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If the policies and actions of the U.S. government are to be made to conform to moral standards, those standards are going to have to be America's own, founded on traditional American principles of justice and propriety. When others fail to conform to those principles, and when their failure to conform has an adverse effect on American interests, as distinct from political tastes, we have every right to complain and, if necessary, to take retaliatory action. What we cannot do is to assume that our moral standards are theirs as well, and to appeal to those standards as the source of our grievances.
Arms control has certainly gone off the tracks. For several years what are called arms negotiations have been mostly a public exchange of accusations; and it often looks as if it is the arms negotiations that are driving the arms race. It is hard to escape the impression that the planned procurement of 50 MX missiles (at latest count) has been an obligation imposed by a doctrine that the end justifies the means--the end something called arms control, and the means a demonstration that the United States does not lack the determination to match or exceed the Soviets in every category of weapons.
Ronald Reagan's imposition of limited economic sanctions against the South African regime in September was a tacit admission that his policy of "constructive engagement"--encouraging change in the apartheid system through a quiet dialogue with that country's white minority leaders--had failed. Having been offered many carrots by the United States over a period of four-and-a-half years as incentives to institute meaningful reforms, the South African authorities had simply made a carrot stew and eaten it. Under the combined pressures of the seemingly cataclysmic events in South Africa since September 1984 and the dramatic surge of anti-apartheid protest and political activism in the United States, the Reagan Administration was finally embarrassed into brandishing some small sticks as an element of American policy.
It took three years of muddling through crises, near-panics in the financial markets, a million or so jobs lost in the United States, and social unrest in the developing world for the Reagan Administration to recognize the debt crisis for what it is: a long-term economic and political barrier to development that is slowly strangling world economic growth.
The inauguration of 36-year-old Alan García Pérez as president of Peru on July 28 opened a new and uncertain chapter in that country's tortured modern history. The youngest chief executive in South America, García has quickly reversed the image of a do-nothing presidency, replacing it with that of an energetic, driven national political leader. The dynamic young president is personally directing the government's attack against the progressive deterioration of the economy. He has challenged the fast-growing illicit drug trade. Since his inauguration, García has restructured the military leadership and purged the police, declared a war against corruption, promised to decentralize the national government, and cut the once sacrosanct military budget. He is actively seeking policies to undermine the messianic guerrilla group, Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path). To reestablish a link between the government and the governed, the president announces decisions and discusses new initiatives with the people from a second-story balcony of the presidential palace in downtown Lima.
Mexico's famed political stability has not been destroyed by the country's current economic crisis. But that stability can no longer be taken for granted. Over the past half-century, the Mexican political system has brought economic development, albeit unjustly distributed, inefficiently planned and plagued with waste and corruption. It has ensured social peace and political continuity, although with recurrent repression and electoral fraud. And it has maintained peaceful relations with the United States, despite asymmetries, irritants and sporadic confrontations. These three pillars of Mexico's stability, which is unique in Latin America, are not yet crumbling, but all are growing weaker, as is the political system they sustain.
The problem in the Arab-Israeli peace process in late 1985 is not how to arrange a negotiation. The problem is how to make it politically possible--even imperative--for leaders in the conflict to commit themselves to negotiate. Making peace is first a political process, and only second a negotiating process, as the experience of the 1970s taught us. The intense negotiations of that decade, from the shuttle diplomacy of Secretary of State Henry Kissinger through the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty of 1979, followed political steps that had already demonstrated commitment to negotiation and lowered the human and psychological barriers to peace.
Through the improbable device of a military coup, Nigeria has been delivered from dictatorship. To be sure, the form of government remains a military regime, and almost certainly will for many years to come. In fact, much of the top leadership remains the same: the August 27 coup d'état was engineered by high-ranking officers in the fallen government of Major-General Muhammed Buhari and his powerful second in command, Major-General Tunde Idiagbon. Many officers who held key command and government positions under General Buhari continue in power. But the nature and style of rule have been transformed in ways that may have lasting implications for Nigeria's political future.
Between August 1980 and December 1981, the Polish crisis had an important international dimension. Since the imposition of martial law on December 13, 1981, however, the political situation in Poland has drastically changed. One might argue that it is now merely the internal concern of that country or, at most, of the Soviet empire. If this be so, Poland must no longer be a matter of particular concern for American foreign policy.