America: A Beacon, Not a Policeman       America: a Beacon, not a Policeman

American Enterprise Institute on Middle East

Peace, Terrorism, and Oil

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RETHINKING THE MIDDLE EAST (10/14/98)   by Jon Basil Utley

Oil nations ruled by "pathological predators or vulnerable autocrats," James Woolsey was the topic of an American Enterprise Institute conference last October 14th.   It provided a view of the new thoughts of many who determine Washington’s policies.

    Former UN Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick warned in an early session that , for the first time, American cities were vulnerable to (terrorist) weapons of mass destruction, that only in the Middle East do "people define themselves as enemies of the United States."  She said it was hard for Americans to take seriously that some people really hate us. As an example she quoted Iran’s leader Rasfanjani as saying that "America creates the violence, Americans have no one to blame but themselves." She mused how the Pakistanis described their atom bomb as being a "Moslem bomb" unlike any other nation’s weapon’s program. She ended her talk arguing that there needed to be a "rethinking of US and everybody’s policies."

    Douglas Feith, formerly an Assistant Secretary of Defense, criticized US policies overseas as always pushing democracy simply as being majority rule rather than concentrating on its features of limited government and personal freedoms.

    Paul Wihby, a former Canadian MP, explained how US oil dependence on the Middle East was rapidly declining, from 28% of imports to 18% just in the last 8 years since the war with Iraq. 80% of imports now come from Canada and Mexico and Venezuela because of new drilling technology. Wihby, of the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Policy Studies, described Middle East oil producers as autocrats who had squandered billions of dollars and would soon come under attack from their own citizens as social welfare resources declined and they had less money to buy friends and pay off enemies. He argued that power was shifting to the Eastern Mediterranean. and stated that Republican congressional leadership was trapped in old assumptions, myths and half-truths. Former Assistant Secretary of State Richard Perle was luncheon speaker.

    The afternoon session concerned the "American Jewish Community and the Foreign Policy Establishment."  Morris Amitay, prime mover and longtime powerhouse of the omnipotent American Israel Political Action Committee stated, "I think AIPAC represents the majority of American Jews."

    USA TODAY had printed a letter from a Fordham University professor some weeks before the conference complaining that the militancy and intransigence of much of the Jewish leadership in Washington about Israel was not shared by most American Jews.   Amitay went on the criticize Jewish groups which opposed AIPAC’s hard line, saying that there were now 57  represented in the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations, too many in his opinion.  He complained that some of them viewed Arafat and Netanyahu as being morally equivalent.  He complained about the roll of Jewish Americans holding most of the top positions in the State Department, that they were not pushing AIPAC policies and said, "Bring back (former Secretary of State) Christopher and Tony Lake," meaning that they were better for Israel.  He said that now Jewish money was going to the Republican Party because Gingrich, Lott and Forbes were very much pro-Israel.

    He attacked as a small minority of Jews those who bought big ads in newspapers in support of positions opposing AIPAC’s. Another speaker, Hillel Fradkin of AEI and the Shalem Center, argued that that most Jews in America and in Israel support the Oslo peace accords trading land for peace.

    Frank Gaffney, columnist and another of the panelists, said that the problems in the Middle East were the fault of only one side not living up to its Oslo commitments, he said that it wasn’t necessary to identify which party it was, that everybody knew, and then explained that he meant the Palestinians. He then warned that any Palestinian state would become a formula for war and declared opposition to any American economic aid for it. It was difficult listening to him whether he meant Likud or American interests as he discussed different policy positions; he made them sound identical and interchangeable.

    Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthamer worried that, like it or not, a land for peace agreement was coming. He worried also that the largest water aquifers would be under Palestinian soil. He said the Palestinian state would remain without certain sovereign rights and might become a model for Kosovo and a way for resolving other future conflicts in the world. He argued that any Palestinian state would give up a lot in return for U.S. diplomatic recognition and said that "any new Palestinian Israeli war would be a disaster."

    Pre-emptive U.S. bombing and active use of military forces overseas was then proposed in the next panel by Weekly Standard editor William Krystol. For Serbia he urged the "taking out" of Miloslavich. He argued for Washington to accept its duties to become the "world policeman," and to effectively exercise U.S. power abroad. His arguments favoring active use of the U.S. military abroad were seconded by John Bolton, Senior Vice President of AEI and a former Bush Administration State Department Assistant Secretary.

    Former CIA director James Woolsey discussed several Moslem nations. He said that the oil exporters were "ruled by pathological predators or vulnerable autocrats," mainly dependent upon the U.S. and that they "were crisis prone and terrorist spawning." He said that Washington had treated Pakistan "abominably" and the nation had no reason to trust America because of different policies such as the Pressler Amendment which reneged on the delivery of F-16’s. (Senator Pressler, N.D., lost his re-election campaign after sending a fund raising letter to Indian-Indians reminding them that he had blocked the shipments to Pakistan; it instigated massive Pakistani-American donations to his opponent who then won the election.