Former presidential candidate and congressman John B. Anderson says the Persian Gulf war and the Arab-Israeli conflict are "inexorably linked," despite allied leaders' refusal to make the connection.
"We shouldn't be surprised by the cheering" of Palestinians when Iraqi Scud missiles hit Tel Aviv," Anderson said Thursday at the University of Utah's Hinckley Institute of Politics.The joy is the pent up frustration of a people living in occupation for 23 years, he said, adding that peace can't be achieved in the region until the Arab-Israeli conflict is addressed.
Anderson, a director of the Council for the National Interest, an organization advocating Middle East policy in America's interest, was in Utah to honor former congressman Howard Nielson for his efforts to provide educational opportunities for Palestinian refugees.
An Independent presidential candidate in 1980 and Illinois congressman for 20 years, Anderson now teaches law at Nova University in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
He also recently visited Palestinian refugee camps in the Gaza Strip and was appalled by the living conditions. "The conditions were unbelievable because the government of Israel won't spend a nickle" to improve the situation, he said.
But when questioned about the legitimacy of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's position to negotiate if the plight of the Palestinians were part of the talks, Anderson said he would reject it.
He agreed with one comment from the audience that the Palestinian Liberation Organization has hurt its cause by supporting Iraq because Saddam has violated PLO principles of self-determination by invading Kuwait.
He explained that the link between the two issues is that problems caused by the occupation of Kuwait are the same as those brought on by Israel's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Referring to America's role in the Middle East, Anderson said he hopes the Persian Gulf war helps the United States define its role in President Bush's proclaimed "new world order."
"I hope we don't get caught up in the technology of war to where that (military superiority) becomes a way of exerting American influence," he said. "I hope the policy planners of `foggy bottom' (the State Department) come up with some ideas on the role America can play."
Anderson warned against industrialized nations pouring arms into Middle East allies again under the "vain and foolish hope" of stabilizing the region. He said that policy is what gave Iraq the ability to invade Kuwait.
"This was a war waiting to happen," Anderson said.
To prevent future conflict in the region, Anderson suggests an international conference be convened to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict and curb the proliferation of arms in Middle East countries.
He applauded the Bush administration for working with the United Nations to gain support for waging war against Iraq, and he said the U.N. should be used to maintain peace in the area.
Anderson also advocated an international court to prosecute violators of international law. "That's the kind of new world order I would like to see, not the United States enforcing a new pax Americana."