Nisbet_12-1988
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Our Stumbling Giant

Whatever the number of pluses in the portrait of Reagan that is beginning to take shape in the final months of his two-term presidency, there will be minuses also, and most of these will stem from his conduct of foreign policy and national defense. At first thought, this is almost bizarre. Wasn't Reagan the leader who from his first year in office had us walking tall in the world again, and that as the direct result of his firm hold upon foreign and defense strategies? He was indeed. But it is already apparent that there have been significantly more mishaps and acts of ineptitude in these areas than the image of walking tall can easily accommodate. Too often America the giant has been, in foreign areas, a stumbling, spastic, and ill-gaited giant.

Lebanon and the fate of 240 Marines, without arms, without instructions, and soon without lives, continues to haunt. So does the full story of our self-declared victory in Grenada—for which some 8,000 decorations were speedily pumped out—in which several thousand American troops required three days of bumbling before a couple of hundred armed Cubans were put down. There is the Reykjavik summit and its only narrowly avoided disaster of reckless utopianism. Reagan's rush to the INF treaty and its uprooting of precious nuclear missiles has created doubt in the one center in the world where no doubt should ever exist concerning the United States and its intentions: Western...

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