On Detente

John Ashbrook

October 1973

The professional smokescreen about peaceful trade continues. The plain fact is that irresponsible policies have built us an enemy and maintain that enemy in the business of totalitarian rule and world conquest. The tragedy is that intelligent people have bought the political double talk about world peace, a new world order and mellowing Soviets. I suggest that the man in the street, the average taxpayer and voter, thinks more or less as I do. You cannot subsidize an enemy. It requires a peculiar kind of intellectual myopia to ship supplies and technology to the Soviets when they are instrumental in killing fellow citizens. What about the argument that trade will lead to peace? Well, we have had United States-Soviet trade for over fifty years. The first and second five-year plans were built by American companies. To continue a policy that is a total failure is to gamble with the lives of several million Americans and countless allies. You cannot stoke up the Soviet military machine at one end and then complain that the other end came back and bit you. Unfortunately the human price for our immoral policies is not paid by the policy makers in Washington. The human price is paid by the farmers, the students, and working and middle classes of America–and our fighting men in Korea and Vietnam. The citizen who pays the piper is not calling the tune–he does not even know the name of the tune.

So let me summarize my conclusions:

First. Trade with the USSR was started over fifty years ago under President Woodrow Wilson with the declared intention of mellowing the Bolsheviks. The policy has been a total and costly failure. It has proven to be impractical–this is what I would expect from an immoral policy.

Second. We have built ourselves an enemy. We keep that self-declared enemy in business. This information has been blacked out by successive administrations. Misleading and untruthful statements have been made by the executive branch to Congress and the American people.

Third. Our policy of subsidizing self-declared enemies is neither rational nor moral. I have drawn attention to the intellectual myopia of the group that influences and draws up foreign policy.

Fourth. The annual attacks in Vietnam and the wars in the Middle East are made possible only by Russian armaments and our assistance to the Soviets.

Fifth. This worldwide Soviet activity is consistent with communist theory. Mikhail Suslov, the party theoretician, recently stated that the current détente with the United States is temporary. The purpose of détente, according to Suslov, is to give the Soviets sufficient strength for a renewed assault on the West. In other words, when you have finished building the Kama plant and the trucks come rolling of, watch out for another Vietnam.

Sixth. Internal Soviet repression continues against Baptists, against Jews, against national groups, and against academics.

Seventh. Soviet technical dependence is a powerful instrument for world peace if we want to use it. So far it has been used as an aid-to-dependent Soviets welfare system. With about as much success as the domestic welfare program, too. But why should they stop supplying Hanoi? The more they stoke up the war the more they get from the United States. Not only do the Soviets get more goods from the United States, they get them on credit. The U.S. Export-Import Bank is providing credits to the Soviet Union with an interest rate of six percent. It costs the bank seven and three quarters percent to raise that money that it lends to the Soviet Union. The U.S. subsidizes the Export-Import Bank, which means, of course, the American taxpayer is picking up the bill. While interest on mortgages are nine and one-half percent in many parts of the U.S., the Soviet Union gets loans at six percent on materials that it will use to defeat us.

TeachingAmericanHistory.org is a project of the Ashbrook Center at Ashland University

401 College Avenue | Ashland, Ohio 44805 (419) 289-5411 | (877) 289-5411 (Toll Free)

info@TeachingAmericanHistory.org