It is possible to be overly critical of a US president's foreign policy. If his diplomats can plug away at thorny problems and keep the world at peace, that is doing much in today's turbulent environment. By this standard the record of the Reagan administration is not without pluses.
Yet it has now been over a year since Ronald Reagan took office and one must recognize the frustration at home and abroad with many aspects of US diplomacy. There is still no strong guidance of American foreign policy and no clear idea of where the United States is going. To be sure, Ronald Reagan has made plain his determination to redress the eroding balance of military power with the Russians and to restore America's overall dominance in the world. Policy under the hand of Alexander Haig is rhetorically more assertive.
But so far a ''get-tough-with-the-Russians'' strategy -- a strategy focusing largely on military solutions -- does not seem to have yielded much in the way of diplomatic gains. The general peace has not been breached, but neither has the international community moved closer together. While the administration has put peripheral questions on center stage, the larger issues seem to go unattended. Many thoughtful people are concerned about gaps in policy and about the consequences if they are not soon addressed:
* In the Middle East, the Reagan administration launched forth at once on a policy of convincing the countries of the region to join in a collective security system against a Russian threat. That had very limited success. Washington no longer talks about ''strategic consensus.'' However, while shuttle diplomacy is now in train to stave off war in Lebanon, there is no long-range US plan for solving the Palestinian problem which lies at the heart of instability in the region. Meantime, tensions grow in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, threatening further hostilities and violence.