Foreign affairs: Carter is best No, Reagan is
On Nov. 4 I am voting for Ronald Reagan for president and George Bush for vice-president. They will bring into government a unified, competent group of policymakers whose coherent world view reflects the values and wishes of mainstream Americans. A vote for Reagan is a vote against the dismal Carter record. The election of Reagan will free us from four more years of vacillation , drift, and self-righteous bluster and permit us to face the grave challenges of the 1980s with courage, foresight, and political competence.
Carter's first term in office has been a national economic and foreign policy catastrophe. His re-election would make a mockery of the fundamental democratic principle of political accountability of elected leaders.
Today the US armed forces are weaker than at any time since the Korean war of the 1950s, having been kept on a starvation diet in terms of money, trained manpower, and modern weapons. The conduct of foreign affairs has lost Washington most of its credibility and clout. Never has American prestige sunk so low. US diplomacy is under severe stress in trying to protect our vital national interests at conflict flash points ranging from the Korean peninsula in northeast Asia to Kampuchea and Thailand, Afghanistan and Pakistan, Iran and Iraq, and the Horn of Africa.
The oil of the Persian Gulf that fuels our factories and military transport, tanks, and aricraft is in danger of being cut off. Yet programs to build up alternate sources of energy like coal and nuclear power plants are lagging, having been haltingly and clumsily developed and managed. Chief among Carter's bureaucratic follies is probably his costly and disorganized Department of Energy.
The Carter administration is incompetent, divided in policy councils, and prone to do nothing about international crises until they have already reached a nearly insoluble stage. It moralizes about problems, blaming everybody and everything but its own parochialism for the troubles the US now faces.
In 1977 I was dismayed at the innocent McGovernite neoisolationism of the dovish Jimmy Carter, trustfully holding out friendly concessions to the dictators in Moscow, Havana, Hanoi, Peking, and Pyongyang, often at the expense of our closes allies in NATO, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, Taiwan, and South Korea. Now, in 1980, I am equally uneasy over Carter as a reborn hawk, flailing rhetorically at the Soviet Union, provocatively if ineffectively, ever since the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan taught him what the rest of us already knew about Soviet behavior.
Carter calls Reagan a warmonger, sometimes politely, more often nastily, always unfairly. The truth is that, if war comes, it will be because the USSR is tempted by the weakness and unreadiness of US military forces. Prefereable by all reasonable standards to another four years like 1977-1980 is a Reagan administration. Reagan and Bush will bring able men to posts of responsibility in Washington and once again provide leadership the country can be proud of. These are men with integrity of character, breadth of vision, sound judgement and competence in the management of public affairs. I will vote for them not because they can isntantly solve all the problems of these troubled times but because they can reflect the American people's patriotism, self-confidence, and determination to deter war and violence without letting the US be pushed around where its vital national interests are at stake.
Under a Reagan administration there will be increased revenues, even at lower tax rates, if other government spending is firmly controlled. New weapons systems can be built now in the 1980s when the greatest dangers face us -- not in the 1990s as Carter for the most part proposes. In time, if Reagan is elected, we can have a three-ocean navy with logistic staying power and strategic nuclear strength not inferior to the USSR.
Early negotiation of a new SALT III treaty incorporating the equitable parts of SALT II but discarding the inequitable heavy ICBM and cruise missiles limitations would bring our NATO allies into the arms ceiling dialogue and pave the way for an eventual realistic modues vivendi with the Soviet Union on the basis of a prudent mutual understanding between these still basically different and competitive societies. This is the real strategic challenge of our times. It requires a coherent foreign policy and substantial economic, technological, and military strength to meet it.
Within this context, priority in international affairs would go to protecting the trade and investment system linking the US with its key allies. The sea lanes along which raw materials and industrial products move from continent to continent and US partners in this trade would be provided adequate security under voluntary cooperative arrangements.
Communist China would be welcomed in establishing better relations with its regional neighbors and the United States. It would neither be treated as a card to be played against the Soviet Union nor allowed to infringe on the political freedom of choice or the security of its neighbors, including Taiwan, whose successful society is a model for modernizing Asia and an important symbol of the way we treat America's oldest and most loyal friends.
A free-trading Pacific community stretching from Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan through the ASEAN states to Australia and New Zealand would buttress our global interests and enable us and our European friends gradually to restore some semblance of stability to South Asia and the Mideast.
Can all these things be done? Not quicly or easily, but with Reagan and Bush we can move in the right direction. With Carter we would drift, probably toward strategic surrender or a war for which we are unprepared. There is a choice. It does involve peace or war. It calls for a vote for Reagan.