DEAR MRS. THATCHER:
I've been following your position on the pipeline issue. I gather you are not happy because you think England is being pushed around by America. I particularly recall what you had to say about it on our telly a little while back. And I really appreciated the part with the big wink. So I thought I'd write you this little note.
There you were in Glasgow. On the docks, an English firm was loading American technology onto a Soviet freighter so that the Soviets could complete their natural gas pipeline on time. These shipments, I understand, are to go to the Soviets at the express direction of you and your government.
You said to the assembled television cameras that you felt "particularly deeply wounded" by America, because it was good old America that was trying to punish the British firm for selling American-licensed parts to the Soviets. You said that, of course, Britain must remain a "staunch friend" of the United States and then, with that big wink of yours, you said that because we're such good friends "we must be pretty frank" about our disagreements.
Well, Mrs. Thatcher, we sure do applaud your frankness. We applauded it during the time of the Falklands when you asked for American military help and an American embargo against Argentina. You said then that it was important to set an example for aggressors all around the world. After all, you said, just think of what the lesson would be if the democratic free nations would stand idly by while aggressors aggressed.
We went along with you, although I must say a few of us winked a bit, Mrs. Thatcher. Argentina was as aggressor, it's true, but it didn't seem to be the world's most notable aggressor. Nor did the Falklands exactly seem like the strategic spot where the destiny of the free world would be determined.
Moreover, our winking went into overdrive when we recalled that when the United States had, in 1979, asked for sanctions against the Soviet Union over the invasion of Afghanistan, your government had cowered under the table along with the rest of the Europeans. (That, of course, was when America imposed a grain embargo on the Soviets under the leadership of a truly tough president -- Jimmy Carter.)
When, earlier this year, we asked for an economic response to the Polish-Russian crackdown on Solidarity, you were again to be found under the table, still in a cower mode. And all this despite the fact that you were called the Iron Lady.
But, upon reflection, we thought it's better late than never about standing up to aggressors. It's better to take stands in small places than in no places at all. So we signed on as key supporters in the Falklands adventure.
And now, with Poles being shot in the street because they want a labor union, you've decided to help their Soviet masters build a pipeline using the labor of political prisoners in the arctic cold of Siberia. At the same time, you tell us how deeply wounded you are at our behavior. Well, Mrs. Thatcher, I must tell you, you're not the only one deeply wounded.
Some of us wonder what your attitude might be if the Falklands had come along just a few months later -- today for example. I wonder what you would do if President Reagan was "pretty frank" with you and said that even Iron Ladies have to play by the rules: If you wanted us to oppose aggression in Argentina, we expect you to oppose aggression in Poland, even if it cost a few pounds or a few jobs to do so.
Well, of course, that's not the way it worked out. But just to be pretty frank about it, Mrs. Thatcher, I don't think it would be so politically wise to come looking for help over here if something else should arise. Oh, we'll still be staunch allies and all that, but maybe not on little things, like the Falklands.
Maybe the Soviets will give you a hand next time. I can see the headlines now: "Iron Curtain Bails Out Iron Lady." That would be ironic.