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The Friends We've Offended

July 09, 1986

While I was eating breakfast this morning, I briefly jotted down a list of countries who I am glad to say are regarded as traditional U.S. friends and allies but who have been deeply offended and angered by some action of the current Administration within the last year or so. Here is what I came up with:

--Canada, by the imposition of a 35% import duty on cedar products apparently to placate Oregon politicians whose support is crucial to the President's tax reform legislation.

--New Zealand, whom Secretary of State George P. Shultz recently excluded in a fit of pique from the ANZUS mutual defense pact in retaliation for that country's refusal to allow nuclear-armed vessels into its ports.

--France, whom Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger and others publicly lambasted in the press for refusing to allow U.S. military overflights during the U.S.-instigated-and-conducted Libyan bombing operation.

--Mexico, largely because of the remarks by Reagan appointee John Gavin accusing Mexican officials at the highest levels of corruption, murder and involvement in drug trafficking.

--Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala and most of the other countries in Central America by the Administration's repeated and blatant disregard for their attempts to achieve a negotiated solution to the Nicaraguan situation.

--Italy, which has been roundly denounced by State Department officials for allowing Abul Abbas to "get away" in the aftermath of the Achille Lauro affair.

--Egypt, which was mortified to see the United States, acting on the President's direct order, seize and force down one of their aircraft in international airspace in order to bring terrorists into custody.

Each of these actions considered separately may seem relatively insignificant or even appropriate, but when taken together they suggest an alarming diplomatic ineptitude on the part of the Reagan Administration, and a certain bull-in-the-china-shop mentality by its senior officials, who seem willing to do any amount of damage to U.S. relations with our longstanding allies as long as it plays to the domestic audience.

I have a feeling that a doubling of the national debt is not the only Reagan-induced damage which we all will suffer for, and which future administrations will have to repair.

RANDALL SMITH

La Jolla

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