From a speech Tuesday by Bruce Babbitt to the Center for Strategic and International Studies:

It is about time we faced up to the fact that there is already under way a new and spirited competition between the superpowers. It is a contest for allies and influence, conducted by courtship and not by force.

As Americans, we have a natural advantage in this contest, but a natural advantage is not enough. We must take the contest seriously, and we must put our best pieces into play.

First, we must never forget that public diplomacy counts. Mikhail Gorbachev is a more popular figure in Europe than Ronald Reagan -- at least in part because he works at it. It is long past time to start matching him, speech for speech and proposal for proposal. Through the words and deeds of our leaders, we are conducting what amounts to a debate, America and Russia, between one way of life and another. . . .

Second, we must face the fact in this country that a successful foreign policy cannot be bought on the cheap. Foreign aid amounts to just one-fifth of 1 percent of America's national wealth, which puts us at the very bottom of the list of industrial nations. It may not be popular and it may be hard to explain, but sending money abroad is a powerful and effective investment in our own security.

At a U.N. conference recently, the Soviet delegate waxed eloquent at his nation's solidarity with the problems of the developing world. I wish his American counterpart had challenged him to put his money where his mouth was. Suppose we had proposed a joint and immediate contribution -- by the Soviet Union and the United States -- of $1 billion each in new money to the World Bank's development fund. I'd like to have seen his cable home.