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Above the commotion

THE world has had little respite from crisis news for a month now, not since the mid-September earthquakes in Mexico City. A week later it was hurricane Gloria, then the Oct. 8 mud slide in Puerto Rico and then the Achille Lauro hijacking. The personal drama has been emotional: cameras snaked into rubble in search of victims, microphones thrust in the faces of hostage survivors. The political drama was no less intense: In the Achille Lauro fallout, heads of state demanded apologies, answering heads of s tate responded ``Never!''; mass anti-American student demonstrations rocked Egypt; Italy's government fell. On quite another front, preparations for the Reagan-Gorbachev summit in Geneva Nov. 19 and 20 have left the public searching for the least intimation of just how the outcome will enhance East-West stability. Mr. Gorbachev's ambitious visit to Paris has been followed the past week by a confusing Reagan administration dispute over the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty: White House national-security adviser Robert C. McFarlane suggested that the treaty ``approved and authorized'' the testing and developm ent of antimissile ``star wars'' technologies like lasers; after a showdown with Secretary of State George Shultz, the administration struck a compromise and said that, while embracing the more flexible view of the treaty, it would live within its previous, narrower interpretation.

Above the commotion of personal tragedy and diplomatic disarray, however, it is possible to see other forces, positive and intelligent, at work. Mexico's rebuilding is helped by aid and a restructuring of its debt. The Achille Lauro affair may find a more honest perception of the alignments in the region; a Washington as adamant for peace as for bringing terrorists to trial could produce results. By being held, the Geneva meeting can end several years of long-distance superpower acrimony.

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When the news is relentlessly downbeat, the public and its leaders should work the more persistently for harmony and peace. How reassuring that the longing for these always outlasts adversity.

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