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Propaganda appears to be taking precedence over substance in the current US approach to the Soviet Union. Indeed, normally hawkish Reagan administration officials are nowadays seizing every possible opportunity to convince anxious Europeans that they are interested in nothing else besides an arms-control agreement with the Soviets.

Take the latest zigzags at the State Department. In their official reactions to Soviet President Brezhnev's proposal for nuclear arms control this week, department officials went from relatively negative to mildly positive - all in one day. This was largely because White House Counselor Edwin Meese decided Nov. 25 to emphasize the positive in its comments on the Brezhnev proposals made in Bonn.

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State Department experts had at first said that they regarded those Brezhnev proposals as largely a rehash of old, unacceptable ideas.

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