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Sunday, January 23, 2022


Mid-East mess-ups


The US often falsely blamed Russia to hide its own Middle-East goof ups
SAURABH KUMAR SHAHI | Issue Dated: March 1, 2009
Tags : American | Presidents | precursors | abrupt | Middle-East | guidelines | dubious | tactics | US | conflict | resolution | judgements | White House | advisers | policy | National Security Archive | Washington | Soviet | leader | Leonid Brezhnev | Nixon | region | ambassadorial | involvement | superpowers | document | Israeli | Watergate Scandal | diplomacy | USSR | James Schlesinger | William Colby | Russian | treachery | Kissinger | negotiations | non-committal | Shah | Iran | synchronise | Saudi Arabia | colossal | oil | House of Saud | Afghanistan | Sandinista | regime | Nicaragua |
Mid-East mess-ups American Presidents have wanted to differentiate themselves from their precursors with abrupt alterations in Middle-East guidelines and dubious tactics that have only damaged US standing in the area. And so far as conflict resolution goes, several times presidential judgements and the outsized sway of White House advisers have defined that policy. Recently, declassified documents released by the National Security Archive at Washington reveal how knee-jerk actions (and inactions) by several US presidents shaped the future of Middle-East.

For example, the personal pleadings of Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, who in June 1973 wanted President Nixon to believe that conflict was imminent in the region, and that the lone approach to avert it was by a vigorous ambassadorial involvement between the superpowers, went unheeded. The document reveals Brezhnev nearly beseeching Nixon to arrive at a concord – not on Arab conditions but on Israeli terms. Brezhnev's endeavour possibly may have been a genuine one. But in the summer of 1973, White House appears to have felt that given the Watergate Scandal on the domestic front, it was politically too hazardous to move into the minefield of Middle-East diplomacy. And war followed, as Brezhnev had said.

However, when it did, Nixon’s resolve of non-intervention melted and the US started arming Israel. The documents released show how, in a propaganda move, the US accused the erstwhile USSR of intervention, to justify its move. Nixon's crown national security aides, James Schlesinger and William Colby, chuckled that they could clarify their abrupt decision by blaming "Russian treachery".

Kissinger rough-drafted what the government would say to the world: "We can now say there was Russian treachery on the negotiations. They have made an abortion of our peace move." "We can run the Russians into the ground and we can call it an act of Russian treachery,” Schlesinger added. There was laughter in the room when Schlesinger added, "We had anticipated that!" Also, while the US was non-committal over peace initiative, it swiftly secured its oil interests.

In July 1973, Kissinger opened a clandestine channel to the Shah of Iran to synchronise developing contingency tactics to snatch control of Saudi Arabia's colossal oil riches in the occurrence of instability in the House of Saud. "Any contingency planning on Saudi Arabia must be most hush-hush," the Shah told Kissinger. In later years, Arabia's King Fahd made an official visit to the White House when it was aggressively cooperating with the US operation to drive out the Soviet force from Afghanistan. Documents reveal that the Saudis also were clandestinely sponsoring the US-backed Contra insurgents fighting the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua.
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017