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The Vice President and Foreign Policy: From “the most insignificant office” to Gore as Russia Czar. Aaron Mannes Researcher - University of Maryland’s Institute for Advanced Computer Studies Ph.D. student - University of Maryland School of Public Policy

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the vice president and foreign policy from the most insignificant office to gore as russia czar
The Vice President and Foreign Policy:From “the most insignificant office” to Gore as Russia Czar
  • Aaron Mannes
  • Researcher - University of Maryland’s Institute for Advanced Computer Studies
  • Ph.D. student - University of Maryland School of Public Policy
introduction two themes
Introduction: Two Themes
  • Vice President’s role in national security
    • Is a Vice Presidential role needed?
    • What should it be?
  • Challenges of stabilizing and encouraging reform abroad
  • These two themes meet in analyzing Gore’s role in the Clinton administration’s Russia policy
key sources
Paul Light, Vice Presidential Power: Advice and Influence in the White House

Paul Kengor, Wreath Layer or Policy Player? The Vice President’s Role in Foreign Policy

Marie Natoli, American Prince, American Pauper: The Contemporary Vice Presidency in Perspective

Senate Historical Office, Vice Presidents of the United States, 1789-1993

James Goldgeier and Michael McFaul: Power and Purpose: U.S. Policy toward Russia after the Cold War

Strobe Talbott’s The Russia Hand: A Memoir of Presidential Diplomacy

Key Sources
overview of the vice presidency the first 150 years
Overview of the Vice Presidency:The First 150 Years
  • Minimal Constitutional authority
  • Marginalized by the Senate
  • Often perceived by Presidents as rivals
fdr the vice presidency
FDR & The Vice Presidency
  • Henry A. Wallace, 1941-45
    • Ran the Bureau of Economic Warfare (BEW), a 3000 person agency charged with stockpiling crucial war supplies
    • Got into turf wars with the Commerce and State
    • FDR dissolved BEW in 1943 and dropped Wallace from the ticket in 1944
  • Harry S. Truman, 1945
    • On taking office after FDR’s death was unaware of the atomic bomb project or the status of talks with Stalin on post-war Europe
    • To ensure this never happened again the VP was included as a statutory member of the National Security Council
nixon the vice presidency
Nixon & The Vice Presidency
  • Established the role of the political vice president under Eisenhower
  • Active at NSC, but denied line authority
  • Although Nixon did not include his VP in the policy process there were enormous changes to the office
    • VP’s office received its own budget line item in 1969
    • Watergate, Agnew’s resignation, and the unelected Ford Presidency placed the VP in a new light
short unhappy vice presidency of nelson rockefeller
Short Unhappy Vice Presidency of Nelson Rockefeller
  • Selected to strengthen the unelected Ford presidency
  • Hoped to run domestic policy by chairing Domestic Policy Council
  • Frozen out of policy-making when Ford moved in other directions
  • Demonstrated two principles of VP influence
    • Without the President’s support the VP has no influence
    • Line assignments can enmesh VPs in turf wars and make them lightning rods for opposition
mondale vp as senior advisor
Mondale: VP as Senior Advisor
  • Carter was the first true outsider VP and he selected an insider VP
  • Carter agreed to give Mondale all the tools he needed for the position
  • Mondale rejected line authority, preferring a role as Senior Advisor
  • Mondale had key allies on the President’s staff
  • Adopted a low-key, non-public role in the policy process
george h w bush low profile continuity
George H. W. Bush:Low Profile Continuity
  • Adopted Mondale’s model
  • Took on some line assignments, chaired the crisis management unit of the NSC
  • Bush’s restrained response when Reagan was shot won praise
  • As President, Bush did not rely heavily on his VP

- changes to the VP’s status are not permanent

clinton gore the vice president as partner
Clinton-Gore:The Vice President as Partner
  • Experience in Washington and internationally complemented Clinton
  • Personal compatibility
  • National security process innovations reflected this relationship
    • Gore’s National Security Advisor had seats on the Principals and Deputies Committees at the NSC
    • NSC deputies had an arrangement ensuring that Gore was in the loop and did not derail the process
russia policy from stability to transformation
Russia Policy: From Stability to Transformation
  • Post-Soviet Russia risked, in the words of Clinton’s top Russia advisor Strobe Talbott, becoming “a nuclear Yugoslavia”
  • Bush 41 focused on “what we do not want to happen there”
  • Talbott sought to “nurture the best that might happen in the former Soviet Union”
  • Three tracked process:
    • Security
    • Economic Liberalization
    • Political Liberalization
establishing the gore chernomyrdin commission gcc
Establishing the Gore-Chernomyrdin Commission (GCC)
  • Proposed by Russian FM Kozyrev to Talbott in March 1993
  • Intended to be an extended working group that would help build Russian governance capabilities with a focus on Russia’s inter-agency process
  • Mechanism for institutionalizing bi-national partnerships
growth of the gcc
Growth of the GCC
  • GCC met 10 times, first meeting on September 1-2, 1993
  • After Chernomyrdin was fired in March 1998, meetings were held with several Chernomyrdin successors
  • GCC included hundreds of officials from Energy, Defense, Commerce, HHS, Agriculture, NASA and others
  • Signed over 200 agreements from major energy and space deals to nuts and bolts technical exchanges
early mandate space energy
Early Mandate: Space & Energy
  • Focus on preventing proliferation of missile & nuclear technologies
  • Implemented Cooperative Threat Reduction Program (Nunn-Lugar)
  • First meeting dealt with Russian rocket sales that could have triggered US sanctions under MCTR
  • Sought to establish a broad space and energy partnership worth billions making smaller deals from proliferation unappealing
security track assessment
Security Track Assessment
  • Worst case scenarios were avoided while NATO expanded eastward
  • Political and technical levels reinforced one another

Iranian exception

    • Despite a 1995 Gore-Chernomyrdin agreement arms sales to Iran did not stop
    • Russia continued to sell nuclear technology to Iran
    • July 1998 administration sanctioned seven Russian entities that were transferring technology to Iran - forestalling more severe congressional sanctions
    • The administration was concerned that congressional sanctions would have damaged overall relations
transformation track ovp state vs treasury
Transformation Track:OVP & State vs. Treasury
  • US sought to foster economic and political reform
  • 1993 rise of ultra-nationalists raised concerns about Russia’s stability
    • Gore criticized ultra-nationalists, but also IMF conditions
    • Talbott called for “less shock and more therapy”
    • Treasury officials felt their efforts undermined
  • 1996 flawed Russian privatization led to the rise of the oligarchs
    • Chernomyrdin, former Gazprom chief, a suspected beneficiary
    • US government did not criticize for fear of undermining Yeltsin
  • 1998 Russian economy collapses, Russians assume US linked to oligarchs
committed to yeltsin
Committed to Yeltsin
  • Transformation agenda focused on supporting Yeltsin
  • Skeptics did not develop alternatives
  • Gore and Talbott’s combined influence dominated policy process
micro issues
  • Some agencies resisted GCC initiatives while others were pre-empted by GCC activity
  • VP staff may have been too small to manage the process
  • Accusations that GCC was a PR exercise that distracted from real work and the established inter-agency process
transformation track assessment
Transformation Track Assessment
  • Efforts to build civil society, rule of law, and democracy were not successful
  • Russian economic growth has been driven by resources, not economic liberalization
  • Demographic and public health trends are abysmal
  • Engagement fostered suspicion of US motives among Russian
  • Transformation efforts may have been essential to the security track
analyzing the vp s role
Analyzing the VP’s Role
  • VP’s engagement brings prestige
  • Preparation for the Presidency
  • VP may not have necessary staff
  • VP may not have time
  • Can burnish a VP’s reputation, but can also harm it