Spring 1979

Spring 1979
57, 4


J. William Fulbright

My long tenure in the Senate, much of it under less than tranquil and serene circumstances, may have compromised my capacity for objective judgment of a legislator's role in our democratic system. But today, in face of the skepticism voiced in some quarters about the fate of the SALT II agreement, together with the developments in Iran, I confess to increasingly serious misgivings about the ability of the Congress to play a constructive role in our foreign relations. Though these misgivings are far from confined to the Congress, I find myself haunted by Alexis de Tocqueville's famous statement nearly a century and a half ago: "I do not hesitate to say that it is especially in the conduct of their foreign relations that democracies appear to be decidedly inferior to other governments. . . . Foreign politics demand scarcely any of those qualities which are peculiar to a democracy; they require, on the contrary, the perfect use of almost all those in which it is deficient."

Donald Zagoria

Since 1975, seven pro-Soviet communist parties have seized power or territory in Africa and Asia with armed force. In the spring of 1975, after a North Vietnamese invasion of South Vietnam, North Vietnam's Communist Party took control of the South and its puppet Pathet Lao seized power in a demoralized Laos. After a short civil war in Angola in 1975-76, following the departure of the Portuguese, Agostinho Neto's Marxist-Leninist Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) defeated two other Angolan parties contending for power. In February 1977, in a "red terror" directed against other military leaders who had previously shared power with him after the fall of Emperor Haile Selassie in 1974, Colonel Mengistu Haile Mariam and his group of communist officers seized power in Ethiopia. In April 1978, Nur Mohammad Taraki's People's Party launched a successful armed coup in Afghanistan against the military government led by President Mohammad Daoud. In June 1978, in South Yemen, the communist group in a ruling coalition of leftists carried out a successful armed coup against President Salim Robaye Ali, the leader of the non-communist leftists, and his army supporters. Finally, in January 1979, after a North Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia, Hanoi replaced the pro-Chinese communist government of Pol Pot with a pro-Soviet regime.

Robert Legvold

Like a siege, instability in the Third World has laid hold of Soviet-American relations. From the Angolan civil war in 1975 to the Iranian revolution in 1978, the turmoil has overwhelmed all other considerations in the relationship, save for the growth of Soviet military power, whose menace it serves to accentuate. Or so it would appear from the most forceful commentary of the day.

Richard J. Barnet

Like the stock market, U.S.-Soviet relations are subject to mysterious rhythms. Despite occasional bullish pronouncements from Washington and Moscow, the downturn in relations that began when the euphoria of détente wore off in 1976 continues. Both countries are poised at the brink of major new weapons programs. The United States has openly befriended China, a nation regarded in Moscow as a mortal enemy. The risks of U.S.-Cuban and U.S.-Soviet confrontation in Africa grow as political compromises over southern Africa become more difficult. The strategic arms limitation (SALT) negotiations in Geneva and Moscow have been exhausting and the arguments over ratification in Washington promise to be embittering. The process has not led to an improved international climate. Indeed, a strong case can be made that in the last few years the SALT negotiations have exacerbated tensions between the two superpowers.

George Lenczowski

The "arc of crisis" has been defined as an area stretching from the Indian subcontinent in the east to the Horn of Africa in the west. The Middle East constitutes its central core. Its strategic position is unequalled: it is the last major region of the Free World directly adjacent to the Soviet Union, it holds in its subsoil about three-fourths of the proven and estimated world oil reserves, and it is the locus of one of the most intractable conflicts of the twentieth century: that of Zionism versus Arab nationalism. Moreover, national, economic and territorial conflicts are aggravated by the intrusion of religious passions in an area which was the birthplace of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and by the exposure, in the twentieth century, to two competing appeals of secular modernization: Western and communist.

R. K. Ramazani

Who should maintain the future security of the Persian Gulf? This question looms large in the minds of policymakers in the United States, Western Europe, Japan and, of course, the Persian Gulf states. The fact that this question is raised with a deep sense of urgency in numerous capitals of the world indicates the extent to which Iran was perceived as having ensured Gulf security before the outbreak of its recent revolution. Although American rhetoric spoke of pursuing a "twin-pillar policy," the United States itself actually relied primarily on Iran to perform the role of the "policeman" for the Gulf region.

Robert Stobaugh and Daniel Yergin

Almost exactly five years after the first oil shock, the second began. The parts of the puzzle are arranged quite differently this time around, but the two central pieces are the same. The upheaval in Iran has meant an interruption of supply and a loss to world production already as great as that from the 1973 embargo; the tight world oil market which had been predicted, just last fall, only for the mid-1980s or beyond is already upon us. And, as a direct result, the OPEC countries-which in December 1978 had already announced a substantial price rise during 1979-are further increasing prices.

Laurence H. Silberman

This article challenges the notion that it is appropriate for Foreign Service officers to routinely occupy senior policymaking positions in the State Department. As a recent "political" ambassador who has also served at a senior level in domestic departments of our government, I confess that I ended my ambassadorial stint with less than friendly feelings toward the Foreign Service as a whole. Since then, reflecting as dispassionately as possible on my own observations and looking with some care into past history, I have concluded that the frictions that have arisen almost continuously between the Service and successive Presidents (and their political appointees) have their roots deep in the system of appointments itself-and that they lend themselves to constructive remedies.

Jonathan B. Bingham and Victor C. Johnson

Last year, America's foreign trade deficit reached alarming new levels. Responding, President Carter announced in September a multifaceted program to encourage U.S. exports, and 15 members of the House of Representatives formed an Export Task Force to pursue the same objective. But also last year the President and Congress imposed various new limitations on exports, and 70 members of the House introduced a "Technology Transfer Ban Act," calling for broad prohibitions on exports to communist countries. In 1979, the Congress will have to reconcile these conflicting tendencies as it legislates an extension to the Export Administration Act, the principal authority for controls on civilian exports, which expires September 30.

Alberto Ronchey

The terrorism that is now endemic in Italy evolved gradually, from the ideological extremism of the revolutionary generation of 1968, through the "hot autumn" of labor unrest in the Turin-Milan-Genoa industrial triangle, through the first guerrilla skirmishes in the "piazzas," to the ambushes that, beginning in the middle of the 1970s, marked the birth of a new category of citizens who walk on crutches.

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