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From the very beginning of the Iranian Revolution, the West--and particularly the United States--seems to have been struck by a peculiar sort of political blindness. The first signs of revolt passed unnoticed. The explosions of rage in the spring of 1978, first in Tabriz and then in Qum, were attributed to "obscurantist mullahs" hostile to the Shah's agrarian reform. The immense demonstrations by millions of Iranians, as well as the strikes in the administrations, factories, schools, universities and oil fields which paralyzed the state and in the last analysis caused the monarch's inglorious departure, were attributed to the "fanaticism" of the Iranian people. How could it have been otherwise, it was asked at the time, since the population was following a reactionary old cleric in revolt against a man who had devoted his entire life to modernizing his country?
There is now a growing realization that immigration and refugee issues may prove to be among the most important and troubling world problems of the next decade. The recent large flows of refugees or expellees from Indochina, Afghanistan and Cuba, all typically treated as short-term crises, instead may be harbingers of long-term trends of profound proportions. The same may be said for the accelerating trend of international migration, both legal and illegal.
"The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico is a political and economic anachronism." With that one-sentence paragraph, Rubén Berríos-Martínez began an article in the April 1977 issue of Foreign Affairs, entitled, "Independence for Puerto Rico: The Only Solution." But the President of the Puerto Rican Independence Party was too kind: "commonwealth" as a political status is not even an anachronism; it is a myth.
An important element in recent European criticism of U.S. foreign policy is the claim that neither the Administration nor its critics has presented a coherent strategy for the decade of the 1980s. Responsible Europeans suggest that American statements on foreign policy have stressed the value of good personal relations, the importance of goodwill, and the desirability of shared aims, but have offered little in the way of practical guidelines as to how we should deal with the growing power of the Soviet Union. These critics ascribe the erratic nature of U.S. policy to the lack of a sound strategic concept. They are not, however, much happier on this score with the Administration's domestic critics than with the Administration.
As we enter the fall of 1980, the future of efforts to limit armaments through international negotiations is very much in doubt. President Carter's decision in January to defer Senate debate on the SALT II treaty only recognized formally what had long been apparent: in many ways the troubled history of SALT II already had represented a significant, perhaps fatal, defeat for negotiated arms limitations--regardless of the specific fate of the treaty itself. Even before the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, enthusiasm for arms limitations had become increasingly restrained within the Administration (to put it mildly) as the SALT agreement's political problems had become increasingly evident. Moreover, the national SALT debate and related developments had occasioned perceptions in the Congress and among the public at large of political and substantive liabilities of negotiated arms limitations that seemed likely to give pause to any President in 1981.
Our society was one of the first to write a Constitution. This reflected the confident conviction of the Enlightenment that explicit written arrangements could be devised to structure a government that would be neither tyrannical nor impotent in its time, and to allow for future amendment as experience and change might require.
The urge to teach someone a lesson seldom inspires sound policy. The lessons learned are too often one's own. So it is with President Carter's 1980 grain embargo. Soviet food supplies have been little affected. U.S. illusions about its own "food power" have been properly dispelled.
Reviews & Responses
To James Thurber, in a 1943 New Yorker cartoon, Walter Lippmann was the object of respectful humor: a wife looks up from a newspaper and tells her husband, "Lippmann scares me this morning." To Judge Learned Hand, Colonel House, and five hundred guests at a testimonial dinner in 1931, he was, in the words of Time magazine, "their Moses, their prophet of Liberalism." To Dean Acheson, writing his memoirs, he was "that ambivalent Jeremiah." To Woodrow Wilson, for whom Lippmann prepared several of the famous Fourteen Points, his judgment was "most unsound"; to Lyndon Johnson, it was ultimately far worse than that. The one inescapable conclusion to be drawn from his six decades as a public correspondent is that Lippmann was America's, and perhaps the world's, most influential journalist.