NEW YORK (Jan. 24)
Dr. Joseph Churba, the director of the Center for International Security, asserted yesterday that Israel’s involvement in the shipment of weaponry to pro-Western Central American countries is part of an Israeli state policy designed to prevent the United States from becoming bogged down in the defense of the Western Hemisphere.
In an overview of the Middle East, Churba predicted a war between Israel and Syria within one year to 18 months based on the “probabilitity” that the United States will withdraw the marines from Beirut without the establishment of a political understanding between warring factions there. He said the Israel Defense Force will demonstrate in this confrontation in this confrontation with the Syrians new military power and technology hitherto unknown in conventional warfare.
Churba met informally with a group of reporters at a midtown restaurant here to discuss the “convergence of U.S. and Israli interests in Latin American,” a topic he said was fraught with “misinformation and disinformation.” He recently returned from a visit to Israel where he said officials were reluctant to discuss israel’s involvement in Central American.
STRATEGY OF THE USSR AND ITS SURROGATES
According to Churba, the Soviet Union is working in Central America, using the Nicarguan government which is in turn aided by the Palestine Liberation Organizaiton and the Libyan government of Col. Muammar Quadaffi. The strategy of the Soviets and its surrogates is to isolate the U.S. from the Mideast and Europe and have it become more involved with the defencse of Central and South America, Churba said.
Israel’s geopolitical intersest in the region become increasingly significant in light of the actions of the Soviets and the Libyans, Churba said. He said Israel must see to it that no hostile coalition of governments gain overall U.S. concern for Central America. This would allow for further Soviet adventurism in the Mideast and Persian Gulf, he added.
CONSEQUENCES OF U.S. WITHDRAWAL FROM BEIRUT
In prediciting a confrontation between the Syrians and Israel, Churba explained that a U.S. withdrawal from Beirut would create a power vacuum which Israel would have to fill. He said Israel also could not allow a shift in the balance of military power in the region which could take place with the continuing Soviet supplying of weaponry to Syria.
Churba rejected the contention that the Israeli public opinion would forestall any further Israeli military actions in Lebanon, particularly with the Syrian forces. He said Israelis view the Syrians “as an enemy that must be defeated.” In turn, the “war option remains credible,” he said.
The Washington, D.C. based Center for International Security describes itself as a non-profit, non-partisan organization composed of historians, economists and former diplomats and military officers with the purpose of informing the public on international security matters. The Center “recognizes and affirms that peace requires strength, both moral and military,” according to its statement of purpose.