear mischief. There is a real danger that reform will fail.

My policy toward the Commonwealth of Independent States would be to work both unilaterally and closely with the European, the Japanese, and collective agencies like the U.N. to:

1. Put nuclear warheads out of commission wherever they are. Our negotiators continue to concentrate on missile delivery systems, a vestige of Cold War arms control. The warheads are the primary threat. We cannot rest until all warheads in the four nuclear CIS states are accounted for and under control;

2. Contain any imperialistic tendencies harbored by any of the former Soviet territories;

3. Send appropriate aid, technology, support personnel, and other items needed to build a bulwark for liberty. Make sure the channels are established to administer our help selectively, instead of allowing it to be wasted by state enterprises or poorly conceived projects.


The failure of Soviet communism has put an end to Leninist imitators in the American hemisphere. Castro is the sole holdout in this part of the world. We must continue to isolate Castro. Elsewhere in Latin America we must continue to encourage the transition to market capitalism. We are profiting from the democratization and privatization of Latin economies. This is largely because we are the leading producer of goods used to build nations, like telephone switches, trucks and aircraft.

American exports to South America grew 20 percent last year. Jobs are being created to fill those orders. I want to make sure that this expansion of American jobs continues. I want to make sure it is not a temporary thing. This is why I want to examine the Mexican trade agreement closely.

This trade agreement presents an exciting opportunity for both our nations. I applaud the tremendous progress the Mexican government has made under President Salinas in revitalizing a tired, socialized economy. In five years Mexico has privatized 75 percent of its state-run enterprises. Always a deservedly proud nation, Mexico has earned the admiration of the world.

Challenges remain. In Mexico, workers are paid between one and two dollars an hour. Environmental and pollution regulations are laxly enforced. Health care for workers is rarely provided. The challenge is to create a trade agreement that helps Mexico to continue to pull itself up but that does not pull us down. I do not want a trade agreement that trades away jobs. I want a trade agreement that creates good paying permanent jobs on both sides of the border.

I fully understand why our own Hispanic community so strongly supports trade ties with Mexico. This community is a marvelous resource with its ability to act as a bridge between two dynamic cultures. We should commit to putting that bridge in place and make sure the road over it runs both ways.


On the other side of the world, Africa must not be neglected. Once treated as pawns by the two superpowers, the undeveloped countries of the sub-Sahara region now have the best opportunity in the post-colonial era to establish independent democratic institutions and free markets. Already the most prosperous nation on the continent, South Africa deserves American support as it makes a successful transition to true democracy and sheds the shameful vestiges of apartheid. Together with the Europeans and Asians, we must work hard to see that democratization succeeds in South Africa and that lasting economic progress finally takes root in the sub-Sahara region of the continent.

For the past fifty years, United States policy in the Middle East has been geared to preventing the area from falling under control of any power that might threaten our vital interests. During the Cold War, the Soviet Union and local governments acting as its agent were of particular concern to us. Today, we must remain vigilant against actions of other powers whose interests in the region are opposed to ours.

Since its founding as a nation, Israel has been our staunchest ally in the region. Our support for an Israel secure from external threat goes beyond the noble sentiment of friendship. Israel is of strategic importance to the United States. During the Cold War, she was a bulwark against Soviet aggression in the Middle East. In the aftermath of the Cold War, Israel is a beacon of democracy in a region populated largely by dictatorships and monarchies. We must remain committed to the continued defense and support of Israel militarily, diplomatically, and financially in order to secure the prospect for democracy in the region.

Israel's long-term security and overall stability in the Middle East depends on the successful resolution of an Arab-Israeli peace agreement from which all parties benefit. We must continue to work tirelessly with all governments of the region to reach a lasting peace.


While we now have the luxury of defining our foreign policy needs largely in economic terms, we must remember that there are still military threats to our nation's security. The world of the 1990s is unfortunately populated by brilliant, psychotic despots who are not against cannibalizing civilization to advance their own agendas. The list is well known -- Saddam in Iraq, Qaddafi in Libya, Assad in Syria, Kim in North Korea, and Castro in Cuba. This list may be tragically expanded by renegade forces in the former Soviet territories if chaos ensues.

We should follow consistent policies toward rogue governments. I would treat outlaws for what they are. Where America's vital interests are not impacted, I expect others to take the lead in containing these renegades, with our support. The UN and other collective agencies must be involved. We should reserve the right, in consultation with Congress, to take into our own muscular hands any rogue government that threatens vital American interests.

The most effective way to deal with criminal states is not to encourage them in the first place. If we don't like brutal third world dictators, we shouldn't help create another one. We supported General Noriega. We sent him weapons, millions of dollars, and flattering letters. We inflated him until his ego ballooned out of control. It now turns out that we were doing the same thing with Saddam Hussein. These cases didn't just cost us money. They cost us something far more precious: the lives of American soldiers.

We could have avoided all this if we had followed Winston Churchill's simple advice: "Never cozy up with tyrants. They'll always turn on you."


The world is at a crucial turning point in history. We must seize the moment and turn frightful risks into great opportunities. Just as we must embrace bold programs to repair our economy, our cities and our schools, we must move bravely on the world stage. The American people should demand more of their presidential candidates than debates on the fine points of diplomacy. They should insist that each candidate provide a vision of a new architecture for a new world. They should demand blueprints for action.

When he was suddenly faced with the opportunity to make the Louisiana Purchase, Thomas Jefferson didn't take a poll. He acted.

When he was confronted by the devastation of Western Europe after the war, Harry Truman didn't hesitate. He acted.

An American President is supposed to be able to see past the moment. He should be able to see history in the making. He should be capable for shaping history in America's interest.

That is the standard by which our Presidents should be measured.


The Perot phenomenon that swept the country through the spring and summer of 1992 had little to do with me. It was a spontaneous grassroots outpouring that has transformed a deep-seated concern with our political system into a positive citizen movement for reform.

Others campaigning for office will try to capitalize on your efforts. A person doesn't become a politician without learning how to dance the two-step. I hope many of them will do more than try to play to the crowd. I hope they will listen to the roar of the crowd. Those who don't, or who try to get by with the two-step, should be defeated.

I'm talking about all of our elected officials who have allowed this great system to be mired in the mud of special interests, who have padded themselves with perks at our expense, and who have rigged the election system to avoid answering to the people.

We don't need term limits as long as we have the ballot. If in this upcoming election we demand that candidates face up to the real issues that confront us, you can be sure that after the election members of the House and Senate will continue to listen to this country's owners. The reforms we so desperately need will be enacted quickly. That's the glory of our Constitution. Our elected officials listen, or they become former officials. The grassroots movement that put me on the ballot in state after state has sent a message too strong to ignore. Volunteers did it, and they did it without the support of any established party, any political machine, or any special interest group. That amazing achievement has already jolted the political establishment. The little group of Washington insiders, lobbyists, and professional politicians who thought of the national government as their own private playground are waking up to the fact that this country doesn't belong to them.

The Appendix has a list of topics important to this country. All the candidates need to know that you care about these issues and that you will vote according to their positions on them. Ask the candidates what they will do about the items on the list. Remember what they say. Hold them accountable once they're elected.

There are five principles which animated this movement from the beginning and which will carry it through Election Day and beyond. These principles are the themes that underlie this book. I hope they will someday underlie the governing of this country.

One. The people are the owners of this country. Everyone in government, from the President of the United States to the newest employee in a small town, works for the people.

Two. All of us must take personal responsibility for our actions and for the actions of our government. Citizenship in the United States is a privilege that can only be safeguarded by its exercise.

Three. We are a single team. The task ahead is enormous. We are all needed in the rebuilding of America.

Four. We can't keep living beyond our means. The size of government must be permanently reduced. The deficit must be eliminated. We can handle shared sacrifice. We cannot survive an irresponsible government.

Five. Our greatest challenge is economic competition. Our governmental policies should be redirected to stimulate growth, to encourage the private sector, to create jobs, and to open opportunities for all Americans.

                                   *   *   *

Alexis de Tocqueville crossed the Atlantic in 1831 to observe the growing power called the United States. He summed up his two-volume study by saying, "America is great because its people are good." Nothing has changed. I saw this in the last several months by working with thousands of people from all walks of life. America's strength is its people. You are deeply patriotic, creative, and dedicated. You are filled with love for your country. You are brimming with ideas. You are determined to leave a better country to your children. You are at one with the spirit of our forefathers.

When the Founders signed the Declaration of Independence, they pledged their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor. They were deadly serious in making that pledge. When they picked up the quill pen to place their names on that document, they did so with the certain knowledge that it could cost them their lives.

One signer, John Hart, was driven from the bedside of his dying wife by an English patrol sent to capture him. His thirteen children scattered and fled for their lives. He lived in the fields and the forests and in caves, eluding the enemy, until the end of the war. When he returned home, his wife was dead, his house was burnt to the ground, his farm was destroyed, and his children were nowhere to be found. A few weeks later he died from exhaustion and a broken heart.

Compared to that, what are the minor sacrifices we are called upon to make to pull our nation out of bankruptcy, to restore our spirit, and to put America on a new course for our children's future?

Our political leaders have been afraid to ask those sacrifices of the American people. This is one more case where the people see more clearly than the leaders do. The people have rightly resisted minor adjustments, knowing that the hands writing the laws were being guided by special interests seeking preference for one group over another. They are crying out for a plan like the one laid out in this book that distributes the burden carefully on all but the weakest shoulders so that together we can pull this nation out of the mire. We can no longer expect our political leaders to have the strength or the courage to do it. Only the people can give them the power.

Only the people can keep faith with our forefathers. We owe everything we have to them. Today in India or Ecuador or Togo there are people who are as bright, as capable, and as ambitious as any of us. They will never have the chance to do something great with their marvelous talents. No matter how smart or able they are, they will never have the opportunity because they weren't born in the country our forefathers founded.

Only the people can keep faith with those who have already sacrificed so much for our country. I didn't make the navy my career. Many of my classmates at the Naval Academy did. Some of them died defending our country. Some of them spent years of their lives in prison camps, never bending an inch in devotion to our country. I went into business. Most of you went to school, raised a family, entered a profession, or got a good-paying job. They could have gone that same route, but they didn't. They served their country.

Only the people can keep faith with our fathers and mothers. Mario Cuomo's father worked his way to these shores and worked at menial jobs until he was able to bring over his wife and children. Today his son is the governor of New York. Other more established families lost everything in the Great Depression. Some mothers and fathers who were people of distinction and achievement went to work as fieldhands to keep their children fed and clothed. Some scraped enough money together so at least one child could go to college. The sacrifices made by that generation compose one of the brightest chapters of nobility in the annals of human history.

Only the people can keep faith with our children. In the 1960s, our standard of living doubled every generation and a half. Parents who worked on a farm could send a child to college and live to see their grandchildren build successful businesses. At our present low growth rate, it will take twelve generations for our standard of living to double. The children of a child born this year will be dead before our standard of living doubles again.

We have broken the faith we owe to our children. The politicians can't restore it. Only the people can.

Only the people, the owners of this country, can make America strong again.

The Founders believed in the people. They knew in their hearts and souls that each generation would have to work to pass on a greater nation to the next generation.

Only the people can remake our country.

Time is short. History is merciless. The whole world waits for your decision.

Continue to Appendix Return to Table of Contents
Posted here on 5/24/97