Haig's view of major world issues

By , Staff corresppondent of The Christian Science Monitor

Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig Jr. has disclosed that the United States intends to increase its military and economic aid to El Salvador. But the secretary of state also asserts that the US will "have to go beyond that to deal with the source of the external support" for the Salvadoran guerrillas -- namely, Cuba.

Mr. Haig did not go into specifics as to what action was being considered against Cuba. But he declared that, despite US warnings, "it is clear that Cuba has not terminated or modified substantially its level of support for the insurgency in El Salvador."

Another senior administration official said recently that a number of recommendations relating to Cuba, the Caribbean, and Central America had been completed and were to be taken by Secretary Haig to President Reagan in California about a week ago.

Recommended: Could you pass a US citizenship test?

In an interview conducted in his seventh- floor office in the State Department, the secretary of state also:

* Revealed that the US thinks China might be interested in obtaining American radar equipment and antitank and antiaircraft weapons.

* Indicated that the US is satisfied with the worldwide reaction to the US-Libyan aerial shoot-out in the Gulf of Sidra.

* Asserted that while the current ceasefire in Lebanon remains "extremely fragile," the US and other nations are making progress toward resolving that crisis.

* Said that the Soviet Union has yet to show any sign of the kind of restraint that the Reagan administration has been calling on it to demonstrate in world affairs.

Soviet restraint, Haig said, has thus far been "confined to rhetoric" and what he described as a "peace offensive" designed to project an image of the Soviets as peacemakers, particularly in the area of nuclear arms control.

When it came to El Salvador, which Haig had once said was on a Soviet "hit list," the secretary of state declared that guerrilla activity in that small Central American country had recently increased. This, he said, was a result of a continued provision from the outside of arms, advisers, and "command and control" -- primarily, according to him, from Cuba. He said that the Cuban support went into El Salvador through a "host of entry routes," including Nicaragua.

Haig said that US military assistance to El Salvador had been "rather modest in relative terms," and that he thinks it will remain that way. But he added that the Salvadoran armed forces needed "additional mobility." This would mean more helicopters.

In a report to the State Department in June, the Us ambassador to El Salvador , Deane Hinton, concluded that the government and insurgent forces had fought to a draw. Without greater strength and mobility, the government forces would not be able to go on the offensive. The guerrillas could attack when and where they wanted.

The US had previously supplied El Salvador with UH-1H troop- carrying helicopters. It was learned last month that the Salvadoran government would like to get 14 more. Ambassador Hinton told the Washington Post last week that of the 10 helicopters now in El Salvador, only three were able to fly on a given day of that same week because of damage from groundfire, constant use, and delays in the delivery of spare parts.

It also was learned that the Salvadoran military would like to obtain American-made F-5E and A-37 fighter-bombers to replace its aging French-made Fouga and Ouragan fighter-bombers. But Secretary Haig said that he saw no need for supplying fighter-bombers, at least not for now.

The secretary of state asserted that the US would also like to provide military assistance to another troubled Central American nation, Guatemala. He said that it, too, was threatened by Cuban support for a "growing" insurgency. But he indicated that the Guatemalan Army had not curbed its abuses of Guatemala's civilian population sufficiently to allow the US to provide such aid. US laws stipulate that military aid cannot go to "gross and consistent" violators of human rights.

Concerning the expected visit of a Chinese military mission to Washington next month, Secretary Haig said no specific requests had yet been received from Peking for American military equipment. But he noted that during the Carter administration the Chinese had expressed interest in "a number of items." He thought that in the new relationship now developing with the Reagan administration the Chinese "might be interested in antitank, air defense, and possibly some radar" equipment.

By mentioning those items which the Chinese might be interested in, the secretary seemed to imply that the US would, at the least, be positive, or sympathetic, in listening to Chinese requests. Haig stressed, however, that this remained to be seen and that it was up to President Reagan to assess specific requests from the Chinese on a case-by-case basis. POLAND

'The West has been very, very sensitive to the need for internal reforms, which justify the extensive resources that have already been applied by the West -- and the United States has been the leading contributor.' ISRAEL

'We have made it very clear that we think additional [West Bank] settlements. . . is a complicating factor. We are now very much looking forward to the visit of Prime Minister Begin where we can visit how to get autonomy moving and how to complete the provisions of the Sinai disengagement. . . and to do so with a better sense of urgency than heretofore.' LIBYA

'It is our view that if the vast resources being expended by Qaddafi today for external mischief-making were applied to the welfare of the still deprived. . . populations of Libya, that we would be prepared to respond in a constructive way in the direction of normalization.' LATIN AMERICA

'I don't want to over-dramatize this, but it is clear that Cuba has not terminated or modified substantially its level of support for the insurgency in El Salvador.

'I continue to believe we have to go beyond [internal reforms] to deal with the source of the external support.' SOVIET UNION

'The Soviets have been engaged in what could be described as a peace offensive, focusing primarily on arms control, designed to project themselves as the proponents of international peace and disarmament. . . One would have to measure that rhetoric against a lack of progress in the fundamental areas of western concern.' Excerpts from Monitor interview

Q. Could you sum up what world reaction has been to the Libyan incident and say whether or not there is something Libya could do to improve our state of non-relations?

A. Clearly, I think the reactions world-wide are basically a reflection of the orientation of the governments involved, but the reaction could be characterized in general ranging from fully supportive to relatively moderate opposition.

I think the international track record of Qaddafi's Libya was one which -- as distasteful as this incident was -- is not inconsistent with that pattern.

Q: Is there anything they could do to improve our state of almost non-relations?

A: We look at the Libyan situation not only in a regional context but in a global context. They have directly invaded neighboring Chad. They are threatening neighboring states throughout the northern African region, and beyond that into southern Africa. They train, fund, and espouse radical revolutions in a global sense, and it is our view that if the vast resources being expended by Qaddafi today for external mischief-making were applied to the welfare of the still deprived -- and I would say harshly deprived -- populations of Libya, that we would be prepared to respond in a constructive way in the direction of normalization. Unfortunately, thus far that hasn't been the case.

Q: Is it true that the Libyans sent more envoys here to try to sound us out on improving relations before the incident in the Gulf of sidra?

A: It was well before.

Q: And we rebuffed it?

A: I don't know that we would call it an "improved relationship." I would call it "to launch a dialogue," but that occurred at a time when their forces were still occupying Chad and there's been no indicating that they are going to modify that particular situation or their host of other unacceptable policies they are pursuing.

Q: When you say they went into southern Africa, do you mean Uganda? You're talking about East Africa, you're talking about the things we already know about?

A: There's evidence of Libyan funds and subversive activities throughout the African continent.

Q: I want to move on to the Soviet Union and your New Orleans speech on Aug. 11. In the speech you, spoke of a need to find a balance in our foreign policy and in our approach to the Soviet Union. You said we could continue to offer the Soviets western trade and technology.

Could you be a little more specific about the trade and technology? Are we, for example, ready to offer the Soviets technology which would help them with their energy problems? Are they still expected to be an oil-deficit nation in the mid-1980s?

A: I think the underpinning of any judgments with respect to East- West trade at large will always be in the context of corresponding Soviet international behavior across the board.

Clearly, our policies today are designed not directly or indirectly to contribute to the build-up of Soviet military capabilities, but that questions is always more complex than it appears.

For example, there's the anguishing question of refusing access to material produced by American manufacturers which are available in ample quantities from international competing sources, and whether or not such policy would achieve the purpose it's designed to achieve or whether it would really be a burden on American industry.

These are the kinds of questions that always have to be asked while you apply a general set of policies.

Q: But on energy there is sort of a philosophic question, I guess you might call it, where we might try to decide, "do we help the Soviets with their energy problem?" Or are they driven to more aggressive behavior by a lack of energy?

A: I'm not one who accepts the thesis that if we don't help the Soviets in one category or another, including energy, that they are going to then be motivated to pursue aggressive policies.

I think that's a very specious approach to this otherwise extremely complex problem. What we must always ask ourselves is, "Are t he policies we are pursuing in fact going to achieve the objectives which meet overall American interests?" Therefore, you cannot pursue them in narrow, functional categories. You've got to look at them in a broader sense.

There are always pros and cons to every one of these questions. In fact, I'm not who would be a rigid proponent of no contacts with the Soviet Union in commercial terms and trading terms and technology transfer. It's not in our interest to pursue that kind of a rigid approach.

On the other hand, I think it would be equally fallicious to believe that political relationships are exclusively determined by economic relationships. History would suggest quite the contrary.

Q: Have you seen any sign anywhere in the world of any of the kind of restraint or reciprocity that we've been asking for from the Soviet Union?

A: I would say thus far that that restraint has been confined to rhetoric, and that the Soviets have been engaged in what could be described as a peace offensive, focusing primarily on arms control, designed to project themselves as the proponents of international peace and disarmament -- especially in the nuclear area -- and thus far one would have to measure that rhetoric against a lack of progress in the fundamental areas of western concern: Afghanistan, Kampuchea, continuing export of high levels of armaments, seeking destabilization, continued support of such proxy regimes as Hanoi, Havana, and Mr. Qaddafi. . .

Q: Was there any indication that the Soviets might have had in mind, at some point, encouraging economic collapse in Poland, so they would have an excuse to be supportive, let's say, of martial law?

A: One cannot reject the thesis that having been faced with the risks of interventionism, it will be important now to see whether or not Moscow carries out its obligations to help with an anguishing economic problem.

Q: What can the western countries do to help shore up the Polish economy, and should they be laying down some kind of conditions to ensure higher Polish productivity, getting people back to work so the reforms aren't wasted?

A: From the outset, the West has been very, very sensitive to the need for internal reforms, which justify the extensive resources that have already been applied by the West -- and the United States has been the leading contributor. This raises the issue of the policy entry into the IMF [International Monetary Fund] with the conditionality associated with participation in that. We have continually watched that situation very carefully, and we'll have to in the period ahead.

Q: Let me turn to another trouble spot: the Middle East. What are we doing to strengthen the cease-fire in Lebanon and to strengthen the UN forces there?

A: We have been very active from the period that the cessation of hostilities was agreed upon. We are active in the United Nations and among the member states of the UN on a bilateral basis. . . to broaden its zone of responsibility along the Israeli border, to consider potential augmentations. We are working with the internal parties in Lebanon, with the main objective of strengthening the central government of Lebanon, . . . by greater diplomatic, economic, and security-related activity by potential donor states -- the US, western European nations, and regional oil-producing nations as well.

Q: Is that happening?

A: Yes, we are making some progress there.

Q: Would you still describe it as a fragile cease-fire?

A: Yes, I think the situation is extremely fragile. . .

Q: Will there be a need to send Ambassador Habib out again any time soon?

A: The President will send Habib back into the process the minute he feels that it would make a constructive contribution. . .

Q: There is nothing we need to do in terms of our security relationship with Israel that would help reassure them, perhaps reinforcing our defense coordination with them?

A: We've held discussions dealing with that subject, but I don't like to view the decision itself in a question of linkage or trade-off, but rather a decision that is justified in its own right.

Q: Is the question of Israeli settlements on the West Bank going to come up in the talks with Prime Minister Begin?

A: I would anticipate that Mr. Begin as a participant and signatory of the Camp David accords will be prepared, as he has been from the outset, to continue with this process with a greater sense of urgency than that which we witnessed during the period of our political change here in the United States and in Israel.

Q: But we seem to be taking the position that settlements on the West Bank are a problem in this peace process. He seems to be taking the position that we don't have any right to say that.

A: This is a sensitive issue in th autonomy discussions. We have made it very clear that we think additional settlements, as the President has said, is a complicating factor. We are now very much looking forward to the visit of Prime Minister Begin where we can visit how to get autonomy moving and how to complete the provisions of the Sinai disengagement in which we made the greatest progress in the last few months, and to do so with a better sense of urgency than heretofore.

Q: One last trouble-spot: Central America. You have spoken a number of times about going to the source of the trouble, which is in your view, Cuba. Are we going to have to go for more military aid to El Salvador or aid to Guatemala?

A: I think with respect to Cuba, we've had a number of ongoing studies, some of which were near-term, which have been concluded, and others which are longer-term which are still under consideration. This past week we've seen evidence of stepped-up guerrilla activity in El Salvador, which is the consequence of a continued provision of arms, advisory activity, and external command and control, primarily a Cuban source. This is going to require additional American activity in the economic-and security-related fields.

I don't want to over-dramatize this, but it is clear that Cuba has not terminated or modified substantially its level of support for the insurgency in El Salvador.

Q: Part of this is going through Nicaragua, is that correct?

A: Going through a host of entry routes, yes.

Q: When you say it's going to require additional American activity in economic and security areas, do you mean a modest supplementary increase in aid to El Salvador?

A: Nothing is modest when you deal in these difficult times with increased levels of economic or security related assistance. . . I don't want to over-dramatize the size of it, but we had a long-term problem in El Salvador, and we have to be prepared to deal with the economic needs and the internal reforms, so long as external intervention is continuing, with internal security needs as well.

I continue to believe we have to go beyond that to deal with the source of the external support.

Q: We have a Chinese military mission coming here next month. Where are we going in our defense and security relationship with the Chinese? If they come asking for what you would call defensive weapons, anti-tank weapons or anti-aircraft guns, could we help in that area?

A: No specific requests have been received, but the Chinese have expressed interest . . . with the previous administration on quite a number of items, and I think in the new relationship, they might be interested in anti-tank, air-defense and possibly some radar. . .

Q: By mentioning these things that the Chinese might be interested in, you seem to be implying that we would be at least positive or sympathetic in listening to their requests?

A: I think this remains to be seen, and it is up to the President, in the policy he has stablished, to assess specific requests case by case.

Share this story:

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...