Fulbright, Jackson, Clash over U.S. Policies in the Middle East
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Fulbright, Jackson, Clash over U.S. Policies in the Middle East

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Sen. J. William Fulbright (D.Ark), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Sen. Henry M. Jackson, a fellow Democrat, from Washington, clashed on the Senate floor yesterday over U.S. policy toward, the Middle East and ways to meet the energy crisis. The two lawmakers took diametrically opposing views in speeches on American policies toward the Arab-Israeli conflict and the need for the U.S. to continue its oil imports from the Middle East.

Fulbright proposed that the U.S. work toward a “United Nations imposed solution” of the Middle East conflict to “serve all our interests” in the area. He enumerated as American interests a political settlement of the Arab-Israeli dispute, the continued flow of oil, our strong “emotional” interest in Israel and the strategic interest to avoid a confrontation with the Soviet Union. Fulbright described as “extravagant,” in terms of cost, a U.S. program to find alternative energy sources on a “crash basis.”

Jackson declared that Fulbright’s conclusion that the U.S. must deliver the future stability of the Middle East into the hands of the Security Council to ensure an adequate supply of energy “is based on a dangerously oversimplified appreciation of both the nature of our energy deficiency and of the politics of the Middle East conflict, to say nothing of a most fanciful view of the powers of the UN.” Jackson has advocated a $10-$20 billion program by the U.S. Government to develop energy sources that would avoid U.S. reliance on fuels from abroad.

Fulbright also stated that since the U.S. may be largely dependent for a decade or more on large oil imports, “our present policy makers and policy influencers may come to the conclusion that military action is required to secure the oil resources of the Middle East, to secure our exposed ‘jugular.'” He noted that there was no question that the U.S. could take over the oil-producing states by force. “We might not even have to do it ourselves,” Fulbright said, “with militarily potent surrogates available in the region.” He referred, in this connection, to the Shah of Iran and to Israel.

State Department spokesman John King said today that “we will not be commenting on his speech, but we will make one point. The idea of using force mentioned in his speech does not reflect in any way any thought in this Administration.” Privately, Department sources indicated that Fulbright’s statements regarding force were “irresponsible and shocking.”


Fulbright in his speech urged “variations” of the proposals by Secretary of State William P. Rogers of Dec, 1969–the Rogers Plan–which would have Israel withdraw from virtually all of the Arab territories it seized in the 1967 Six-Day War. He also announced that his committee will hold hearings May 30-31 “on the Implications of the energy problem” for U.S. foreign relations.

He said the present situation in the Mideast is due primarily to “the refusal of the U.S. Administration, backed by a heavy Congressional majority, to modify its commitment to the present policy of Israel.” Fulbright described. Israel as “already a garrison state” that faces the prospect of mounting terrorism, “which no amount of counter-terrorism is likely to suppress.” He warned that the industrial countries, especially the U.S. “may expect mounting threats” to their oil requirements by “radicalized Arab regimes.”

Fulbright asserted, “The question is whether it is not our own policies which are driving America’s Arab friends toward radicalization and revolution.” The Arkansas Senator predicted “a selective (Arab) boycott of the U.S. coupled with the establishment of exclusive political and business arrangements with Europe and Japan.”

He said he accepted the “validity” of “strong emotional interests” of Americans in Israel. He reiterated his support for an American-Israeli bi-lateral treaty guaranteeing Israel’s security on condition that it is accompanied by “an identical multi-lateral one by the great powers acting through the UN and that Israel “withdraw from most, though not all of the territories occupied in 1967.” Fulbright did not define the extent of such withdrawal. The Rogers Plan called for only minor adjustments to the pre-1967 Israeli boundaries.


Jackson took sharp issue with Fulbright’s advocacy of a UN imposed solution which he called a view that was “properly laid to rest with the demise of the Rogers Plan two years ago,” adding: “We must leave it to the two parties themselves the task of finding a resolution of the Arab-Israeli conflict.” He observed that “the crucial first step toward that objective is for the Arab states to agree to conduct negotiations with Israel.”

Jackson warned that the effort “to exhume” the Rogers Plan “can only encourage Egypt to continue to refuse to begin peace negotiations.” He said the principal fault of Fulbright’s analysis of the energy problem is its primary assumption “that the threat to the continued delivery of Middle East oil arises from our support of Israel. The fact is,” Jackson claimed, “that the principal threat to the oil producing countries of the Middle East is not Israel but rather the have-not Arab countries,” such as Iraq, Syria, Egypt and Yemen.

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