By Patrick Tyler
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Additional info for A Great Wall: Six Presidents and China
At the same time, Congress and die Clinton administration have been 7 8 A G RE AT WA L L rushing to develop a multibillion-dollar antimissile umbrella in Northeast Asia. The missile shield ostensibly would protect American and Japanese forces from a new generation of North Korean ballistic missiles, but China was keenly aware that the antimissile system could serve as a shield against Chinese missiles, too. To China, this raised the specter of American forces gaining a first strike advantage in any potential conflict.
Instead, he saw the job as coordinating and distilling a full range of views for the president from among all his national security advisers. This evenhanded approach lasted less than a year, after which some of those who had first praised Lake now complained that more Machiavellian instincts had emerged. When Clinton entered the White House, he had no interest in conducting high-level dialogue with the Chinese leadership—the "butchers of Beijing," as they had been labeled. The Clinton team was more interested in putting pressure on China over human rights, weapons proliferation, and trade barriers.
Woolsey knew only too well Clinton's lack of focus. In the first six months of die administration, Woolsey and his intelligence officers had spent hours in the reception area outside the Oval Office, standing by to give the president his daily intelligence briefing. Clinton, more often than not, left the CIA cooling its heels for hours, frequendy then canceling the briefing altogether. In September 1994, when a small Cessna aircraft with a mentally disturbed pilot crashed into the South Lawn of the White House in what appeared to be an unsuccessful assassination attempt, the joke at CIA headquarters was that the pilot was Woolsey trying to get an appointment with the president.