Bahraini Officials and Businessmen Briefed on U.S. Middle East Policy

Article excerpt


Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State David Mack, vice president of the Middle East Institute in Washington, DC, briefed 29 Bahraini officials, businessmen and bankers on U.S. Middle East policy formulation at the Bahrain Embassy on July 14. In brief opening remarks Bahraini Ambassador Abdul Ghaffar Abdalla, who hosted the program for an invited audience of retired and serving U.S. civilian and military officials and business people concerned with the Middle East, described the program that had brought the Bahrainis to the United States as part of an executive development project.

In his talk Mack, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, said there are two competing currents, realism and idealism, in U.S. foreign policymaking.

In the Arabian Gulf, Mack said, the U.S. interest is to safeguard the free flow of petroleum and to prevent any one power from dominating the area, which contains about 60 percent of the world's reserves of oil and natural gas. Career foreign affairs professionals have a lot to do with forming and carrying out policy there.

On the Arab-Israel issue, domestic American politics prevail. The Congress, the media and the pro-Israel lobby are generally dominant. Referring to the imminent visit to Washington by new Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, however, Mack expressed the hope that President Bill Clinton would read President George Washington's farewell address, in which the first American president warned against "passionate attachments" to any foreign country. …


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