In presidential election years, the rest of the world wearily assumes that U.S. foreign policy will either come to a halt or else go haywire. This year the main danger seems to be a harsh new belligerency in official U.S. rhetoric as the Ford Administration moves to blunt the strident criticism of conservative Challenger Ronald Reagan.

West Germany's Chancellor Helmut Schmidt has been particularly irritated by Gerald Ford's somewhat ridiculous ban of the word détente — a policy that is identified with Schmidt's Social Democrats and widely questioned by his Christian Democratic opposition. He must have winced last week as that...

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