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Sunday, January 20, 2002

The Diplomat's Diplomat- Cyrus Vance, Jimmy Carter's Secretary of State, died last week; the funeral was yesterday. From my vantage point as a teenager, used to the larger presence of Henry Kissinger, Vance came across as a bit wimpy by comparison, a diplomat rather than a player. The Fox article states that "[d]uring his early tenure as secretary of state, Vance played a key role in normalizing relations with China, winning approval for new Panama Canal treaties and helping negotiate the Camp David treaty between Egypt and Israel." The first two item were (and still are) criticized by conservatives. If you remember the history of the Panama Canal, we got the Canal Zone, a 10-mile swath of the country, for helping Panama break loose from Columbia. As Sen. Sam Hayakawa quipped during the late 70's Canal Treaty debate: "Why should we give it back? We stole it fair and square." We got a century of use of it and still have protected rights to use it. Even though Carter and Vance gave it back in part to placate an increasingly nationalistic Gen. Torrijos, the return of the canal to Panamanian sovereignty was the right thing to do. Camp David has given Israel a peaceful western front and being on good terms with China has improved both countries' material (if not political) well-being. I started writing this wanting to trash the Carter over-emphasis on diplomacy rather than decisive action. Vance quit as Secretary of State over the decision to try a military rescue of the Iranian embassy. Upon further review, the call is overturned- Carter and Vance's diplomacy did start out well and was a net plus. Matthew 5:9 is a favorite verse of the Carter crowd :"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." May the Vance family rest on that thought.

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