Bush Copies Nixon's 1968 Foreign Policy Play Book

Republican George W. Bush is solidifying a small lead in the polls by copying Richard M. Nixon's foreign policy strategy in the 1968 election.

Then, as now, Nixon, the challenger, was running against an incumbent Vice-President, Hubert Humphrey, whose unpopular President, Lyndon B. Johnson, was involved in delicate peace negotiations with the Vietnamese in Paris. With every move toward peace, Humphrey's poll numbers rose.

It is clear to the Bush camp that a successful Middle East Peace would be a feather in Clinton's cap, and boost Gore's chances to win the White House. So, Bush by saying "The peace should be on their time table, not ours." is indicating that the Israelis will get a better deal in his administration if they wait and do not agree to anything on Clinton's timetable.

The fighting in the Middle East is a fight for the American foreign policy agenda. The Israeli provocation of Ariel Sharon's visit to Jerusalem was to test how far the Israelis could bolster their illegal claim to Jerusalem without incurring the disapproval of the American candidates. Similarly, the Palestinians are dying to try and make Bush and Gore take a clear stand on the future of Jerusalem. (See Palestinians are Dying to Make Jerusalem An Issue in the Presidential Election.)

Bushes policy is to support Israel with more weapons and missile defense systems, while keeping the Bush family business partners in the Arab oil patch in line on supplies. Bush is for maintaining the status quo through force of arms. Like Nixon before him, winning the White House is more important than saving lives by making peace. But by running against the peace process, Bush is campaigning on a war platform.

During the 1968 campaign, Nixon claimed to have a "secret plan" to end the war in Vietnam. In the event, the war continued for 5 more years, with tens of thousands of American deaths, and millions of dead Vietnamese. More Americans died under Nixon's presidency than under Johnson's. Nixon waged an illegal, secret war in Cambodia and Laos. Similarly, Bush is promising more military support to our friend, Israel, while threatening more aggressive action to get rid of Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

Tomorrow, Monday, October 23, 2000 is going to be one of the worst days in the history of Wall Street.The prospect of a Bush victory with the potential of war, which is bad for the economy, will send the markets reeling.

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Contact: Joshua Leinsdorf