]]]]]]]]]]]]]          BAKER'S FIRST BLUNDER          [[[[[[[[[[[[[[[ 
              A majestic U.S. blink on human rights          (1/7/89)
                         by William Safire
                    The New York Times, 1/5/89

             [Kindly uploaded by Freeman 07656GAED]

  The  Bush administration, three weeks before it takes  office,  has 
sent  a  signal  of irresolution and hypocrisy in  dealing  with  the 
Soviet Union.
  With  the approval of James Baker, next Secretary of State,  Ronald 
Reagan  this week committed the Bush administration to a world  media 
extravaganza in Moscow in 1991 extolling Soviet human rights progress.
  American  and Soviet propagandists are drumming out the  line  that 
the decision to hold this follow-up meeting of the 35-nation Helsinke 
Pact  in the Soviet capital is a reward for good human-rights  behav-
  Be not misled; we were pressured into this abomination by  skillful 
Soviet diplomacy and James Baker's desire for a quick Start treaty.
  Step back for the long view.  In 1975, Leonid Brezhnev made his bid 
to make permanent the annexation of a huge area of Poland claimed  by 
Moscow  after  World war II.  His device: the Helsinki Final  Act,  a 
promise  to  the world of a basketful of  human  rights  concessions, 
including freedom to dissent, travel and emigrate.
  The Ford Administration, swept up in the Eureopean peace  euphoria, 
went  along  with the treaty drafted by the 35-nation  Conference  on 
Security  and Cooperation in Europe.  The Kremlin gained its  desired 
border and promptly broke its human-rights promises.
  Instead  of  threatening to abrogate the treaty  that  the  Soviets 
mocked,  the West established a cottage industry of  monitors.   They 
ran  into  a stone wall of Soviet contempt -- until  recent  economic 
pain caused the Kremlin to use the Helsinke pact in a new way.
  Eager  to gain the support of the Soviet intelligentsia in  ousting 
party bureaucrats, and desperate for Western financing and trade, Mr. 
Gorbachev  introduced glasnost.  He traded celebrated  prisoners  for 
praise  and  used revulsion for Stalinism to  oust  party  opponents, 
thereby earning credit as a humanitarian as he concentrated all poli-
tical power in his person.
  In  1986, his foreign Minister announced his intention of having  a 
human  rights conference in Moscow.  this would not  only  legitimize 
the Polish land conquest, but would place the free world's imprimatur 
on  the soviet Union as an exemplar of freedom, worthy of  trade  and 
financial aid.  That meeting in Moscow became a primary objective  of 
Soviet policy.  
  Unthinkingly, our Secretary of State set the goal posts on the  50-
yard line.  Instead of demanding the lifting of the Iron Curtain  and 
demolition of the Berlin Wall, George Shultz put up requirements  for 
the release of a few hundred prisoners, permisssion to leave for  the 
longest-term  refuseniks, cessation of jamming and  easily  revocable 
legal "guarantees."
  Lo,  the Soviet leader turned the level of repression down and  the 
level  of  emigrants up, meeting our low price for  an  international  
seal of approval.
  Some  members  of Congress thought we should insist on  much  more, 
delaying our acquiescence.  then Mr. Gorbachev turned to hardball.
  He  knew that Secretary-designate Baker was eager for a  first-year 
Start treaty.  He knew also that the United States Senate would never 
approve  a  treaty reducing strategic arms without  ending  the  huge 
Soviet  advantage  in conventional forces.  That subject  was  to  be 
discussed at the Conventional Stability Talks -- to be convened  only 
at the conclusion of the current C.S.C.E. meeting in Vienna.
  The Soviet pressure was applied:  the Vienna meeting would not come 
to  an end until the U.S. agreed to the 1991 human rights meeting  in 
Moscow.   Then, and only then, would the Soviet Union  discuss  "con-
ventional  stability"  --  that  is,  cutting  down  the  troop-tank-
artillery advantage long endangering Europe.  No Moscow  human-rights 
seal of approval, no conventional arms talks.
  George  Shultz  put the price squarely to Jim  Baker,  recommending 
that in this eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation, the U.S. should blink.  
Mr. Baker discussed the matter with Mr. Bush and passed the word that 
he  was  pleased  to  have this concession  made  during  the  Reagan 
  The  United States then majestically blinked.  The  abandonment  of 
moral  high ground and loss of human-rights leverage was  couched  in 
stern  huffing -- "a reversal of progress made to date will cause  us 
to reconsider our decision to attend a Moscow conference" -- but that 
would  be like abrogating the Helsinki treaty during the  decade  the 
Russians make a mockery of it.  When we give the Soviets an edge,  we 
don't take it back.
  James  Baker hopes this Soviet triumph will be blamed on  departing 
Gorbachumps, but the call was clearly his own.  He has raised a  dip-
lomatic standard from which the wise and honest should flee.

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