TITLE:JFK'S ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR EAST ASIA TO SPEAK FOR USIA (01/25/93)
*EPF110 01/25/93 *
JFK'S ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR EAST ASIA TO SPEAK FOR USIA
(Article on U.S. voluntary speaker Roger Hilsman) (550)
By Robert F. Holden
USIA Staff Writer
Washington -- Roger Hilsman, a foreign and defense policy adviser to every
Democratic candidate since John F. Kennedy, will visit several Asian
countries in February to give his perspective on how the foreign policy
process works in the United States in general, and how it will work in the
Clinton administration in particular.
Hilsman, who began his career as a guerrilla fighter with "Merrill's
Marauders" in Burma during World War Two, said in a January 25 interview
with USIA that he will be visiting Hong Kong, Vietnam, Thailand, Burma and
India on his upcoming tour of the region. He will speak at USIA programs
in the latter three countries.
Hilsman served in the Kennedy administration as assistant secretary of state
for intelligence and research (INR) before replacing Ambassador Averell
Harriman as assistant secretary of state for the Far East. (The position
is now called assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific
affairs. Former U.S. Ambassador to China Winston Lord, a friend of
Hilsman's, has been nominated by President Clinton to fill it.)
Hilsman said he resigned from the State Department following then-President
Lyndon Johnson's decision to commit massive numbers of U.S. ground troops
in Vietnam beginning in July 1965. Kennedy never intended to turn Vietnam
into an American war, and did not want to go beyond sending a relatively
small contingent of U.S. advisers, he said.
After leaving the government in the mid-1960's, Hilsman began a long and
distinguished career as a professor of government at Columbia University in
New York. Many of his former students are now sub-cabinet level officials
-- under secretaries and assistant secretaries -- in the Clinton
administration, he said. "You can describe me as an adviser to all the
Democratic presidential candidates since JFK," Hilsman said. "As a result,
I know about three-quarters of the foreign policy appointees in the new
The Clinton administration's foreign policy team is extremely competent but
not likely to take any bold initiatives, Hilsman said. "There are no
(former Secretary of State) Alexander Haigs on the team," he said.
"Aggressive foreign policy is not their style." The Clinton
administration's first policy priority is and must be domestic affairs,
Hilsman said. "The United States cannot be effective in foreign affairs
until we have straightened things out at home," he said.
The Bush administration, Hilsman said, put the United States out in front of
the United Nations on a lot of initiatives -- such as Somalia and Bosnia --
when the United States should be following a U.N. lead and not vice-versa.
Clinton will have a hard time getting such initiatives back on track
without appearing isolationist, he said.
Before speaking for USIA, Hilsman will be guest lecturer for a Columbia
Alumni Association trip to Vietnam aboard a cruise ship that will make
stops in Hanoi, Hue, Danang and Ho Chi Minh City. The United States should
normalize relations with Vietnam eventually, he said, but Clinton should be
1n no hurry to do so. The United States has no interests in Vietnam that
are worth risking domestic political capital, he said.
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