How the rest of the world views Reagan's foreign policy
Rio de Janeiro — In international affairs, it's not ''the Reagan era'' - at least not yet.
Top political scholars from around the globe withheld that accolade from the current American president, in interviews at the 12th World Congress of the International Political Science Association (IPSA).
The political experts see foreign affairs under Mr. Reagan as bare-wires diplomacy -- highly charged, but without a well-defined US policy to insulate world events from tension.
This November's US elections are being closely watched by foreign observers from Moscow and Paris to Buenos Aires and Taiwan, for signs of slippage in Reagan's domestic support. Decisive Democratic gains might indicate that the political pendulum's swing from liberal to conservative in the United States may at least be slowing. Foreign analysts are already speculating about the 1984 presidential race.
The scholars temper their appraisals of Reagan by pointing out that President Nixon, too, was roundly criticized, was in power longer, and was better known before he took office than Reagan. Also, global forces such as world recession may defy any leader's attempt to put his stamp on world affairs.
Here's how the experts view American policy under Reagan from their vantage points around the world.
The United Kingdom: ''I see fuzziness, improvisation, lurching from one crisis to the next, without an obvious policy except containing Soviet expansionism,'' says Jack Hayward, a University of Hull, Yorkshire, political scientist and former dean of the Political Studies Association of the United Kingdom. ''What most worries Europeans is that Soviet military power -- particularly tactical nuclear power -- is stronger than the West's. They are anxious about American willingness to use nuclear weapons if there is a European threat.''
West Berlin: Conflict between Reagan's domestic and military policies would likely bring a potential Reagan era to an early close, says Karl Deutsch, director of Berlin's Wissenshaftszentrum and a past president of IPSA. Cuts in US social welfare spending, like social security, to finance military outlays would lead to conflict between older and younger Americans as has already occurred in France and Germany. ''You could conceivably have a 5-to-10 year interlude of conservatism under Reagan,'' Mr. Deutsch says. France: ''The French feeling is that the Reagan era is a reaction to the Carter era, just as you had a Johnson/Nixon era in reaction to Vietnam,'' says Leo Hamon of the University of Paris. ''The US had an internal crisis that brought Carter to power -- an idealistic era. The Carter idealistic era brought an image of an unrealistic America that could be pushed by the Soviets. Now you have the Reagan emphasis on asserting power.
''Will America go farther in this direction? The beginning of the answer may come in America's election this fall.''
''Nixon was very popular in Europe, especially in France,'' Mr. Hamon says. ''We had in Nixon the impression of a realistic man, not someone of the Wilson/Carter character. Our image of Reagan is not so clear.''
Israel: ''We don't know what Reagan's policy is, or which way it is going,'' says Asher Arian, Tel Aviv University political scientist and IPSA executive committee member. ''But you can find that (uncertainty) under other American presidents, as in '56 and '57 under Eisenhower.
''If the Habib agreement is reached and implemented, then in three weeks or so we will see a different public opinion of Reagan. This is a very intense period, with a highly visible war in Lebanon. The Reagan record is still being formed.''
''Nixon is the big hero to Israelis,'' says Mr. Arian. ''Johnson is high on the list.'' The two Presidents are remembered for stepping up US arms support for Israel after the 1967 war, which was fought by Israel mainly with French materiel.
Soviet Union: ''In all periods, the US and Soviet Union have their ups and downs,'' says Georgi Shakhanazarov, president of the Soviet Political Science Association in Moscow. ''But now we're facing a very dangerous situation. It is not so much simply a question of nuclear war. But there are limits of patience by the Soviet Union and other nations. Reagan can't continue to humiliate the Arabs. How much patience should a great power like the Soviet Union have?''
''Reagan, while emphasizing Soviet economic, agricultural, and credit problems, is not taking into account the mood of the Soviet people, an asset to Soviet strength,'' Mr. Shakhanazarov says.
Presidents Roosevelt, Kennedy, and Nixon are held in the highest regard by the Soviet people, Shakhanazarov says.
South America: ''Reagan's policies for Latin America are already exhausted,'' says Guillermo O'Donnell, Argentine political scholar. ''Reagan is unlike former presidents, in abandoning the cause of human rights and sending important signals to authoritarian regimes throughout the Americas.
''Many Latin Americans see the Reagan policy as absorbed in East-West relationships. It has no North-South component at all. It is perceived as failed , or at least thoroughly insufficient, by the governments and by the oppositions in the major countries of Latin America -- Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela, and Argentina.
The Far East: ''There is not yet a Reagan stamp on Asian affairs,'' says Teh-kuang Chang, Asian studies research chairman for IPSA and a Ball State University, Ind., political scientist. ''Reagan's 'five principles' from the 1980 campaign - including improved relationships with the PRC, Korea, Japan, Taiwan -- are still not implemented. He has no plan yet for visiting Asia. He has initiated no new Asia policies since the election.
''But President Reagan is very popular in Asia. He is seen as a principled, honest, and sincere leader.''