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Pioneer, O Pioneer

Most people have forgotten Pioneer 10, which was launched more than 10 years ago with modest expectations. It is still heading out farther and farther into the solar system.

It might be a good thing, at this time, to affirm Pioneer 10 as part of our foreign policy. It has successfully accomplished its mission; it has succeeded beyond expectations; it symbolizes a sort of pure, American aspiration, and, above all, it hasn't bumped into anything.

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About now, Pioneer is passing planet Pluto and heading for Neptune (which temporarily is farther from the sun than more distant Pluto). Here on Earth, meanwhile, American foreign policy hasn't gotten off the ground.

Pioneer is a different matter. It has not been unduly hampered by Russia's belligerent, low-level forays, Israel's aggressive posture of self-defense, the Arabs' lack of logic, Central America's enforced poverty, or even America's meddling for the sake of democracy. It just flies along, doing right, taking its pictures, sending its messages, and in every way looking toward the future, while keeping proper contact with the past.

Secretaries Shultz, Vance, and Kissinger put together have not achieved this outgoing role and singleness of purpose, with or without the help of Ronald Reagan, Jimmy Carter, Gerald Ford, or Richard Nixon.

So the United States should lose no time in declaring Pioneer 10 a major part of its foreign policy. It conveys the idea, worldwide, that it is headed only for a sort of endless success.

Unless, of course, it encounters people out there somewhere.

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