The Reagan administration's rhetorical attack on the Soviet Union last week was intended to send Moscow the message that "it is not going to be business as usual," White House chief of staff James A. Baker, III said yesterday.
Baker said that the Reagan administration intends to judge the Soviet Union by its deeds. Such measures as depriving Soviet Ambassador Anatoliy Dobrynin of his special privilege to enter the State Department through a private garage entrance indicate that Moscow "won't have preferred status" unless its actions justify it, Baker said in an interview on "Face the Nation" (CBS, WDVM).
In an apparent criticism of past administrations, Baker said that Reagan "is going to be realistic about the Soviet Union and not naive," and that the president "might have trouble trusting" the Soviets in view of their past deeds, including the invasion of Afghanistan.
Both Reagan and Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig, Jr. were critical of the Soviets at news conferences last week.
Reagan said the Soviets proclaimed their intention "to lie, to cheat . . . to commit any crime" to achieve their goal of world domination, and Haig accused them of supporting international terrorism.
Asked if Reagan would adopt the Israeli model and refuse to negotiate with terrorists who seize Americans in the future, Baker replied: "I think the president has said that you don't negotiate with terrorists." He also repeated Reagan's pledge that, should Americans be taken prisoner in the future, U.S. retribution would be swift and sure.
Another top Reagan aide, counselor Edwin Meese III, said in Los Angeles Saturday that Reagan has asked for and started receiving contingency plans on what action the government should take if another hostage situation should occur.
Meese said Reagan also has requested a report on "the state of our ability to respond" with force in the event of another attack on a U.S. embassy, and indicated that the United States might even remove an embassy if it appeared the embassy could not be secured.
"If a government is unwilling or unable to provide for the safety of sovereign American territory . . . then I would think we would want to think twice about maintaining our embassy there," Meese said.
On the foreign aid battle between budget director David A. Stockman, who wants sharp reductions, and Haig, Baker said the president has not yet received his subordinates' recommendatons and he cannot speculate on how large any cuts will be inbilateral or international aid.
Baker said that other fights between budget-cutters and department heads trying to protect their budgets had taken place but had not been leaked to the press. He called it natural for Stockman, who is charged with managing the budget, to be armed with a sharp pencil, and for department heads to try to counter Stockman with large erasers.
"These are tough calls," Baker said of the process of trimming government spending, but he added, "There are no sacred cows."
Despite an apparent shift from full Cabinet meetings to smaller Cabinet-level working groups in the Reagan White House's second week, the president still believes in Cabinet government and will hold Cabinet meetings more frequently than any of his predecessors going back to Franklin D. Roosevelt, Baker said.
"The president likes to operate that way and he actually takes decisions in Cabinet meetings," Baker said.