The Soviet Communist Party newspaper Pravda said today that Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig Jr. is being used as a "scapegoat" for failures of the Reagan administration's foreign policy.
In the first direct comment on Haig's resignation Friday, Pravda cited falling confidence in the president's policies at home and abroad and suggested that Reagan lacked a realistic overall concept of foreign affairs.
The conduct of U.S. foreign policy, according to Pravda, has reached a crisis stage in recent weeks because of American misjudgments on issues ranging from East-West trade to the Falkland Islands crisis to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon.
The paper said the Versailles summit displayed deep differences dividing the United States and its major Western allies on East-West trade. The subsequent decision by Reagan to widen sanctions on the use of American-developed equipment in a projected Soviet-West European gas pipeline was described as further deepening divisions within the Western alliance.
Pravda said Reagan's "demonstrative support" for Britain in the Falklands crisis has produced political damage to U.S. interests in Latin America. It said Reagan's support for the policy of "genocide" carried out by Israeli forces in Lebanon was another example of a catastrophic upheaval that might have been averted had the president wanted to do so.
"In these circumstances President Reagan, whose popularity has sharply declined in public opinion polls, needed a scapegoat. Thus this role fell to Secretary of State Alexander Haig who is primarily responsible for the drafting of foreign policy," Pravda said.
The principal source of the crisis of U.S. foreign policy, Pravda said, is the administration's "dangerous" rearmament policy.
Without commenting on the appointment of George P. Shultz as Haig's successor, the paper said that "no changes in the American administration can help to mask the dangerous character and inconsistency of U.S. foreign policy as long as it fails to take into account popular striving for peace and elimination of military conflict, as well as the arms race and the threat of nuclear war."
Although Haig had been the focus of frequent Soviet attacks during the past two years, Pravda today described him as a soccer player constantly shifting from the "right wing" toward the "center" and back within an administration that views every issue as an arena of Soviet-American rivalry.
"If as a 'professional' he tried to narrow the gap somehow between the United States and its allies and came out against the more extreme measures advocated by ultra-right forces, he did so in an extremely inconsistent fashion and remained committed to polices of force and American diktat," or decree, Pravda said.
"But it has become obvious that it is not possible to reconcile in foreign policy the course of militaristic anti-Sovietism while at the same time pursuing realistic policies. It is possible that in the end Haig partly comprehended this. But by then it was too late."
Today's commentary was written by Pravda's New York correspondent, and it suggested a wait-and-see attitude in Moscow toward the latest turmoil within the Reagan administration.
Despite earlier public criticism, Soviet officials here have frequently said in private that Haig was viewed in Moscow as a reasonable man and a "professional" in an administration full of amateur diplomats.
The initial report of his resignation linked the move to an "obvious discord" within the administration over its Middle East policy.
Pravda today talked only in general terms about the Lebanese crisis, which was cited as one of several issues that have led to a crisis in U.S. foreign policy.