Charles Krauthammer laments President Reagan's retreat from the so-called Reagan Doctrine, which would commit the United States to support anticommunist revolutions whenever and wherever they emerge in the developing world -- "on every continent from Nicaragua to Afghanistan" ("The Reagan Doctrine," op-ed, July 19). Perhaps President Reagan has come to recognize the terrible flaws in this doctrine that bears his name. Particularly troubling is the indiscriminate compulsion toward unilateral action by the United States.

The doctrine, for example, makes no distinction among the Marxist or communist regimes against which an insurrection is being mounted. It does not distinguish among Marxist governments that maintain some measure of pluralism and those that are totally dominated by a single ideological vision. It does not distinguish between those that came to power as the result of a broad-based, popularly supported struggle against a ruthless dictatorship and those (like Afghanistan) that were imposed on an unwilling population by Soviet power. It does not distinguish among regimes that may have some considerable popular backing and those that are kept in place only by repression. Nor does it distinguish among those which are genuine security threats to neighboring countries and those that are not.

Moreover, the doctrine makes no distinction among the anticommunist movements being supported. It does not distinguish, for example, between guerrilla forces that represent a genuinely democratic resistance and those that would impose a new tyranny on the country they purport to liberate; nor between movements that enjoy wide support and those that front for narrow special interests.

Finally, the doctrine makes no distinction among those insurrections that are likely to succeed and those that will only end up causing bloodshed and suffering, undermining precarious economies, and justifying greater repression and military buildup by the regime in power.

Anticommunism is an inadequate basis for U.S. foreign policy toward the Third World. By itself, anticommunism has never been sufficient reason for supporting established governments, nor can it be sufficient reason for toppling them. By entangling the United States in conflicts throughout the Third World, the Reagan Doctrine would divide us internally and isolate us internationally, Krauthammer holds out the faint hope that President Reagan himself may have begun to realize this.