DIPLOMACY: Time to Meet the Players

He is not quite Clark Kent turning into Superman, but one evening early this week mild-mannered Cyrus Vance suddenly changes from a charming, relaxed dinner partner to a tough diplomat on the run. The new Secretary of State excuses himself from a White House gala honoring Mexican President José López Portillo, dashes into a waiting Ford sedan, strips off his black bow tie and—in the pre-midnight dark —speeds south to Andrews Air Force Base. Within minutes, he is airborne in a specially outfitted Boeing 707.

Thus, if everything goes according to plan, Vance...

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