WASHINGTON (Oct. 17)
Republican Presidential candidate John Connally’s nine-point Middle East program has received support from a Republican Senator while Connally’s opponents for the GOP nomination continue their severe criticism of his concepts.
George Bush, farther U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and a former chairman of the Republican Party National Committee, told a meeting of the National Conference of Christians and Jews in Cleveland last Sunday night that “the interests of the United States lie in supporting the efforts to implement the Camp David accords and the spirit of peace and hope inspired by Prime Minister (Menachem) Begin and President (Anwar) Sadat in arriving at that agreement.”
Bush, a candidate for the GOP nomination, also opposed Connally’s concept of using U.S. military forces in the Mideast as “a guarantor of peace.” Connally had proposed discarding the Camp David accords and establishing U.S. bases as part of a Mideast settlement.
Attacking the Connally thesis on another basis, Bush said that “the way to lower oil prices is through economic negotiations and through convincing the Saudi Arabians and others that we are dependable friends and that we are the only credible deterrant to Soviet subversion in the Middle East.” Saying that he does “not favor use of American power as a negotiating pawn to get the OPEC nations to lower oil prices,” Bush added: “One way not to lower oil prices is to trade U.S. forces for price cuts. Another way not to lower oil prices is to trade Israel’s security for price clubs.”
Bush said that “the risks involved in a U.S. military presence in the Middle East are as unnecessary as they are unwanted by the American people.” He warned against “creating the conditions for American involvement in another Vietnam war.”
Sen. Thad Cochran (R. Miss.), in presenting to the Senate the text of Connally’s speech before the Washington Press Club last week, said “the dangers of war and economic upheaval in the Middle East are substantial,” and “I believe Gov. Connally’s peace plan offers constructive ideas on how peace might be brought about.” He commended Connally “for having recommended this innovative and far-ranging peace plan.”
Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, Albert Spiegel, shortly after being named vice chairman of the Ronald Reagan Campaign for President, decried in Reagan’s name the positions taken by Connally. Spiegel, who is a Los Angeles lawyer and a leader in Jewish affairs in California, said that he was “pretty accurately reflecting” Reagan’s thinking in saying that Connally “asks Israel to give up every one of its basic positions in advance of any negotiations without a single concession in return.”
Spiegel also told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that Connally’s speech “implies the United States is defenseless against the Arab oil threat.” He said that Connally also “strips from Israel the basic requirements for its own defense and substitutes a guarantee that may not be honored in a crisis, or if it’s honored it may come too late to save the State of Israel or even the lives of its men, women and children.”
In New York the Republican Party organization in Manhattan withdrew its invitation to Connally to attend its annual Lincoln Day dinner next February. Manhattan GOP leader Vincent Albano said he was “shocked” by Connally’s Washington speech since he earlier had told a group of New York State Republican leaders that he was sympathetic to Israel.
Connally now faces the possibility of also being asked not to appear as featured speaker at a GOP dinner in New York on Nov. 6 to raise $750,000. New York Republican leaders feel that Connally’s appearance could hurt ticket sales for the $1000-a-plate dinner. Nevertheless, Connally spokesman Hugh O’Neill said the former Texas Governor “is sticking to his position.”