Albright Urges Bipartisan Approach to Foreign Policy
In an overture to the Republican-controlled Congress, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright called Wednesday for an executive-legislative effort to develop a bipartisan approach to foreign policy, especially the use of economic sanctions to punish countries and companies that contribute to nuclear proliferation or trade with “rogue” states.
“We need to be speaking with one voice and acting with America’s interests--not partisan interests--firmly in mind,” Albright said after a closed-door Capitol Hill meeting with about half the membership of the Senate. She said she offered Congress “a stronger partnership” with the Clinton administration on arms control and other foreign policy issues.
Although Albright has made bipartisanship a priority objective of her tenure, the administration’s relations with Capitol Hill on foreign policy have become sulfurous in recent days, with lawmakers rebuking President Clinton for his plans to visit China, voting to impose sanctions on Russian firms that sell missile technology to Iran and balking at the administration’s plan to increase the U.S. contribution to the International Monetary Fund.
Albright said Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.) seemed receptive to her proposal to designate an informal working group to smooth White House-Capitol Hill differences about when and how to use economic sanctions.
Congress generally favors broad economic penalties with automatic triggers because that approach gives lawmakers maximum control. The administration wants a more flexible policy that allows U.S. diplomats to tailor sanctions to individual cases.
“If sanctions are to work, they must be part of an overall strategy,” Albright said. “And they must provide sufficient flexibility for the executive so that we are able to do good, not just feel good.”
Albright’s remarks were part of a comprehensive review of the administration’s policy on arms control and weapons proliferation in the wake of nuclear tests by India and Pakistan. She called on the world community to strengthen treaties intended to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, and proposed new restrictions on international trade in conventional arms, including tighter controls on transfers of shoulder-fired antiaircraft missiles, which can be used by terrorists against commercial air traffic.
Albright called for negotiation before the end of this century of a new international agreement to curtail illicit trafficking in all sorts of firearms. She said the Organization of American States has already agreed to such a measure covering the Western Hemisphere.
Albright dismissed the argument that the recent Indian and Pakistani tests discredited the Nuclear Non-Proliferation and the Comprehensive Test Ban treaties. On the contrary, she said, the South Asian detonations make the test ban--signed but not yet ratified by the Senate--even more important to U.S. security.