1996 Republican Platform


14. Because this is a difficult and dangerous world, we believe that peace can be assured only through strength, that a strong national defense is necessary to protect America at home and secure its interests abroad, and that we must restore leadership and character to the presidency as the best way to restore America's leadership and credibility throughout the world.


"It's time to restore American leadership throughout the world.

Our future security depends on American leadership that is respected, American leadership that is trusted, and when necessary, American leadership that is feared."
Bob Dole

We are the party of peace through strength. Republicans put the interests of our country over those of other nations - and of the United Nations. We believe the safety and prosperity of the American home and workplace depend upon ensuring our national security in a dangerous world. This principle was proven in our long struggle against Communism, and - as recent events have tragically shown - it is still true today. The gains we made for democracy around the world under two Republican presidents are now imperiled by a rudderless foreign policy. We vigorously support restoring the promotion of democracy worldwide as a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy. Democracy is the best guarantor of peace and will ensure greater respect for fundamental human rights and the rule of law.

The international situation - and our country's security against the purveyors of evil - has worsened over the last three and a half years. Today, Russia's democratic future is more uncertain than at any time since the hammer and sickle was torn from the Kremlin towers. With impunity, Fidel Castro has shot American citizens out of the skies over international waters. North Korea has won unprecedented concessions regarding its nuclear capability from the Clinton Administration. Much of Africa has dissolved in tragedy - Somalia, Rwanda, Burundi, Liberia. The Clinton Administration objected to lifting the arms embargo on Bosnia while it facilitated the flow of Iranian weapons to that country. Bill Clinton made tough campaign pledges on China but subsequently failed in his attempt to bluff the Chinese government - diminishing American prestige while not addressing the serious issues of human rights, regional stability, and nuclear proliferation. Bill Clinton's weakness, indecision, and double-talk, have undermined America's role as leader of the free world.

In 1996, the nation's choice is clear: either we return responsible leadership to the White House , or Bill Clinton's lack of international purpose results in catastrophe. We must keep our country strong and sovereign, and assert the interests and values of the United States in the international arena.

Russia: We salute the people of Russia in their quest for democracy and a free market economy. During this crucial period, the Clinton Administration has pursued an accommodationist and misguided policy toward Moscow. Bill Clinton's comparison of Russia's extreme brutality in Chechnya to the American Civil War is offensive. The Clinton Administration's passivity in the face of Russia's intimidation and economic blackmail against countries of the former Soviet Union has encouraged the rise of extreme nationalist and undemocratic forces. Its willingness to accept Russian changes to already agreed-to arms control treaties has undermined security. Its complacency over Russia's sale of nuclear technology to Iran and Cuba has contributed to the threat of nuclear proliferation.

Our foreign policy toward Russia should put American interests first and consolidate our Cold War victory in Europe. We have a national interest in a security relationship with a democratic Russia. Specifically, we will encourage Russia to respect the sovereignty and independence of its neighbors; support a special security arrangement between Russia and NATO - but not Moscow's veto over NATO enlargement; support Russian entry to the G-7 after its reforms have been achieved; and link U.S. assistance to Russian adherence to international treaty obligations.

Newly Independent States: We reaffirm our party's historic commitment to the independence of all former Captive Nations still recovering from the long night of Soviet Communism, especially Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Armenia, and Ukraine. We endorse Republican legislation to establish in Washington, D. C., funded by private contributions, an international memorial to the one hundred million victims of Communism.

Defending America Against Missile Attack

We face two scandalous situations. First, most Americans do not realize our country has no defense against long-range missile attack. Second, the current occupant of the Oval Office refuses to tell them of that danger. So we will.

This is the frightening truth: The United States provided the technology to Israel to protect it from Iraqi missile attacks during the Persian Gulf War, but President Clinton refuses to provide the technology - technology that is readily available - to the American people to protect our country from the growing threat posed by long-range ballistic missiles. The Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) of the last two Republican administrations has been dismantled by Bill Clinton, who - contrary to the national security interests of the United States - clings to the obsolete Cold War ABM Treaty. Clinton slashed the funding budgeted by past presidents for missile defense and even violates the law by slowing down critical theater missile defenses. He has pursued negotiations to actually expand the outdated ABM Treaty, further tying America's hands, and hobbling our self-defense. He now seeks new limitations that will hinder the United States from developing and deploying even theater ballistic missile defenses to protect our troops abroad.

In a peaceful world, such limitations would be imprudent. In today's world, they are immoral. The danger of a missile attack with nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons is the most serious threat to our national security. Communist China has mocked our vulnerability by threatening to attack Los Angeles if we stand by our historic commitment to the Republic of China on Taiwan. We are vulnerable to blackmail - nuclear or otherwise - from a host of terrorist states that are now trying to acquire the instruments of doom. In the face of those dangers, Bill Clinton has ignored his responsibilities. In the most egregious instance, he directed that a National Intelligence Estimate focus only on the missile threat to the continental United States, deliberately ignoring the near-term menace posed to Alaska and Hawaii by long-range missiles now being developed or otherwise acquired by the Communists who rule North Korea.

America will be increasingly threatened by long-range ballistic missiles in the near future, but there also exists today a more immediate threat from the proliferation of shorter-range, or "theater" missiles. Bill Clinton says that theater missile defense (TMD) is a top priority of his administration, yet refuses to provide adequate funding for our most promising and effective TMD programs. For example, not only has he recently cut funding by 40% for the Theater High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) program, but he has also failed to request sufficient funds to develop and deploy the Navy Upper Tier system. Republicans will fully fund and deploy these and other TMD systems to protect American troops and vital interests abroad.

The Republican Party is committed to the protection of all Americans - including our two million citizens in Alaska and Hawaii - against missile attack. We are determined to deploy land-based and sea-based theater missile defenses as soon as possible, and a national system thereafter. We will not permit the mistakes of past diplomacy, based on the immoral concept of Mutual Assured Destruction, to imperil the safety of our nation, our Armed Forces abroad, and our allies. Arms control will be a means to enhance American national security, not an end in itself. We therefore endorse the Defend America Act of 1996, introduced by Senator Bob Dole which calls for a national missile defense system for all fifty States by the year 2003.

To cope with the threat of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, the United States will have to deter the threat or use of weapons of mass destruction by rogue states. This in turn will require the continuing maintenance and development of nuclear weapons and their periodic testing. The Clinton Administration's proposed Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) is inconsistent with American security interests.

International Terrorism

Terrorist states have made a comeback during Bill Clinton's Administration. He has treated their rulers with undue respect and failed to curb their acquisition of weapons of mass destruction. Although congressional Republicans passed anti-terrorism legislation earlier this year, the Clinton Administration has not implemented many key provisions of the law. It has not been used to freeze terrorists' assets, deny terrorists' visas, cut off foreign aid to supporters of terrorist states, or halt terrorist fundraising in the United States. The Clinton Administration has not implemented the anti-terrorist research program established and funded by Congress in the 1990 Aviation Security Act.

A Republican president will forcefully lead the world community to isolate and punish state sponsors of terrorism. It is vital to our security that we actively work to reverse the threat posed by these regimes - through imposition and enforcement of sanctions, banning investment, and leading our allies in effective policies. The governments of North Korea, Iran, Syria, Iraq, Libya, Sudan, and Cuba must know that America's first line of defense is not our shoreline, but their own borders. We will be proactive, not reactive, to strike the hand of terrorism before it can be raised against Americans.

We denounce terrorist attacks made on American citizens at home or abroad. We must take all legitimate steps to swiftly apprehend and severely punish persons committing terrorists acts. However, we must also denounce any attempts to deprive law-abiding citizens of their God-given, constitutionally-protected rights while fighting terrorism. To take away the liberty of the American people while fighting terrorism is repugnant to the history and character of our nation. We firmly oppose any legislation that would infringe upon the rights of American citizens to freedom of religion, speech, press, and assembly; the right to keep and bear arms; and the right to judicial due process.


Bill Clinton's foreign policy failures loom large in Asia. Four years ago, most of that continent was rushing toward democratic reform. Today it threatens to slip backwards into conflict and repression. A Republican Administration will keep the mutual security treaties with Japan and with the Republic of Korea as the foundation of our role in the region. We will halt Bill Clinton's efforts to appease North Korea by rewarding treaty-breaking with American taxpayer-financed oil and nuclear reactors. We will make further improvement of relations with Vietnam and North Korea contingent upon their cooperation in achieving a full and complete accounting of our POW's and MIA's from those Asian conflicts.

China and Taiwan: We support the aspiration of the Chinese people for both economic and political liberty, which includes respect for the human rights of the people of Tibet. Our relationship with the Chinese government will be based on vigilance with regard to its military potential, proliferation activities, and its attitude toward human rights, especially in Hong Kong. The Taiwan Relations Act must remain the basis for our relations with the Republic of China on Taiwan. We reaffirm our commitment to Taiwan's security and will regard any threat to alter its status by force as a threat to our own security interests. We will make available to Taiwan the material it needs for self-defense, particularly theater missile defense and coastal patrol submarines. In recognition of its growing importance in the global economy, we support a larger role for Taiwan in international organizations.

Protecting America's Technological Edge

American scientific and industrial leadership is one of the critical factors sustaining American security. Our technological edge is at risk not only because of the Clinton Administration's refusal to sustain an adequate investment in defense modernization, but also its virtual abandonment of national security-related export controls. Acquisition of technology by aspiring proliferators of weapons of mass destruction has been irresponsibly facilitated. A Republican Administration will protect the American technological edge. It will do so by expanding investment in defense modernization, ensuring that the Defense Department has a key role in approving exports of militarily critical technology, and restoring the effectiveness of export control regimes.


The intelligence community should be our first line of defense against terrorism, drug trafficking, nuclear proliferation, and foreign espionage. Bill Clinton's neglect of our country's intelligence service is one of his most serious sins of omission. He has underfunded, misutilized, and marginalized critical intelligence missions and capabilities. No wonder his first appointee as Director of Central Intelligence has endorsed Bob Dole. The nation's security - and the personal safety of our citizens - cannot be placed at risk.

Effective intelligence can be expensive. But what it costs is measured in dollars rather than lives - an important lesson of the Gulf War. A Republican Administration will reverse the decline in funding for intelligence personnel and operations while better managing the development of futuristic capabilities. We will not constrain U.S. intelligence personnel with "politically correct" standards that impede their ability to collect and act on intelligence information. We will conduct whatever intelligence operations are necessary to safeguard American lives against the terrorists who bomb our airplanes and buildings.


The Republican Party led America into space and remains committed to its exploration and mastery. We consider space travel and space science a national priority with virtually unlimited benefits, in areas ranging from medicine to micro-machinery, for those on earth. Development of space will give us a growing economic resource and a source of new scientific discoveries. We look toward our country's return to the moon and to completion of the International Space Station, not just as a unique orbiting laboratory but also a framework for world cooperation in pursuit of expanding human knowledge.

Those and other ventures require leadership now lacking at the White House. The Democrat Party approaches space issues with a confined vision and misplaced appropriations, encouraging inefficient investments and pork barrel spending. Bill Clinton gives lip service to our space program but denies it crucial resources. A Republican president and a Republican Congress will work together to make space an American frontier again. We will develop the Reusable Launch Vehicle, promote markets for commercial space launch services, and push technology to its creative limits. Commercial space development holds the key to expanding our aerospace industry and strengthening our technology base, but it can be promoted only by removing unnecessary and artificial regulatory, legal, and tax barriers.

Space exploration and exploitation are a matter of national security. Our Armed Forces already rely on space assets to support their operations on earth, and space technology will rapidly become more critical to successful military operations. Space is the ocean of tomorrow, and we cannot allow its domination by another power. We must ensure that America can work and prosper there, securely and without outside influence. A new Republican team will secure the high frontier for peace on earth and for unlimited human opportunity.