A Distinctly Political Issue

AS FAR as most people at Harvard are concerned, the Center for International Affairs has been the murkiest political issue in recent memory. As of a year ago, in fact, a large majority of the University did not even know what the CFIA was. And when large numbers of students and Faculty first learned of the Center's existence after the Weatherman raid last Fall, they referred to it as "the CIA" until someone decided those initials were at best misleading and at worst unacceptable.

Whether the CFIA bears any significant relation to its near namesake in Washington has, during the past twelve months, been an occasional subject of debate in the usual political quarters; it has also been the rationale of no less than four major demonstrations. But to most at Harvard, the CFIA really hasn't mattered. Aside from its directors and its small research staff, its would-be attackers and defenders, there are few who have had particularly strong feelings about it.

That situation will probably end this Fall. It seems likely that a full-fledged radical campaign against the activities of the CFIA will drag the Center out of its quiet anonymity and make it a visible political symbol. It is now time, in that case, to examine the issues that have thus far been raised only cursorily in leftist pamphlets, Baccalaureate addresses, and University press releases: How was the Center founded? What was it set up to do? What has been its role within the large context of American foreign policy?