Published May 1974 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
Byrd's-Eye View By U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd About Detente's 'Give and Take' Detente with the Russians is better than confrontation, and infinitely better than conflict-cold or hot. But with the Soviet Union obviously still aiming at arms superiority over the U.S., we must proceed realistically and with caution. Few Americans, I believe, will quarrel with a U.S. policy that seeks establishment of a friendly give-and-take relationship with the Soviet Union. That objective is desirable, both from the standpoint of world peace and our own national interests. But what is not desirable is an accommodation in which the United States does most of the giving and the Soviet Union does most of the taking. The U.S. already has been taken on the wheat deal, in which - to the detriment of our own country- a Russian food crisis was averted by their acquisition of our grain at a price hurtful to American consumers. Many will also argue that the U.S. may have been taken in the SALT I agreement, in which we assented to a degree of Soviet superiority in missiles. It can further be argued that we were overly generous, if not naive, in allowing the Kremlin access to computer technology that can benefit Soviet military objectives. Now, ahead of us, is the planned linkup of American and Soviet spacecraft. Preparations for this historic rendezvous in July 1975 are going forward. What sort of preparations? News reports say that no fewer than 75 Russian engineers, cosmonauts, and technicians were at the U.S. Space Center at Houston, Texas, by mid-April gathering information about the U.S. space program. By contrast, U.S. space personnel-and then only nine or ten-will not go to Russia until July to receive such information as the Soviets are willing to reveal about their own space efforts. The Soviet Union has fallen behind the U.S. in space technology. It abandoned the race to the moon. Cooperation by the U.S. and Russia in space sounds fine. But who stands to benefit? It is obvious that the U.S. has much to offer that the Soviet Union needs and wants. It is equally obvious that the Soviet Union has little to offer that the U.S. needs and wants-except, of course, peace. The question is, is peace to be gained by our giving the Russians the U.S. technology and know-how they lack?