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December 22, 2016
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December 7, 2011
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December 18, 1985
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Declassified and Approved For Release 2011/12/07 :CIA-RDP90-009658000705860004-5 A4~~rt~ :~~~~-~ t~D ON P~F.~~._, WALL STREET JOURNAL 18 December 1985 Send Marcos Packing ~ By Asaxtnt Scfu,anrc~a Ja. There is a certain grim it~y to the vac- illations of the Reagan administration as it contbnts Ne decomposing Marcos regime in the Philippines. ONy five years ago dur- ing the presidential campaign, Mr. Reagan and his neoconservative intellectuals con? demned President Carter for abandoning our great "Mends" the shah of Iran and Anastasio Somoza and in consequence losing" Iran and Nicaragua. The implica- tion was that a stronger president would have pursued tougher policies and that these policies could easily have preserved those wonderful friends of the U.S. A conservative administration in Wash- ington, the argument ran, would never have undermined pro-American regimes by insistence on human rights, social re- forms, a peaceful transition to democratic government and other such sentimental nonsense. It would havd given these friends of America unconditional support and would have done whatever was neces- sary to rescue them. If only there had been a Republican president, the shah and So- moza would still be in power, and their countries would still be in the Western camp. By No Means Clear This line of argument raised questions, then and now. Assuming for the moment that it might have been in the national in- terest of the U.S. to preserve thieving des- pots in Iran and Nicaragua, it is by no means clear that it lay within U.S. power to do so. Rhetorical assistance wUl not do it. Mr. Carter tried that, congratulating the shah in 1977 on "the admiration and love which your people glue to you" and prais- ing Somoza as late as 1979 for his progress on human rights. Military assistance wW not do it. The U.S. sold 519.5 billion in arms to Iran from 1972 to 1979, and Somoza's Na- tional Guard never languished from lack of weapons. We always overrate the capacity of the U.S. to shape the destiny of other coun- tries. The balance of internal forces gener ally decides the future of nations. If Presi- dent Carter had never opened his mouth on the subject of human rights, the shah and Somoza would have fallen all the same. It seems most doubtful that any U.S. policy short of military occupation could have saved them. And one wonders whether it serves long-term -American interests for the U.S. to intervene militarily in other countries in order to protect hated regimes against the wrath of their own people. These questions remain speculative in relation to Iran and Nicaragua. But the Reaganite assumption that there was an easy alternative to the Carter policy now comes to the test in Ne Philippines. For Ferdinand Marcos is in the same position today that the. shah and Somoza were in during the late 1970s: This surely is the time for those brave solutions that, accord- ing to neoconservative myth, Mr. Carter so softheadedly rejected a few years back. In- stead, one finds the Reagan administration pursuing the same policy toward the Phil?:. ippines that the Carter administration pur- sued toward Iran and Nicaragua. Ronald Reagan. like Jimmy Carter, be- gan with an effort to reform a disintegrat- ing regime by fulsome rhetorical blandish? meat. This is the famous policy of "con- structive engagement" with repressive governments. Vice President George Bush declared that he loved President Marcos for his "adherence to democratic princi- ples." President Reagan said in'last year's presidential campaign that the choice was between Mr. Marcos and "a large commu- nist movement to take over the. Phllip? pines." Mr. Marcos naturally interpreted such tender words not as a signal to change his ways but as a license to Inten- sify his course of domestic plunder and re- pression. But the more his men have harassed and murdered political opponents, the more money they have stolen from their country, the stronger the opposition has be- come. As disintegration continues, the Reagan administration, like the Carter ad- ministration before it, is changing its course. Now we are urging on Mr. Marcos the need for human rights, social reform and a peaceful transition to democratic government. Mr. Reagan today is duplicat- ing in the Philippines the policy for which he so righteously denounced Mr. Carter in the cases of Iran and Nicaragua. He is doing so because he has no more real choice in 1985 than Mr. Carter had in 1979: He is learning now what Mr. Carter learned then: that there is no virtue in tying the U.S. to a despotic regime doomed to collapse. The course of unconditional commitment to unpopular despots is not likely, in the absence of military interven- tion, to save the despots-and it is quite certain to alienate the inevitable successor regime and in the meantime to strengthen Mancist revolutionaries. Can reform pressure salvage the situa- tion? The best hope in the Philippines would be the orderly transfer of power to the moderate opposition. So the U.S. is calling on Mr. Marcos, as President Carter called on the shah and Somoza, to do things that, if he carries them out, will de- stroy the bases of his power. It would be foolish to count on Mr. Marcos to collabo- rate to bringing about his own downfall. Hls interest lies not in strengthening the moderate opposition but in destroying it. His hope lies in polarizing the nation so that he can present himself as the oNy al- ternative to communist takeover. Mr. Reagan, like Mr. Carter before him, is impaled on a dilemma. The longer he waits in the vain expectation that Mr. Marcos will voluntarlly undertake reforms Iran and Nicaragua. The aemocraac atter? native, such as it may have been, melted away, and we were left, with Ayatollah Khomeini and the Sandinistas. But what can we effectivel do to h p e c erna ve a Philip? p nes. ecretarv o ate eorQe LL in Lon on the other a de iv ~ raise o covert action. B this e m t or Even a an _ ~ara~?a sue. ?ola. Combo to and Afah tctan ent?anv the history of covert r ~r a .. ?... ?nat has had iL endar!n~ tr?e,mD ~ ? h n nv- lo ed for liUcal rather than for military en -not to common tto su ~tC-.12>~ There is not much the U.S. can do to control the destiny of the Philippines. The moderate opposition, though it has finally agreed on a ticket in the presidential elec- tion, has not shown much unity of purpose so far. But it does enjoy widespread popu- lar support. The U.S. should distance itself even more unequivocally from the Marcos disaster and do what it discreetly can to help democratic Filipinos make a strong showing in the elections that the regime at this very moment is planning to rig against them. Exploited Favor and Aid I trust we will not be diverted from a realistic course by talk about how much the U.S. "owes" to Mr. Marcos. Talk about sentimentality! Mr. Marcos has never sac- rificed his own interests to help the U.S., anymore than the shah and Somoza did be- fore him. Like the shah and Somoza, Mr. Marcos has systematically exploited the favor and aid of the U.S. taamass personal power and wealth. Rep. Stephen Solarz's House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Asian and Pacific Affairs is documenting this point in its current hearings. As The Economist crisply puts it, "The only aid (or 'rent for a base') that should be given to people like Mr. Marcos is a one-way ticket to ananti-assassin-guarded holiday resort." It has taken the Reagan administration a long time to learn the lesson the Carter administration learned so painfully about the unprofltability of trying to prop up doomed despots. As the Reagan people be? gin to learn the lesson in the PhiUppines, one hopes that they will apply it in other parts of the world. There is every indication that Gen. Au- gusto Pinochet in Chile stands today about where Mr. Marcos stood in, say, 1983. Con- structive engagement will not reform Gen. Pinochet any more than it did Mr. Marcos. Effusive words will only encourage him in a course of repression. Let us move to d1- vorce the U.S. from the brutal dictator in Chile before the situation is hopelessly rad- icalized and while there is still time for a democratic alternative to emerge. and relinquish dower, the more radicalized Mr. Schlesinger is Albert Schweitzer file situation will become and th~~ Professor of the humanities at the City Uni- likely it is that the moderate opposition vers:ty of New York and a winner of Pulit- wlll inherit. Mr. Carter waited too lung in zer Prizes in history and 6ioyraphy. !/ Declassified and Approved For Release 2011/12/07 :CIA-RDP90-009658000705860004-5