Christmas seems to bring out the best in people. But not at the U.S. On-Site Inspection Agency, which evidently believes in "Peace on earth, good will towards men" for just about everyone but the Soviet arms inspectors stationed in Utah.
In any event, OSIA has refused to allow Soviet inspectors to visit the homes of private citizens during the holiday season. Why? "Logistics is our big concern," said one OSIA official.Logistics? To quote another Christmas character, "Bah, Humbug." The excuse certainly seems flimsy.
Arms inspectors are stationed near Salt Lake City and in the Soviet city of Votkinsk to monitor compliance with the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty that bans medium-range nuclear weapons. The two cities are the only sites where inspectors actually live.
In both cases, inspectors will spend these holidays away from their families and loved-ones. In both cases, they have not been allowed to visit private homes. While no reasons are given by the Soviets, the one their American counterparts offered isn't much of an improvement over silence.
As one American official explained, with all of the invitations for the Soviets to visit and speak, "we had to draw the line somewhere, so we drew it for private homes."
Too bad. What better way would there be to tear down the walls of misinformation that separate two societies than for American and Soviet citizens to share a Christmas dinner? Or an Easter ham? Or a July 4 barbecue? Or a July 24 family picnic?
If the Soviets could see the real America - the one that unfolds every day in the homes of millions of average citizens everywhere - then perhaps the years of distrust and hate would eventually erode under the repeated waves of friendship and goodwill.
And surely Americans would benefit from practicing one of Jesus Christ's most important messages:
"Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you, and persecute you."