Michael Kelly waxes nostalgic for Ronald Reagan's foreign policies [op-ed, Nov. 17] as he trashes liberals for their "morally bankrupt and politically insane relativism in foreign policy."

What exactly was Kelly's favorite part of Reagan foreign policy? Was it American aid, training and support for the same Salvadoran military that butchered four American churchwomen, an archbishop and tens of thousands of others?

Or perhaps Kelly misses the good old days when Chile's Augusto Pinochet, Liberia's Samuel Doe, Haiti's Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier, the Argentine and Guatemalan generals, Angola's Jonas Savimbi, Somalia's Mohamed Siad Barre, the Philippines' Ferdinand Marcos and Zaire's Sese Seko Mobutu were America's best friends, pocketing billions of dollars worth of our aid while leaving their own countries in ruins.

The moral relativism Kelly attributes to those of us who opposed Reagan-era policies is a figment of his imagination. No one I worked with in the human rights, religious and peace communities had any illusions about the inherent abusiveness and unworthiness of the Soviet Union and its satellites.

We did believe that our own government had no business supporting bloody-minded regimes claiming to be the enemy of our enemy. Such a policy did nothing to end the Cold War, and it did make the United States an accomplice to torture, mass death, political imprisonment and corruption.

As for liberal human rights activism being "politically insane," I challenge Kelly to find any evidence that the Reagan administration's support for dictators, murderers and thieves abroad was popular at home among ordinary Americans.

--Holly Burkhalter