Published June 1981 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
Byrd's-Eye View By U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd Bread, But No Butter The United States needs a clear, consistent, and predictable foreign policy for dealing with the Soviet Union. Unfortunately, contradictory actions taken by our government give the impression of a see-saw strategy; an impression the United States can ill afford. About two months ago, the Administration lifted the embargo the United States had placed on the sale of grain to the Soviet Union. The embargo, which I had consistently supported, had been imposed in response to the Soviets' callous and brutal invasion of Afghanistan. Following the lifting of the embargo, the Administration announced an agreement to allow the Soviets to buy up to nine million metric tons of wheat and corn. At the same time that these grain negotiations were being completed, however, the Administration made known that it would not permit the sale of surplus butter to the Soviet Union. Although the butter apparently will be sold to foreign countries, the Administration plans to impose restrictions specifically banning the resale of the butter to the Soviets, who are in short supply of this commodity. It was reported that the Administration believed the sale of butter to the Soviets would send the wrong signal. Consequently, the United States is said to be pursuing a "bread, but no butter" policy toward the Soviet Union, one which must bewilder our allies and adversaries alike. For the United States to retain its stature in world politics, it needs to articulate a clear and coordinated policy toward the Soviet Union. Aggressive behavior should not just draw a verbal rebuke from the United States, but should also prompt appropriate reprisals. The United States must make clear that it does not accept the Soviets' occupation of Afghanistan, and will not condone interference into Poland's internal affairs. Soviet leaders must be put on notice, through our foreign policy, that any future acts of aggression will be costly.