Clinton Sends Letter To House About Foreign Aid Bill

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:24 PM EDT

( - Just hours after he vetoed the Foreign Aid Bill Monday, President Clinton sent a four page letter to members of the House of Representatives explaining why he vetoed it.

Clinton said "The central lesson we have learned in this century is that we cannot protect American interests at home without active engagement abroad. Common sense tells us, and hard experience has confirmed, that we must lead in the world, working with other nations to defuse crises, repel dangers, promote more open economic and political systems and strengthen the rule of law. These have been the guiding principles of American foreign policy for generations." Clinton said the bill rejected all of those principles.

The president said he believes the bill implies that "we (America) are too small and insecure to meet our share of international responsibilities, too shortsighted to see that doing so in our national interest. It is another sign of new isolationism that would have America bury its head in the sand at the height of our power and prosperity."

The bill also, according to Clinton, failed to address critical national security needs, America's long term interests and denies America a decent investment in diplomacy and suggests that American should meet threats to our security with our military alone. And, that, according to Clinton, is a dangerous proposition.

Clinton also believes the funding in the foreign aid bill is inadequate. "It is shocking," he said, "that the Congress has failed to fulfill our obligations to Israel and its neighbors as they take risks and make difficult decisions to advance the Middle East peace process. This bill would provide neither the $800 million requested this year as a supplemental appropriation nor the $500 million requested to support the Wye River agreement."

In the letter Clinton said the lack of funding for the Wye River Middle East peace agreement sends "the worst possible message to Israel, Jordan and the Palestinians about America's commitment to the peace process. We should instead seize this opportunity to support them."

He added that he intends to work with Congress for "additional resources" that he thinks are required to the costs of building peace in Kosovo and the rest of the Balkans. Clinton also said "other life saving peace efforts" such as those in Sierra Leone and East Timor are "imperiled by the bill's inadequate funding of the voluntary peacekeeping account."

The president summed up his letter by saying, "like the Senate's recent vote to defeat the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT),"this bill reflects an inexcusable and potentially dangerous complacency about the opportunities and risks America faces in the world today. I therefore am returning this bill without my approval.".

Clinton is to meet with congressional leaders at the White House Tuesday about budget matters.