Reagan Blames Vietnam War for Rebuff on Arms to Contras

United Press International

President Reagan, in an interview released today, blamed lingering memories of the Vietnam War for a yearlong refusal by Congress to accept his support for Nicaragua rebels.

In a 15-minute interview conducted Friday with the Spanish International Network, Reagan said the approval of $27 million in humanitarian aid to the rebels this summer reflected a change in attitudes on Capitol Hill.

“They are suffering from something I call the Vietnam syndrome,” he said. “I think too many of them, still remembering our entanglement there, 10,000 miles away from our own land in that this might lead to our military involvement. And so they have been cautious about what we can do.”

“We have no intention of military involvement,” Reagan said, “nor do I think it is needed. And I think as more of them come to see that, and also as more of them have come to realize the real nature of the Sandinista government--that it is a totalitarian, communist government--that opposition is lessening.”

The prospect of a rebuff from Congress forced Reagan to withdraw his proposal earlier this year for a resumption of CIA-provided military aid to the anti-Sandinista contras. The Administration had provided upward of $80 million in secret military assistance over the last few years.