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Emporium Current Essays

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After the expected victory of President Bill Clinton in the American Presidential elections
the United States would now have to review and reassess American foreign policy
towards a key area namely, the Muslim world. One of the first announcements made after
Clinton's re-election Mas the resignation of Secretary of State, Warren Christopher, which
means that a new person would be steering American foreign policy for the next four
years.

While American concerns in foreign policy are obviously global, given the US role as a
superpower, the main areas where the US administration would be facing important
challenges is the region that begins at Israel and ends at India. It'is this region where
long-standing American concerns like weapons of mass destruction (a code word for
containing nuclear and missile proliferation), regional conflicts (Palestine, Kashmir,
Tajikistan, Kurds) and buzzwords like "terrorism, extremism and fundamentalism"
emerge like spectres to haunt policy makers in Washington.

Additionally, _ with the Central Asian states now economically and politically integrating
into this region, US strategic stakes include access to national resources like oil and gas.

In 1993, when the Clinton administration took over, its policy tonards the Muslim world
was largely driven by three factors.

=> Promoting and protecting Israeli security interests, which meant co-opting the PLO
into a process of negotiations with Tel Aviv;

=> Containment and isolation of Iran Vwith a view to undercutting Iranian influence in
the Middle East, particularly over Hamas in Palestine and Hizbullah in Lebanon;
=> Preventing any Muslim state from developing a nuclear capability or enhancing its
missile capability.

Emporium Current Essays

161

The agreement with North Korea on a "buy out" of the North' Korean nuclear programme
would have served as some sort of a model for a similar approach on the Pakistani
nuclear programme, but for the factor that there was resistance on the part of Pakistan to
acquiesce to a unilateral rollback of the nuclear programme. And US pressure on China
regarding Beijing's defence co-operation with Muslim countries like Pakistan, Iran and
Syria was part of concerted effort in pursuit of this American goal.

As Clinton begins a second term as President, the situation in the region has undergone a
qualitative transformation and US strategic objectives have not been met, in fact, the US
would now have to just to new realities that have emerged in the last couple of years.
Some examples:

1 0 A setback to the success of the Muslims to preserve the

Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovian after a co-ordinated covert supply effort spearheaded by


Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Saudi

| Arabia and Malaysia have galvanised Muslim peoples and

L Y Muslim states;

| .0 The fact that Turkey, a secular state and a NATO member,

j has a coalition government headed by an Islamist,

I Necmettin Erbakan, who, while preserving his country's

traditional ties to the West, has also moved Turkey closer to

the Muslim world; Despite US efforts, Iran has developed

strategic economic ties with Central Asian states like

Turkmenistan, for whom it is also providing an outlet to the

sea via the railway link between Ashkabad and Mashhad;

0 \ Pakistan has successfully resisted US pressures on the nuclear issue as well as the
signing of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT);
0 India and Israel, which were the linchpins of America's

policy in this region, today have new government over which Washington has less clout,
unlike the influence wielded by the United States over the Rabin (who was murdered
later by a Jew youth) government in Israel and the Rao (who was defeated iox!997
elections) government in India. The Israeli government led by Benjamin Netanyahu was
elected in the face 6f American opposition, and it is less amenable to American pressures
than was its predecessor, and it is less , amenable to American pressures than was its
predecessor, while the Indian coalition government is a conglomeration of nationalists,
leftists and even communists (India's Fores?!!