A top administration official says isolationists in America could harm fledgling democracies abroad in the name of saving taxpayers' money at home.
"They are working - whether they know it or not - to destroy part of the foundation for our peace and our prosperity," national security adviser Anthony Lake said Thursday in a speech to the Woodrow Wilson Center, a government-funded research center specializing in international affairs.Lake specifically exempted House Speaker Newt Gingrich from his criticism. He quoted Gingrich as supporting U.S. involvement abroad and saying that American retreat would lead to "a dark and bloody planet."
The Republican-controlled Congress is considering legislation sharply reducing U.S. foreign assistance, limiting participation in U.N. peacekeeping and reorganizing the foreign policy bureaucracy.
"The back-door isolationists who claim they are saving America's money cannot see beyond the green of their own eyeshades," said Lake.
He said the GOP proposal to eliminate the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency and the Agency for International Development and fold their functions into the State Department was "the wrong way to proceed."
Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is the principal sponsor of the reorganization bill.
Lake divided the ranks of isolationists into two camps - those he said act out of conviction and those he suggested are hypocrites.
He said most of the new isolationists "say they are part of the postwar bipartisan consensus, that their goals are its goals, democracy, security, peace and prosperity.
"But they won't back up their words with deeds."
He said that "these self-proclaimed devotees of democracy would deny aid to struggling democracies. They laud American leadership, but oppose American leadership of coalitions, advocating only unilateral action instead."
Lake said the Republicans were proposing a "neo-isolationist budget" that would "cripple our legacy of leadership."