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January 28, 1981 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1981-01-28

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Page 4
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Wednesday, January 28, 1981

The Michigan Daily


Vol. XCI, No. 101

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board
Far from a student vote


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tran "si tion \trans-
ish-an\n pass,38c
- rom one stage to

UNCERTAIN. That may be the
best word to describe the at-
mosphere up on the fourth floor of the
LSA Building, home of the geography
The handful of faculty members
there learned Monday that their depar-
tment is the first to have been targeted
for review and possible elimination as
part of the massive and painful budget
cutbacks necessary in the near future.
Uncertainty also surrounds the
status of students in the review process
that will help determine the fate of the
geography department. The Univer-
sity's program discontinuance
guidelines are rather nebulous; they
say that students should be given an
opportunity to participate, but they *do
not indicate how or to what degree.
At the same time, the guidelines
specify that a peer review of the depar-
tment under scrutiny be perfor-
med-that means a review by faculty
Therefore, the composition of the
review committee is open to some in-
terpretation-depending on how much
one values student participation.
LSA Dean John Knott has opted to
follow the "peer review" specification
set out in the guidelines. The review
committee, he said, will be comprised
of 'faculty members only. "The
procedures call for a peer review,"
Knott said yesterday. "That in my

mind precludes students, whether or
not it would be good to have them."
The dean did say, to his credit, that
he has no desire to exclude student
opinion, and that it was his intent that
students be given an opportunity to ad-
dress the review committee.
But that is not enough. The discon-
tinuance of any program, department,
or field.of study at the University af-
fects all members of the University
community. Certainly it must be gran-
ted that faculty members have more at
stake than students when it, comes to
phasing out programs. Yet students,
for whom courses are designed, have
significant interest in what academic
options will be open to them.
We urge Dean Knott to provide more
than the rather casual opportunities
for student participation he has
outlined. It's one thing to address a
committee; it's another to be a mem-
ber of it.
Students could be incorporated into
the review committee without im-
pairing the peer review requirement.
Perhaps maintaining a faculty
majority on the committee would be
sufficient to insure that faculty mem-
bers make the final recommendation.
Even relegating students to an ad-
visory role on the committee would be
better than what. Knott has so far
proposed-which is nothing.

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"Scriptwriter . . . I don't like this part
about a treaty with the Indians."

"Speechwriter ... I don't like this part
about a treaty with the Russians."

Central America c
U.S. to, maintain si

foreign policy in
relationship that has de
the People's Republic of C
past few years. From Ric
first visit to the official r
mainland China under Ji
an increasingly relaxed
been nurtured by the two]
The need for peacefulr
China is obvious. It
populous and among the
countries in the worl
relationship with Chin
necessitated by consideri
it has on the Soviet Uni
healthy U.S.-China relati
the Soviets from stockpili
The Reagan administr
opportunity to damageI
friendship. Recently
ministration has come un

ited States' to approve the sale of the FX fighter
Asia is the plane to the non-Communist Chinese
veloped with government on Taiwan. Many
'hina over the Washington conservatives are eager to
chard Nixon's see the sale go through as a sign of in-
ecognition of creased commitment to Taiwan.
mmy Carter, Peking, however, has warned against
attitude has doing so.
nations. ' -
relations with At this point, U.S.-Chinese relations
is theon wt need to be strengthened, not set back.
is te most It would be a mistake for the United
- most stable States to approve sale of weapons to
d. A strong Taiwan-a country not officially
ng the effects recogniied by the U.S. government
an. Certainly and a hated adversary of Chinas-if it
onCertainly, intends to maintain and improve a
ons help deter growing friendship.

ng weapons.
ation has the
this growing
the ad-
nder pressure

President Reagan ought to
the pressure from conservative
and shelve the sale of the FX
plane to Taiwan..


expect to have 'correct' relations with the
Reagan administration," said the Sandinista
revolutionary, a member~ of Nicaragua's
civilian-military junta. "We intend to have
excellent relations with President Reagan
and the United States."1
The Nicaraguan leader, Sergio Ramirez,
may have been whistling in the dark. If any
Central American government should fear
the wrath of a Reagan presidency, it is
In fact, as the new administration takes of-
fice, no government in Central America is
seriously counting on a dramatic im-
piovement in U.S. relations. But none, either,
is willing to accept the refrains of "Hall to the
Chief" now resounding in Washington as the
trumpet of doom.
hope-or fear-expressed throughout the
eight. small countries of Central America ap-
pear t6 contrast sharply with the widespread
assumption in Washington that President
Reagan will radically re-orient U.S. policy
here to a realpolitik approach of strong sup-
port for local anti-communists. The expected
Reagan policy of stern militancy against the
left also contrasts sharply with the
widespread American view of President Car-
ter's policy as one characterized by. U.S.
weakness and a naive emphasis on human
rights. Yet visits to all eight countries of Cen-
tral America indicate that the Central
American shift in U.S. policy may be less
dramatic under President Reagan than many
The first point to consider is that Jimmy
Carter's own Central American policy, in spite
of its human rights rhetoric, differed very lit-
tle in essential approach from that which
President Reagan has said he intends to pur-
sue. When faced with a choice between sup-
porting the reactionary right or even the
moderate left, Carter instinctively and
strongly supported the right. And even in
terms of a conservativeRepublicanagen-
da, the Carter policy was not the utter
disaster the GOP campaign made it seem.
SOME EXAMPLES OF the traditionally
hard-line policies the United States followed
under President Carter:
" In Nicaragua, where Carter was denoun-
ced as being particularly soft on Com-
munism, he in fact did what his reputedly
more conservative predecessors in the White
House did. He supported a discredited dic-
tator, even when it was clear he was losing,
until the bitter end. In a human rights tragedy
reminiscent of the final days of Vietnam,
about one in ten of all Nicaraguans was either
killed, wounded, or orphaned lest an
American President disavow an ally, and
hence lose "credibility" in the world. Carter's
sole innovation lay in retaining diplomatic
and economic relations with Nicaragua after
the U.S.-backed dictator fell.
" I El Salvador, Carter repeated this same
traditional U.S. approach to the Third World.
Rather than countenance the emergence of a
broad civilian coalition in El Salvador,
ranging from devout Catholics through
liberals and social democrats to Marxists, he
shored up, with crucial diplomatic and
military support, a military-dominated junta
under which some of the most grotesque
vinltinns of human rights in the history of

By T. D. Allman
venience a much higher priority than Central
American social or economic justice. Carter,
for example, Arongly opposed Central and
South American efforts to form a coffee car-
tel, and succeeded in having the organization
disbanded. One result: Coffee prices in U.S.
supermarkets today are at a long-time low,
while many Central Americans are in
desperate economic straits. The collapse of
coffee prices is the single greatest factor
destabilizing Costa Rican democracy today.
If, beneath the talk of human rights, Carter
in fact accumulated a record in Central
America worthy of the Nixon Doctrine or
Ronald Reagan's campaign rhetoric, he also
achieved some significant successes by con-
servative standards :
t In Belize, Carter forestalled any potential.
Cuban opening by shifting U.S. policy from
one of "even-handedness" about Guatemala's
claims on the territory to a policy of outright
support at the U.N. for Belizan independence
from British control. High-ranking Belizan of-
ficials say they will be looking for U.S. aid
following independence. Perhaps with that in
mind, they also make it clear that they have
no intention of permitting the Cubans or their
allies to establish embassies or aid programs
in Belize.
" In Panama, the canal treaties provided
the GOP with much ammunition in the anti-
Carter campaign, but in fact under Carter
U.S. influence, always paramount in that
country, reached what may be an historical
peak. Under the treaties, the U.S. kept its
military bases in Panama, the U.S. dollar
remained the official currency and American
penetration of the whole of Panamanian
society remained virtually total. In return for
letting the Panamanians have the privilegeof
flying their flag over the canal, the Carter
administration in fact won the privilege to in-
tervene unilaterally with its armed forces

in -expect
tatus quo
whenever Washington deemed it necessary.
For all the talk of a U.S. "giveaway" in
Panama, that country remains almost totally
subservient to the United States.
TO EXAMINE THE Carter record in Cen-
tral America in terms of reality-rather than6
in terms of its own rhetoric or that of its
critics-is to come to a new definition of
President Reagan's policy options in the area.
The real question is not whether Rteagan will
bring sweeping changes to U.S. policy in this
part of the world. Rather, the question is: Will
Reagan be able to fipd anything to do here
that Jimmy Carter was not doing already? It
is clear that, except in terms of cosmetics and
rhetoric, no substantive changes are likely,in
U.S.-Central Amer'ica relations. Reagan has
vowed to abide by the Panama Canal treaties.
In Guatemala the Reagan White House may
smile on local repression where Car'ter
frowned on it. But no U.S. administration
seems to have either the power or the will to
actually change the internal situation in
Guatemala, a naturally-rich country which
needs no U.S. aid.
Thus, among the eight countries of Central
America, there are only two-El Salvador
and Nicaragua-where any substantial
change in U.S. policy under President Reagan
would appear possible. But even there the
rational options are limited to accelerating
policies already underway, not to reversing
"Reagan may do more than 'Carter did,"
one disillusioned Salvadoran commented,
"but he can only compound the tragedy Car-
ter created. The catastrophe is already upon
us. Reagan may send more guns, bullets, and
bombs but this is already a country drowning
in blood."
T. D. Allman is a contributing editor
to Harper's Magazine and an editor of
the Pacific News Service, for which he
wrote this article.

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