Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

David Kline

U.S. actions undermine anti-Soviet unity

First Published: The Call, Vol. 9, No. 20, May 19, 1980.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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When Moscow invaded Afghanistan last December, many world leaders took the news as if it were a bucket of ice water thrown in their faces.

Jimmy Carter was one of those who took a dousing, and, since then, we have seen a great many changes in his foreign policy. Yet six months after the invasion, experience shows that the Carter Doctrine is largely ineffective in helping to forge worldwide cooperation in the fight against Soviet expansionism.

The problem does not mainly lie in foreign capitals. Few world leaders believe that the takeover of Afghanistan was motivated by the legitimate defensive needs of the USSR. Nor have they failed to see the implications of the Soviets’ bold move southward towards the Persian Gulf.

They know, for instance, that aside from natural gas that the Soviets are extracting from Afghanistan at half the world market price, there is little about that South Asian nation itself that justifies the costs–political or economic–of the invasion.

And most world leaders can read maps. They can see quite clearly that Moscow’s recent interventions in Ethiopia, South Yemen and now Afghanistan have ringed the vital Persian Gulf oil routes with a noose that, if tightened, could choke the life out of Europe and every other industrialized nation.

The main problem hampering international united action is not other countries; it is Washington. Though Jimmy Carter and his top advisers recognize the need for a common front against the rapacious Soviet bear, they persist in their de facto demand that other countries recognize a Pax Americana–in other words submit to U.S. dictates and dominance within that front.

The President refuses to formulate policies that take account of the fact that those nations who want to resist Moscow’s expansionism also want to resist American expansionism. The result is U.S. actions that hamper, rather than promote, global united action.

Look at Carter’s policies towards Iran. The President has apparently directed his main attack in the last six months at Iran, not the U SSR, and has refused to take the one action consistent with third world views of justice.

That one action would be to admit what everyone in Washington privately admits– that America sought to dominate Iran through the shah for 25 years–and to also pledge never to interfere in Iranian affairs again.

This action is also the only one likely to free the hostages, restore Iran-U.S. relations, and help roadblock the Russians in their rush towards the Gulf. Instead, the hostage rescue fiasco has only succeeded in further antagonizing Iran and the third world, not to mention pushing Tehran even closer to Moscow, if only in self-defense.

The same sort of superpower bullying runs through other Carter policies of late. Was it any surprise, for instance, that Islamic nations cringed at Jimmy Carter’s January 4 declaration that the Persian Gulf was a “vital American interest”?

The President may have thought his words scared the Russians, but they scared the Saudis and Iranians even more. After all, the Gulf countries have for decades fought for control over their own natural resources from foreign interests, and now Washington in effect says it wants to re-plant the red, white and blue on an Arab oil derrick!


While it’s true that many Arab countries have called for a stronger U.S. commitment to their security, they have called for a commitment of a certain type. This was demonstrated when Oman cancelled its base agreement with the U.S. after Washington secretly used the Oman base as a staging area for the hostage raid on Iran. As Saudi Arabia said, the U.S. should no longer act like a superpower.

Arab nations also question whether Washington is really serious about wanting peace and stability in the Middle East as a hedge against Soviet aggression. They ask, Why the turnabout in America’s UN vote condemning Israel’s illegal and expansionist settlement policy? They point out that Carter is ignoring the obvious fact that there can be no peace or stability in the Mideast until Palestinians get a homeland.

Europe, too, questions whether the U.S. intends to deal with it on the basis of consultation and cooperation, as Carter claims. Paris and Bonn must have big doubts, considering the fact that America undertook unilateral military action against Iran last month after first promising Europe it wouldn’t do so and securing the Allies’ help with economic sanctions against Iran.

Then there’s White House policy in regards to Latin America. After first propping up Somoza and then narrowly avoiding a Nicaraguan “Vietnam,” Washington now ignores world opinion and plans to send $5.6 million in military aid to the El Salvador junta. Despite all of Carter’s rhetoric about human rights, the U.S. is again getting into the position of supporting an anti-popular regime.

The list could go on. But the contradictions in U.S. foreign policy are in some ways clearest in regards to Washington’s approach to China.

Beijing has for years “read the map” quite well and been one of the strongest forces opposing Soviet expansionism. Yet while many advances in Sino-American relations have been made in the last few years, China cannot but be concerned about how strongly the U.S. is committed to acting on the basis of “parallel interests.” as the Chinese put it.

Beijing was much opposed to the U.S. rescue attempt in Iran. China’s Foreign Ministry criticized the action in an April 27 statement for violating Iran’s sovereignty, noting that it only provided an opportunity for “people [Moscow] who have ulterior motives.”

Further, China was disappointed with President Carter’s $400-million aid offer to Pakistan, a border country that China does not wish to see succumb to Soviet pressure. Beijing rightly saw the aid package as largely symbolic on the U.S.’ part, as did Pakistani leader Zia ul-Haq.

“What do I buy with this but the hostility of the Soviet Union?” Zia asked.

Lastly, the White House has also refused to cooperate with China in funneling aid to the Afghan resistance fighters, who are the front-line defense against further Soviet expansion in South Asia.


Overall, however, the Chinese favor the main thrust of the Carter Doctrine, which they say recognizes the need to seriously confront Moscow’s threat.

Should the U.S. persist in trying to enforce its will on the third world, however–and should Beijing feel Washington is reversing its previous commitments to China–the result could be disastrous. Against its will, Beijing might be forced into a rapprochement with Moscow in order to buy precious time to modernize its defenses and prepare for war.

“If ever the Chinese [patched up] their quarrel with the Russians,” noted French journalist Andre Fontaine, “we may be quite certain that it would not be because they suddenly saw the socialist and revolutionary virtues whose absence they had denounced since the Khrushchev era. It would be because they had finally come to the conclusion, as Stalin did in 1939 [when he was rebuffed by France and England and then signed a pact with Hitler], that the Western countries were decidedly too weak, too divided among themselves, and in fact too stupid for any further reliance to be placed on them.”

The world should hope that China never feels it necessary to make that kind of choice.

Last week marked the 35th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe. Washington should take this occasion as a reminder that there is a great deal at stake in whether or not it abandons the worst of its superpower policies in the months ahead.