How a Policy Was Born

"Adversaries large and small test our will and seek to confound our resolve." So said Ronald Reagan in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention last July. At that moment, half a world away, a Communist leader from El Salvador, Shafik Jorge Handal, was visiting Soviet-bloc countries in search of arms for Ms country's leftist guerrillas. In retrospect, the chain of events that made El Salvador the first focus of the new Administration's foreign policy seems inexorable.

This policy began to evolve in December, when Richard Allen and Jeane Kirkpatrick, two Reagan advisers with a keen interest in Latin America, told...

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