Richard V. Allen has what it takes to get ahead in the Reagan administration. The new assistant to the President for national security affairs is fast on his feet, and he is close to his boss both personally and philosophically.
Mr. Allen likes to amuse his friends with verbal imitations of former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger. But he has vowed repeatedly that he will not imitate Dr. Kissinger's seizure of power in the Nixon administration. As Mr. Nixon's assistant for national security, Kissinger overshadowed his rivals, including Secretary of State William P. Rogers.
Allen repeatedly stresses that, unlike Kissinger and President Carter's national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, he will not try to make policy. His task, Allen says, will be to present the President with options, to coordinate interagency paper work, and to engage in long-range thinking. Allen and other Reagan administration officials say they are convinced that Dr. Brezezinski's outspokenness caused confusion overseas as to who was running American foreign policy.
Allen's background makes him compatible with Reagan. He has edited books on communism and worked with two conservative "think tanks."
His subsequent career as a private consultant has been surrounded by controversy. Last October, the Wall Street Journal reported that letters it had obtained indicated that Allen had several times used his White House connections to try to obtain lucrative consulting contracts for himself and his friends.
According to the newspaper, Allen leaked information about White House deliberations on US export-import policies to a Japanese business associate. It also reported that at one time Allen received a $10,000-a-month consulting fee from the organization of accused swindler Robert Vesco. Allen also worked as a registered foreign agent defending Portuguese colonial interests in Africa.
Because of the Wall Street Journal article, Allen resigned from Reagan's staff five days before the November election. But he was reinstated after Edwin Meese III, then head to Reagan's transition team, was reported to have studied "all the documents" and to have concluded that there was no wrong doing.