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The Middle East crisis. A special program produced by the University of Chicago on June 1st 1967 a special seminar was held by the University of Chicago Center for Policy Study. The participants were Leonard binder chairman of the Department of Political Science at the University of Chicago and a specialist in Middle Eastern politics. Bashir senior staff member of the Arab states delegations office in the United States Benjamin Halpern associate professor of Near Eastern Judaic studies at Brandeis University and author of the idea of a Jewish state. And William Polk a professor of history and director of the Center for Middle Eastern studies at the University of Chicago. The moderator is Charles U daily university vice president for public affairs and director of the Center for Policy Study. The situation today in the Middle East is clouded if not completely obscured by emotionalism and possibly by pamphlet.
We have convened this special seminar to attempt to place the issues in perspective. We like to think of university as a place. In which probing analyses. May occur. And the hard search for truth undertaken. We have asked for persons to come here in the south are known. To present for comments on that situation in the Middle East and we hope that on the completion of those four comments you will be able to take away with you some additional information and be able to make your own judgments as to the value of the individual presentations and their value collectively. Our first speaker this afternoon is Leonard binder a professor and chairman of the Department of Political Science at this university. Mr. Binder is a founding fellow. Of the center. He's the
author of ideological revolution in the Middle East as well as other scholarly publications and books. We have asked Mr. Binder to make some comments to you on the background of the situation online. The problems of the Middle East are still with us after two post-war decades and much thoughtful concern. Some say it is too dangerous to try to solve these problems. Some say that they do not know what would be a just solution. And some say that even if we knew the nature of a just solution we do not know how to get there from here. But where is here. To my mind there are three main problems. In the Middle East. And our understanding of international politics of this region must begin from these three points. The first is the problem of potential conflict
between the United States and the Soviet Union over their respective interests in the Middle East. The second is the problem of into Arab relations and the future of Arab nationalism. The third is the Arab-Israeli problem. There are other issues but these three are the most significant. And I'm sorry to say the most alarming ones. The old way of talking about the confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union in the Middle East was in terms of the protection of American interests. It was as though the mythology of the proletarian revolution was true to form the basis for the working out of international politics. The United States the capitalist power had interests. The Soviet Union the proletarian power wished to usurp them without investing its own wealth. The trouble with this you is of course that it does not take account of the interests of the regional powers nor does it recognize that our interest
is not in a particular piece of real estate nor any given concession. Our interest and that of the Soviet Union as well is in the total disposition of forces. The general conditions of stability. And the maintenance of peace in the whole of the Middle East. The notion of interests is treated somewhat like the notion of investments. But the point is that we must be interested in the whole stock market and not merely in the few securities we hold. Ultimately our interests are tied to the role that the entire Middle East will play in keeping the world's peace. God ism Maoism the decline of NATO. The Soviet suggestion of disbanding the Warsaw Pact. All of these are symbols and factual representations of the decline of bipolarity. It is evident that the factor of greatest influence in bringing about this decline has been the fear of nuclear war. But we must also take account of the very real decline in significance of the Middle East
as a consequence of the new military technology. Whether or not there is a still needing balance of terror in operation the leaders of the smaller nations are confident that the great powers are prevented from using all of their influence because of their fear of one another. Under such circumstances it is not only not necessary to join a bloc. It is much more sensible to deal with the great powers on a what have you done for me lately basis. Furthermore I believe that we do as well as the Soviets have begun to realize something that was totally unclear in 1056 and that is that any political gain we may make in the Middle East is not necessarily a Soviet loss of vice versa. It is not entirely possible. I'm sorry. It is entirely possible for both the United States and the Soviet Union to be losers together almost significantly to be winners together. The general context of bipolarity has changed. But that does not mean that all
previous considerations are to be forgotten. One of the most important points to be borne in mind is that the Middle East is certainly much closer to the Soviet Union than it is to us. The Soviet Union has come in from two years with Turkey Iran and Afghanistan. The Turkish Street still stand between the Soviet Black Sea ports and the Mediterranean the Persian Gulf with its year round warm water ports is still across 800 miles of Persian territory from Soviet Armenia. The population of the southern part of the Soviet Union is not greatly distinguishable from the populations of the Middle Eastern countries beyond the boundary line. It is important that we do not lose our perspective here and merely reiterate as used to be the case that the Soviet Union has a strategic advantage over us in the Middle East because it is closer. The Soviet Union also is also more vulnerable to attack from the Middle East. And regardless of whatever may or may be or may become the major strategic considerations of the time. Chances are that the Middle East will tend to remain of greater
significance to the Soviet Union than to us. The shift in strategic concern has led to the emergence of two patterns of Soviet relations with Middle Eastern countries. One sort of influence pattern reflects the earlier bipolar struggle and the second reflect the relaxation of the bipolar confrontation and the emergence of the idea of an east west accommodation in the Middle East. After an initial post-war effort to exercise great influence in the Middle East as exemplified in Azerbaijan the Mahabharat incident the demand for a revision of the Montreal Convention in a bid for some influence in the disposition of the former Italian colonies the Soviet Union withdrew from the exercise of political pressure on the region until the arms deal with Egypt in 1055. The reasons for the withdrawal and subsequent return are ideological and tactical. So it is more important to realize that when in 1955 the Russians came back in. They were thinking in terms of both excluding Western influence from the Middle East and of gaining new influence for themselves. It was on
such a basis that they develop their relations with Egypt and with Syria. Egypt and Syria both took an extreme anti-Western position and claimed to uphold a policy of non-alignment our own assessment of their policies of receiving arms and technical assistance from Russia while shifting the pattern of the economic relations toward the east. Was that they might not be able to keep out of the Soviet orbit. Egypt and Syria have not become Soviet satellites. But Russia has encouraged them in policies of domestic socialism radical political reform aggressive attitudes towards their neighbors and then tag an ism towards the United States. The second pattern of Soviet influence is reflected in the new thaw in relations between the Soviet Union and Turkey and Iran. Both Turkey and Iran are members of the central Treaty Organization. Both have been strong allies of the United States without relinquishing their association with the United States Turkey and Iran have been able to open better relations with the Soviets.
Russia has not demanded that Iran and Turkey sever their ties with us and we have been willing to tolerate the new arrangement also. But it is noteworthy that the Russian position in the Middle East is ambiguous. The two patterns the aggressive Egyptian Syrian pattern and the accommodative Turkish Iranian pattern are both pursued simultaneously. Well the Russians have not decided to put all their eggs in one basket. It is increasingly clear that the strategic value of the Middle East for the United States has declined. There are many reasons for this decline but I suppose that the most important are due to certain changes in nuclear strategy and expectations about the possible use of nuclear weapons. The technology of nuclear warfare has made fixed land bases less desirable. The noble Marine bases and launching sites. More significantly the development of long range delivery systems has made the need for bases near the Soviet Union less important. We can no longer base a strategy on a delivery system capability
differential. The utility of bases and camps for air and ground troops for maintenance of influence in the Middle East for backing up other areas or for the eventuality of a conventional war has declined. Since the 1954 angry Gyptian agreement for the evacuation of Suez. The vulnerability of these bases to nuclear attack has been recognised as has their vulnerability to harassment by local populations. The same considerations have entered into the British decision to evacuate Aden even though both the British and ourselves remain seriously concerned with keeping the peace in the Middle East. Another important reason for the change strategic emphasis on the Middle East is the declining importance of its petroleum. In the face of a somewhat reduced urgency of strategic concerns about the Middle East we have been willing to listen to an increasing chorus of voices describing a new responsibility and restraint in Soviet foreign policy.
The argument is based on the effects of the new nuclear technology but also on the fact that the Soviet Union is now a have a nation. The loosening of the Communist Bloc and the pressures which China have brought has brought to bear on the Soviet Union or another or other sources of the view that the Russians are becoming easier to deal with. The evident interest of the Russians in arranging agreements to limit the use of space for nuclear warfare and to reduce the possibility of contamination of the atmosphere through testing and above all to limit the spread of nuclear weapons have all enhanced I believe in Soviet moderation. The continuing Vietnam conflict is said to prevent this Soviet tendency from becoming as important as it might. But it is believed that such moderation could manifest itself in other parts of the world such as the Middle East. If given a better response on our part. For the time being it is not certain that Soviet policy in the Middle East will become more moderate and less threatening. The key to the decisive moderation of the
Soviet position in the Middle East would be to shift from the Egyptian Syrian pattern of relations to the Turkish Iranian pattern. So far the Soviets have hedged their bets. Although in the long run good relations with the northern tier countries will probably require a modification of Soviet support for Egyptian policy. We would certainly benefit from the cessation of Soviet support for certain Egyptian policies but we would have to pay the price of much less influence over the countries of the northern tier. Well we watch developments in this in the region and even try to encourage the Soviets toward a moderate policy. It is well to remember our own limitations. The improved Soviet Turkish and Soviet Iranian relations are based on the reduced credibility of substantial American intervention in the Middle East. The Turks and the Iranians see it. I imagine that the Russians see it. We ought to see it as well. We did intervene to good
advantage in Lebanon in 1058. But I don't at those circumstances could be easily repeated. We are less interested now in our political goals would have to be very clear we would not wish even a small copy of the Vietnam involvement to follow any Middle Eastern intervention. Above all given the greater Soviet concern with the region it is likely that the Russians will tend to respond much more vigorously to our intervention there would be consistent with the idea of limited commitment. More than ever are we aware of the difficulty of coping with domestic political movements of radical reform. But we are also aware that most of these movements in the Middle East are in no danger of being communist control. For these reasons it is uncertain that intervention in Saudi Arabia against an Egyptian attack or in Aden or even Tunisia would be effective. If there would be intervention in the case of renewed fighting between the Arabs and Israelis. It will probably be without landing troops. So its effectiveness might be in question.
We are in fact faced with a dilemma which has all the frustrations of Southeast Asia built into it. As in Vietnam it would be difficult to sustain the argument that our very security is endangered by the threat to the American position in the region. On the other hand there are vital interests important interests and just plain interests. The real parallel with Southeast Asia is however that the consequences of surrendering certain limited interests are unclear. In Southeast Asia a region which is scarcely defined as a region in any meaningful sense by the scholars there has been talk of dominoes and of salami slicing. In the Middle East which clearly is a self contained regional political system. It is virtually certain that acts in any part of the region will affect the rest of the region. Israel is probably the most strategic country in the area from that point of view. So when we contemplate action or inaction we must
consider whether the dominoes are lying flat. Lying on their sides or standing on end. How are the dominoes stacked. Is Jordan next to Lebanon. Is Yemen next to Saudi Arabia. Are there any implications of the entry of Iraqi troops into Jordan. What might be the consequences of all this for Turkey and for Iran. In the meantime. We must accept the logic of the existing situation while working to create a better one. I'm sorry that I do not have a more optimistic conclusion. But I'm not so pessimistic either. The denouement in human affairs despite Auschwitz is not of the perfected tragic sort found in drama. Problems are not solved they merely persist until they change and we have a new set of problems. Our part of the game is to continue the moral quest for the just solution to demand in advance as a condition of our effort. That
feat caused those efforts to succeed is to take the teenybopper view of world affairs. Was. Our next speaker is Mr. Tolle seen Bashir he is attache for Arab affairs for the United Arab Republic delegation to the United Nations. He also is a senior staff member of the of the Arab States delegation office which represents the League of Arab states at the U.N. he will comment on UAE our foreign policy in the present crisis. And Egyptian aspirations in general to him one of the occupational hazards of sitting for long hours. Listening to many people in the United Nations particularly in the last few days in the Security Council. As one would learn patience to listen to a lot of conflicting
statements and to look to the world through different mice because scopes. Somehow the Middle East and the Arabs seem to lend themselves particularly in many Western NRI. To a clay disc OPIC nature of things. Many people said that kaleidoscope. On one item and stopped looking and all they see is differences and heroes in Egypt playing roles and the different Arab states. The acting and acting on them. One wonders. After healing too. Professor binder for so long. If what he said was true this existing problem would not have attained. I think we have to start from simple facts facts that are not our nature in great designs of theorization. The fact is. The Arabs those who come in the 20 century to call themselves Arabs with reason and you'd
know billions Moroccans Egyptians Arab Muslims are Christians Arab Jews the whole outcome. Of the development of history in an area that had its stage of history and interrupted. I. Have inherited a society that acquired and needs both vertical and horizontal change. That the kaleidoscopic of musics of states plundered and cut into small pieces. That pattern of colonial interference and inheritance of Ottoman Turkey does not represent the. Wish of the growing educated masses of this area. Nor does does it solve its particular problems that Arabs have to undergo. Like many other people in the world have to undergo the different changes and revolutions to make use of that area for the benefit of man. The Arabs despite
the poverty of the area have enough resources if you to squander it. On the indulgences of the few. Or if it is not twisted. Due to the interference of big powers that have played the Guardians and the chaperone of the area. But the case is under under our study today is a different crisis a crisis between two people. The Arabs was whatever their background is particularly the Palestinian Arabs and the Jewish people in Europe those persecuted in many lands. Particularly in Western Europe. Where some of them in the latter part of the nineteenth century thought that the Gentile cannot live with a doer a Jew with a gentile. The only solution for the persecution of the Jews and antisemitism are for the people with no land to seek a land with no people. The tragedy started. Not in the traditional friendship that existed all over history with the ups and downs of
friction that does exist. It started in Basil the first scientists conference when the Zionists decided in Palestine. There Palestine was not a land without the people. The first tragedy was how to get into Palestine. And get there and be accepted by people called Palestinian Arabs that have lived uninterrupted Lee in that particular land for more than a thousand years and they in themselves are the descendants of many people that came into Palestine but identified themselves in the modern time as Palestinian Arabs. Now there was no possibility. For this reconciliation by peace at least not within the political ideology of political Zionism even early Zionist that came into Palestine that were more spiritual like I had objected to the fact that the Zionist had no other policy. They needed none. To
them that was nonexistent. It was a dealing between big powers that decide that history and the distillery of the area the Sultan of Turkey could not sell them Palestine. They can go back to Great Britain and wise man can use his good offices with the British to get into Palestine. But this is a long story the end result of it was that a people without a land particularly those who were persecuted by Hitler for between 1917 and 1946. Very few Jews of the world migrated voluntarily to Palestine. Only a small minority. It was the tragedy of the atrocities of Nazism that left more than a million Jews with no home in Europe the big past the past with the area to accommodate the characters in the Americas and their strangers did not seem to be so keen on giving them a place. Now coming into Palestine after that particularly the American
official policy supporting instead of self-determination for the Palestinian people like the self-determination of the Syrians their rockets and the Lebanese and like every other country since it was a policy of part to partition a country against the will of its people. And this happened in Palestine and still is the case now coming into Palestine since 1948 and the hostilities that ensued by the Arab Palestinian. Logical he refusing to partition his country. No one expected him to do otherwise. Even the Golan said History carries a map in its hand and in this case the Jews its traditional victim whether with no effort of humanity and understanding on their part could have possibly hidden the fact from the native apps that arms did not want to become natives in their own country and they did not want to be what. And this is the essence of the tragedy in Palestine between two people struggling to find a place.
The Palestinian Arabs want their country and the incoming Zionist do not want to give them their country. One would say that trial like my friend out of San Fran at Harvard who believes that fundamentally both the Arabs and the Jews have a saleable moral argument. One would say that by virtue of the way. Zionist political definition and Palestinian insistence on having self-determination in this country. The problem is irreconcilable and one within the. Fine delineation of terrorists might find it irreconcilable. However I am being more of a practitioner. And have studied in the United Nations more problems that have achieved the Crees of settlement and resolution. Find the stalemate in the Arab Israeli conflict in the Palestine question. Since 1948 is a tragedy it is a tragedy because despite the partition. And despite the Palestinian refugees
there were possibilities between 1948 and today to find gradual reach Aleutians that might not settle the problem but might gradually have presented us with the situation much more favorable much more conducive to communication between these two people. Not only to see what could have happened between Nineteen forty eight and now. After the fighting in 1948 the United Nation asserted certain resolutions. One of them was the individual right of the Palestinian Arab to choose freely between repatriation and his going back to the area in control of Israel or compensation as he chooses. To do is that the armistice does not change the political arguments of each side. Three is that it was left with the territory in its control above the area allotted in the Partition Plan. This area is around 28 percent and that is why is there if today is left with no frontiers no internationally agreed borders
but an ominous demarcation line. Even the United Nations and the United States could not transform the armistice lines into Borders because this would be the implication of the right of conquest over the 28 percent that Israel holds over the partition plan. In the area in that era between 1948 and today is the real code. Particularly in 1949. What 50 50. When the Arab countries were in a state of shock. Searching for the soldiers finding Well they were defeated. I could have started as it indicated at one time or another by accepting hundred thousand forty thousand. Try to create and this is a link with other people that those of the Jews that want to live in is there any are the victims of many prosecutions. They want to live with Arabs as part of the Arab world but not in an era when the Arab world is eliminating
colonialism trying to establish an arrogant policy that supports that is supported by exclude on your part. But between 1948 when the Arab world was in disarray and today the state of Israel refused to admit any Arab. To come to his country according to Resolution 1 line 4. Instead first advocating a small number to return a little compensation to be paid but continue to refuse any measure secular fire is needed to accept the Arabs and to deal with them instead. Encouraged by American support the state of Israel continued to refuse to do so. The end result today was that the Arabs became deeply convinced that the Zionist policy in Israel is a colonial policy. That they came from the sea took the land get them to the sea. And in 1957 when in 1956 when Israel
attacked Sinai. And operated in the famous collusion with France and England the Arab doubts fears that existed before then became true here for the first time after Sinai on a good part of Sinai was taken to go to and goes to the Knesset to say Sinai is not part of Egypt proper. It's part of our traditional homeland. And he claims sovereignty over Sinai. After one week before he decided that Israel does not cherish and an accession of 1 inch of authority.
Middle East crisis
Panel discussion, part one
Producing Organization
University of Chicago
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program presents the first part of a panel discussion on unrest in the Middle East.
Series Description
A panel discussion sponsored June 1, 1967, by University of Chicago Center for Policy Study. Participants: Leonard Binder and William R. Polk of University of Chicago, Tahseen Bashir of Arab States Delegation, Benjamin Halpern of Brandeis University.
Global Affairs
Public Affairs
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Panelist: Binder, Leonard
Panelist: Polk, William R. (William Roe), 1929-
Panelist: Basheer, Tahseen
Panelist: Halpern, Ben
Producing Organization: University of Chicago
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 67-Sp.8 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:05
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Chicago: “Middle East crisis; Panel discussion, part one,” 1967-06-06, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 23, 2024,
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APA: Middle East crisis; Panel discussion, part one. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from