Israel’s Role in Containing “Irresponsible and Radical Elements in Certain Arab States”

Some important notes regarding the recent UN Security Council resolution regarding Israeli settlements.

In May 1973, before the oil crisis erupted, the Senate’s ranking oil expert, Senator Henry Jackson, emphasized “the strength and Western orientation of Israel on the Mediterranean and Iran [under the Shah] on the Persian Gulf,” two “reliable friends of the United States,” who, along with Saudi Arabia, “have served to inhibit and contain those irresponsible and radical elements in certain Arab States…who, were they free to do so, would pose a grave threat indeed to our principal sources of petroleum in the Persian Gulf” — sources that the U.S. scarcely used at the time, but that were needed as a reserve and as a lever for world domination.

The Nixon doctrine had established Iran under the Shah and Israel as the “cops on the beat” in the region, in the words of Defense Secretary Melvin Laird, ensuring that no “radical nationalists” would pose a danger to order.

Reviewing this system in 1974, Robert Reppa, a former Middle East analyst for the Defense Intelligence Agency, wrote that Israeli power protected the regimes of Jordan and Saudi Arabia from “a militarily strong Egypt” in the 1960s and that “the Israeli-Iranian interrelationship” continued to contribute to the stability of the region, securing U.S. interests.

As early as January 1958, the National Security Council concluded that a “logical corollary” of opposition to radical Arab nationalism “would be to support Israel as the only strong pro-Western power left in the Middle East.”

Ten years earlier [1948], Israel’s military successes had led the Joint Chiefs of Staff to describe Israel as the major regional military power after Turkey, offering the U.S. means to “gain strategic advantage in the Middle East that would offset the effects of the decline of British power in that area.” As for the Palestinians, U.S. planners had no reason to doubt the assessment of Israeli government specialists in 1948 that the Palestinian refugees would either assimilate elsewhere or “would be crushed”: “some of them would die and most of them would turn into human dust and the waste of society, and join the most impoverished classes in the Arab countries.” Accordingly, there was no need to trouble oneself about them.


Deterring Democracy Copyright © 1991, 1992 by Noam Chomsky. Published by South End Press. Chapter 1: Cold War: Fact and Fancy Segment 18/20

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