Enter Mr. Shultz
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These movements come in conflict with the main elements of US foreign policy as they have been developed from Nixon through Ford and Carter days. The inherited and established foreign policies are generally supported by the professional career people at the State Department, Treasury, sometimes Defense, and often Department of Commerce.Skip to next paragraph
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The result is a constant battle over foreign policy at the White House - with the original backers (and campaign fund suppliers past and future) of the Reagan presidency on one side and the professional career people of government on the other.
A prime victim of this condition is consistency in foreign policy.
A central policy that was once solid and is now often under fire has been and inevitably will continue to be the policy of supporting and protecting the NATO alliance. The immediate issue is the difference between Washington and the allies in Western Europe over the pipeline from Siberia.
Here is an issue where Mr. Haig has done his best (some would say worst) to support the career professionals at State, who support the alliance, and at Commerce, who want the business for American companies. But he is up against Mr. Weinberger at Defense, who believes in the vulnerability of the Soviet economy and the desirability of using sanctions. And Mr. Weinberger on this issue has the automatic support of the weapons lobby and the Israel lobby.
The clearest example of how the system works was provided by the flip-flop over the pipeline during and after Mr. Reagan's recent European trip. During the trip the allies thought they were assured by members of the Reagan party that objection to the pipeline would be soft pedaled.
But the very reporting of that back at home galvanized the opposition. By the time Mr. Reagan got back to the White House, he faced a charge of betrayal on the part of several segments of his political constituency, and Mr. Weinberger.
Does this mean that the President will in fact do his utmost to prevent the pipeline from Siberia to Western Europe from being built, and prevent the Japanese from helping the Soviets drill for oil off Sakhalin?
Not necessarily. It does mean that Mr. Reagan is bound to declare public loyalty to the causes dear to the hearts of his original constituents, who put up much of the campaign funds for the Republican Party.
But there can always be a difference between declaratory policy and operating policy. Mr. Reagan is bound to declare opposition to the pipeline no matter how much it upsets allies in Europe and Japan. But to enforce that opposition may be difficult.
Besides, the sanctions against the pipeline are predicated on the treatment of Solidarity in Poland. Should the Polish government enter into a compromise arrangement with Solidarity that the union could accept, the basis for sanctions would be eroded. In the meantime, American companies could lose business to West European companies.
Mr. Haig could not prevent the declaratory opposition of the White House to the building of the pipeline. Mr. Shultz might find a way around and out from under the declaratory policy when he gets under way. He will enjoy easier access to the presidential office than did the abrasive Mr. Haig.