WASHINGTON (May. 10)
America’s quest and need for petroleum will not alter its search for a peaceful Middle East settlement, three highly placed U.S. government officials told Jewish leaders meeting here for the annual policy conference of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The officials also deprecated the commonly used description of the oil situation as a “crisis.” Assistant Secretary of State Joseph J. Sisco, speaking of the “desire to develop further” the relations between oil-consuming and oil-producing countries, observed:
“In this connection, there has been much speculation of late as to whether the so-called energy crisis is going to lead to changes in our Middle East policy. In my view, this is the wrong way to pose the question. The question is whether our policy of seeking to promote a peaceful settlement is going to succeed, so that there will be no temptation for some to seek to politicize the energy problem, to their own detriment as much as to the detriment of others.”
In a visit to the State Department, many of the more than 300 AIPAC delegates were told by a Middle East specialist that the U.S. would not be panicked into a change of policy for peace based on Israel’s security. This official, who asked for anonymity, pointed out that most of the Arab threats to cut off oil supplies to the U.S. come from countries that do not have oil resources. The oil producers, he said, have suitable relationships with the United States.
Another official, a specialist on world energy supplies who also asked not to be named publicly, told AIPAC delegates that he did not believe the U.S. is experiencing an energy crisis. The country, he said, is facing a series of problems but these can be reasonably settled. The oil situation, he added, can become a crisis only if the U.S. does not take action to use its resources of oil, natural gas and particularly coal which would supply it with enough fuel for 1000 years at the country’s present consumption of energy.