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Senate Foreign Relations Committee Sessions: Briefing on the Middle East

(January 11, 1967)

The Amount Of Work

First I agree without any reservation of any kind with the position taken by the Senator from Oregon. In fact, the Chair will remember I presented this to him sometime back.

The Chairman. Yes.

Senator Symington. Because in my opinion this is the most important committee, so long as it does not get subordinated to the executive branch, in the Congress of the United States.

Now knowing Senator Gore, I think it would be a wonderful thing if he could really get his teeth into this disarmament thing.

You can do it as well as anybody around, but you have so doggone much else to do.

The Armed Services Committee is a very important committee, especially because it authorizes well over 60 percent, I think, now of the budget, the United States budget. We could not do anything that really meant anything if we did not have some major subcommittee like Stennis's Military Preparedness Subcommittee and Jackson's Military Construction Committee. The Military Preparedness Subcommittee has a complete staff, with a great many members, and they are all excellent people.

Now, everything is done just like when we testified. I used to testify from the executive branch to committees. The chairman of the committee is always the chairman of any subcommittee, if he wants to be there. At times the chairman would come in. If Mahon has a meeting and Cannon would come in, he immediately would chair the meeting.

But from your standpoint, your health, the amount of work, the way the world is today, I just do not think you can take it and at the same time do a good job without impairment to your health. I just could not be more serious about this.

One other point; just before I left, Doug MacArthur came down to see me, and he was very upset about the Middle East. That is the little subcommittee I happen to be the chairman of, and he told me all about it and he said he felt that the Israelis made a very serious mistake.

Visit To The Middle East

Well, I came back from the Far East last week through the Middle East, and putting it mildly, in my opinion, they sure did make a serious mistake. I spent a couple of days with Luke Battle in Cairo, who is a very bright fellow and seemed to be fully up on it, and has an excellent staff and then I went up and had a long talk with Hussein in Jordan, who in my opinion fully expects to be assassinated. He is our one great friend we have out there.

I talked to Levi Eshkol and I did not pull any punches, and I said, ``This is going to hurt you a lot more than anything you have done since the state was formed in 1948.''

I talked to Abba Eban, I talked to General Moshe Dayan who is out, the military hero.

I then stopped to talk in Athens--I spent a good many hours with Walworth Barbour, the ambassador to Israel.

I went to Athens, and I had another break. In Athens is an ambassador, a seasoned fellow who was formerly an assistant secretary of state. Phil Talbot, our ambassador, and I spent a good many hours with him, and he said, ``You see, the story going around the Middle East and based on my experience is just plain murder,'' he said. ``The Israelis attacked Jordan because they knew Jordan was a friend of the U.S., but they did not attack Syria or UAR, especially Syria, because they felt they were friends of the Soviets,'' and also my impression was very definitely that the UAR is moving quietly but definitely into, further into, the Soviet bloc.

Well, these things are the kind of things, just thinking out loud, if you could have some hearings on and just to get information, because I noticed since I have got back that everything that I did in Israel was very well covered by the press, pictures in my own home town paper and that kind of stuff, whereas there was none of it, you might say, on the Arab side.

I am not choosing up sides. I do think they made a bad mistake on this and their arguments are very specious as to why they did it. I do think if we have any friend in the Arab world, it is Hussein, and I do think he is in very serious trouble.

So these are the kinds of things that if you held some hearings, I think you could bring out and get a better grasp of.

Just like I would sure like to see Albert get into this disarmament thing and have some hearings about this situation, because actually, without violating any security or anything, the hearing that you, Bourke, and I went to the other day, I was impressed with the fact that the information we got was not coordinated or was not the same as the information released recently by the Secretary of Defense to the American people on that particular subject.

So you just have a lot of information floating around, and if you do not fragment this committee into subcommittees with some authority and some staff, always subject to the approval of you and the full committee, I just do not think you can do the job the way the world is today. End of statement.

Sources: Federation of American Scientists