Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Talking Point
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

Tuesday, 19 December, 2000, 12:07 GMT
Clinton: What role for the future?

President Clinton is beginning a visit to Ireland amid warnings that he is unlikely to break the political deadlock surrounding the peace process.

The parties are deadlocked over the issues of the decommissioning of paramilitary weapons, particularly those of the IRA, policing reforms and demilitarisation.

President Clinton has shown great commitment during his period in office to working for peace agreements in both Northern Ireland and the Middle East.

Once he leaves office in January, can Mr Clinton still play a useful role in peace negotiations in the world's troublespots? If so what would that role entail?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

I feel that he has done a lot for the United States

Rajeev Jayadeva, USA
I believe that President Clinton was the best and one of the strongest presidents in American history. I feel that he has done a lot for the United States and should be involved in our country's affairs concerning minority issues and social programmes.
Rajeev Jayadeva, USA

Clinton would make an excellent lobbyist and fund-raiser for Sinn Fein/ IRA in the US. He already has years of experience.
Alan Murphy, USA

I think it is too early to earmark a role for Mr. Clinton. After all, he is a man of enormous experience, and he has some charisma. There should be a role for him where these characteristics can be usefully employed. Give him time and encouragement!
D. Stephen, UK

Clinton is of low moral fibre and it is difficult to believe he cuts any sway amongst the British public

Ray, UK
Bill Clinton should have no future in British internal affairs. He is of low moral fibre and it is difficult to believe he cuts any sway amongst the British public. Not unlike Sean Connery he is not resident, not a taxpayer and therefore does not have a right to influence public opinion.
Ray, UK

It was a sad day in US and world when Mr. Clinton finished his term to leave WDC. He succeeded peace in South Africa, Kosovo, Middle East, North Ireland, etc...
Taha Roba, Oromia, Ethiopia

Marriage guidance counsellor.
Andrew, UK

Bill Clinton's peace interests were unjust and politically motivated. He always tried to secure American interest rather than a fair and just deal. He needs to pack up and leave.
Ishtiyaque Ahmad, India/USA

Maybe Bill could tend to Jimmy Carter's chores back on the farm in Georgia (while Jimmy does useful work).
Tom Brucia, USA

When not sordid, embarrassing or incompetent - Clinton's administration has been meaningless

M Lackner, USA
I predict Clinton's life will change very little. He will continue to spend most of his time getting money, playing golf and otherwise indulging himself. When not sordid, embarrassing or incompetent Clinton's administration has been meaningless.
M Lackner, USA

Really, honestly do we really need any more interference in Northern Ireland. It is up to the Northern Irish people to negotiate their own salvation.
He is obviously a very intelligent, quick politician but for America, his battles need to be chosen carefully. It is extremely dangerous that he or any politician take on the role of saviour and global police man.
A Kavanagh, US

Mr. Clinton is a great leader. If not for the American constitution he would have won the presidency for a third time. Regrettably Bush will not be a patch on him. This will enhance Mr. Clinton's popularity further. He has a role in today's society wrecked in turmoil. Not to use his experience and humility would be sad.
Anton Norbert, Canada

The current US economic boom is due to Bill and Al: Bill Gates and Al Greenspan

Sheila, Texas, USA
The current US economic boom is due to Bill and Al: Bill Gates and Al Greenspan. Bill Clinton and Al Gore just happened to be in the right place at the right time and claimed the credit. As far as Clinton's "preventing several conflicts", give that credit to the parties involved. Their determination to avoid war was far more powerful than Clinton's expertise as a mediator. Clinton has been only a mediocre president and his pro-nationalist bias will prevent him from being a successful "peacemaker" in NI.
Sheila, Texas, USA

Perhaps he'll reflect on how many lives have been and will be lost because of his unbending support for Sinn Fein/IRA, even as they continue to main and kill, while bluntly refusing to disarm. Clinton's meddling has helped them to extort concession after concession, while offering nothing in return. History will not look kindly on this egotistical fool and his myopic, self-serving policies.
Tom, USA

I believe Clinton is capable of doing anything he wants to do. He is one of America's greatest leaders. We have seen increased prosperity, eliminated deficits, decreased crime and prevented several possibly explosive conflicts around the world under his leadership. It is unfortunate that his legacy will be blemished by the Republican Party's use of the US Government to investigate and broadcast his personal life to the world.
Stephen, USA

I hope he goes back to Arkansas and stays permanently out of our national business. He has been the biggest embarrassment of all time, he and the boss Hillary.
Dennis Humble, USA

This man has been exposed as a sleazy, lying politician. Furthermore, he has done nothing to further the cause of peace in the Middle East - quite the opposite really. In addition, I find it insulting that a leader from a country that constantly infringes human rights by executing people has the brass neck to tell us and the Irish what to do.
Janet, UK

Retiring at the age of 54, after 2 terms characterised by an unprecedented good economy and plagued by scandals and impeachment, Bill Clinton could well have another 25-plus years of active life. Having spent most of his adult life in public office, politics is bred into his genes. I expect he would, after a brief time out, choose to do more in the public eye, perhaps as a not-so-quiet "elder" statesman, but more likely as a head of a university, a non-profit think-tank or a role in the international arena. But I don't envision him as the unemployed husband and housekeeper of a NY Senator.
Riz Rahim, USA

Clinton has proven himself to be more of an asset to the peoples of the world than the get rich quick nobodies who have dogged him his entire political career.
Gerry, Scotland

Bill Clinton is a famously selfish and undisciplined child who craves the spotlight. I fully expect him to let go of his last vestige of self-discipline. Bill Clinton's future will contain three things - lots of food, lots of women and lots of yammering away on TV.
Tim Baney, Washington, DC, USA

I think he should pack his bags and disappear. It's time to let another American rule the world.
Jeremy Jones, USA

Here is a look of a President who would champion peace: During the Vietnam era, cowardly hid away in Canada to avoid military service, bombed a candy factory and civilians in Sudan, bombed and massacred civilians in Afghanistan on the pretext of punishing the Taliban for aiding Osama Bin Laden whom he faults for everything that ails America, bungled the Iraq affair by mercilessly bombing Iraqi civilians whom he would now rather leave starving, while leaving the lunatic Saddam Hussen quite unscathed. Peace negotiator? I think I would throw up.
Tahir Nawab, NY, USA

I think that after Roosevelt, Clinton is the most astute politician America has produced in living memory

Garth, Zimbabwe
I think that after Roosevelt, Clinton is the most astute politician America has produced in living memory. I suspect he will play a major role in helping to create world peace. I also think his wife will be a future 8-year President which will mean he will still have an influence in the highest office of the land.
Garth, Zimbabwe

Just like Africa's old man Nelson Mandela of South Africa is useful for peace resolutions in most war torn Africa states, Bill Clinton of USA can also be useful in finding lasting peace in the middle east, and other war ravaged parts of the world.
Jim Onyango, Kenya.

I am not convinced that he has a good foreign trouble-shooting track record. He has a command over details, but his compromise solutions never seem to last very long. He should concentrate on that museum he needs to build in Arkansas. That should last a little longer.
Andy, USA

Bill is definitely one of the greatest leaders of our time. It is ironic that many vocal Americans are quick to forget his contributions to their well-being, the protection of their lives and properties and towards steering the United States to the position of the only 'superpower' of the world. Granted, he has his shortcomings (who doesn't?) but the world will never forget him for his peace efforts and protection of democratic ideals in the Balkans, Northern Island, the Middle East, the Koreas, China and the troubled spots of Africa. The United Nations can certainly benefit from his vast wealth of experience in dispute mediation and diplomacy.
Shehu, Hungary

I think at the very least he has a promising comedian ahead of him as a stand-up comic

Jeremy, UK
Having heard Bill's witty speech in Dublin earlier today, I think at the very least he has a promising comedian ahead of him as a stand-up comic. He'll be sorely missed, I feel. George Dubbya is highly amusing, but not intentionally. Certainly Clinton should have a role in Ireland - when he likened dealing with the warring parties to trying to negotiate with a bar full of drunks he demonstrated a very clear understanding of the situation.
Jeremy, UK

I think Bill Clinton is the best presidents the USA has had since a long time. On foreign and European politics he has been a lot milder than many of his predecessors. I think many people have forgotten about the peace demonstrations that took place throughout Europe during Reagan/Bush administrations. We do not really want to go back to self-inflicted gulf wars and cold war in Europe do we?
Denis Eketelaars, UK

With the recent President's visit to Ireland and the UK, it is clear he has a genuine interest to help ease the deadlock of the Northern Ireland feud. Now with the unlikely prospect that George W. Bush would be involved in foreign affairs (if he becomes president), Clinton would be the nearest thing for an American perspective on global conflicts.
Emily, Northern Ireland

Clinton has to go because Amendment 22 of the US Constitution passed by Congress in 1947 prevents any US President from serving a third term in office. I'm sure he will something to occupy his time, so long as it is not meddling in the internal affairs of a part of the United Kingdom.
Chris Klein, UK

Everyone makes mistakes

Helen, UK
Everyone makes mistakes; this could be the opportunity he needs to restore people's faith in his abilities. So, regardless of his "scandalous past", if he can help to bring peace to Northern Ireland then good luck to him.
Helen, UK

Most of the positive things he achieved were probably thanks to his wife's help. When Hillary becomes president in four years time (after the usual court battles) Bill will effectively have a third term!
Gavin, France

Who cares? When will the British media stop drooling over the Americans? As for the so-called special relationship, the only thing special about it is that when Clinton shouts Blair jumps.
Dr Duncan Campbell, UK

At the end of the day Bill Clinton can try as hard as he wants to foster peace in Ireland or anywhere else, but it will not change the fact that it is only the people of those nations that possess the power to change things. Bill get a job in the private sector.
Benjamin Dennehy, New Zealand

He has done nothing to further the cause of peace

Matt Steel, USA
As a British citizen living in the USA, I have, I think a balanced view of Clinton and his governance. He has in short done nothing to further the cause of peace, nothing to increase the wealth of the country and nothing to reward him with accolades worthy of a real leader. Foolish claims for him to be World President are not only dangerous but also ignorant.
Matt Steel, USA

How will he be able to broker agreements without the power of the office before him? Better that he return to Oxford University where he can lecture, keep an eye on Chelsea and nip down to Heathrow if he wants to see Hilary in New York. He will have a great time educating Britain's brightest - now that's real power!
George Davidson, UK

Bill Clinton is an extremely charismatic guy, who had the unfortunate tendency to believe his own fibs and, what his acolytes constantly told him. Notwithstanding, he has the ability to put people at ease and, is energetic in pursuing global peace. While I personally find some aspects of his behaviour totally repugnant, I cannot deny his mind, personality and energy. He definitely has a role to play - and I am adamant that he should not waste his useful talent by becoming subservient to his wife, the Junior Senator for New York.
Di Stewart, Jacksonville, North Carolina, USA

I think he will be a tremendous asset to the international community

Saleem Ali, Cambridge, MA, USA
Bill is among the most well informed politicians around today. Unlike many others, he actually reads books rather than relies on aides! He has shown remarkable cultural sensitivity to minorities within the US. I think he will be a tremendous asset to the international community as a UN official.
Saleem Ali, Cambridge, MA, USA

Two people who are constantly criticised for their personality and politics, have done more for Northern Ireland in the last ten years than anyone did before them. Between them John Major and Bill Clinton managed to get warring factions around a table for the first time ever. If Bill Clinton could continue his role as a peacekeeper, he could do a better job than his armchair critics who have already written to this website!!!
Lorcan Drysdale, UK (Irish citizen)

He might be able to get a 'job' in the movies.
Alex, NZ (ex-pat)

The world should fear letting a loose canon like Clinton be a 'peacemaker'. If he does for the Irish people what he has done for the Middle East, the animosities in the North will explode. Clinton is as much a 'statesman' as my dog. Please don't fall for it!
RS Weaver, USA

Appointing him as a peacemaker would be like putting Nero in charge of the fire engines

Glen, UK
Clinton is the bomber of Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan and Yugoslavia. He has authorised, and indeed promoted, arms sales to many of the world's most tyrannical regimes. Appointing him as a peacemaker would be like putting Nero in charge of the fire engines.
Glen, UK

If it wasn't for Mr Clinton's escapades whilst in office, he may have made a good intermediary. Unfortunately he will always have the whiff of scandal hanging over him.
Jonathan, Botswana

What role for Clinton now? Perhaps a cameo role in Friends.
N. Bradley, UK

After his antics in Kosovo - no chance. He's just going for glory. He should just stay at home and have a nice cigar.
Jonathan Pollatos, UK (currently in Canada)

Clinton should divorce Hillary, come to the UK and stand for election next year. I'd vote for him.
Star, UK

He has shown a great interest and skill in peacemaking efforts

Jos De Greef, Belgium
Bill Clinton is no FD Roosevelt but he was a good president. Unlike Jimmy Carter, he does not have a strong reputation for being very honest but he has shown a great interest and skill in peacemaking efforts. Yes, he can play a role internationally, although I prefer him to be president of the US rather than that silly Bush Jr figure.
Jos De Greef, Belgium

The UK has nothing to lose by letting Bill have a go at Irish peace. After all, the Brits have been making a mess of it for centuries; they have nothing to lose at this point.
Tom Byrne, USA

President Bill Clinton may have tried to mediate in disputes but how many of them have been resolved thanks to his efforts? Mr Clinton will never be an American Mandela.
T. Estermann, Denmark

While he cannot continue to be president of the United States, he can bring about certain basic or fundamental changes in society, a task that would not normally be possible without exercising such charisma. I am confident that he is sure to prove his worth if placed in any peacemaking position.
Ganga Thapa, Nepal

I think that Clinton should join Jimmy Carter with a view to succession at the Carter Centre to continue that centre's work for peace throughout the world. After all Jimmy Carter is over 80 and Clinton is probably the only man who could succeed him
Peter Huntley, UK

Bill Clinton should be appointed Honorary President of the World

Mikko Toivonen, Finland
Bill Clinton should be appointed Honorary President of the World by the UN and a chief arbiter of conflicts between nations and systems. His grip on humanity is totally superior to all other leaders. It is a pity that he cannot continue as president of the United States.
Mikko Toivonen, Finland

Of course, Mr Bill Clinton can continue to play the useful role of a senior statesman, even after he relinquishes office as US President. With his rich experience as a peace negotiator in the world's hot spots like Northern Ireland and the Middle East, he is an asset in dealing diplomatically with hawks in the warring parties in any given situation. Mr Clinton, always known to produce a soothing effect on frayed tempers during delicate peace talks, is not a spent force and can't be written off.
Albert Devakaram, India

Bill should now head the UN force for peacekeeping and be in charge of any UN matters. His skills have been shown during his terms in office. But I still don't understand why he has to go, as he was good at his job. Maybe the Americans have eaten too many donuts to notice.
Mikes, UK

You can have him! We've had our fill of him here.
T.J. Cassidy, USA

He can carry his wife's briefcase to the Senate

Maurice, England
He can carry his wife's briefcase to the Senate. Then do the cooking and cleaning at home, maybe Monica will help!
Maurice, England

I think Bill should keep out of the limelight following his scandalous past!!
Stacy Large, UK

The role he should take would be one of mediator in disputes where it is obvious that without intervention matters will escalate. I think if he assumes such a role he will achieve more as an ex-president of the United States than the actual president would. Bush certainly will not achieve any progress in terms of foreign policy.
David Cregan, Ireland

In view of the present situation in the USA between the totally charmless Al Gore and the verbally challenged Dubya Bush, Bill Clinton should be given a third term in office and hold another election in four years time.
Ailsa, UK

I think that his greatest success is yet to come.

Jo Charman, UK
I think that Bill will end up, as Jimmy Carter did, as an honest broker for peace around the world, and I think that he'll be very good at it. He is an excellent diplomat and I think that his greatest success is yet to come.
Jo Charman, UK

He doesn't have to be worried at all.
Jon, UK

Can I be the first to ask Bill to stand as the first elected head of an English Republic? If the Americans are dumb enough to lose him maybe we can be smart enough to take advantage.
Martin Bentley, UK

I see a future for Clinton the same as every other former US President - a has-been who still thinks he has power. Quite similar to our very own Maggie.
Alan Perry, UK

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

12 Dec 00 | World
Clinton touches down in Ireland

Links to other Talking Point stories