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August 14, 1981 - Image 2

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1981-08-14

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2 .rfiday; August 14;1 1981


Purely Commentary

AWACS Proposal Menaces Peace of the World and the Very
Existence of Israel ... Organized Movement Urgently Needed
to Assure A Congressional Majority Opposing the Menace

By Philip


Guideline for Opposition to AWACS Sale Provided by Eminent American Notables

President Reagan's appeal to members of Congress not to prejudge the proposals to
sell AWACS jets to Saudi Arabia places the serious issue on the agenda for urgent
consideration. If there is not to be prejudging there also is not to be overconfidence
placing this nation, the entire Middle East, the peace of the world, into a trap. There is the
urgent necessity also for an appeal to the President not to be overly hasty with action in a
matter that involves the security of Israel.
Warnings of the-menacing threats to Israel's security and the peace of the Middle
East, ominously projected in the Reagan Administration's endorsement of the sale of
AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control Systems) jets to Saudi Arabia, is the text of an
important statement by Writers and Artists for Peace in the Middle East. Six of the 27
well-known names were selected by the New York Times as signatories to their letter
that appeared in the NYTimes on May 10. They are: Saul Bellow, E. L. Doctorow, John
Kenneth Galbraith, Norman Mailer, Arthur Miller and Barbara Tuchman.
A portion of their statement was included in this column on May 22.
The seriousness of the AWACS proposal and its menacing portents renew interest in
the message from Writers and Artists for Peace in the Middle East. Their complete
statement and all the signatories to it follow:
We, the undersigned, members of the American literary community
who hold diverse shades of opinion on many political and social issues, are
at one in our deep dismay over President Reagan's decision to provide
Saudi Arabia with the most sophisticated military equipment in the U.S.
arsenal — ostensibly as a defense against a possible Soviet threat. But if
Sheik Ahmed Zaki Yamani, Saudi Arabia's powerful oil minister, is to be
believed when he protests that the true threat to his nation is Israel — as
opposed to the merely "potential" threat of the Soviets — then the Reagan
Administration's primary rationale cannot stand.
That the Saudis have cast their demand for our most advanced
weaponry in the form of "a test of American friendship," and that the
President does not hesitate to capitulate, calls to mind two charged words:
blackmail and appeasement. Are Americans now to understand that their
leadership has adopted a policy of allowing unstable and untested foreign
nations to dictate our military aid determinations, no matter that the fate of
an ally is in the balance?
Indeed, if our actions as a friendly government are to be "tested" by the
Saudis, then the moment has come for such a friendship to be sharply
defined. Friendship in any culture, even in one so different from our own as
Riyadh's, must signify above all a relation of reciprocity: mutually respect-
ful equality rather than manipulation and exploitation. What acts of
"friendship" are demonstrated today by an oligarchic kingdom whose
policies and attitudes run counter to many of democratic America's most
essential interests and ideals?
Where it counts for America — in the oil market — have the Saudis ever
shown any international restraint not grounded in the coarsest self-
interest? While the Reagan Administration calls for an end to world ter-
rorism and cautions against Soviet imperialism, the Saudis persist in sup-
plying the Soviet-trained, Soviet-armed, Soviet-backed terrorist PLO with
over $200 million annually. The Camp David process, which the U.S. helped
to fashion and which we continue to support as the best avenue to Mideast
peace, is actively opposed by the Saudis — is, in fact, condemned as worth-


Meditenitanean 1c


+ •



Saudi AWACS deployed

well within Saudi air

space can "see" all







Thirty-three years after their armies joined in attacking the newborn
Jewish state, the Saudis still openly press for the destruction of Israel, the
only stable and reliable ally the U.S. has in the area. And finally, the Saudis
warn us that if we do not supply the arms they demand, they will turn to the
Soviet Union — to those very Soviets President Reagan tells us those very
arms are supposed to deter!
The Saudi claim that advanced American weaponry would be put only
to defensive use is untrue on its face. F-15 "add-ons" — among them Side-
winder missiles, extra fuel tanks, and, of course, AWACS — are devices
designed to facilitaiw Ittack, to target and annihilate from a distance, and
with uncanny accuracy. They could be used from deep within Saudi terri-
tory to spy on and destroy every plane and tank Israel possesses, instantly
crippling Israel's capacity to defend itself. Only three years ago, when the
Saudis were initially provided with the F-15s, these add-ons were pledged
to be withheld, precisely becatise they were seen to endanger Israel.
If America's word is so transitory, if it can be reversed and repudiate:
so casually, then what of our credibility everywhere, among both friends
and enemies? Such a justifiable erosion of trust in our promises can only
serve to exacerbate Mideast tensions. It can harden Israel's position on
peace terms. It will certainly encourage a new Mideast arms race — some-
thing not in the interest of any of the countries in the region, or of the U.S.
And it will not lessen by one iota the real danger the Saudis face: internal
revolution. Has our leadership learned nothing from Iran?
Can our leadership assure us that these terrifying weapons will not be
turned against America's vital needs in the Gulf area? Will the Saudis, once
in possession of the means to crush Israel's defense system — despite
consistent expressions of unrestrained enmity, including a recent call for
Jihad — holy war — nevertheless hold themselves in restraint? On the basis
of what past performance does the Reagan Administration promise us
Saudi restraint now, with regard to these extraordinary war machines?
It is not too late for President Reagan to reconsider his ill-advised step
and point American policy in the direction of national dignity and common
The following members of Writers and Artists for Peace in the Middle East have
signed the letter dealing with the proposed U.S. arms shipments to Saudi Arabia:
Shana Alexander, Saul Bellow, Norman Cousins, E. L. Doctorow, How-
ard Fast, John Kenneth Galbraith, John Gardner, Herbert Gold, Lois
Gould, Gerald Green, John Hersey, A.E. Hotchener, Elizabeth Janeway,
Erica Jong, Garson kanin
Kanin, Alfred Kazin, Joseph P. Lash, Meyer Levin,
Arthur Miller, Cynthia Ozick, Chaim
Norman Mailer, Bernard
Potok, Mordecai Richler, Ann Roiphe, Neil Simon, Barbara Tuchman and
Kurt Vonnegut.
Much more space than even this lengthy repudiation of claims in defense of the
AWACS proposal sponsored by President Ronald Reagan and Secretary of State Alexan-
der Haig has already been allotted to the issue. But the pressure in support of this
damaging proposal, now exercised upon Congress by the Secretary of State, demands
further elaboration on the issue.
Is blackmail too strong a word to be used, as it was, by the eminent personalities who
signed the above warning?
Apparently the majority of both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives who
declared their opposition to the AWACS sale understands the dangers and supports
shelving the arms deal with Saudi' Arabia. The strength generated until now by the
Reagan Administration causes concern lest those who have already joined forces in
opposition to the AWACS proposal might defect from the opposition to it and thereby
threaten the majority role of those who recognize the menace inherent in a proposal that
has misled the Administrati6n in its judgement of the military situation in the Middle
The accompanying descriptive map further points to the urgency of a situation that
demands pressure to induce the President and the Secretary of State to abandon their
support of a military action that could not only lead to Israel's destruction but to the peace
of the entire world in the process of giving arms to those who can never be trusted with
such weapons.
Let there be an organized movement, akin to that of the Writers and Artists for the
Peace of the Middle East, to prevent such a calamity!

Extent of U. S. Military Aid to Saudi Arabia

The massive arms supplies by the United States to Saudi Arabia may have been kept
a secret. The unfortunate attempts to make Israel appear as the major benefiting nation
in the U.S. arms-supplying process has hidden the facts about Saudi Arabia.
The truth is revealed in the bulletin of the Center for Defense Information which, in
its official publication "The Defense Monitor," Volume 10, No. 4, 1981, under the title
"The U.S. Military and Saudi Arabia — Investing in Stability or Disaster," presents facts
not to be ignored.
Michigan's senior U.S. Senator, Don Riegle, emphasizing that he continues his
opposition to the AWACS sales, states that these facts highlight his own views on the
The Defense Monitor's analysis points out that "Saudi Arabia has accounted for 36
percent of all U.S. foreign military sales since 1973. From the establishment of diploma-
tic relations in 1947 through 1979, Saudi Arabia purchased $56 billion in U.S. products;
of that, 55 percent was spent on military arms and services." -
An important factor is the comment that "through an extensive military relat,
ship the U.S. hopes to insure the continued supply of Saudi oil — an arms for oil deal
and to counter Soviet involvement in the region.
"Yet, at the Islamic Conference sponsored by Saudi Arabia in January 1981, the
Saudis called for a Jihad or Holy War against Israel," the Monitor warns, indicating that
the Reagan Administration, instead of focusing on peace as the Number One priority in
the Middle East is "focusing on countering the Soviet Union."
Taking into account the frequent Saudi assertions that Israel and not the USSR is
her real enemy, Saudi Arabian contentions should have served as warnings against
providing that nation with the most damaging weapons against Israel, the AWACS jets.
Thus, the Defense Monitor's review of the existing conditions in the Middle East warns:
"The AWACS sale raises the danger that American secret high technology could be
lost or compromised through espionage, combat, or a sudden change in the Saudi gov-
ernment.. The AWACS sale would also increase the chance of Americans becoming
directly involved in or killed in Saudi combat operations."

7, I

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