Schlesinger on Israel, South Vietnam

Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger has chided members of Congress who have reduced aid to $700 million for the current fiscal year to South Vietnam in the current Congressional foreign military assistance legislation although they had approved $2.2 billion for Israel after the Yom Kippur War.

In a speech before the National Security Industrial Association here Sept. 24, Schlesinger did not criticize the funds for Israel but observed that the assistance to Israel amounted to about $700 million a week for the three weeks of fighting last Oct.

“When the conflict broke out in the Middle East last October,” Schlesinger said, “members of Congress, not all of whom have sympathized with the munitions requirements of the South Vietnamese, persistently urged us to do whatever was necessary to insure the survival of Israel. A supplementary request of $2.2 billion for military assistance to Israel was sent to the Hill and the Congress quickly approved it.”

Yet now, he added, “we begrudge the South Vietnamese $700 million a year for munitions and refuse to appropriate the resources necessary for their replacement of their losses in equipment.” Continuing, Schlesinger stated: “How that redounds to our credit or demonstrates our resolve” is not easy to say. The Administration had requested $1.4 billion for South Vietnam in the military aid bill but Congress halved that amount.

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