Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

If Marines Die in the Gulf, Let's Place the Blame Where It Belongs

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

If Marines Die in the Gulf, Let's Place the Blame Where It Belongs

Article excerpt

In a poignant protest a few weeks ago, in the August 23 New York Times, the father of a young Marine en route to the Persian Gulf wrote that he would not forgive President Bush if his son were killed retaking Kuwait.

The writer might well have considered that the Congress of the United States will be the culpable party.

If young Marines die in Kuwait, they will die as Marines have always died, in the service of their country's policies, right or wrong. Belleau Woods, Iwo Jima and the Naktong Perimeter have been matched by other places, Nicaragua, Lebanon and Haiti, where the righteousness of US policy has not always been clear.

Congress vs. Three US Presidents

If Marines die in retaking Kuwait pursuant to the United Nations resolutions requiring the removal of Iraqi occupation, the blind obeisance of Congress to the Israeli lobby these past 15 years will be to blame far more than the policies of the Bush administration. Since Camp David, three US presidents have tried to get Israel to recognize UN resolutions and international law on the Palestinian question, only to be frustrated by Congressional adherence to Israel's powerful lobby in the United States. That frustration has created the climate of which Iraqi President Saddam Hussain now takes advantage.

The single greatest reason for the current crisis in the Gulf is the identification of the United States with continuing Israeli intransigence on the Palestinian question. Saddam Hussain can well ask why he should leave Kuwait if Israel is permitted to remain on the West Bank and in Gaza.

Twenty-three years have elapsed since the adoption of Resolution 242 by the United Nations Security Council calling for Israeli withdrawal from the Palestinian and Syrian territories occupied in 1967, in exchange for Arab acknowledgment of Israel's right to exist within secure and recognized borders. All of the Arab states bordering or near Israel have indicated acquiescence to its terms, as has PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat.

The commitment of American troops to Saudi Arabia, like the stationing of American Marines in Beirut in 1982, has been necessitated directly by US failure to back up Resolution 242.

There is one thing, and only one thing, that unites all Arabs...the understandable and honorable belief that their Palestinian brethren are entitled to self-determination and an end to Israeli occupation.

Because of congressional actions, the US is seen in the Arab world as speaking with a forked tongue, espousing the fundamental principle of non-aggression against Iraq, but at the same time not only condoning but financing Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and Gaza and the Syrian Golan Heights.

We have to confess the Arabs have a point. Israel is no longer a reliable ally, but a potential enemy.

More than 250 Marines died in Lebanon because Israel reneged on its promise to US negotiator Phil Habib that if the PLO military forces left Beirut, the women and children they left behind in Lebanese refugee camps would not be molested.

It was Israeli support which enabled the massacres at Sabra and Shatilla to occur in September 1982 and led to President Reagan's decision to send Marines back to Beirut to protect the Palestinian dependents. If we on the one hand seek to unite world support against Saddam Hussain's seizure of Kuwait, we should also make an honest attempt to redress Israeli injustice to Palestinians. …

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