WASHINGTON (Oct. 25)
The Pentagon continued to refuse comment on an article appearing in the current issue of the Armed Forces Journal which alleged that the U.S. has no permanent interest in Israel and is building up its armed forces far beyond that country’s legitimate defense needs. “We just don’t comment on published articles,” the Defense Department’s Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Relations Tom Lambert told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency when asked if the Pentagon was in accord with the views expressed in the article. He added that the Pentagon policy of no comment meant neither yes or no with respect to any article.
But Gov. Hugh Carey, of New York, described the privately published monthly as “an authoritative unofficial source of current thinking in the defense establishment.” In the course of an address at the 10th annual dinner of the International League for the Repatriation of Russian Jews in New York Saturday night, Carey referred to the fact that the JTA had first reported on the article a week ago and said it was “a matter of interest and concern.”
The article, “The Arab-Israeli Balance: How Much Is Too Much?” was written by Anthony Cordesman, a former civilian employee of the Pentagon, now with the Department of Energy. He claimed, among other things, that Israel has become close to a “permanent liability” to the U.S., that the present Israeli government posed an obstacle to Middle East peace moves, and suggested that the U.S. mount a propaganda and diplomatic campaign to restrain the Begin government and, possibly, bring about its downfall.
In his address, Carey said “There is no greater source of stability in the Middle East than Israel. Any proposal to erode the strength of Israel embodies the potential for great violence and tragedy . . . . I am amazed that there is again abroad in our country a serious proposal to intervene in the political affairs of another nation.”
Meanwhile, the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith has asked the Pentagon to investigate whether the Cordesman article made use of classified information gained while the author was employed by the Defense Department. The ADL reported on a telephone conversation its general counsel, Arnold Forster, had with the Defense Department’s public affairs officer, Maj. Michael Burch, Burch reiterated, “It is not our policy to clear or endorse articles for such publications.” Asked if some of the information used was classified, he replied, “It would be a breach of security to comment on whether material is classified or not,” the ADL reported.