Sunday, March 15, 1981
The Michigan Daily
A foreign policy to avoid past mistakes
By Joshua Aaronson
President Reagan's denial of the allegation that El
Salvador is becoming another Vietnam is highly suspect. It
does not take an Arthur Schlesinger to see that there are
some striking resemblances between our current situation in
Central America and our earliest intervention in Indochina.
However, even if one can manage to side with Reagan in
this case, it is obvious that Washington has not learned the
lessons of its past failures.
Since World War II, American foreign policy has been
characterized by a failure to properly translate our military
power and technological superiority into effective action in
the Third World. This is beacuse our foreign policy has been
shaped by two major elements: The desire to further our own
economic interests, and the fear of Communism.
Although the fear of Communism has been in the forefront
of American policy for some time, all too often have we at-
tempted to further our interests in a particular area under
the guise of preventing the spread of Communism.
Furthermore, the United States has had to come to the
defense of right-wing, oppressive regimes because of the
need to maintain the status quo, primarily because we have
felt that the best way to further our capitalistic interests.
Based on these characterizations, the United States has
fought ideological wars for all the wrong reasons, and in
doing so has incurred the wrath of many Third World nations.
The tolls that America has been using to meet the goals of
its foreign policy have become dangerously outmoded. In
both its covert and overt activities, American has failed to
remain sensitive to the political climate of any number of
Third World countries. The irrelevance of its means to its en-
ds has made failure the rule for most of American foreign
These are just a few of the many inadequacies of American
foreign policy. As America's goals become more elusive and
unfortunately more vague, the inadequacies become even
more sharply underscored. Ideologies predicated on selfish
economic interests, a basic egocentrism that has underpin-
ned almost all foreign policy, an insensitivity to the social
se would be for America to formulate a policy that would
withdraw support from any government whose country was
torn by civil war. (This of course would only be realistic iO
the Third World. It is hard to imagine the United States
remaining neutral in a civil war in England.) r0
An even more radical policy, although one that makes
perhaps more sense is a policy that would entice
revolutionaries into our camp as opposed to the Soviets. It
would matter little to us what type of government they for-
med, for as Tito has shown their are other types of Com-
munism other than the Soviet-backed Communism.
This policy certainly seems more sensible than alienating
an entire country to support a government that will
inevitably fall, and being left with tarnished reputation, as
well as a new enemy.
Furthermore, if one oppressive regime is replaced by
another, as may sometimes happen, it should matter little to
us which tyrant we support, (if we are going to support it at
all), provided, of course, that he is willing to have relations
These policies have obvious ramifications in El Salvador.
However, I hardly expect to be drafted to the State Depar-
tment. What Washington needs to realize is that its policies in
the Third World have been and still are woefully'
The policies must be based on either economic interests or
ideologies, but we cannot continue to shroud one in the other
and expect them to be successful. An intelligent, cogent, con-
sistent policy based on ideology will no doubt reap for 'us
greater economic benefits than one that ineffectively com-
bines both of them.
However, at all times, it is of the utmost importance th4t
we be aware of the pragmatic side of international polities.
This is neither contradictory to, nor does it preclude, con-
As the political power of the United States declines in the
international arena, the formulation of such policies becomes
even more imperative.
AN AMERICAN SOLDIER guides the landing of U.S. troops
in Vietnam in 1968. President Reagan and Secretary of State
conditions in various countries that is bred out of the
aforementioned reasons, short-sightedness, and inconsisten-
cy have marred American foreign policy.
Yet, with all this the desire to prevent the spread of Com-
munism has been the major theme in our policies for over
What America has failed to realize is that Moscow is as far
away from the "hotspots" of the world as is Washington. Try
though they may, Moscow has found it increasingly difficult
to influence the events in many countries to their liking.
Moscow does not want to see Communism spread unless it is
their Communism - though any Communism is preferable
to American capitalism.
Revolutionaries in many countries are just as weary of the
Alexander haig discuss the future direction of American
foreign policy during a Senate hearing.
Soviets as they are of Americans. Yet, America continues to
support the oppressive regimes that are in power so they
have no one else to turn to.
If America is going to play hardball on the field of
Realpolitik, then it is going to have to learn how to hit the
curve. Policies that would enable the United States to do so
would, moreover, l e in concert with what until now has been
a farcical policy of human rights in foreign policy.
In countries where America has supported oppressive
right-wing governments, and where there has been a
revolution or civil war, the American-backed regime has
almost invariably fallen, and they have lost whatever
economic interest they might once have had.
In light of this,it would appear that a more intelligent cour-
Joshua Aaronson is an LSA sophomore majoring in
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan
Vol. XCI, No. 133
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Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board
Reagan and student loans
T HE REAGAN administration is, in
effect, punishing students for the
inefficiency of the'bureaucracies that
administer and supervise guaranteed
student loans. Federal officials say
they hope that by phasing out
programs, imposing a cut-off amount
on the level of parental income, and
restricting applicants they can salvage
as much as $138 million in federal
The recommendation presented to
Congress this week proposes removal
of the federally subsidized loan in-
terest while students are enrolled in
school. If implemented, Reagan's
measure will likely make it very dif-
ficult for students to get any kind of
loan at all, University Financial Aid of-
Banks would naturally be reluctant
to sponsor a program that would entail
increased paperwork; state loan
programs are having their own finan-
cial crunch; National Direct Student
Loans could well be phased out over
the next four years.
The administration claims that the
cutbacks were largely spurred by
wide-spread abuse of student loans.
University figures show that at least
nine percent of those obtaining loans
fail to pay them back on schedule after
graduation, and it's well-known that
GSLs go to a wide variety of student
"needs'' besides tuition.
If the administration were to invest
even a little more money and effort to
stem the abuse through closer super-
vision of loan applicants, the return
from that investment could help finan-
ce continued loans for students who do
not abuse the program. Once students
were caught abusing their loan
priviledges, they could suffer im-
mediate discontinuance of the loan and
This stricter enforcement of the
program's guidelines could make the
program much more financially ef-
ficient and would continue to provide
the essential loans to those students
who really need them for tuition.
PIRGIM service deserves support
To the Daily:
I was disappointed earlier this week as I
stood with a Public Interest Research Group
in Michigan petition in my hand and watched
yet another person drift by without so much
as a sign of recognition, or worse with a look
Granted, there were a lot of volunteers
waving clipboards in front of your faces and ,
.disrupting important trains of thought, but
didn't the mere number of shivering
petitioners say something?
I for one was not standing outside in the cold
for nine hours on two cups of coffee and a
quickly wolfed-down hamburger for nothing.
The PIRGIM people were devoting their
precious time in an attempt to wake some
In 1972, 16,000 students signed a similar
petition to demand the creation of a PIRGIM
on campus, to be funded by a mandatory fee
on the tuition. The issues were the same in
those days. Are we to sit here and say we
don't care as much about the water we drink;
as they did in the 60s?
Now I don't consider myself a radical,
although I will admit I need a haircut, but I do
see that there is a way to change some of
those thing we complain about.
If you want to get patriotic, the very make-
up of our country is based on people
screaming for change, people sick of being
forced to pay high prices or live where their
health and human rights are being
threatened. Remember the Boston Tea Par-
I do not agree with every stand that
PIRGIM takes. In fact, I don't think anyone
can be totally in agreement with such a broad
based organization, but I do believe that
everyone can be positively affected by
The positive check-off system has proven
inadequate. PIRGIM is not being effective
with its limited amounts of monies now, it is
just surviving. It simply cannot fight to lower
utility rates or to promote tenant rights when
it is in competition with conglomerates whose
lobbying budgets alone consist of over $30
By using the University tuition billing
-system, PIRGIM could reach more people to
tell them exactly what is being done and wake
up enough support to have a stronger voice.
The PIRGIM fee will be the only democratic
fee on the bill because people know where
their money is going and still have a choice.
For comparison's sake, the Michigan
Student Assembly fee is mandatory and no
one has a say aboit what MEA does with its
money.Besides, how often do you get such a
guarantee? If you do not get results, PIRGIM
will fully refund your fee.
As far as educational value, I have learned
more by working for PIRGIM in the last three
weeks than many courses have taught me in a
whole semester. I believe it is called ex-
perimental leanringboreducation through
And folks, when you get right down to it, you
are paying only $2. Hell, the cover charge ftr
one night at the bars cost that much.
I am not asking everyone to give their time
to PIRGIM, I am asking you to think about
what PIRGIM is doing for you. Let's give
PIRGIM a chance to show us what can be
done. -David Sharken
Negative check-off underhanded tactic
(', a VV
To the Daily:
It appears that after years of struggling
against the underhanded tactics of
businessmen, landlords and other subversve
conservative elements in Michigan, the
Public Interest Research Group in Michigan
has succumbed to the omnipresent danger of
learning one too many tricks from it adver-
I refer to PIRGIM's proposed clever new
funding plan whereby students who do not
wish to support this noble radical chic
organization will be forced to return a form
with their first tuition bill. The present
form and send it to the state government."?
Unquestionably, PIRGIM would lead the
assault to overthrow such an absurd funding
mechanism, and the organization would be
perfectly justified for doing so. Nonetheless,
isn't it strange how the hypothetical Michigan
Bell funding scheme parallels PIRGIM's fun-
One amazing fact is that PIRGIM is not
requesting the change in funding because of a
ground swell of student support. PIRGIM is in
fact seaching for a more lucrative funding
mechanism because student support for the
organization is dwindling.
As a matter of fact, PIRGIM's justification
and see if you can notice any similarities. Yet
if Detroit Edison were to justify a fundirig
change in such terms, PIRGIM would be up In
arms. Is there no limit to hypocrisy?
It is possible, of. course, that even if
PIRGIM realizes that its proposed "refusable
fee" plan is at best thinly veiled conversion of
the funds of unwitting students, PIRGIM
workers will still be able to rationalize this In
their minds. One can almost hear PIRGIM
volunteers chirping "We are forced to rip-off
students in order to protect them from being
ripped-off by big business."
This reminds me of the preverse logic of
one American soldier during the Vietnamn
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