By: The Commentator Editorial Board  | 

A Significant Step (Vol. 49, Issue 3)

Unfortunately, some lessons cannot be taught easily or without pain and anguish. It has taken the lives of two hundred and seventy marines for the U.S. administration to finally realize that its mideast policy is an indecisive means for promoting the U.S. sphere of influence in the Mideast/Persian Gulf area. 

To further complicate the U.S. Mideast position, Saudi Arabia, the country that the  administration saw as a leader in the desire for stability and peace, has proven to be nothing of the kind. Saudi Arabia has continually supported both the Syrian Government and the PLO by financing their respective military budgets. Yet, since 1981, when the administration sold the AWACS planes to Saudi Arabia, the President has viewed Saudi Arabia as a dependable ally whose interests are parallel to those of the U.S.

Through Saudi Arabian support of Syria, the Soviet Union has been afforded the opportunity to reestablish itself in the Mideast, obviously contrary to U.S. anticipations. It has taken far too long for the Administration to realize that the Middle East’s only center of democracy and stability has been, and continues to be, Israel. The U.S. administration cannot possibly hope to maintain its sphere of influence in the Mideast region if it continues to rely on Arab countries that cannot be trusted as “dependable allies” and true seekers of democracy. 

While obviously long overdue in its recognition of Israel's importance, the Reagan Administration should nevertheless be commended for finally recognizing Israel’s vital role in US foreign policy. The Government has finally recognized that its relationship with Israel is definitely reciprocal in nature. Thus, while the cooperation agreement signed with Israel last week was late in coming, it was a significant step in the right direction. 

The U.S. must now reorient its Mideast policy. Using the new agreement with Israel as a foundation, the U.S. can take a more assertive role in Mideast affairs. And now that oil is not  the weapon it once was, the White House need not bow down to the Saudis as it has done since 1974. In fact, the U.S. might do well by convincing the Saudis that while Israel's existence is a reality, Saudi monarchy may be vulnerable to internal strike caused by the same radical Shiite Muslims responsible for the deaths of two hundred and seventy marines.

Over the last 10 years, the White House has made major errors in defining exactly how it could maintain its sphere of influence in the Middle East. The Reagan Administration, having acknowledged its mistakes, is presently trying to correct them. We believe the administration is taking a significant step in the right direction that will not only benefit Israel and the United States, but in the long run, the entire Middle East, as well.