Former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger has implicitly criticized the Carter administration for failing to recognize that a government faced with organized terrorism must sometimes suspend civil liberties in order to overcome it.
"I think the problem of terrorism is an International challenge and I think those who practice it" are attempting to destroy " legitimate governments and authority," said Kissinger, here on a visit as an official guest of the Argentine government.
"Those countries that have not experienced terrorism may not always understand" what it can do to a society and how difficult it may be to fight, he said.
"I would say that the United States owes you some understanding of the tragedies of your recent history," Kissinger told a group of Argentine government officials, businessmen and journalists Saturday.
The Carter administration has applied its human rights policy with particular force in both Argentina and neighboring Chile. The United States no longer approves new military or economic aid for either country and has voted against loans for them in international lending institutions. U.S. relations with both countries are strained.
Argentina was one of the first countries to be seriously threatened by urban terrorist groups. Thousands of government officials, police, army officers, terrorists and bystanders were killed by bullets and bombs between 1975 and 1977.
Both rightist and leftist terrorists flourished here during the last year of Maria Estela. Peron's government, which was overthrown by the Argentine military in March 1976. Even before the coup, the military had begun an extra-legal anti-terrorist campaign of its own and afterward, suspend civil liberties as its so-called "dirty war" continued.
International human rights groups have charged that anywhere from 8,000 to 20,000 Argentines have disappeared over the last three years. The military admits holding more than 3,500 political prisoners.