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An abiding criticism of the Reagan administration in the first six months of its life was that it had no foreign policy. In a global sense this criticism was certainly well taken: Nothing resembling Kissinger's detente policy or Carter's human rights doctrine seemed even in the works. Yet without the essential dimensions of a universal foreign policy, regional policies were taking shape.
Shortly after Reagan's election and well before his inauguration, those who saw themselves as both the authors and legatees of the Reagan landslide made a move to dismantle the Carter African policy and to ensure that its like would not soon emerge. Reagan's conservative allies in Congress—most notably Senator Jesse Helms of North Carolina—put the new administration on notice that henceforth South Africa would be dropped from this country's enemies list and that the United States no longer would be counted in the ranks of Pretoria's antagonists at the United Nations.
It is human nature to wish bad luck on one's enemy, and that seems to be the basis for the current suggestion that Afghanistan will become for Russia what Vietnam was for America. But a year after Russia's invasion it is time to realize that this has not happened— and will not happen It is not merely because, as Richard Pipes has pointed out, the Soviet Union has experience in putting down Moslem uprisings in Central Asia, and the Afghan rebels have received nothing like the massive aid that North Vietnam got from the USSR and China. Those are important reasons, but they are not the main ones. Even if the Soviet Union lacked such experience and even if Zbigniew Brzezinski's military mission to Pakistan had been successful and America had managed thereby to deliver to Afghanistan as many weapons as the Viet Cong received, the Soviet Union would not disengage Let us go even further and assume that the war will last for more than a decade and cost the Russians 55,000 lives (the sort of “body-count” familiar in the Vietnam war). Still the Soviet Union would not withdraw For the USSR, 55,000 lives are not what they are for America.
It was on October 23, twenty-five years ago, that Hungarian students first tobk to the streets of Budapest shouting slogans and addressing demands to the regime The unexpectedly harsh reaction to those demands touched off what is called the Hungarian Revolution of 1956—the two weeks of patriotic struggle, revolution, and heady freedom that came to an end with the brutal predawn drive of the Soviet military machine.
Actually, fierce fighting continued for another ten days and was carried on sporadically for weeks. “Free dom radios” transmitted regularly through November 9, and the last did not fall silent for many days beyond that Workers' and revolutionary councils, though out lawed by decree, functioned throughout much of the country until well into the next year. Compulsory Rus sian was abolished in the universities in late November (not to be reinstituted until February, 19S7) and a general strike paralyzed the country for months.
Except for an occasional report that President Pinochet has expelled politicians or labor leaders from the country (as he did immediately following the August visit of leane Kirkpatrick, the apologist for “quiet diplomacy” in promoting human rights) or the announcement that another of the Carter administration sanctions against Chile has been lifted, Chile has not figured prominently in the world news in recent months.