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March 13, 1982 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1982-03-13

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OPINION

Page 4

Saturday, March 13, 1982.

The Michigan Daily

Is it time to

move in on Mideast oil?

By Dan Aronoff
Last month the unemployment rate was 8.8
percent-that's the second highest level since
World War II. It would be easy to blame our
economic woes on Reaganomics, but let's not
forget that the downturn began many years
before Ronald Reagan was elected president.
Economic theory is in a state of crisis and
policymakers are unable to form a consensus
opinion on solutions. There is one alternative,
however, which would significantly alleviate
our current economic problems-occupying
the oil fields in the Middle East.
If an exact price could be pinned on our
dismal economy, it would be $34 a barrel-the
price of oil from the Organization of Petroleum
Exporting Countries. From the end of World
War II to the 1973 OPEC oil embargo, the
American economy grew at an average rate
of 3.3 percent a year. Since 1973, our economy
has grown at a yearly rate of less than 2 per-
cent, and in 1980, for the first time since the
Great Depression, we actually suffered a
decline in productivity.
THE ECONOMICS of OPEC impact on the
American economy are very simple. If we had
sustained a 3.3 percent growth rate from 1973 to
the present, we would have no unemployment
problem, the largest budget surplus in history,
and, as a result, no inflation. In this
hypothetical situation, we could cut taxes, in-
crease social welfare spending and still balan-
ce the budget.
The price of unemployment is $34 a barrel of
oil, but the price of OPEC is much, much

higher. What happens to the money after we
pay it to OPEC and the military and strategic
consequences of our non-intervention policy in
the oil-producing regions may prove more
costly than even the economic consequences of
OPEC.
A case in point is the recent sale of AWACS
radar aircraft to Saudi Arabia. Proponents of
the sale argued that it would enhance
American strategic capability in the Persian
Gulf area as well as ensure Saudi goodwill
toward the United States. But what really oc-
curred is that we have agreed to unilaterally
withdraw our military presence from the Per-
sian Gulf. America now operates four AWACS
of its own in the region. The Saudis, however,
have refused to allow Americans on board
Saudi AWACS and are demanding the removal
of American AWACS from the region.
Moreover, on the day following the Senate vote
on AWACS, the Saudis agreed to an oil price in-
crease. So much for goodwill.
THE FACT IS that the Saudis are unable and
unwilling to defend American interests. They
have supported virtually every United Nations
resolution denouncing the United States and
they (along with the Soviets) are the principal
financial backers of almost every pro-Soviet
hard-line Arab state.
Saudi Arabia subsidizes regimes that are op-
posed to the Camp David peace accords-Iraq,
Jordan, Syria, and the Palestinian Liberation
Organization-to the tune of some $20 billion
per year. The Saudis thus are subsidizing con-
flict and bloodshed in the Middle East. One
wonders whether Arabs would be more
amenable to making peace with Israel if they

port the United States in a conflict with the
SovietUnion. King Khalid has said on several
occasions that he does not consider Moscow an
enemy.
SAUDIS HAVE gained an inordinate influen-
ce over American business and intellectual
communities. Saudi rulers used economic
means to manipulate influential portions of
America's business community into pressuring
key senators on the AWACS sale. Saudis of-
fered hundreds of millions of dollars of finan-
cial incentives to businesses that lobbied for
them. Two days before the sale vote, the Whit-
taker Corporation, one of the leading proponen-
ts of the sale, received an $834 million contract
for managing hospitals in Saudi Arabia (Whit-
taker was never in hospital management until
they did business with the Saudis). Sheik al
Fassi of Saudi Arabia said of Whittaker, "This
is one of the biggest corporations in the world
and I control it."
On the night before the AWACS vote a telex
message from Saudi Arabia advised key U.S.
senators to vote for the sale. The telex was co-
signed by the presidents and chief executives of
22 of the largest corporations in America. It is
intriguing that all of those corporate bigwigs
just happened to be holding a pow-wow with
Saudi shieks on the eve of the vote.
THE NEW REPUBLIC recently reported
that "evidence has been uncovered that points
to widespread violations of the Foreign Agents
Registration Act by major American cor-
porations and their officers..
Oil-related interests alone in the 1980 election
campaign are estimated at having accounted
for over $5 million in contributions, and, accor-

ding to CBS News, "more than half a million
dollars in contributions to Senate candidates
last year were from companies within the
American businessmens' group (which sent the
telex from Saudi Arabia on the eve of the
sale)." The Saudi oil-weapon has been tran-
sformed into a highly effective dollar-weapon
to influence our sovereign political institutions.
It is indeed a high price to pay for OPEC oil.
But another issue is perhaps most important of
all. We live in a dangerous world where sur-
vival is precarious. Those who possess scarce
resources will be opposed by those who do
not-or by those who are wealthy military
rivals. It is thus in the vital interest of any
wealthy nation to promote prosperity and
peaceful coexistence. In the case of OPEC oil,
it may turn out that our best policy would be to
end our dependence on foreign oil. We cannot,
however, accomplish these goals in the short-
term future.
Persian Gulf oil is the lifeblood of Western
civilization. To believe that the Saudis, or other
Arab nations, will defend our interests is a pipe
dream; leaving such an important component
of our survival virtually unguarded by our
military is the height of folly. If we want to
secure that supply of oil, we must defend it. If
we want to avoid a military confrontation with
the Soviet Union, we must show them that we
are committed to defending it before they gain
control in our absence.
In short, we should seriously consider the
option of occupying the Persian Gulf oil fields.
Aronoff is a Daily Opinion Page staff
writer.

6
0

Prince Fahd of the reigning Saudi family.
did not have the billions of dollars of Saudi in-
ducement to make war.
An unstable and repressive monarchy rules
Saudi Arabia. Most experts agree that the
likelihood of revolution or coup d'etat is very
high. Uniting ourselves to their ruling clique
could become a very hazardous proposition.
We should, therefore, secure our oil interests
with as little reliance on (and commitment to)
Saudi rulers as possible. Some Saudis have in-
timated that they would not necessarily sup-

_ ___ _

Cbe Afhdutgan 4aly
Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan

Sinclair

LI&1G4T Api
JUT Ax

NO1'8Ri, THlE
3UND THE NEXT B~EI'JD...

Vol. XCII, No. 127

420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109

Editorials represent a majority opinion of the Daily's Editorial Board

0
0
0

Williams and Abscam:
A tale of foolish curiosity

THE LAST MOMENTS seemed to
some to be pathetic. Sen. Harrison
Williams, convicted of bribery; sen-
tenced to three years in prison, and
virtually assured of expulsion from the
Senate, writhed before his colleagues
for five long days before finally
resigning.
But even more disheartening than
the spectacle of William's final hours
was that the Senate, in its seeming
concern with the allegedly "evil" ac-
tions of Williams, may have neglected
a larger issue. .
No one is going to jump up and say it
was a good idea for Williams to have
been so cooperative with the FBI agent
who was posing as an Arab shiek. Nor
is anyone going to argue that senators
should not face severe punishment for
abusing the power of their offices.
But there is a legitimate argument -
an argument which Williams attem-
pted to make - that the FBI's extreme
enthusiasm in creating traps for public
officials is unacceptable.
Naturally, there should be
reasonable investigations into
allegations of wrongdoing by public of-
ficials. But the extent to which in-
vestigators should be free to use Ab-
scam-type tactics is a question which
must be addressed and which the
Senate has largely ignored.
Centuries ago, Cervantes captured
the problem in the "Tale of Foolish
Curiosity" in Don Quixote. Cervantes
wrote of a man who has a loving - and
to his knowledge, completely faithful
- wife. Still, he wonders whether his
wife would ever cheat on him if given
the chance. He talks a friend of his into

making advances to his wife, and is
greatly distressed when, after some
resistance, his wife finally gives in.
Cervantes' point was that people
generally have enough problems
without creating new ones from thin
air - that there might be some
hypothetical questions that shouldn't
be asked.
Granted, the case for "Foolish
Curiosity" isn't quite so. clear for
Williams. Nevertheless, Williams
defense paints a picture of the FBI
which is, .to say the least, hardly flat-
tering.
It paints a picture ofea federal police
force that is increasingly anxious to
find not only violations of law, but
flaws in character; it paints a picture
of a Senate increasingly anxious not to
have to cope with the problem.
Legislatures have been notoriously
hesitant to address the problem of en-
trapment, and the Senate's willingness
to avoid the issue seems to follow
character. Before he resigned,
however, Williams obtained promises
from Sen Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii)
and Sen. Alan Cranstion (D-California)
that they would pursue a Senate in-
vestigation of the conduct of the FBI
during the Abscam investigation.
So far the talk of a Senate in-
vestigation remains nebulous. But the
idea has merit, and shouldn't be
allowed to get lost in the muddle of
Washington politics. A Senate inquiry
into FBI practices might just help
solve some of the most important
problems exposed during the Abscam
investigation.

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Getting tough the Reagan way

By Christopher Case-
In the fashionable hard-line rhetoric of the
Reagan administration, increased production
of nuclear arms represents a policy that is
both "sound" and "realistic." No one cdn
deny that there is indeed something very real
about thousands of megatons worth of high-
tech hardware.
But one might doubt the soundness of an
administration which funnels increasing
numbers of dollars into commodities which
will at best remain unused and at worst bake
our planet into a useless moon. The aim of
such a policy is defense-perhaps an inap-
propriate but nevertheless a convenient word
for a growing arsenal of weapons designed
primarily for offense. The word "defense"
conjures up comforting images of some kind
of force shield that will protect us from
disaster. That our "defense" consists
precisely of those things which threaten the
continued existence of the earth most, is an
irony not dwelt upon by the realists of the
present administration.

Behind the re-emerging fashion of the hard-
liners is a growing concern for "hard"
things-namely, the economy. It's no secret
that dollars spent on arms production are
dollars spent revitalizing the
economy-dollars providing jobs and making
for consumption. The problems inherent in
consuming multi-megaton warheads
become, for the economy, irrelevant. Unlike
many other commodities, we pay for nuclear
warheads whether we want them (and use
them) or not. The defense budget, therefore,
represents a kind of automatic stimulus
which magically increases both production
and consumption, bypassing the risk of a loss
which businesses ordinarily confront. Hence,
the firm insistence of hard-liners like Reagan
on massive military spending.
"Firmness'' is also an adjective that
definitely jibes with the hard-line approach;
it is a part of the realism and toughness that
these men cherish. Reagan's "invitation to
critics of his budget to "put up or shut up"
represents just the kind of firmness that im-

presses people who are convinced that the
way to security is paved with no-nonsense and
big muscle, who are convinced that a man,
like Reagan, who can make jokes about an at-
tempt on his life almost immediately after the
fact is their kind of man. Tough military
status, we are led to believe, is the kind of
thing that real men stand by. Men this serious
do not concern themselves with "soft" things
like the ecology of the earth, or its fragility in
the face of nuclear power.
It's all part of an image with which the
Reagan administration wants to imbue itself
and our country. They want to re-establish the
superpower status of our nation. A super-
power doesn't tolerate acts against its in-
terests. A superpower doesn't passively await
its fate; it reaches out and grabs that fate
with both hands. A superpower, in fact, can
back up what it wants with enough space-age
influence and metallic manhood to char our
entire world into a total desert.

0

Case is an LSA senior.

0

Weasel

By Robert-Lence

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