Courtesy Reuters

Foreign Policy Under a Paralyzed Presidency

When the scandal that now goes by the generic term Watergate first broke two years ago as what the White House called "a third-rate burglary," those who live in the world of foreign affairs put it aside as part of the American political scene that did not concern them. No more. For more than a year now it has been a prime topic of diplomatic conversation and of ambassadorial cables flowing out of Washington to the principal world capitals, if not to those further down the list in global importance. What is today more and more at issue is whether, and if so to what degree, Watergate affects both the substance and conduct of U.S. foreign policy and whether, and if so to what degree, other nations may have altered, or plan to alter, their postures toward and dealings with Washington.

Foreign policy is made both by commission and omission. It is affected by mood and nuance, by judgments of strengths and weaknesses, by one government's measure of another's will as well as its ability to act, by one national leader's perception of a rival or friendly leader's political standing in his own country and its effect on both national power and policies.

To this writing obvious to all has been President Nixon's determination to draw a line between foreign affairs and the domestic crisis that has now reached the stage of invocation of the ultimate sanction of the Constitution-the impeachment process. Indeed, a pillar of his public defense is the claimed necessity of his remaining in office in order to continue policies designed to assure "a generation of peace." Nonetheless, it is now evident that the matrix of foreign policy is being influenced by Watergate and could be substantially affected by Watergate. Only the outlines of such Watergate fallout can now be seen. But the revelations likely to come in future months and perhaps years can be expected to enhance rather than diminish this view.

Historically, the current situation

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