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Not just us-against-them

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US Secretary of State Haig has deftly set the stage for his meeting next month with Soviet Foreign Minister Gromyko.Whatever the pros and cons of Washington's policy toward the Soviet Union, the world including Moscow now knows that it has one. and it is not just the us-against-them of popular mythology. In the fullest statement on the subject so far, Mr. Haig's American Bar Association speech offered a coherent outline against which to test future US actions.

It echoed themes from other forums, such as "restraint and reciprocity" in Soviet relations being one of the four pillars of US foreign policy -- including also a reinvigoration of traditional alliances, a responsible relationship with the developing countries, and a restoration of US strength and internal economy. but Mr. Haig added an extra stress on providing incentives for Soviet good behavior, along with maintaining the military might to curb departures from it.

In the vein of his July speech on US determination to make arms control succeed, the secretary seemed to be advising Mr. Gromyko -- not to mention critics farther west -- that this administration can be reasonable. It intends to be responsive as well as resistant. It recognizes the two countries live on the same planet, have legitimate interests that are not hostile to each other.

"We must compete with the Soviet Union to protect freedom, but we must also search for cooperation to protect mankind," said Mr. Haig.

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