Letter to the Thistle Even More Evan

To the Editor:
	I give Mr. Fowler credit for being an idealist, but
unfortunately we don't live in an ideal world. In the real world,
individuals as well as countries must choose from the opportunities
open to them. Usually this recognition comes with age, but sometimes
it can come through serious reflection on history and trying to
identify viable alternatives.
	It was from this perspective that I pointed out in my first
letter that Israel focused its attentions on Latin America, rather
than on its neighbors, because the Arab states and the Soviet bloc had
worked to close Israel out from its natural partners in Asia and
Africa. If one excludes these two areas, that leaves Latin America and
Europe, but the scale of the European economy is such that anything
Israel might do there would be quite marginal. Thus we hear about
Israel's role in Latin America.
	While introducing the role of the United States in Latin
America is somewhat off-subject (although probably of greater interest
to Mr. Fowler), he is correct that Israel has become a client of the
United States. What he may not realize is that that relationship
developed after the 1967 war, when the Arabs sought to destroy the
country. Israel's relations with Latin America go back to its founding
in 1948. Prior to 1967, Israel's closest ally and source of weaponry
was France, which explains a little about the nature of the Suez
Crisis in 1956. It would be good if it weren't necessary for Israel to
be anyone's client, but as long as the Arabs dream of ridding the
Middle East of Israel, a major power patron will be necessary. That's
the reality.
	Mr. Fowler asserts that Israel is widely disliked by the
people of Latin America, but I must ask him how he knows this: If
these countries are as totalitarian as he claims, certainly there has
never been an opinion poll with this result. Since his claim in his
first letter about Israel arming the Costa Rican army so it could
terrorize the country proved to be completely wrong (Costa Rica hasn't
had an army since just after Israel was established), he really has
the burden of proof on this one.
	Likewise, his implication that governments in Latin America
are criminal, at least those aligned with the United States, is simply
his claim. I think he needs to prove this by first establishing an
objective standard of what makes a government criminal, and then
demonstrating that the governments of Latin America meet this
standard. It will be interesting to see how governments of which Mr.
Fowler does approve stack up against his own standards. Presumably he
will address this problem in his next letter.
	Mr. Fowler acknowledges that he has no proof that Israel knew
the purpose of the weapons he claims it secretly sold to Haiti's
elite. He is asking us to take his word for it based on "Israel's
record of supplying weapons to Latin American State terrorists.'' But
if he goes back to his first letter, he will discover that he
introduced Haiti (like Costa Rica) as evidence for this assertion! The
argument has become completely circular.
	It may be appropriate to evaluate the few facts Mr. Fowler did
introduce to see what they yield. First, 2000 Uzis and Galils would
give the Haitian military about the same fire-power as a typical youth
gang in a major American city-it isn't much. They would cost around a
million dollars, rather small for an arms deal these days. It is
peanuts compared to a typical defense budget, even for a country like
Haiti. Thus, it is unlikely that any senior people in the Israeli
government knew about this deal, even assuming the weapons were
procured from the military and not from the international arms market,
where these items are readily available. Before his argument can be
taken seriously, or merits a further reply, Mr. Fowler will have to
demonstrate that the weapons were purchased from the Israeli
government and that it was secret (if it wasn't secret, we must assume
the Israeli government believed that Aristide knew about the purchase
and approved it).
	Moving now to Cuba: Mr. Fowler's second letter claims that
"Israel voted at the United Nations to strengthen (the embargo against
Cuba) by including food and medicines. This is a crime against
humanity.'' No, it is a fiction, because there is no UN embargo of
Cuba. What's more, if he will take the time to think about it, he will
realize that there cannot be one. The only body in the UN system that
has the authority to impose an embargo is the Security Council, where
the Soviet veto prevented any action against Cuba, regardless of what
Castro was doing. Furthermore, since Israel has never been a member of
the Security Council, it could not have voted there in favor of an
embargo, regardless of the outcome. I think Mr. Fowler owes us an
explanation on this one.
	The only embargo of Cuba is one imposed unilaterally by the
United States, and generally ignored even by our NATO allies. There
has been no secondary or tertiary boycott of Cuba, like the Arab
States have enforced against Israel. Until it collapsed three years
ago, the Soviet Union heavily subsidized the Cuban economy by selling
it oil below world prices, and buying Cuban sugar well above the world
price, all to protect that small outpost of Communism in the New
World. (Wouldn't it be ironic if the cost of these subsidies caused
the collapse of Communism in the Soviet Union!) The Soviets pumped
more into Cuba than the United States has sent to Israel, the embargo
against Israel was more stringent than the United States was able to
achieve against Cuba, and yet Cuba is an economic mess while Israel is
not. How can Mr. Fowler attribute this result to anything but economic
mismanagement in Cuba?
	Addressing now the human rights situation there: Mr. Fowler
claims that "Cuba doesn't use murder as a way of controlling its own
population.'' Possibly not any more, but in the early days of the
Castro regime people were taken away and shot for opposing "the
Revolution.'' We saw the same thing in Nicaragua under the
Sandinistas. It is also the case that people who have lost all hope
are less likely to take up arms against their government than are
those who believe they can change the system. Castro has been in power
a third of a century, and has long since snuffed out any real
opposition. None of the Latin American governments Mr. Fowler
denounces has been in power anywhere near that long, so the
appropriate comparison for what is going on in those countries is to
what Castro did in the early years of his regime, when the firing
squads were kept busy. Firing squads leave people just as dead as
death squads.
	Mr. Fowler's discussion of the International Court of Justice
(ICJ, what he calls the Hague International Tribunal) reveals a basic
lack of understanding of how that body functions. The key detail is
that the ICJ has jurisdiction only if both parties agree to it. The
United States has usually, though not always, been willing to
recognize the judgments of that body, while the terrorist states
rarely agree to have their activities raised in it. They thus avoid
the condemnation they so richly deserve.
	Like Mr. Fowler, Human Rights Watch (which has a record of
bias against Israel) routinely fails to address the implications of
having limited choices. The question both of them fail to consider is
whether it is really better to allow terrorists to kill civilians
indiscriminately, while respecting the rights of captured terrorist
suspects, or whether it is better to use aggressive means to obtain
information that might help prevent impending attacks. Before replying
Mr. Fowler, I suggest you consider whether your answer would be
changed if it were your mother/best friend/child whose life would be
spared by obtaining this information. One must also remember that
Israelis know there are forces in the world who wish to exterminate
	I believe "there is no question" that Israel developed its
nuclear ability in secret, but if you think about it, that goes for
every nuclear program, including the Manhattan Project. If by
"secret'' Mr. Fowler means that we didn't know about the effort until
a test was conducted, he will find himself in a terminological morass
because American intelligence usually does know before the first test.
We knew about the Soviet (not Russian) effort, and we actually aided
the British effort, both before either country tested. And then there
is China; was its program "secret?" If so, does the law apply to
	Israel hasn't conducted a nuclear test; the informed public
knows that Israel has them largely because of events during the 1973
war. How does that fit into his definition? Would Mr. Fowler claim
that the law would not apply if Israel had conducted a test before
1977? Would the law apply if American intelligence knew about the
Israeli effort before 1977? What if Israel told us (the government,
not the American public), since then the effort could not be deemed
secret? All of these details affect his argument, but he gives us no
data on them. Instead he asks us to take his word for it (the
reference to Prof. Deutch has too many potential antecedents to be
evaluated properly).
	I think it is admirable to support "people struggling to
liberate themselves from a totalitarian and criminal government," but
unfortunately there are no such struggles going on in any totalitarian
or criminal country. It is just too dangerous to conduct such a
struggle in any of them. The list of these is now rather short,
including the likes of North Korea, Myanmar (Burma), Cuba, Iraq, Iran,
Syria, Sudan, and perhaps a few others.
	The two that Mr. Fowler cites, Mexico and Guatemala, don't
fall into that category. Mexico is basically a corrupt, and not always
well-run country struggling to make its way into the world's middle
class by adopting economic practices more similar to those of the
United States. It is in no sense totalitarian or criminal. Guatemala
is a pathetic and miserable place with an incompetent government that
should be replaced, although not by the people Mr. Fowler supports,
since they would turn it into a totalitarian state following the
Sandinista model. Use of the term "criminal" accords the Guatemalan
government a coherence I doubt it deserves. If by some miracle the
current intervention in Haiti succeeds in establishing peace and
prosperity there, perhaps the same treatment could be considered for
Guatemala, although I know Mr. Fowler would not approve.
	Yes, the United States does support Mexico; the NAFTA treaty
proves that. It doesn't mean, however, that we applaud everything that
goes on there, just that we find the Mexican government above
(actually considerably above) our minimal standards. My sense of
American policy on Guatemala is that the government there is the best
available given the options. That's a long way from the ringing
endorsement Mr. Fowler believes we have bestowed, but it shows that
our policy there is based on a realistic assessment of the serious
choices. In the real world, that is usually the best anyone can ask

Edward Morris

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