Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Letters

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Letters

Article excerpt

Benefits of a Murky Foreign Policy

The Dec. 11 {World Edition Dec. 13-19} article, "World Waits for Clinton's 'Clarity of Purpose,' " echoes many past pleas that US presidents proclaim specific "strategic plans," and "long-range programs." In most cases this is an impossible task.

If the president's words are general, no one knows exactly what the US will do in a specific situation, so such words are of little help to anyone. Some years ago, Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger proposed a set of constraints against the US engaging in war, including not being the aggressor and acting only when vital US interests were involved. But when a nation is an aggressor and what constitutes our vital interests were left undefined, so his rules were of little use. At the other extreme, if precisely defined foreign objectives are enunciated, these then give would-be aggressors such as Saddam Hussein or Muammar Qaddafi a blueprint for how they can freely nibble around the edges and in time cause serious erosion of the US position. Many feel that Secretary of State Dean Acheson's specific exclusion of South Korea from the US area of national interests spurred North Korea to attack and led to the disastrous Korean War. You have to be willing to feint and bluff, but place your bets when severely threatened. Any player who announces ahead of time how he will respond to various types of hands will surely lose out in the long run. Even if a president does have a highly detailed foreign policy plan, he may be prudent not to announce it, and he will surely have to judge each situation on its own merits. David Herron Atherton, Calif. China friendlier, but not its people The Nov. 22 article, "The US and China: A New Consensus," outlined several important issues in the Sino-US relationship. Yet, one point has been totally ignored: What the United States is facing today is not an unfriendly Chinese regime but an increasingly unfriendly Chinese population. Since President Nixon's historic visit to China nearly a quarter century ago, China has a policy of supporting Sino-US friendship, despite events like Tiananmen Square and missile launches near Taiwan. …

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