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August 05, 1982 - Image 6

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Michigan Daily, 1982-08-05

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Opinion

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Page 6
The Michigan Daily
Vol. XCII, No. 55-S
Ninety-two Years 0f Editorial Freedom
Edited and managed by students
at the University of Michigan

Thursday, August 5, 1982

The Michigan Daily

Grain sale to Soviets:
Opportunism in action

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Pierce is best
WITH THE STATE'S economy and budget
in a shambles and public skepticism of
the political process continuing to grow, the
state needs a governor who offers more than
the usual campaign rhetoric and issue
sidestepping. Among the seven candidates for
the Democratic primary, we feel state Sen.
Edward Pierce of Ann Arbor offers something
more.
While the front-running candidate, James
Blanchard, has nearly put Michigan to sleep
with his lack of style and insistence on evading
the real issues of the campaign, Pierce has
taken a difficult, but pragmatic approach in his
campaign to capture the governor's chair.
A liberal at heart, Pierce has not been afraid
to take realistic, but politically difficult steps.
While other candidates wavered, he stood up
and voted for a state tax increase-the best
short-term method for relieving the state's
budget crisis. He also was largely responsible
for forging a coalition in the state senate to
reform workers compensation. Both issues
demanded a workable approach and Pierce
took the realistic path instead of the politically
expedient one.
On the issue of the state budget, Pierce has
insisted that more could be done to streamline
state government by reducing the overlapping
of programs. But he also candidly has admitted
that he is not willing to commit himself to staff
or department cuts until he is in a position to
properly decide what needs to go.
Of the three other major Democratic can-
didates for governor, Pierce stands near the
middle. On one side is Zolten Ferency, whose
socialist visions are nice, but simply imprac-
tical for Michigan. On the other side are Blan-
chard and William Fitzgerald, courting the
likes of big labor and big business, but failing to
come up with platforms of their own.
Unlike the other candidates, Pierce main-
tains commitments both to attracting and
keeping businesses in Michigan and to the un-
derprivileged. As, a doctor, Pierce showed his
penchant for helping the poor by establishing a
low-cost medical care clinic without state fun-
ding.
And in regards to higher education, Pierce
has vowed to reverse the trend of declining
state support that has severely affected the
University and other institutions across the
state.
In Edward Pierce, the Democratic party
would have a man committed to serving the
people of the state, not powerful interests.
Moreover, it will have someone willing to take
political risks in search of the most realistic
solutions to the state's difficult problems.

By George Adams
When President Reagan
refused the sale of American
technology to Western European
nations for the building of the
Siberian natural gas pipeline, it
was heralded by many as a
foreign policy based on ideology,
not opportunism. "Principles
before profits," the president
said. His recent decision to con-
tinue grain sales to the Soviet
Union, however, has left
America's allies wondering just
where the United States' prin-
ciples lie.
Reagan has banned the sale of
licensed technology for use on the
pipeline, on the grounds that sup-
port for its construction would
supply thesSoviets withnneeded
hard currency and weaken the
administration's effort to per-
suade Moscow to loosen its hold
on Poland.
Italy,aFrance, and England
have all vowed to ignore the ban
and continue the pipeline because
of the jobs it will create for their
stagnating economies. West
Germany can be expected to
follow suit. All four nations claim
that the ban is illegal, and that
Reagan has no power to retroac-
tively cancel existing contracts.
On the heels of his decision to
abandon Western Europe for the
sake of a message to Moscow,
Reagan approved extending
grain sales to Russia for another
year.
True, agricultural trade does
not assist the Soviets in quite the
same way as the export of high
technology would, and is not
likely to directly contribute on
any economic stranglehold the
Kremlin may wish to put on the
Western Europeans once it con-
trols at least part of their energy
supplies.
But the decision to sell the
grain serves only to show Europe
the shallowness of the lofty prin-
ciples and ideologies many found
laudable in the pipeline decision.
In a classic display of political,
expediency, the president ap-
proved a grain extension
obligating the Soviets to purchase
six million tons of corn and wheat
next year in addition to an
existing agreement allowing up
to eight million tons of feed grain
to be purchased without ad-
ministrative approval.
Those fourteen million tons are
likely to grow as the months pass,
due to the disasterous harvest in
Russia this past year. The sales
will go on and on.
What happened to our condem-
nation, in economic terms, of im-

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President Reagan was down on the farm last week and announced
an extension of grain sales to the Soviet Union, which placated
American farmers hut drew criticism from Western Europe.

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perialist Russia? What happened
to our symbolic protest to the
martial law in Poland and the
aggression in Afghanistan? What
happened to principles before
profits?
Unfortunately, they have all
fallen prey to political heat at
home. American farmers are no
doubt delighted with the news of
continued sales in a year of
enormous harvests. Farm-state
Republicans up for re-election
also have reason to be pleased:
The one-year' extension gives
them the happy constituents they
so eagerly seek.
But our European allies have
every reason to be displeased
with Reagan's latest political
legerdemain. They have every
reason to ask why the president is
so adamantly opposed to sales to
the Soviets when European
profits are at stake, but so willing
to do business with Moscow when
it appears as though the
American farmer might get hurt.
. The answer they will receive,
and already have, is that if the
U.S. doesn't sell the grain, some
other country will. In other wor-
ds, we can make a buck off the
deal, so why let someone else
grab it? Enter opportunism.
Currently, over 70 percent of
U.S.-Soviet trade is in grain.
America is by far the largest
supplier of the imported corn and
wheat that reaches Soviet shores,
and without U.S. help they would
be hard pressed to feed their
sizeable population. No, Mr.
Reagan, there really is no sub-
stitute for U.S. grain in the
Russian diet.
Treasury Secretary Donald
Regan said the U.S. wasn't doing

the Soviet Union any favors in
selling grain because the outflow
of hard currency (from Russia)
would damage the already
ravaged Soviet economy.
Someone should inform Mr.
Regan thatsRussia's economic
planners can take care of them-
selves, and are unlikely to pur-
posely drive their country to ruin.
The honest answer to our allies
is that the United States has
reverted to political expediency
in handling a sales agreement
equal in importance to the
pipeline. The Reagan ad-
ministration has shown that it
can sacrifice its integrity for the
sake of money and political ap-
proval at home.
The administration is now in
the uncomfortable position of
condemning a country for its ex-
pansionist policies with one hand,
feeding (literally) that expansion
with the other, all the while
kicking the economic legs out
from beneath Western Europe.
Congratulations, Mr. Reagan, for
your incredible dexterity: No
juggler at a circus could do it bet-
ter.
However misguided it may
have been, Reagan's decision to
withhold American assistance for
the pipeline project gave the im-
pression of a stand against Soviet
imperialism, a strong stand
based on an ideal.
Something funny happened on
the way to the forum, though, and
an ideal has turned down the sour
path of opportunistic policy.
Adams is a Daily staff
writer.

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