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A great deal has been written about human rights and foreign policy in the recent past. With much of what I propose to discuss below, before arriving at a policy proposal, I expect there will not be substantial disagreement, with some of it inevitably there will be. We are all agreed that the movement for human rights, politically expressed, is quite new; that U.S. involvement in that movement has been uneven; that the advent of the United Nations Covenant on Human Rights slightly altered the juridical international picture; that the Soviet Union came recently to a policy of manipulating the West's campaign for human rights; that the Vietnam War brought on a general disillusionment with American idealism; that the Realpolitik of Nixon-Kissinger generated first congressional resistance and then, through candidate and later President Jimmy Carter, executive resistance to adjourning official U.S. concern for human rights. And, of course, everyone knows that Mr. Carter's human rights policy is now in a shambles. This is the case, in my judgment, not because of executive ineptitude, but because of morphological problems that can't be met without an organic division of responsibility.
The grand old man of Balkan politics, Marshal Josip Broz Tito, no longer rules. At this writing, the founder of nonalignment, the originator of the first new brand of socialism since Lenin, the friend, or at least the colleague, of world leaders from Stalin and Roosevelt through Khrushchev and De Gaulle to Hua and Carter, lies mortally ill. At home he attempted, at the very least, to forge a united nation from a host of competing, often antagonistic ethnic groups, each with its own aspirations in terms of economic and cultural development, religion, language and political awareness. Here, too, his success has been tempered by a gnawing realization that perhaps this very success has contained less than meets the eye, that perhaps it was merely Tito's own personal charisma and personal loyalty to an ideal that produced a progressive, prosperous and united Yugoslavia.
The possibility that the world will awake with surprise one morning to a radical change--whether hoped for or feared--in the Soviet system of government is so remote that we can only wonder that the prospect continues to tantalize us, provoking a recurrent international concern. Perhaps it is because we are all too aware of the vulnerability of our analyses and hypotheses as they apply to even the most "open" and flexible of political systems that we do not cease to marvel at the opaque intransigence of the "closed," rigid, "perfect" system of the Soviet Union, and its indisputable reality in our time.
The Afghanistan crisis has dramatized and intensified antecedent changes and strains in the Western alliance. There was unanimous, if separate, condemnation of Soviet aggression, but there were also divergent, and often acrimoniously divergent, assessments of the causes of aggression and the nature of the challenge. The difficulties of orchestrating a common response or of at least preventing a discordant one suggest a new balance of forces within the alliance and a set of divergent interests.
The olive tree, the oldest tree in the world, whose leaves form the symbol of peace, grows in the Middle East. Also to be found there is a concentration of the most modern weaponry of our epoch, weapons being used right now in warfare.
In the late summer of 1979 the Norfolk (Va.) Ledger Star based a lead story on the leak of a classified communication from the naval command there (CINCLANT) to units of the Atlantic fleet, laying out procedures to be followed by the U.S. government in protecting traditional high-seas freedoms. Three days later The New York Times picked up the story, running it on the front page under the headline, "U.S. Will Challenge Coastal Sea Claims That Exceed Three Miles." The United States, said the Times, "ordered the Navy and Air Force to undertake a policy of deliberately sending ships and planes into or over the disputed waters of nations that claim a territorial limit of more than the three miles accepted by the United States and 22 other nations." A decision had been taken, the story said, to "show a more active interest . . . because simply protesting diplomatically about such limits would not be effective."
The mood in China as the 1980s begin, and a post-Mao policy line is consolidated, is one of cautious hopefulness. There is a fervent desire for progress, blended with an acute awareness of the limits on future possibilities. Of all the differences since the great but oppressive Mao Zedong was embalmed in 1976, there are four which stand out.