Former president Jimmy Carter tonight lashed into his successor's foreign policies, accusing President Reagan of abandoning the traditional bipartisan approach to American diplomacy.
Speaking to a crowded assembly of the Council on Foreign Relations, Carter catalogued the Reagan administration's policies around the world and criticized them all.
Reagan, Carter said, had made "radical changes in foreign policy" that endangered world peace, jeopardized the Camp David accords, increased the perils of nuclear proliferation and otherwise contributed to a worsened world situation.
Carter had hardly a nice word to say for his successor, indicating that he has been stung by Reagan's failure to make any use of Carter's expertise. Carter noted that he had consulted regularly with his predecessor in the White House, Gerald R. Ford.
Carter's demeanor was calm, but his message was biting. His audience consisted of hundreds of members of the American establishment, gathered in an auditorium of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The auditorium was full, so Carter's first secretary of state, Cyrus R. Vance, a late arrival, had to stand at the rear of the hall.
Carter's strongest words were directed at Reagan's policies on nuclear issues. Citing the strategic arms limitation process as a classic example of fruitful, bipartisan foreign policy, Carter said the new administration's approach to arms control issues is "a radical departure" from longstanding policies.
When he was president, Carter noted, there were no big demonstrations in Europe against NATO's nuclear policies. "It is troubling," he said, "that most of the hundreds of thousands of demonstrators in Europe this year are demonstrating against us and not against the much more culpable leader of the Warsaw Pact."
The Reagan administration has sent out "mixed signals at best" on nuclear arms control, Carter said. President Reagan's recent offer to forgo deployment of new U.S. missiles in Europe if the Soviets dismantle their existing missiles there was "a step in the right direction," Carter said. But he quickly listed reasons why he thought the Soviets would never accept Reagan's offer.
Carter said Reagan has no policy on controlling intercontinental strategic nuclear weapons. "Have we abandoned the crucial effort" to control them? he asked.
Carter was particularly harsh in his comments on Reagan's approach to nuclear proliferation. His own tough policy to prevent proliferation, Carter said, "has almost been wiped out completely" in the past year.
Carter blamed unidentified people he said will "benefit financially" from the "lucrative" trade in nuclear reactors for pressuring the Reagan administration to relax non-proliferation controls.
On the Middle East, Carter said it was "almost inconceivable" that neither the secretary of state nor any other high-level negotiator has been assigned by Reagan to seek full implementation of the Camp David accords. "We are bordering on default" on Camp David, Carter said. "Do we recognize the catastrophic consequences of a failure?"
In Asia, the former president said, his successor has spoiled relations with China and Japan. He said it would be a tragic error if the Reagan administration sells offensive weapons such as advanced aircraft to Taiwan, and said unproductive "threats or verbal attacks on Japan are becoming commonplace."
Carter said he was proudest of his policies in support of human rights around the world. "Some have said I was too enthusiastic . . . . These criticisms now make me doubly proud."
But the Reagan administration, Carter charged, has dropped the ball on human rights. Its attitude has been "wavering, muted, off-key," Carter said. "The American trumpet gives an uncertain sound."
Carter received standing ovations from his audience, which council Chairman David Rockefeller described as the largest in the history of the group.