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Mideast Expert Cautions U.S. Against Magnifying Arab Tensions

July 16, 1971
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Dr. George Rentz, a Middle East expert of the University of California at Berkeley, told the House Near East subcommittee today that the United States should withdraw its naval detachment from the Persian Gulf area. He explained to the Foreign Affairs Committee unit that the small force of destroyers and seaplane carriers without planes was not large enough to replace the British presence, due for withdrawal later this year. Although so far no Persian Gulf countries have asked the U.S. to leave the area, Rentz advised a pullout lest the U.S. presence magnify tensions between Arab moderates and revolutionaries. He advocated an “even-handed policy.” Rep. James G. Fulton (R., Pa.) took issue with his terminology, saying: “I don’t like that word. Do you mean to say that Congress should stop supporting Israel because of a danger to American oil interests from the Arabs?”

Rentz replied that he supported the Middle East policy of Secretary of State William P. Rogers but was “opposed to going further, us suggested by prospective Democratic candidates.” He was apparently alluding to Presidential hopefuls Henry M. Jackson, Democrat of Washington State, and Birch Bayh. Democrat of Indiana, who berated the Nixon Administration yesterday for not answering Israeli requests for more Phantom jets in light of recent accelerated Soviet arms shipments to Syria and Egypt. Fulton told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency later that “our shipments to Israel are not adequate” in light of the Soviet aid. He said he had made his feelings well known to State Department officials. James E. Akins, State Department director of fuels and energy, testified that the Soviets were interested in the Mideast not for their own present or future use but to be able to deny oil to American allies. Asked by subcommittee chairman Lee H. Hamilton (D., Ind.), whether a strong Israel was advisable in view of American oil interests, Akins pointed out that strong U.S. support for Israel encouraged revolution against existing regimes. He added that Israel had shown strength in three wars with Arab countries.

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