THE recent constitutional debate over the president's right to send United States military forces into combat was emotional but not simply a partisan swipe at President Clinton. Any US policy that seeks to make US military forces available to form the backbone of a United Nations army, dedicated to carrying out the whims of the secretary-general, is not in America's interest.
Should we support multilateral efforts to resolve the world's problems? Absolutely. But is ``nation-building'' in Somalia or Haiti in our national interest? ``Nation-building'' is not a mission our military is designed or trained to accomplish. Mr. Clinton's policy, placing US military forces under UN command and in harm's way to create government where none exists, is poorly conceived and ill-defined.
When the president, as commander in chief, seeks to delegate his responsibility of command to the UN, the question is no longer one of constitutional authority but of responsible policy.
The Clinton administration has proposed a policy of placing US troops under UN command in an effort to ``multinationalize'' America's military. This policy, which was explained on Capitol Hill prior to the Somalia debacle, is known as Presidential Decision Directive 13 (PDD-13). Reportedly drafted by Morton Halperin, and largely ignored by the press, PDD-13 seeks to make the UN secretary-general captain of the ship, with the US military left to pull the oars.
If you think Clinton has no intention of moving in this direction you need only to look at his budget request to the Congress. It included over $300 million to begin implementation of PDD-13.
Some may think these issues were resolved by the Senate votes last month, when questions surrounding Somalia, Bosnia, and Haiti were addressed. But the underlying Clinton-Halperin policy that seeks to multinationalize America's military has not been resolved. Until the president explains how he intends to implement his policy of democracy and peacekeeping, this issue will continue to fester.
I had hoped Clinton's policy would be explained by Mr. Halperin when he comes before the Senate Armed Services Committee for confirmation to his newly created post as assistant secretary of defense for democracy and peacekeeping. But now it appears the administration is distancing itself from Halperin - the president's own nominee.
In the summer 1993 edition of ``Foreign Policy,'' Halperin wrote, ``The United States should explicitly surrender the right to intervene unilaterally in the internal affairs of other countries.... Such self-restraint would bar interventions like those in Grenada and Panama unless the United States first gained the explicit consent of the international community....''
When UN Amb. Madeleine Albright was asked if this was the US's policy view, she responded, ``It is not the view of the Department of Defense, it is not my view, it is not the president's view, it is not the view of the secretary of state.''
It seems odd that this administration would nominate someone whose fundamental beliefs regarding the sovereign right of a nation to defend its interests they oppose. But despite the Clinton administration's efforts to distance itself from Halperin, one thing is crystal clear: Halperin is not solely responsible, given his unconfirmed status.
Foreign-policy failures - placing US troops under the control of an incompetent UN; making the US the laughing stock of the world, afraid of Haitian thugs; sacrificing American lives in a hostile and dangerous Somali town - are the responsibility of Halperin's bosses.