Charles Krauthammer's essay, "The Solarz Doctrine" (op-ed, Dec. 6), rejects one of the central precepts of a responsible internationalism -- deciding on a country-by-country basis which anti- communist insurgencies to support. Instead he embraces the ethos of the Reagan Doctrine -- global interventionism.
Convinced that we have a moral obligation to help anticommunist freedom fighters everywhere, Krauthammer challenges my position of support for American aid to those insurgencies where our national interest would be advanced -- as in Cambodia or Afghanistan -- but opposition where it would not -- as in Angola or Nicaragua.
The world is too complex for reflexive responses -- either isolationist or interventionist -- which ignore local and regional realities. Yet disciples of the Reagan Doctrine have tried to define the debate in such a way that opposition to aiding any anticommunist insurgency is equated with a diminished American commitment to human rights. Certainly the United States should be engaged on the side of freedom. Clearly we should oppose the spread of Soviet influence. It does not necessarily follow, however, that it will invariably be in our interest to aid every anticommunist insurgency, regardless of the particular circumstances involved.
The United States can advance its interest in political pluralism and individual freedom not only by aiding insurgents, but through a variety of political and diplomatic measures.
In Nicaragua, we can and should apply political and diplomatic pressure to encourage national reconciliation and genuine political pluralism. Opposing aid to the contras need not signal an indifference to the fate of Nicaraguans under the repressive Sandinista regime any more than opposing military aid to the African National Congress signals an indifference to the fate of blacks under the racist South African regime.
There are cases where American aid to anticommunist insurgents is justified. In Afghanistan and Cambodia, for example, there is a widespread recognition that our interest would be served by helping groups struggling against a foreign invasion of their country. Our friends in these areas support American aid to the mujaheddin and to the noncommunist resistance in Cambodia. Furthermore, our aid could help to facilitate a negotiated settlement of these conflicts or, at the very least, discourage the Soviet Union and Vietnam from invading other countries.
At the same time, we can hardly aid every insurgency simply because it arguably offers a chance of providing a better life for the people of a particular country. If that were the test for American involvement, we would be wedded to a formula for perpetual intervention, from Port-au-Prince to Poland.
Indeed, there are cases, such as Angola, where aid for such insurgencies could be completely counterproductive. We have an interest in facilitating the withdrawal of Cuban troops. Yet American aid to UNITA would likely result in more Cuban troops in that country. It would also eliminate any hope of a Namibian settlement. It would award the Soviet Union a propaganda bonanza in Africa by enabling the Soviets to label us as partners with Pretoria in destabilizing the recognized government of Angola.
The best way to get the Cubans out of Angola is to get the South Africans out of Namibia. Indeed, we may be able to woo Angola away from the Soviet Union if, instead of aiding Savimbi, we help to bring about a negotiated solution in Namibia. Such a settlement, which would involve the withdrawal of South African forces from Namibia, would facilitate the withdrawal of the Cuban forces from Angola and thus diminish the dependence of the Angolan government on the Soviet Union.
As for Nicaragua, most observers agree that the contras have no chance of prevailing. Our aid to the contras has simply given the Sandinistas a handy excuse for heightened repression. We have an interest in securing the withdrawal of foreign military advisers and preventing the establishment of foreign military bases in Nicaragua. We also have an interest in bringing to an end Nicaragua's efforts to destabilize its neighbors. But we have a better chance of achieving these objectives by working with the Contadora countries to facilitate a negotiated solution than through a doomed effort to overthrow the Sandinista regime.
Unwilling to accept the validity of an analysis that would justify American support for the democratic resistance in Cambodia and for the mujaheddin, but not for UNITA and the contras, Krauthammer invents and ascribes to me a wholly fanciful new test for American involvement -- the distance of a given conflict from the United States. "What distinguishes the insurgencies of Cambodia and Afghanistan," he writes, "is that these are the farthest away."
Apparently, distance, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. It is farther from Washington to Luanda -- 7,008 miles, than from Washington to Kabul -- 6,924 miles. Krauthammer should recheck Rand McNally and rethink his rules for American support of anticommunist insurgencies.