« AnteriorContinuar »
PUBLIC OPINION IS BASIS FOR SUCCESSFUL FOREIGN POLICY There is one thing that I would like to throw out here—and you have provided me with a couple of listeners for this—but on the subject that "this couldn't be approved", I think it is unfortunate to think of this as an exercise in public relations by the administration.
I know that neither of you have had any part of this in your thinking, but it is reported in the New York Times that Mr. Jordan said, "Some of those so-and-so's don't have the spine not to vote their mail.” “If you change their mail, you change their minds." That kind of attitude from downtown is of very little help on Capitol Hill, or in the country-as little help as we could possibly have.
[The article referred to follows:]
[From the New York Times, Oct. 13, 1977)
(By James T. Wooten) WASHINGTON, Oct. 12—Before a group of private citizens invited to the White House for just such persuasion, President Carter suggested today that as many as 100.000 American troops might be needed to protect the Panama Canal from civil unrest if the new treaties on its ownership and operation were rejected by the United States Senate.
“How many would be required is, of course, conjectural," he said, "but we can and we will defend it, and, as President, that is my firm resolve."
Mr. Carter's stern projections were the focal point of a long briefing by Administration officials for about 75 community leaders from Vermont, Minnesota and Pennsylvania. It was the latest in a series of such meetings and only one facet of a well-organized White House effort to reverse public opinion on the treaties and thereby encourage their approval by the Senate.
Faced with opinion polls that indicate a negative response to the treaties and with a concerted right-wing campaign to inundate individual senators with antiratification mail, Mr. Carter and his staff have launched a counter-campaign that includes not only briefings like the 24-hour session in the State Dining Room today but also a planned "fireside chat” by the President and extensive use of notable surrogates speaking in favor of the treaties, including apparently the head of the Panamanian Government, Brig. Gen. Omar Torrijos Herrera.
The White House announced today that General Torrijos will visit President Carter here on Friday, an appointment that seems almost certain to include private conversations between the Panamanian leader and United States senators who have expressed reservations about the language and direction of the new treaties.
The focus of the uncertainty is on provisions in the treaties for the defense of the canal and the priority-passage of United States vessels through it in a time of emergency. Some, including several Democrats, have said that the language in the documents is ambiguous and does not sufficiently guarantee either.
The White House hopes that General Torrijos quick visit to Washington will assuage at least some of the senators' doubts through a show of unanimity by the two governments on those key points.
Whatever the effect of the general's presence, the Carter Administration is clearly not basing its effort to ratify the treaties on that or on any other single enterprise.
LINING UP SPEAKERS For instance, in addition to its briefings for private citizens, the White House is providing a veritable speakers' bureau for organizations and national conventions, as well as energetically courting the leadership of such groups.
Coordinated by Joseph W. Aragon, a special assistant to the President, the effort has concentrated on such national civic and business organizations as the United States Chamber of Commerce and the Jaycees.
“And boy, oh boy, I think we even got the Pope,” Mr. Aragon chuckled es. ultantly on yesterday afternoon, soon after learning that Alejandro Orfila, the Secretary General of the Organization of American States and one of the several surrogates the Administration has enlisted, had persuaded Pope Paul VI to issue a statement from the Vatican in favor of the treaties.
"And we've got John Wayne, too,” said Mr. Jordan in jest, conceding that the White House had really had nothing to do with the actor's conversion but rather that a longtime friendship with General Torrijos had been the deciding factor.
Mr. Jordan believes that, despite polls indicating that a majority of the public was against the treaties, "it is a reversible issue.” Moreover, he said last week that the role of the treaties as issues in either the 1978 or 1980 political campaigns “has been greatly exaggerated.”
"It's not something that affects a lot of people's lives," he said. “That's why it's reversible—if we can just get the facts disseminated to enough people."
The President repeated that thesis at the briefing today, stepping smartly through the sliding doors of the dining room at precisely the moment he was scheduled to appear and moving directly to the lectern, smiling broadly and nodding.
“There's been a lot of misleading statements put out about the Panama Canal," he said, explaining that he was there to set them straight on a few things.
PRECEDED BY SEVERAL OFFICIALS
Preceded at the lectern by Vice President Mondale; the Deputy Secretary of State, Warren M. Christopher; the Deputy Secretary of Defense, Charles W. Duncan Jr.; Gen. David C. Jones, chief of staff of the Air Force, and Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker, who helped negotiate the treaties, Mr. Carter spoke for nearly 45 minutes, an unusually large chunk of his Presidential day and a reflection of the importance the White House is placing on these briefings.
They are being organized by Betty Rainwater, a deputy assistant for re search at the White House who works directly for Mr. Jordan. The list of in. vitations for such briefings is generally prepared in cooperation with the senators from the states, then augmented "with people who were helpful to us in the campaign," Mr. Jordan said.
Among the 75 guests waiting for Mr. Carter today were six women. The rest were well-dressed, affluent, generally articulate businessmen, editors, bankers and labor leaders and not the least bit bashful about telling General Jones their own views on national defense or Ambassador Bunker their theories on Latin American diplomacy.
When the President came in, however, their mood seemed to change. Standing beneath a life-size portrait of a studious President Lincoln, he spoke only of those things that his predecessors at the lectern had discussed. But his audience was in rapt attention, and especially so when the President made his appeal for their help "in getting the facts to the American people."
"I want you to join with me in a courageous fashion in letting the truth be known," he said. He asked them to go back home and meet with local editorial boards, ask for an opportunity to be interviewed on local radio and television and write their individual senators.
But, the President added carefully that he was not asking any of them to put “pressure" on their Senators, explaining that they were under enough pres. sure already from right-wing mailings that gave the “false impression" that the American public opposes the treaties.
Such mailings were characterized last week as "terror tactics" by Landon Butler, Mr. Jordan's assistant, but the President avoided such characterizations today. He put it simply. "Some Senators are uncertain," he said. “Your espressions of support would help them."
Mr. Jordan put it differently last week. "Some of those bastards don't have the spine not to vote their mail,” he said. “If you change their mail, you change their minds."
Mr. Carter seemed to agree as he emphasized not only the prospects of civil unrest in Panama should the treaties be rejected but spoke of how "the Soviets and Communists would be tremendous beneficiaries” of such a rejection.
Senator Case. This goes back to the point which we were discussing and which you both agreed on, that public opinion has to be the basis for any sustained successful exercise of foreign policy. If you don't disagree with me, I think that I will be very happy.
Mr. Rusk. I learned long ago not to make remarks like that about sovereign senators.
Senator CASE. There is a sovereignty above us, and I am not being theological; I refer to the sovereign people.
Mr. Rusk. That is right.
Mr. KISSINGER. I agree with your observation. I think public opinion must be brought along to understand the long-term interests of the United States.
I agree with the Senator's basic remark in this regard, and it is the obligation of the administration, and that of any of us who agree with it, to contribute to this educational process and the representatives of the people cannot be faulted if they reflect public opinion.
Senator CASE. They would not be here very long, either. I have noticed—and this is just ending up in a very frivolous manner—that those who worry about Congressmen and others reflecting public opinion are those who don't depend directly for their position on the vote of the people. I know neither one of you has anything but respect for that, because Mr. Kissinger is going to be a Senator from New York one of these days, and also Dean Rusk's son is a mayor and is going to be a Member of the House or something like that, and there are many other relationships.
Thank you very much.
Senator PERCY. I have no further questions, Mr. Chairman, but I would like to comment on the mail.
I think we are very solid and you both know it and our judgment is not always conditioned by mail. We do take it into account. We did on gun control and a lot of other things. But it never spoke the way some of us have or voted the way some of us have. You can't totally disregard it either.
It comes from well-intentioned people. Of the 7,000 pieces I have had, not many were form letters. They are reasoned-out and penned out by hand, most of them, and the 250 that I have had in support of this is a minuscule representation of this country.
The witnesses who follow you from the American Legion, AMVETS, Reserve Officers Association, and Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the testimony of Governor Reagan; they reflect an awful lot of the mail.
But we are not going to vote our mail. This is a representative form of government and we are not going to have a plebiscite of our mail. If we are going to bite the bullet we might do that on the basis of our best judgment. And your testimony has been really invaluable and we appreciate it very much.
Senator BAKER. Could I say one word in that respect?
With reference to the statement Senator Case made, I think it was from today's New York Times.
Senator CASE. I did see it in the Times.
Senator BAKER. That piece also spoke of the meeting of citizen leaders at the White House so that the White House could make their pitch for the Panama Cana).
You know, at least the article should give credit to the fact that all of us in the Senate, or most of us, have supplied names of our constituents to go down there and talk to the President and his representatives about the Panama Canal. I really don't much care for that sort of cynicism as it appears in this press account. But I suppose on tough issues you get tough statements and we ought to be used to them.
Senator CASE. There is one other point that I would like to make. There is some suggestion when the President is in trouble, or the Secretary of State is in trouble about getting his policies approved either here or in the country, that the fault is in the way he operates. Sometimes the fault is in the policy that he is attempting to establish. He could not only be unskillful, but sometimes he could be wrong.
Mr. Rusk. Also some problems are not going to be solved. Mr. Vance has inherited a number of problems from my friend here, which he, in turn, inherited from Secretaries who were before him, and the human condition is full of travail.
WHICH AGREEMENT IS OVERRIDING ?
Senator PELL. I have one question I would like to ask, and that is if there is a conflict between the embargo or sanctions imposed by the United Nations at some time in the future, saying, for example, vessels may not be given facilities through certain straits, which law would be paramount in your view? Would it be the United Nations or the treaty that the Panamanians and the United States would sign?
Mr. Rusk. I have been through that in part in connection with the Rhodesian problem here in the Congress. My own view is that the article of the charter which says that the United Nations Charter takes precedence over other treaties is valid and national law. My guess is that if the U.N. Security Council imposed economic sanctions on a particular nation with respect to shipping under chapter 7 of the charter, which you are so familiar with, then I would think that that wonld be obligatory upon us.
Now, we would have the right to veto such a resolution in the Security Council, but it could become binding both upon the United States and Panama and that action would prevail with respect to the passage of those particular ships through the canal.
Mr. KISSINGER. I think this is the legal position. I would say that if this happened, if I had responsibility for policy, I would recommend to the President to veto the resolution even if I agreed with its substance, because I would not accept the proposition that the United Nations was in control of access through the canal. Once we go down that road we would become subject to "uniting for peace” resolutions which we cannot veto in the General Assembly. I would not accept the proposition that you have outlined.
Senator PELL. Thank you very much, indeed, gentlemen.
COMMENDATION OF WITNESSES
Senator PERCY. Mr. Chairman, it is necessary that I leave at this point, but I want to say that I think the statements these witnesses have made on so many public issues are just outstanding. They have
made a tremendous contribution, and we in Congress benefit greatly from having their counsel.
Senator PELL. I think the affection of everyone on this committee is tremendous.
WITNESSES Our next witnesses are representatives of various veterans associations, Mr. Robert C. Smith, the national commander of the American Legion; Frank D. Ruggiero, the AMVETS national commander; Maj. Gen. J. Milnor Roberts, the executive director of the Reserve Officers Association (ROA) of the United States; and Phelps Jones, director of national security and foreign affairs of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).
I am very glad to welcome all of you here. I belong personally to three of the organizations you represent, the American Legion, the VFW, and the ROA. So I have a personal interest in your statements and in the gallant organizations and veterans you represent.
Mr. Smith would you please lead off!
[Mr. Smith's biography follows:] BIOGRAPHY OF ROBERT CHARLES SMITH, NATIONAL COMMANDER, THE AMERICAN
LEGION, 1977–78 A 31-year member of The American Legion, Robert Charles Smith, Springhill, La., was elected National Commander of The American Legion at the closing session of the 59th National Convention in Denver, Colorado, August 25, 1977.
He will serve through the 1978 National Convention to be held Aug. 18–24, 1978, at New Orleans, La.
Smith, a veteran of World War II, is manager of financial and administrative services for the International Paper Company's Springhill mill.
Long active in Legion affairs, Smith has served his local post, Banks-Strong Post No. 166, Springhill, La., as financial officer and commander. He was active many years on the department (state) level of the Legion and was Louisiana Legion Commander in 1954–55. He has served the National Organization as a National Vice Commander, as a member of the National Americanism Commission and The American Legion Endowment Fund Corporation. Prior to his election as National Commander, Smith served as Louisiana's National Executive Committeeman. The National Executive Comittee is one of the policy-making bodies of the organization.
In addition to his activities in "The American Legion, Smith has been named "Young Man of the Year” by the Springhill Jaycees and has served in many civic positions of responsibility. He has been a member of the local park board, and advisory member of the selective service system and a director and president of the Springhill Chamber of Commerce.
Commander Smith has also served as a member and chairman of his Parish (county) Welfare Board, the president of the Louisiana Tech University's alumni association, a Member of the executive committee of the alumni association's foundation, chairman of the United Givers Fund for the parish and as a member of the taxation committee of the Louisiana Manufacturers Association.
He is an active member of the Springhill United Methodist Church and was honored in 1966 by the Ruston District as "Layman of the Year” and in 1973 by the Norwela Council, Boy Scouts of America when they presented him the Silver Beaver Award.
Smith is also a member of the Board of directors of Springhill Bank & Trust Co., and First Federal Savings & Loan Association of Springhill, La.
A graduate of Louisiana Tech University with a degree in accounting, Smith is a member of Kappa Sigma Fraternity, the National Association of Accountants, Data Processing Management Association and Beta Alpha Psi Accounting Fraternity.
A native of Springhill, La., Smith continues to reside there with his wife, the former Lucille Wooster. They have three daughters and two sons.