Is America Back?

HAMBURG: For most of President Clinton's watch the US was intent on staying out of international complications. Mr. Clinton's favorite use of foreign policy was to promote US economic interests.

In the past year this pattern has undergone a sharp change. Like a giant awakened, America shook off indifference and once again became involved around the globe.

In Europe where US reticence had blocked the Bosnia peace-plan negotiated by the Europeans, Washington fell in line, investing its power, and even its soldiers to secure the Dayton Accords. US intervention defused a Turkish-Greek scuffle over two tiny Islands in the Aegean Sea that could have turned into a nasty conflict. America vetoed the European candidate for Nato Secretary-General to put former Spanish foreign minister Solana in that job. It took the lead in Nato's eastward enlargement strategy and in adjusting Nato's military structures.

In Asia, US aircraft carriers deterred threats from the China against Taiwan. The Presidents also, through a new security agreement with Japan, served notice to the region that America would remain a major factor in the Pacific.