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Churba:economic Greed Rules U.S. Policy in the Mideast

January 19, 1983
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“Commercialism–economic greed–rather than the best security interest of the United States is dominating our policy,” Dr. Joseph Churba, head of the Center for International Security, told the National Board of Hadassah at its opening session of the midwinter meeting here at the Concord Hotel.

Churba, a former top official in the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, said that now that Eugene Rostow, who was dismissed last week after a stormy tenure as the director of the same agency, following the resignations of Secretary of State Alexander Haig and National Security Advisor Richard Allen, “the pro-Saudi Arabian group is in full control, and those who believe in the intrinsic values of Israel as America’s best ally in the Middle East are no longer represented among the policy makers.”

Churba stressed that “It is now up to Congress and the people of the United States to let the President know that they value the Israel connection. And I am not referring to the Jewish community. The general American public and retired military leaders who are free to express themselves, all understand the geopolitical importance of Israel in the Levant.”

Furthermore, Churba said, “If the present Administration team should attempt to exert leverage on Israel in favor of the Palestinians to placate their Saudi-Arabian clients, Israel could ‘go it alone’.”


Churba said that “Israel has assumed a new military significance for the U.S.” He pointed out that “within the space of one week (during the Lebanon war) it destroyed $3 billion worth of Soviet equipment and captured $2 billion worth of the same, while utilizing no more than II percent of its capabilities. Were the superior Israeli war technology and tactics grafted on to the NATO capabilities, it would be possible to eliminate the Soviet superiority on the Central Front.”

Israel, he pointed out, “has military self-sufficiency, superior manpower and advanced technology. One cannot stabilize the Middle East theater without Israel any more than Western Europe without West Germany, or the Far East without Japan.”

Churba downgraded the threat of a general Arab-Israel war for the balance of this decade saying “Arab military power has virtually collapsed notwithstanding the Soviet replenishment to Syria. The Persian Gulf region remains the epicenter of global politics and whichever way the Iraq-Iran war goes, Saudi Arabia stands to lose. Events there will prove paramount to the Palestinian issue.”


Calling Secretary of State George Shultz, Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, and President Reagan’s special envoy to the Middle East, Philip Habib, “the boys from Bechtel,” Churba asserted that as long as policy making is in their hands U.S. power and diplomacy will be irrelevant in the region.” The three Secretaries were officials of the Bechtel Corporation before joining the Reagan Administration. Given Bechtel’s business interests in Saudi Arabia, many Congressmen and Jewish leaders were concerned that traction functions.

“But Saudi Arabia is no longer the all powerful banker who pulls the strings,” Churba said. “Between the oil glut and the world-wide depression — as well as the religious and political ferment in the Arab world–it is a country at risk and growing weaker. Its importance to the present U.S. team is not as a guardian of the Persian Gulf but as a market for U.S. goods”

Churba maintained that the Administration will continue its present campaign of pressuring Israel and threatening to delegitimize it until 1983-1984.

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