Des Moines — One idea farmers in these parts are ready for right now, it seems, is a US boycott of the Soviet-held Olympic games. These farmers are, above all, patriots. So they are coming to live with the grain cut-off. But many tell me that the Olympic boycott is the next step and should be imposed right away.
Since the President first suggested that the US might have to drop out of the Moscow Olympics scheduled for this summer, some persuasive arguments have been raised, particularly by Us Olympic officials, against such a decision. They say the Olympics should not be used as a political weapon. They stress the important symbollic role the Olympics play in bringing peoples of different ideologies together -- and how much the games contribute to international understanding and peace.
They also speak of what a terrible disappointment this would be to US athletes who have been training for years for this opportunity.
However, in talking to farmers and also to political leaders around the US, one becomes convinced that the American people are, as one Iowan puts it, "ready for the President to play his Olympics-boycott card."
And now the President on "Meet the Press" has apparently played this card -- pushing for a boycott unless the Soviets pull out of Afghanistan by Feb. 15.
The United States would probably not be alone in such a boycott. Canada and Britain seem ready to follow suit -- and perhaps much of the Western world would also decide to pass up the Moscow games.
Thus, as the President now suggests, there could be an outside-the-Soviet-bloc Olympics -- part of it held in the US, parts of it in other countries, perhaps in Japan and England. That could relieve some of the athletes' disappointment. They would be in competition -- important competition.
Additionally, the athletes would have the satisfaction of knowing they were helping to impress on the Soviet leaders that they simply cannot carry on in their aggressive ways, as in Afghanistan, without being penalized. They could take comfort in the knowledge that they weren't participating in a Soviet performance where such very participation might convey that they condoned the aggression of the Soviet leaders.
There is still another good reason for the US and other nations of the free world to drop out of the Moscow games.
Increasingly, the Soviets have been using the Olympics simply for propaganda purposes. Their objective clearly is to try to show that their political ideology is "best" because the athletes who are products of this ideology are the "best."
To prove this point, the Soviet bloc (East Germany now is perhaps the best example) engages in an intensive searching-out of talent and physical training of that talent from early youth right up to and into the Olympics. It's a win-at-any-cost approach which now is permeating and corrupting the West, too, as it searches for ways to keep up with the Soviet bloc.
As any super athlete you talk to will attest, all the fun is being taken out of the Olympics by this fierce national drive for winning -- an attitude which has crept into the Western approach, too.
So this might be a good moment to do more than just boycott the Soviets. This might be just the right time to say something more: that we are bidding goodbye to the grim Olympics where winning is everything and now are ready to participate in a more relaxed, more joyful Olympics where outstanding athletes (not robot-like athletes trained by computer information and injected with drugs) get together and compete in good will and friendship.
Perhaps from now on -- as has been suggested -- the permanent site of the Olympics should be given back to Greece.
And perhaps we could just say to those nations which aren't willing to compete in this more relaxed, more amateurish way: until you are ready to embrace the true spirit of Olympic games, you really are not ready to participate.