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US: Middle East policy

Tim Brown says; "A little balance may be in order if this debate continues, as it probably will. As part of US Middle East policy, Muslim Egypt receive essentially the same levels of US aid as does Israel. This is before adding in any of the other wholly or partly Muslim Middle East-South Asia countries that also host USAID missions and received US foreign assistance: Pakistan, Sudan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, West Bank/Gaza, Lebanon, Morocco and Jordan (where a USAID officer was murdered last week). To this list one can add other countries outside that region with important Muslim populations that also receive US aid sufficient to warrant having resident USAID Missions: Turkey, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Albania, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgystan. Thus claims that the US aids only Israel but not Muslim countries are factually false and, to a great extent appear to be simply propaganda put out by anti-Israelis who are either ignorant of the facts or chose to ignore them for whatever reason. Those who wish to explore the US AID presence in these countries are invited to visit the Agency of International Development web site.

As to nuclear weapons, Israel's program is much larger and far more advanced than that of Muslim Pakistan, true. But Muslim Pakistan does have them, Iran and Iraq are actively trying to get them, and Algeria and Libya have taken steps that suggest they are keeping the nuclear option open. This is not to say our policy is well balanced. It does tip heavily towards Israel. But to say that it is purely pro-Israel and entirely anti-Muslim is to ignore the facts.

As to public information efforts to educate the US and the West about Islam, they are a very good idea and certainly could make a valuable contribution to the debate. But I would hasten to suggest that to succeed a campaign of this sort should be objective and factual. As the BBC and similar programs have amply demonstrated, credibility is hard to earn but easy to lose. The first hint of such absurd claims as "9/11 was a Jewish plot" will destroy its credibility except among those who have already decided to believe such myths. And spending a billion dollars or so just to preach to the choir might make a donor feel good. But in terms of sensitizing Americans to legitimate Muslim concerns, a poorly conceived campaign would probably backfire and make things worse not better".

RH: While much of what Tim says is true, the fact remains that, while the US proposes to attack Iraq because it violates UN resolutions, it is silently loud in ignoring Israel's violations. Aid to Egypt is viewed as a bribe to get it to promote peace with Israel.

Ronald Hilton - 11/12/02