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Cause of Our Mideast Troubles

July 21, 1985

Julius Moster's suggestion (Letters, July 11) to deal with Arab terrorists through retaliatory aid to Israel is the cause of our troubles in the Middle East, not the solution. It is through such aid that the United States has become the target of terrorists' attention by aligning itself with the Arabs' avowed enemy.

As it has in the past, our Congress has voted foreign aid (now at $25.2 billion) partly to those countries whose relations with their neighbors are patently inimical to our citizens' safety. By providing Israel and El Salvador (to name but two) with military aid, we provoked the local opposition to retaliate against such U.S. interference.

Are we so proud that we can't walk away from a fight, particularly one not of our doing? It takes a strong person to do that.

As a test of this premise, perhaps we should close our embassies and withdraw or withhold our support of those countries whose law and order are distributed from the barrels of guns, not by the niceties of parliamentary debate. If the Middle East settled down after we ended our unquestioned support of Israel, we might conclude that our presence there had been the catalyst of unrest, not the bulwark of democracy we continually espouse.

If some would call us cowards and say we have lost face by turning away, isn't it better to lose a little face than a lot of lives? And even if they said that, where were they during the latest crisis? The United Nations was mute on the hijacking and its perpetrators. It was helpless in settling the dispute.

Perhaps the hijacked victims were "innocent" bystanders to an international dispute. But can any of us truly be innocent when we condone our government's action to foment unrest wherever we go? Did our presense and sacrifice in Vietnam bring peace to that country, as surely as it brought more than 50,000 dead Americans home? From my exalted armchair, it seems that Southeast Asia is just about the same as it was in 1960, before the first American died. That war, like the one in Central America now warming up, began with our sending in a few "advisers," followed by a few "observers," followed by a few "assistants" to help out the local brigades, etc., etc.

We still have seven hostages somewhere in Lebanon/Iran/Iraq. They'll never come home if Moster has his way. A well armed Israel is all the justification its neighbors need to continue their present policy against the United States.

ALFRED C. STROHLEIN

San Diego

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