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February 04, 1981 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1981-02-04

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OPINION
Wednesday, February 4, 1981

Page 4

The Michigan Daily

Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Vol. XCI, No. 107

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

Well, he can learn

. . .

H E DOESN'T KNOW the names of
the leader of Zimbabwe or South
Africa, couldn't list European allies
who are'reluctant to have U.S. nuclear
weapons based on their soil, and skir-
ted questions about the Reagan ad-
ministration's position on a number of
foreign policy issues.
Nevertheless, William Clark Jr. is
President Reagan's designate for the
post of Deputy Secretary of State.
Clark's qualifications for the post?
Well . . . he's a California supreme
court judge. But even more important
than that, he's a close friend of
Reagan. What qualifies a person more
than that?
After all, Reagan doesn't know most
of the cabinet members that well, In-
stead, they were selected for in-
significant reasons-like experience in
their particular areas.
a,
iReagan and
A BOVE ALL THE HARD-NOSED.
rhetoric of military superiority
anid the need to counter the Soviet
treat, President Reagan has offered
hope that strategic arms limitations
May not be a lost cause. Reagan said
Monday he is willing to negotiate an
dims limitation$'agreement with the
$Qviet Union, as long as the Soviets
bargain in good faith. This turn to
tioderation is encouraging following
last week's confrontational bantering
between the two nations - an ex-
6ange frighteningly reminiscent of
the Cold War.
'But Reagan's suggestion Monday
that his administration would be
villing to sit down at the bargaining
t'ble with the Soviets and discuss arms
limitations could be the first essential
step toward averting another
dangerous deterioration of East-West
rielations and a possible nuclear arms
race. Such a development, as former
President Carter warned repeatedly,
could be devastating to international
Stability and to mankind itself.
a.
Yet, at the same time, Reagan in-
sisted on stepping up America's
iilitary presence in the Persian Gulf.
.eagan told reporters that such an in-
reased American presence would
4eter the Soviets from fulfilling any

And those damn Democrats on the
Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
They expect Clark to already know
things about the foreign service. As
prudent Sen. Nancy Kassebaum (R-
Kan.) pointed out, a confirmation
hearing "is not supposed to be a
foreign service exam."
Clark admits his shortcomings-he
conceded he has no training in foreign
policy. It doesn't matter that he is
second only to the Secretary of State;
Alexander Haig can worry about
details like the names of world leaders
and which countries have nuclear
weapons. How's Clark supposed to
know about these things? He's had no
experience in foreign policy, he's a
state supreme court judge.
That's exactly what we're afraid of.
Sorry Mr. Clark, the office of Deputy
Secretary of State is no place to start
learning the ropes.
arms control
possible expansionist ambitions of
creeping toward the warm-water Gulf,
country by country. Further, Reagan
said if the Soviets should make any
moves toward the gulf, they would risk
a head--on "confrontation" with the;
American forces stationed there.
First, there is no cause to believe
that the Soviets have an intention of
pressing toward the gulf. The Soviet
invasion of Afghanistan that anti- .
Soviet crusaders so often point to as
proof of the Soviet Union's Middle
Eastern ambitions was never intended
to be the first step toward a Persian
Gulf warm-water port. Soviet inter-
vention in Afghanistan was merely
designed to stabilize the weak, pro-
Soviet regime there and tighten the
Soviet grip in Kabul.
Second,' American fleets patrolling
the gulf would be more likely to
provoke a military confrontation with
a regional government there than to
prevent one.
Reagan's offer to negotiate an arms
control agreement is an intelligent one.
But his simultaneous threat to beef up
American military presence in the
sensitive Persian Gulf area is a con-
fusing and ill-advised cross-signal.
Reagan. should continue to push for
sensible arms control, but forgoe the
militarist antagonism.

0

AP Photo
LEADERS OF FOUR leftist militant groups raise their arms in a show of solidarity against the civilian-military junta in El Salvador.
Ljfe ad dahi El Salvador

"Our organizations are legal, but the
punishment for membership is death," said
the late 23-year-old Salvadoran leader of the
Movement for Pepular Liberation (MLP),
Luis Diaz.
"We have to be careful about who shows his
face in public, but we have to present
someone as a figure, as a point of reference,
for the students and the workers. It's a risk
that you run that they'll kill you. You have to
lead a pretty terrible life."
IN AUGUST, JUST two months after
speaking those words, Luis Diaz was cap-
tured by- a combined force of military and
civilian death squads. He has not been seen
since. On Nov. 27, Diaz,'s successor, 24-year-
old Humberto Mendoza, was captured, tor-
tured and killed - also by military and
paramilitary forces - along with five other
prominent leftist leaders in the Salvadoran
civil war.
The following day a new leader of the MLP
was named by the organization and presented
to the public - the third in four months. He,
too, will soon confront the reality that to be a
publicly identified leader of an opposition
organization in El Salvador is to be constantly
courting, and avoiding, the death squads.
As Luis Diaz said: "The death squads don't
take a vacation. . . It's a difficult game. You
know that you may die. But you also know
that because of your work there will be three
or four people ready to take your place."
THE NOVEMBER 2 assassinations of six
members of the Democratic Revolutionary
Front wiped out more than half of the
coalition's top leadership. They had been
preparing a press conference at a Catholic
boys' school when the building was surroun-
ded by more than one hundred armed men,
including police. The six leaders were taken
away in an unmarked car. Their bodies, rid-
dled with bullets and bearing signs of torture,
were found at Lake Ilopango, six miles out-
side the capital, a few hours later.
The press conference was one of the many
dangerous responsibilities undertaken by the
"caras" (faces) - those who publicly
represent the left opposition. Only two weeks
earlier, two of the leaders had held a similar
press conference at the same site in which
they had firmly stated their commitment to
pluralism in the left coalition. Any gover-
nment supported by the group, said one
leader, would not employ "quotas of power"
and would have to represent a wide array of
democratic interests.
THE LEADERS OF the Popular

By Anne Nelson
Revolutionary Block, the largest opposition
group in the coalition, with 80,000 members,
had said that the Front was not yet ready to
suggest names for a provisional government,
"but I can tell you," he added, "that they
must be persons of moral solvency, who have
faithfully demonstrated their love for the
cause of the people."
He was slain last week.
In fact, contrary to Salvadoran government
or U.S. State Department claims, the
Democratic Front is anything but monolithic.
The pluralist nature of its membership and
leadership was clearly evident in the con-
trasts between two of the Front's best known
leaders, both of whom were killed last week.
Fifty-year-old Enrique "Quique" Alvarez
was a millionaire cattleman and a debonaire
"chele", a light-skinned Salvadoran of
Spanish descent and a member of the coun-
try's ruling oligarchy of 14 families. There
was something of the tenacious dreamer
about him. He resigned as El Salvador's
Minister of Agriculture under three different
regimes, his proposed reforms always having
been thwarted. Finally, he developed a suc-
cessful peasant cooperative system, con-
tributing his own land for the model.
1 AS A MODERATE social democrat,
Alvarez had close ties in the European
political cpmmunity and deeply impressed
North American liberals with his warmth and
intelligence when he toured the United States
and Canada to present the front's cause
earlier this year.
Despite the obvious problems of being a
homosexual in a machista society, Alvarez
was often named as the favorite to head a
provisional government. He was a natural
peacemaker, with an ironic smile, and those
he could not convince, it was said, he could
charm.
At 24 years of age, Juan Chacon could har-
dly have been more different. At the time of
his death last week, Chacon had already spent
a number of years as a political prisoner. He
had a brush with international celebrity last
spring when then-U.S. Ambassador Robert
White prematurely deplored his murder to
the American Chamber of Commerce in San
Salvador. There was no love lost between
them. In an interview a few weeks after
White's comments, Chacon said that White
must have made the slip because he was
planning something. White's only word for
Chacon was "crazy."

CHACON GREW UP in the northern zone
near Chalatenango. His father, Felipe
Chacon, was an important lay leader in. a
ground-breaking Christian community at the
vanguard of the country's Theology of
Liberation movement. In late 1977, in the first
wave of repression under General Carlos
Romero's regime, the community was broken
up, the younger Chacon was imprisoned and
his father was skinned alive.
Chacon had the aura of an early Christian
stoic. His strong Indian features and heavy
black brow could look fierce, but the im-
pression was contradicted by his voice, which
was soft and almost deferential. He was not a
good public speaker. He was a shy but frien-
dly man, and many people noted approvingly
that he was a real "hijodelpueblo" (child of
the people) - not an elitist, not a theorizing
student, but a peasant who had risen to a
position of leadership, unashamedly leaving
his rough edges intact.
The same week Alvarez and Chacon were
killed, U.S. Ambassador White was in
Washington pressuring Carter administration
officials to back negotiations between the
Salvadoran government and the popular op-
position - a proposal some call the "Zim-
babwe option," a reference to the successful
British handling of the Rhodesian civil war.
That stance represented something of a tur-
naround for White, who last summer had
denounced the Salvadoran opposition as a
"Pol Pot left," in reference to the bloody
terrorism of the late Cambodian ruler. "Their
problem," said White in an interview, "is that
the left has no leadership."
The latest effort to wipe out the opposition
comes at an especially critical time for U.S.
policy in Latin America. Many observers fear
that the killings were intended to provide a
widespread popular uprising in El Salvador
that can seem to justify a full-scale military
and para-military response, unfettered by
President Carter's previous human rights
constraints.
In either case, there appears to be no shor-
tage of people in the opposition willing and
able to put themselves on the font line in
positions of leadership. Within three days of
the latest assassinations, successors were
named to all six slain leaders.
Anne Nelson, who covers Latin
American affairs for the Canadian weekly
news magazine, McLeans, wrote this ar-
ticle for the PacificNews Service.

.c.
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LETTERS TO THE DAILY:
Potter is out of touch with reality

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