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Cranston Says Reagan Now Agrees With Him

March 16, 1986|KEITH LOVE | Times Political Writer

Democratic Sen. Alan Cranston, who recently announced his candidacy for reelection by urging the United States to oppose dictatorships of the anti-Communist right as well as the pro-Soviet left, said Saturday that he was pleased to see President Reagan now switch to his point of view.

"I like what the President had to say," Cranston said, referring to a shift of emphasis regarding dictatorships announced by Reagan on Friday.

In a message to Congress, the President said: "The American people believe in human rights and oppose tyranny in whatever form, whether of the left or right."

Words Similar to His

Cranston noted that those words were similar to his own on March 3 when he announced his candidacy for a fourth term. Among other things, Cranston said that day:

"I want the United States to be an agent of peaceful democratic change in repressive anti-democratic governments of the right and the left. . . . I would cut off U. S. military aid to the (right-wing) dictatorships in Panama and Pakistan . . . and I oppose with equal vehemence the repressive, anti-democratic governments of the left (including) Vietnam, Cambodia, Nicaragua and Cuba."

Marks a Departure

Reagan's own announcement marked a departure--at least in tone--from the Administration view long espoused by Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, former Ambassador to the United Nations, who held that authoritarian (right-wing) regimes should be treated differently by the United States because they are less repressive and better for U.S. interests than leftist dictatorships.

And although Reagan's latest statement still terms leftist dictatorships the most serious threat to world peace, his increased criticism of authoritarian regimes was apparently encouraged by the recent departures of right-wing dictators in Haiti and the Philippines--changes that the Administration encouraged once they appeared to be inevitable.

The senator said he will visit the Philippines and meet with President Corazon Aquino during Congress' Easter week break.

Cranston, who is in California this weekend to meet with supporters and contributors, also said that the President's statement signaled a greater concern for human rights than has previously been the case.

The senator worked closely with Reagan's predecessor, Democratic President Jimmy Carter, on efforts to get authoritarian allies of the United States to improve human rights in their countries.

But when Reagan entered the White House in 1981, he said he would not press the human rights policy as strongly with authoritarian allies because it undercut those facing external threats from the left.

Reagan's shift in emphasis regarding authoritarian regimes is seen as an attempt to gain support for his proposal to provide $100 million in military and non-lethal aid to the contras fighting the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. Cranston said he strongly opposes that aid.

"I don't think the President will get the $100 million, but he may get some," Cranston said. The Senate and the House are expected to take up the controversial aid package in the next two weeks.

"Nobody believes that $100 million will do the job, so they will come back and ask for more money and they are now talking about putting U. S. military advisers down there," Cranston said. "It's just like Vietnam: The first step was money, the second step was military advisers and the third step was sending in American young men."

When asked if Nicaragua was a different case because it is much closer to the United States than Vietnam, Cranston said: "It (Nicaragua) is a small country. It's not a major power. . . . Nobody likes the Marxist government and its relationship with Cuba and Moscow, but as we put the pressure on them . . . they get more dependent upon the Soviet Union.

What would Cranston do about Nicaragua?

"I would work with (other Latin American nations) to get the Sandinistas to agree on no foreign advisers or troops down there. That means no Cubans and no Americans. We're reluctant because we want to stay down there. But they (Nicaragua) have offered to have no Cubans if there are no Americans. . . . Reagan wants them to cry 'uncle.' "

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