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Three Harvard observes warned last night that President Reagan's emphasis on domestic economic problems could seriously restrict the success of future American foreign policy, at a panel discussion before an audience of 350 at the Kennedy school forum.
"The Reagan Administration deserves high marks for keeping its eye on the domestic economy, but this can't go on for much longer," Joseph Nye, professor or Government, said.
"If we go forth with arms control positions which are transparent, this will have a profundly divisive effect on the American alliance," he added.
"They haven't worked out how to deal with the Soviet Union--they have an attitude, but they don't have a policy. It's ironic that Reagan is living with SALT II after saying it was 'fatally flawed."'
Stanley Hoffman, professor of Government and director of the Center for European Studies, criticized Reagan's lack of direction regarding foreign affairs. "The Reagan Administration offers absolutely nothing by way of a foreign policy doctrine, except increasing military spending until somebody says 'ouch.'"
He added, "At the same time, it may be dangerous to have a doctrine, especially when it is inaccurate and wrong." Referring to the "vaudeville of the Middle East," he said, "Our goal may be the harnessing of the Saudis, the Jordanians, the Israelis, the Egyptians, but we may end up being harnessed to a number of wild horses going in a number of different directions.
Uri Ra'anan, professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and an associate of the Harvard Russian Research Center, cited the "loose coalition" which elected Reagan last November, and his central focus on the economy as the main reasons for his underemphasis of foreign policy.
"One must also keep in mind that declaratory policies are inherently weak and ask for trouble." he said. "It does not help to say if you do do X, we will do Y, unless we fully intend to carry out Y."
"We must be more aware of our own revolutionary nature," he added. "A specter of a revolutionary proletariat hangs over Moscow. The Soviet Union continues to export its domestic problems to its client states, like Cuba and East Germany, and that has created enormous vulnerabilities."
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