I have been reading much lately of what the Soviets claim the United States is trying to do to them, and vice versa. It gave me an idea which seems almost worth recording although I suppose nothing really can come of it.
Here is the way my idea goes.
The men in the Kremlin claim to believe, and probably do believe, that the recent trouble they have been having trying to keep Poland within their political and military system is due to the machinations of the, to them, wicked capitalists in Washington.
The men in and around the White House in Washington claim to believe, and probably do believe, that the trouble they continue to have in trying to keep Central America within their political and military system is due to the machinations of the, to them, wicked communists in Moscow.
Well, why can't President Reagan and Moscow head man Leonid Brezhnev get together and enter into an agreement to keep out of each other's neighborhoods?
It sounds easy. Mr. Reagan would say, ''I promise not to try to destabilize the existing situation in Eastern Europe.'' Mr. Brezhnev would say, ''I promise not to try to destabilize the old order in Central America.''
In that case Mr. Brezhnev could stop worrying about Eastern Europe getting out of his control and Mr. Reagan could stop worrying about Central America turning unfriendly. But then, could they?
After all, the most natural condition among small countries is to fear and resent the nearest great power. The countries of Eastern Europe are destined by geography to live under the shadow of Soviet power. It is inevitable that they will want to avoid the influence behind that shadow. Like small countries from time immemorial, they will look to the US, the other and more remote great, power to protect them from the Soviets.
And the same holds true for Central America. They live under the shadow of the US. They fear what lies behind that shadow and wish to be as independent of Washington as possible. Inevitably, and also as from time immemorial, they will look toward another and remoter great power for protection against US influence.
In other words, no promise Mr. Reagan could make about noninterference by the US in Eastern Europe could prevent the countries of Eastern Europe from looking in hope toward Washington for protection against the influence of Moscow.
Equally, no promise Mr. Brezhnev could make could prevent the small countries of Central America from looking in hope toward Moscow for protection against the influence of their great power neighbor, the US.
Nor could an agreement between the two great power leaders keep Americans as individuals from feeling deepest sympathy toward the Polish people who do live under an oppressive and inefficient system of government.
Nor could such an agreement prevent individual Soviet citizens from feeling sympathy for the peasantry in those Latin American countries which are sometimes still ruled by a landed oligarchy in collaboration with a ruthless soldiery.
And where individuals feel sympathy government action can easily follow. Government is under pressure to do so.
Ideology works its influence also in both Moscow and Washington. Moscow feels more comfortable with neighbors which profess the official state religion of the Soviet Union, communism. And Washington feels most comfortable with neighbors which accept or profess the unofficial but factual state religion of the US, anticommunism.
Moscow cannot help attempting to persuade or induce its neighbors to profess communism. The US automatically and reflexively attempts to persuade or induce its neighbors to profess and accept anti-communism.
And if all that were not enough to prevent the Reagan-Brezhnev agreement of my daydream there is another obstacle in the way of its fulfillment. The existence of a great power with its headquarters in Moscow can be useful in Washington. It serves as the ''foreign devil'' so often used to attain political purposes. Having a ''foreign devil'' in Washington helps the Kremlin. The Kremlin uses it to justify the police state system which keeps the Soviet empire together.
So, while in theory Messrs. Reagan and Brezhnev could do useful business together, it could be done only at a price which is politically too high for either.