At the recent AFL-CIO Convention in Miami, George Meany told his laughing audience that “detente is a French word which, in case you didn’t know, means relaxation.” It has led, he said, to “Russian-made tanks relaxing on the Golan Heights, and Russian shells relaxing in Israel.”
The trouble is that detente usually means relaxing with our enemies at the expense of our friends. Take the matter, for example, of soybeans. This miracle, high-protein food is the principal feed for our livestock and poultry, and is the most sought-after commodity in the world today. It is so valuable that the expression “good as gold” really ought to be replaced by “as good as soybeans.”
As soon as detente began in Asia, we eagerly sold Red China 1,211,000 bushels of our soybeans this year, and made commitments for much larger sales in the future. When the demand for our soybeans completely outran our supplies, the Government slapped on a soybean embargo which forced traders to cancel some contracts already made
with Japan and South Korea. This so angered Japan that she made arrangements to invest in large-scale production and processing of soybeans in Brazil in order to have another source of supply. Japan has plenty of money and know-how to build soybean processing plants, buy the machinery, and finance the production.
In addition to soybeans, the agriculture Department recently released information showing that Red China has bought 75 million more bushels of U.S. corn than had been disclosed previously. This brings to more than 95 million bushels the shipments earmarked for China.
Now Henry Kissinger has traveled all the way to China and told Chou En-lai that “the United States is determined to have a complete normalization of relations with Peking.” “Normalization of relations” is just diplomatic language for “Come on, you all. Climb aboard the giveaway gravy-train and cash in on American aid and trade, credits and commodities — all at the expense of the U.S. taxpayers.”
Red China is the country whose Premier, Chou En-lai, told Nasser in June 1965: “We are planting the best kinds of opium, especially for the American soldiers in Vietnam. … The effect which this demoralization is going to have on the United States will be far greater than anyone realizes.”
Putting aside the question of whether it is moral to fraternize and do business with Red China, which has murdered more than 50 million people and bragged of making dope addicts of our servicemen the policy just doesn’t make sense. Red China is not a good cash customer and is a poor credit risk. Japan, on the other hand, is one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Its yen currency has a 50 percent gold backing, and Japan is eager to spend cash in the United States for our products and for investment.
Detente with Communist countries is not only bad politics, it is also bad business.