During the past month there have been attempts in Congress to lift the grain embargo imposed against the Soviet Union. The embargo was originally imposed to register United States concern and disgust with the Soviets over their invasion of Afghanistan.
I firmly believe that one of the reasons that the Soviets did not move in with force against the strikers in Poland was because we stood by our guns on the embargo and other measures we had taken against the Soviets.
The claim has been made by members of the agriculture bloc, both Republicans and Democrats, that the embargo is of little value and that we really should lift it so that American farmers can continue to reap substantial profits from the sale of wheat.
Prominent members of each party, including Ronald Reagan on the Republican side and Sn. George McGovern on the Democratic, have espoused this view.
It should be exposed for the sheer hypocrisy it is.
Is it not hypocrisy to impose a grain embargo, halt the sale of technical equipment, take away fishing rights, and boycott the Olympics, only to say a few months later: "Well, listen, things are getting pretty tough on the farm and we need a little more money, so we are going to waive the biggest weapon we have -- the grain embargo?"
Let' make no mistake about it; the grain embargo has caused the Russians severe hardship. They can no longer merely place their order for 17 million tons of American grain and buy it at a low price. Now they must buy whatever they can from many different sources at higher prices.
The Soviets have a long-standing problem with food shortage.They can't get enough grain and other foodstuffs to feed their people, much less their animals.
AS a result, Soviet cattle production has been cut back because of lack of feed.Consequently, meat prices have gone up drastically. We have seen in recent developments in Poland the social effects of rising food prices. The strike of 100,000 workers there has been attributed largely to the rise in meat prices in the country.
The communist-ruled Poles finally stood up and shouted.
It might someday happen in the Soviet Union. But not if Congress doesn't have the courage to maintain our clear message to the Soviets that aggression will be met with retribution. If we remove this embargo now, at the whim of the farm bloc, we will forfeit our credibility among our allies.
There is another factor to be considered here. The House of Representatives a few months ago voted in favor of registration for the draft, a move that will involve millions of young men and could potentially lead to the necessity of them going into the service and having to fight to defend our country against the Soviet Union.
As I put it to my colleagues in the House of Representatives during debate on lifting the embargo, how can we call on our young men to make this kind of sacrifice, and then, out of the other side of our mouths, say it is really business as usual with the communists?
As I stood outside the chamber of the House a month ago preparing to vote on this issue, two young men, who evidently had been listening to the debate, came over to me and said, "You know we both registered yesterday, and we want to know if you people are kidding with what you are talking about and doing on the floor"?
The hypocrisy of lifting the grain embargo is self-evident. The President has shown courage in not giving in to political pressures from the farm belt in an election year. A slim majority of us in the Congress have managed to defeat these pressure up to now and it is my hope that the American public will urge the Congress and the President not to give in on this issue.
It would be a tragic day when we would be willing to equate young American lives with the economics of a special-interest group.