Published May 1968 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
From the Office of United States Senator Robert C. Byrd 105 Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C. 20510 Volume VIII - Number 20 May 17, 1968 Byrd's Eye View A Public Service Column by U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd SOVIET UNION AND SCANDINAVIA A Special Congressional Study Mission to the Soviet Union and Scandinavia recently explored developments in that area of the world as related to the Cold War, Vietnam, the continuing Middle East crisis, disarmament, and trade. It turned up some facts which could be helpful in avoiding miscalculations in our U.S. policies. The committee stated at the outset of its report on Soviet attitudes, “We observed no evidence of a meaningful detente.” It supported that assessment by emphasizing an over-all impression that any major improvement in United States-Soviet relations is still a long way off, that conflicts and tensions which have characterized the entire period of the Cold War have not abated materially, and that they could become intensified in the future. The Committee reported that one factor indicating the end of the Cold War is not in sight is the impressive military capability of the Soviet Union, including the Soviet variable-sweptwing plane, the Talin ABM system, and the advancing' Soviet space and missile achievements. It cited as another grave development the increasing mobility of Soviet military forces, including dramatic expansion of Soviet naval strength, Soviet air-transport capability, and Soviet mechanized divisions. Warning that all these developments are fully noted in the neighboring Scandinavian countries of Finland, Sweden, and Norway, the Study Mission members pointed out the importance of the impact because the U.S. has heavy mutual interest with Finland and Sweden in strengthening United Nations peacekeeping arrangements; in Norway concerning the prospect of NATO; and in all three, regarding future U.S. policy toward all of Europe, East and West. Due to these special interests, and the resulting need to counteract the continuing Soviet pressures, the Study Mission observed that it would appear to follow that the U.S. would benefit most by emphasizing in Scandinavia the positive aspects of our American society, and our Nation's efforts on behalf of the security and economic development of the free world. This is not, however, the circumstances, the Study Mission reported. Instead, an opposite effect is being created because of the reports carried by the mass communications media of Scandinavia on U.S. domestic and foreign activities. Violence in the streets, crime, racial strife, “hippiedom” , and poverty, as well as the unrestrained criticism within the U.S. of its own policy in Vietnam, are the subjects of the bulk of the reports on the U.S. which one finds in the newspapers, magazines, radio, and television, warned the Committee. Thus, once again, citizens of the U.S. are provided with an alert that attitudes abroad, shaped by today's reporting of events, will have to be reckoned with in our future national policies, with fundamental consequences to free world security and leadership and, conceivably, to our own national security. Continued disarray in U.S. national affairs, reflected in destructiveness of action in civic life and individual irresponsibility at many public and private levels within the Nation, are undermining the U.S. position abroad.