ACCESSION NUMBER:264293 FILE ID:EPF110 DATE:01/25/93 TITLE:JFK'S ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR EAST ASIA TO SPEAK FOR USIA (01/25/93) TEXT:*93012510.EPF *EPF110 01/25/93 * JFK'S ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR EAST ASIA TO SPEAK FOR USIA (Article on U.S. voluntary speaker Roger Hilsman) (550) By Robert F. Holden USIA Staff Writer Washington -- Roger Hilsman, a foreign and defense policy adviser to every Democratic candidate since John F. Kennedy, will visit several Asian countries in February to give his perspective on how the foreign policy process works in the United States in general, and how it will work in the Clinton administration in particular. Hilsman, who began his career as a guerrilla fighter with "Merrill's Marauders" in Burma during World War Two, said in a January 25 interview with USIA that he will be visiting Hong Kong, Vietnam, Thailand, Burma and India on his upcoming tour of the region. He will speak at USIA programs in the latter three countries. Hilsman served in the Kennedy administration as assistant secretary of state for intelligence and research (INR) before replacing Ambassador Averell Harriman as assistant secretary of state for the Far East. (The position is now called assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs. Former U.S. Ambassador to China Winston Lord, a friend of Hilsman's, has been nominated by President Clinton to fill it.) Hilsman said he resigned from the State Department following then-President Lyndon Johnson's decision to commit massive numbers of U.S. ground troops in Vietnam beginning in July 1965. Kennedy never intended to turn Vietnam into an American war, and did not want to go beyond sending a relatively small contingent of U.S. advisers, he said. After leaving the government in the mid-1960's, Hilsman began a long and distinguished career as a professor of government at Columbia University in New York. Many of his former students are now sub-cabinet level officials -- under secretaries and assistant secretaries -- in the Clinton administration, he said. "You can describe me as an adviser to all the Democratic presidential candidates since JFK," Hilsman said. "As a result, I know about three-quarters of the foreign policy appointees in the new administration." The Clinton administration's foreign policy team is extremely competent but not likely to take any bold initiatives, Hilsman said. "There are no (former Secretary of State) Alexander Haigs on the team," he said. "Aggressive foreign policy is not their style." The Clinton administration's first policy priority is and must be domestic affairs, Hilsman said. "The United States cannot be effective in foreign affairs until we have straightened things out at home," he said. The Bush administration, Hilsman said, put the United States out in front of the United Nations on a lot of initiatives -- such as Somalia and Bosnia -- when the United States should be following a U.N. lead and not vice-versa. Clinton will have a hard time getting such initiatives back on track without appearing isolationist, he said. Before speaking for USIA, Hilsman will be guest lecturer for a Columbia Alumni Association trip to Vietnam aboard a cruise ship that will make stops in Hanoi, Hue, Danang and Ho Chi Minh City. The United States should normalize relations with Vietnam eventually, he said, but Clinton should be 1n no hurry to do so. The United States has no interests in Vietnam that are worth risking domestic political capital, he said. NNNN .