Cranston: U.S. Must Retain Commitments to Israel; Cites Differences with Vietnam

Senator Alan Cranston warned that disaster could strike the United States in the Middle East “if the U.S. turns away from its world responsibilities because of the frustrations and agonies of the Vietnam war.” Speaking here at a meeting of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council, the California Democrat said the situations in Vietnam and the Mideast are “totally different” and that “disillusionment over the way things have turned out in Southeast Asia must not blind us to the fact that Israel’s survival and world peace depend on our standing by our commitments.” Vietnam he said, was a “bad case of giving commitments in the name of national interests which never existed.” In contrast. Cranston noted, “we have sound and proper long-standing commitments to Israel and our national interests are integrally tied to peace in the area.” Cranston said that peace in the Mideast can be achieved and eventually made permanent only if Israel has “borders that are as geographically defensible as borders can be and the means with which to defend them.”

To defend her borders against a possible Soviet-supported Arab invasion, he added, Israel “must have continued American economic aid and military weapons until a sound and secure peace is established.” He cited a number of “fundamental differences” between the situation in Southeast Asia and the Mideast. These included: “We are militarily entangled in a foreign civil war in Vietnam. There is no similar situation in the case of Israel”; “Israel requires only military equipment from us. The Israelis do their own fighting. Defending the government of South Vietnam has cost us 45,000 American lives…”; “Supporting the South Vietnamese military struggle with as much as $28.8 billion a year in outright gifts of American taxpayers’ money has drained our economy. Israel, in contrast, pays for the material we send her.”; “Since the present peace negotiations came about largely because of our initiative, we are especially obliged to help (Israel) succeed.”; “Vital American interests are not involved in the Indo-China War. On the other hand, America historically has had a vital strategic interest in the Middle East.”

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