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Better foreign policy through hindsight

I am writing to commend Mr. Harsch for his article ``Footnote to Hiroshima,'' [Aug. 6]. It is a common fault to judge past events by present experience, and it is good to have someone point out that no one knew the effect of an atom bomb, and that our side did not know what opponents of the United States were contemplating. It had been a long and costly war and few were in a state of mind to consider objectively. Marie Cowing New York

Joseph Harsch's article on the ``USSR and Israel'' (July 23) is misleading in several respects. He directly links the resumption of diplomatic relations between the two countries with liberalization of Soviet emigration policy.

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While the two might be connected in some fashion, the Soviet Union could restore relations with Israel with little benefit to Soviet Jews. Indeed, it was only in 1971, four years after the Soviets had broken relations with Israel, that the emigration gates were opened. Soviet interest in renewing relations with Israel is evidence of a Soviet desire to take part in any future Middle East peace talks.

In addition, the Jackson-Vanik Amendment did not, as Mr. Harsch suggests, spoil d'etente.

D'etente succumbed because of aggressive Soviet behavior during the 1973 Yom Kippur war, the presence of Soviet troops in Angola, and other actions.

As for the Jackson-Vanik amendment's effect on Jewish emigration figures, the year of highest Jewish emigration was 1979 (51,320 emigrants) five years after passage of Jackson-Vanik.

To claim that Soviet-Israeli reconciliation would ease US-Soviet relations, as Mr. Harsch does, is an overstatement. Greater Soviet respect for the human rights of Jews, Christians, and others is what really is needed. Dr. Allan L. Kagedan, Policy Analyst International Relations The American Jewish Committee, New York [Mr. Harsch comments: Dr. Kagedan is correct about the peak year of Jewish emmigration from the Soviet Union. It was 1979.

But I disagree about the centrality of Soviet-Israeli relations to Soviet-US relations. In the recent Paris talks between Soviet and Israeli ambassadors, the Soviets made an end to anti-Soviet propaganda in the United States one of their three conditions for a resumption of relations. The Jackson-Vanik amendment was a first important success in the anti-Soviet campaign conducted by the pro-Israel lobby in the United States. That campaign was influential in spoiling d'etente. It would be politically diff icult, probably impossible, for President Reagan to revive d'etente without the consent of the pro-Israel lobby.]

Contrary to Prof. Spencer DiScala's assertion that US-Greek relations began to deteriorate after Dr. Andreas Papandreou became prime minister of Greece in 1981 (July 16), relations between Athens and Washington began to sour and take a downward trend long before the rise of Papandreou to power. These strained relations predate Papandreou by about 20 years. In fact, it was right after the destabilization process initiated covertly by agencies of the United States government during the mid-1960s, culminating in the military coup by the United States-backed Greek colonels in April 1967.

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For seven long and arduous years the people of Greece endured the indignities and repression of the military junta propped up by the United States, and the Greek people have never forgiven the United States for this, even though the Greeks still love and admire the American people as friends and allies. Ernest J. Vardalas Congress of American-Hellenic Organizations of Illinois Chicago

Letters are welcome. Only a selection can be published and none individually acknowledged. All are subject to condensation. Please address letters to ``readers write.''

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