If You Ask Me: A Global Banker Reflects on Our Times
Wriston, Walter B.
Fashions in Country-criticizing
In your foreign operations do you see any need to change the bank's policies toward, say, South Africa or Iran?
There's always pressure from a lot of different groups about a lot of different countries. It varies more or less by fashion.
Today, its fashionable to be enthusiastic about China. This is the same China that took 12 million students out of universities, gave each a hoe, and said go grow Chinese cabbage. They're still out there. Chinese officials just released 132,000 political prisoners, which they said was a fair proportion of the total. Nobody over here cares. We entertain their head guy in the White House.
You could read aloud or listen to Solzhenitsyn and fill this room with protest, but nobody will say anything against China.
Anytime the spotlight swings toward one particular country, like Iran now and the Shah, people say that commercial institutions should form foreign policy. I don't believe that.
President Carter was in Brazil a while ago. After he criticized the Geisel government, somebody asked him whether banks should continue making loans in Brazil. He said the United States had consciously decided that commerce was separate from foreign policy and that he would oppose any banks or commercial institutions that attempted to exercise foreign policy. It's a good decision.