The pig pipeline

So far, the battle over the Soviet gas pipeline has produced mostly hot air. So much heat is generated over this issue it raises the question as to whether anyone will ever need the actual gas.

President Reagan's argument, that NATO countries should not be buying Soviet gas, seems to have some merit. Apparently he believes that all the countries in Europe using Soviet gas will pay for it in hard, Western currency, which the Russians, in turn, will use to build up their anti-European arsenal. Thus the Europeans will get into two kinds of hot water.

This is possible, even though every country we have read about recently seems to be unable to pay its bills. Bankers are going everywhere, having meetings, and accepting nonpayment in such a cheerful way. Americans looking for mortgage loans are going absolutely bonkers.

There is one complicated and illogical factor.

Already there is a pipeline, of sorts, through which the United States is pumping hard currency behind the iron curtain.

It isn't communist gas. It is communist pigs.

Romania is selling pigs to the US. For cash. Whether this hard cash is going into building up the Soviet Army or going into building up Romanian pigs is not immediately clear. On the face of it, the pigs are not being raised on leftovers.

One of the objections to furnishing technology to the communists is the possibility of revealing Western secrets.

The Romanians, it should be pointed out, are not making this mistake with the pigs. Not one iota of secret pig-raising technology is being sold to the US. Only the pigs themselves, and they're not talking.

What happens to the pigs?

The pork is fed to the American Army, based in Europe.

One can imagine there is some small argument going on as to the ethics involved. Should communist farmers feed NATO troops? Ethics apparently grow smaller as the dollars grow larger, whether it is pigs or gas.

It is a strange arrangement but one which seems satisfactory to all, with the possible exception of the pigs.

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.