WASHINGTON (Jul. 5)
Sen. J. William Fulbright took issue today with President Nixon’s assertion last week that the Middle East situation is more dangerous for the United States than the war in Vietnam. The Arkansas Democrat, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said on the CBS television program, “Face the Nation” that while the Middle East is “an explosive situation,” there is “nothing more damaging to the future of our country than Vietnam.” Replying to a question from CBS correspondent Marvin Kalb, Mr. Fulbright said the Vietnam war had caused the “deterioration” of the United States. He added that the Middle East was a major trouble spot because “the cold war is beating up and getting more dangerous.” He said that while there was “a danger of course” of the Mideast “becoming a conflagration,” he did not feel that the Soviet Union wanted such a conflagration.
Asked about U.S. military support for Israel Sen. Fulbright replied “We have no formal commitment, no treaty” with Israel but America does have “tremendous respect for the Israelis and for the Jewish race in general.” Sen. Fulbright is regarded by some Israelis and pro-Israel Americans as one of the Senate leaders least friendly toward the Jewish State. He was not among the 76 Senators of both parties who signed a round-robin resolution last month urging the Nixon Administration to sell Israel all the jets it requests without delay. Sen. Fulbright said today that he thought a solution of the Middle East conflict lay in the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) between the U.S.A. and the USSR, in Vienna. He noted that President Nixon made no mention of the SALT talks in his remarks on the Mideast last Wednesday and claimed that Mr. Nixon is “not really interested in them.”