Swedish students are getting a distorted view of the United States in their schoolbooks, U.S. Ambassador Gregory Newell said today.
Newell, a conservative Republican who is leaving Stockholm in June after three years as ambassador, said the American view of Sweden as a permissive and socialistic country also is inaccurate, and the two countries should get to know each other better.
Newell's complaint was based on a study of about 50 history books and other texts for the Swedish equivalent of high school and junior high. The results of the review were reported to Washington, U.S. officials said.
Many of the books were outdated and written in a period when Sweden was outspokenly critical of the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War.
In one book, the few sentences about Vietnam included the fact that U.S. planes dropped more bombs there than fell in World War II, said an embassy official who spoke on condition he not be identified.
Newer books also gave too much stress to racial problems, poverty and homelessness in the United States, the official said.
Newell, speaking on Swedish Radio, cited a series of texts he saw three years ago titled "Reagan's America."
"The picture and the facts were accurate but they weren't full. They talked about poverty levels, they talked about compassion lacking and the underprivileged of Reagan's America," he said.
They made no mention of the creation of new jobs and the reduction of inflation, he said. "Those sorts of things we don't see treated in a balanced way. That is our concern," Newell added.
Newell became ambassador to Sweden in December, 1986. He had worked for President Ronald Reagan's reelection in 1984 and was one of several assistant secretaries of state in the Reagan Administration.
Married with five children, Newell is a leading member of the Mormon Church and caused resentment when he ruled that only soft drinks should be served at embassy staff parties.