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Bradley Outlines Foreign Policy

In his first campaign event on foreign policy, Bill Bradley called Monday for more limited American intervention in ethnic wars overseas and said the Clinton-Gore administration had compromised U.S.-Russian relations with its singular focus on President Boris Yeltsin.

Bradley also advocated the immediate start of new strategic-arms reduction talks with Russia to cut the number of nuclear warheads even deeper than proposed by President Clinton.

"I would be in favor of moving beyond START II even in the absence of ratification by Russia to the negotiation on START III, with the aim of reducing to between 1,000 and 2,000 warheads" on each side, the Democratic presidential candidate said.

Such a reduction would provide "adequate security" for the United States, Bradley said. The Clinton administration has offered cuts down to between 2,000 and 2,500 warheads on each side, but said it won't negotiate START III until Russia first ratifies START II.

Under questioning by graduate students at the Tufts University Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Bradley promised an administration that would seek bipartisan consensus on world affairs and "always be straight with" the American people.

Implicit in his critique of current U.S. policy abroad was a knock at Vice President Al Gore, Bradley's rival for the Democratic presidential nomination.

"Foreign policy has become more of a political football, or is made through polling or focus groups to score domestic points. I deplore that," Bradley said.

Since the end of the Cold War, the United States failed Russia by acting more as "missionaries for a particular kind of international economics" and only faintly pushing America's own interests in deeper arms reductions, he said.

"We're left with a situation in Russia where, in the best of worlds, we're seen as irrelevant to the average Russian and, in the worst of worlds, we're blamed for their economic circumstances," Bradley said.

Echoing a complaint he has previously sounded against Gore, the Clinton administration's chief steward of U.S.-Russian relations, Bradley added that the United States must broaden its ties to Russian political and civic leaders.

"Our relationship with Russia has become our relationship with Yeltsin," he said.

Bradley, an eight-year veteran of the Senate Intelligence Committee, also said America cannot be "the policeman of the world." He said military intervention in ethnic conflicts abroad, such as Bosnia and Kosovo, should be handled by the United Nations or NATO. A U.S. role should be limited to cases where the United States has a national interest and where intervention is "consistent with our values."

He said he has "always supported Jerusalem as the capital of Israel." But, he added, "that ought to be worked out among the negotiating parties themselves," noting that the questin is a so-called final status issue to be settled in Israel's peace talks with the Palestinians.

Earlier this fall, at the height of the Russian money-laundering scandal, Bradley blamed "shortsighted U.S. policy" for at least part of Russia's problems making the transition from communism to a market economy. He faulted the administration for stalled strategic arms negotiations with Russia and for pushing NATO expansion to the detriment of U.S.-Russian relations.

While Gore has called for increased defense spending, Bradley says he would keep the Pentagon's budget at current levels but find the money for increased pay and benefits by eliminating "Cold War-era" weapons systems such as heavy tanks and by forgoing the expensive new F-22 fighter, which Gore favors.