WASHINGTON (May. 24)
Sen. George McGovern, South Dakota Democrat, declared here last night that President Nixon could impress the world with United States willingness to defend freedom “not by wasting American blood and treasure on a corrupt regime in Saigon but by permitting Israel to purchase the planes needed to preserve freedom in the Middle East ” The Senator, a co-sponsor of a Senate bill calling for withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Vietnam by June, 1971, told the biennial convention of the American Jewish Congress that the outlines of a reasonable U.S. policy in both Southeast Asia and the Middle East were similar. “in the Middle East,” he said, “it means providing a free nation with the tools to defend itself and negotiate with its enemies.” He added “In Asia, it means withdrawing our own forces while continuing reasonable assistance to those nations who are desirous of building a society worthy of the respect and support of their own people. That is an even-handed policy that I believe most Americans will support and the rest of the world will respect,” he added.
Sen. McGovern also accused the White House of making it “difficult” for many Americans opposed to the war in Asia to argue for aid to Israel. The Nixon administration, he charged, “uses Israel’s legitimate needs as a club to combat opponents of the misguided involvement in Vietnam. It intimates some who feel strongly against the war in Asia and for aid to Israel, demanding their respect for the war in exchange for a sympathetic ear for Israel.” He added the Nixon administration “uses the phony argument that if Israel is worthy of support, then certainly the Saigon government is worthy as well. But calling the Their-Ky military clique the equal of the democratic government of Israel does not make it equal and calling Thieu and Ky great democratic leaders does not make them anything except what they are–dictators propped up by American power.” He declared that an Administration decision to sell Israel the Phantoms would mean “that we do not intend to let Israel slip desperately to the razor’s edge of survival and that we mean to exercise our influence in that vital area of the world.”
Sen. McGovern also disclosed that seven anti-Vietnam war Senators urged yesterday the Nixon administration to recognize the “fundamental differences” between Indo-China and Israel by withdrawing from Southeast Asia while providing Israel necessary weapons and planes for its defense. The seven senators were Charles Goodell, New York Republican; Allan Cranston, California Democrat; Harold Hughes, Iowa Democrat; Stephen M. Young, Ohio Democrat; Philip A. Hart, Michigan Democrat; Thomas S. Eagleton, Missouri Democrat; and McGovern. In their letter to Pres. Nixon, the senators declared: “We are joining in this statement to make plain our deep conviction that our vital national interests are indeed involved in preserving the balance of power in the Middle East, pending a final settlement of the Arab-Israeli dispute.” The statement added that in providing Israel weapons to retain the balance of power the U.S. would be fulfilling Pres. Nixon’s call for a more responsible participation by our foreign friends in their own defense. “So we urge that you (Nixon) make available to Israel the aircraft she needs,” the statement said. “We also urge that you take whatever steps are appropriate to demonstrate both our willingness to work for peace in the Middle East and the firmness of our support for Israel and for those moderate Arab governments also threatened by the Soviet expansion. We urge you to consult with NATO and other allies in an attempt to restore a ceasefire as a first step toward a stable peace in the Middle East. These steps would demonstrate to the Soviet Union that we shall not abdicate our responsibilities in the Middle East, as well as our earnest desire for peace.”