WASHINGTON (May. 18)
Sen Henry M. Jackson, Democrat of Washington, charged today that a reduction of American military forces, as proposed by Majority Leader Mike Mansfield of Montana, would endanger the Middle East “perhaps” even more than Europe. In a speech on the Senate floor opposing his party’s Senate chieftain on the measure, which he said represented “retreating into isolationism,” Jackson claimed that “the Middle East, perhaps more than anywhere else, would feel the effects of such an American withdrawal of forces from Europe.” Jackson a member of the Armed Services Committee and a staunch defender of Israeli security, stated that “the American presence in Europe, and especially our naval deployments in Italy and on board the Sixth Fleet, serve both to protect Europe and help maintain the stability of the Middle East.”
The Senator warned that “our friends in Israel would view with the most urgent alarm any indication that the United States was no longer prepared to maintain an adequate defensive capability in Europe.” He asked: “If America, in response to a fluctuation in the market for Eurodollars, is prepared to revise its relations with a whole continent, how would America respond to a crisis in the Middle East.” Pointing to former President Johnson’s use of the Sixth Fleet in June, 1967, in response to a threat of Soviet intervention in the war against Israel, Jackson declared that “in 1967–and again in the Jordanian crisis last year–our Mediterranean fleet spoke louder than words,” and “in 1971 we are not going to be very persuasive with the Russians if they see us bringing home the instruments of persuasion.” A State Department spokesman said last week and reiterated today that a withdrawal of American forces from Europe as proposed by Mansfield would have a “serious” effect on the Mideast.