State Department Reaffirms Opposition to Americans Serving in Foreign Forces

The State Department made it clear in strong terms today that it opposed the service by American citizens in the armed forces of Israel or any other foreign nation and warned of possible legal prosecution. A statement said the “Department of State strongly opposes such involvement by private Americans as contrary to the foreign policy interests of the U.S.”

A Department spokesman said the statement was issued because of “continuing misapprehension of U.S. policy in the Middle East.” He noted that President Nasser of Egypt, in a speech last Thursday, revived the allegation that U.S. military personnel were actively serving with Israel’s armed–forces. Another official U.S. source said today that American Jews were doing a disservice to their country by bearing arms for Israel because they offended the Arabs.

No law prevents Americans from going to Israel and entering its armed forces. The State Department however, cited laws against the acceptance and exercise of military commissions within the U.S. for service “against a state with which the U.S. is at peace.” It mentioned section 958 of Title 18, U.S. Code, and Section 959 which prohibits enlistment within the U.S. for foreign military service. These sections carry penalties of fines or imprisonment or both.

Department said it opposes service in foreign military forces as a policy matter because “such service can raise serious problems for our Government in the conduct of foreign relations (and) risks involvement by U.S. citizens in hostilities with countries with which we are at peace.”

The State Department said it recognized “that each state has the authority to determine who shall be entitled to its citizenship as well as the power to determine who, within its territories, shall be subjected to compulsory military service. However, the Department of State hopes that individual Americans will do all that is legally possible to avoid foreign military service with its attendant risks for the over-all national interest as well as their personal welfare.” The Department warned that it “is actively considering whether there are additional steps that might be taken to support more fully the policy objectives of our Government on this matter.”

NEXT STORY