Rough Road For Baker
As Secretary of State James Baker
travels to the Mideast for the third time in
five weeks, it seems clear that he will be
turning up the heat on Israel and her Arab
neighbors in his effort to convene a re-
gional Mideast peace conference.
Mr. Baker has been referred to as the
"Secretary of Stealth" because he has been
so secretive with his game plan for peace.
So secretive, in fact, that even diplomats
close to the scene are having trouble call-
ing his moves.
In part, he is accelerating the pace be-
cause the Administration believes that
unless a major effort is made now, momen-
tum will be lost. And cynics note that Mr.
Baker is hoping that increased activity in
the Mideast will detract attention from the
ongoing plight of the Kurds.
In any event, there are indications that
Mr. Baker is prepared to remain in the re-
gion for an extended period of time.
During his first two visits, Mr. Baker
observed a traditional axiom of diplomacy:
vagueness is the handmaid of opportunity.
As a result, his plan for a regional con-
ference in the Mideast has been approved
in principle by Israel and several Arab
states, but an infinity of specifics —pro-
cedural, legal and psychological — has yet
to be worked out.
The Israelis are trying to appear positive
about Mr. Baker's efforts, though they are
wary of pressure to give up land for peace.
Jerusalem is disappointed that the U.S.
has not used its influence in the region to
convince any Arab state to make a positive
gesture toward peace, such as ending the
Arab boycott of Israel.
And the U.S. is unhappy that Israel has
resisted Washington's suggestion that she
defer new housing in the territories as part
of the confidence-building aspect of a peace
At this point, neither side wants to be
blamed for the breakdown of negotiations,
but neither side is prepared to bend. That
is Mr. Baker's job. Still, the bending is not
coming the way Mr. Baker wanted. Almost
10 hours of negotiation with Syrian Presi-
dent Hafez al-Assad has produced no in-
dication of a Syrian supported peace con-
ference. Trips to Egypt, Jordan and Saudi
Arabia have produced little if anything
As Mr. Baker meets with Soviet Foreign
Minister Alexander A. Bessmertnykh, the
fear is that the peace momentum gained
from the Persian Gulf war could be dying.
What complicates his effort is Washing-
ton's policy, or lack of one, toward the
Kurds. America's encouragement of an
Iraqi effort to overthrow Saddam Hussein,
followed by the administration's refusal to
aid the rebels, is a sorry tale suggesting
that there is no correlation between foreign
policy and morality. Was President Bush's
New World Order meant to begin with the
sacrifice of the Kurds?
The cloud hanging over the Baker talks
is one of the United States urging distant
countries to trust her — and, in Israel's
case, risk political suicide — without know-
ing if future pleas will fall on deaf ears in
Washington. Mr. Baker, the momentum
for peace seems to be dragging.
May we suggest that Mr. Baker is throw-
ing too many balls in too many courts.
Please, let's not forget something that is
still very important. These are the same
Palestinians who sided. with Iraq and ap-
plauded the Scud missile attacks on Israel.
But what did, at least at first glance,
change was perhaps a hint of willingness
on the part of the region's two most power-
ful military powers, Israel and Syria. That
is where the magnifying glass should be
held. We urge Mr. Baker to be less of a
"secretary of stealth" and more a secretary
with blinders on. Cut through the clutter;
let's talk now about Israel and Syria. These
are the key players. The Jordans, the
Egypts and everyone else will follow if they
see a true opening for peace here.
Bush's Vietnam Ghost
Contrary to White House pro-
nouncements, Operation Desert Storm did
not fully purge the Vietnam syndrome
from the American psyche. At least one
American is still laid low by the malaise,
and his name is George Bush. Witness his
still skittish reaction to the plight of the
The President's fear is that further U.S.
military action on behalf of the Kurds will
end with this nation bogged down in the
morass of Iraqi fractionalism. The political
cover is that the U.S. has no desire to
intervene in Iraq's internal affairs.
The first is an unfounded fear; backing
up U.S. pledges of safe havens for the
Kurds with the necessary military force
can still be a time-limited affair if this
nation makes it unmistakably clear that
Saddam Hussein must keep his blood-
stained hands off the Kurdish people or
FRIDAY, APRIL 26, 1991
suffer one last pulverizing air attack that
will end this time in the total destruction of
The second — the political cover that
Washington does not want to become in-
volved in Iraq's internal affairs — reeks of
cynicism; we are already deeply involved
by virtue of Saddam's aggression against
Kuwait, not to mention our encouragement
of attempts to oust Saddam.
There can be no peace in Iraq as long as
the Kurds remain targets of Saddam's
violent actions, and that will continue as
long as Saddam believes he can get away
In hindsight, it seems clear now that Mr.
Bush ended the war too soon, before
delivering the knockout blow that would
have rid Iraqis, and the world, of Saddam
ARE IR/NG70 FAMWARizE
OUR • ARAB FRIENDS
•• ■ 1,n
;) WITH 114E IDEA
OF OW cct
• ■ ,t\I " f
To Southfield Reps
Last fall, I met with a
number of Southfield city of-
ficials to share the Jewish
Welfare Federation's plans for
locating its administrative of-
fices in Oakland County.
Contrary to the impression
left by the Southfield City
Council letter in last week's
Jewish News, I explained our
position at length and stress-
ed Federation's commitment
to serve all members of our
community, wherever they
The Jewish Welfare Federa-
tion has an abiding interest
in the strength and vitality of
the city of Southfield.
Through the Neighborhood
Project and in other
cooperative ways, we look for-
ward to continuing our long
and fruitful association.
Mark E. Schlussel
Jewish Welfare Federation
The views presented in
Milton Steinhardt's article
(April 19) represent a serious
misreading of Arno Mayer's
views on the Holocaust as
presented in his book, Why
Did The Heavens Not Darken?
All historians place events
in a historical setting, so as to
make possible their enlight-
enment and eventual under-
standing. Whether such a
scholarly approach can ac-
complish its intended purpose
here is another matter.
Mayer himself points out,
"The (Holocaust) remains as
incomprehensible to me today
as five years ago, when I set
out to study and rethink it."
Mayer further writes: "The
Jewish catastrophe was forg-
ed in the crucible of this ir-
reversible but failing (war on
communism). This secular
crusade provided the mastery
of space, the corridor of time,
and the climate of violence
the Nazis needed to
perpetuate the Judeocide."
To provide a historical
frame of reference to examine
how this Jewish catastrophe
could have occurred does not
diminish from its signifi-
cance, as is Dr. Steinhardt's
contention. Rather, it pro-
vides a methodology for un-
derstanding an event in
history which, in the final
analysis, may be beyond
That the Kurds are now be-
ing threatened with extinc-
tion, as Si Frumkin poignant-
ly discusses (April 19), in-
dicates how little the civiliz-
ed world has learned from the
Holocaust. Leaving the Kurds
with no homeland to fend for
themselves may be akin to
having left European Jewry
to fend for themselves in
Hitler's occupied Europe.
Let The Arabs
Why not let the Arab na-
tions solve the Iraqi problem?
Why is everyone castigating
George Bush? Why are we
questioning the American
will, or the American desire,
to help our friends?
It seems to me that there is
an entire reservoir of untap-
ped assistance for the oppress-
ed minorities in Iraq. Long
before the "Mother Of Bat-
tles" started, the critics of our
president were calling for an
Arab solution to the threat
from Baghdad. Wouldn't now
be the right time to try to
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