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Against The Huntington Appointment


NATIONAL SECURITY Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski's selection of Samuel P. Huntington, Thomson Professor of Government, as a National Security Council consultant on US-Soviet relations is deplorable for several reasons. In appointing Huntington, Brzezinski violated the spirit if not the letter of President Jimmy Carter's promise to bring people with fresh ideas into government rather than recycling the adherents of the disastrous policies and misguided ideology of past administrations. Huntington's well-documented views on the Vietnam War, his preoccupation wtih government stability at the expense of widespread democracy, and his dated expertise in this area all serve to disqualify him for this position.

Huntington maintains that he turned against the Vietnam War, in the late '60s and urged 1968 Democratic Presidential candidate Hubert Humphrey to advocate a bombing halt. He cites his article, "Bases of Accommodation," published in the July 1968 issue of Foreign Affairs, as evidence of his changed views. But in that article Huntington discounted the importance of social reform and recommended an expansion of the South Vietnamese government's "power structure" as a means of averting revolution. Huntington also advocated the use of "mechanical and conventional power"--bombing--in rural areas threatened by the National Liberation Front to force the population in to urban centers, where they could easily be controlled by the South Vietnamese government. While perhaps technically efficient, this policy of "forced draft urbanization and modernization" exacted tremendous human costs.

Huntington also has complained recently of a "democratic distemper" in the U.S. According to him, marginally enforced enfranchised groups are gaining power in the American political system and creating an "excess of democracy."

There is also some question as to why Brzezinski selected Huntington, whose major academic focus recently has not been U.S.-Soviet relations but the politics of the developing third world. Several weeks ago Carter administration sources intimated that Huntington was being considered for a number of other positions which, unlike the one to which he has been appointed, require confirmation by the Senate. Apparently, however, the Carter floaters of a Huntington nomination produced a response indicating that a significant proportion of both the public and Senate harbored reservations about Huntington because of his well-known political views.

The doctrine of academic freedom guarantees Huntington's right to advocate unpopular policies and opinions. Nonetheless, his views on Vietnam, and on democracy both in America and in the Third World, should serve to disqualify him from this--or any other--public post.

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