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Agree with Dr. Pipes

Reader comment on item: CAIR and the Council on Foreign Relations Endorse Mearsheimer/Walt

Submitted by David Sternlight (United States), Aug 31, 2006 at 23:03

As a former member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and the first Chief Economist of ARCO, I must regrettably echo Daniel Pipes' comments on the bias, incompetence, and avoidance of reality of the Council's Middle East Program.

I attribute almost all of this to Henry Siegman, whom I had the pleasure of confronting at a Los Angeles COFR lecture some years ago. Siegman's anti-Israeli bias at the time was transparent, and was shared by other members of his panel, including a prominent local left-wing reform Rabbi. The panel was entirely unbalanced and only critical questioning from some members of the audience served to return their fantasaical views to reality. Yet the unreality and even bias persisted in the written reports of the Council's Middle East program.

Contrast this with the moral courage of the Aspen Institute (also funded by ARCO) which, when offered a large sum of money from the Fluor Corporation (which did considerable business in the Arab world) for a Middle East Studies program on condition that no Israeli scholars participate, refused the money in such a definitive way that it made the New York Times the next day. Instrumental in persuading the Aspen Board to reject the Fluor attempt was ARCO's then President, the late Thornton Bradshaw, a moral oil industry leader who later became head of RCA. Even with the best of intentions, a poor insight into the terrorist mentality can lead to disaster.

The Middle East peace process was invented at Aspen by a working group which included several Heads of State and Foreign Ministers. Their core idea was to deal with the easy stuff first, and leave the hard stuff (Jerusalem) for last. Although this strategy did work for a time with rational Middle East leaders in Egypt and Jordan, it proved a total failure with those with other agendas than the welfare of their own people, including most notably the Palestinians. With such people, history has shown that the only strategy that speaks to their mentality (not only when used by Israel but also when used by Lebanon, Kuwait, and Jordan) is the somewhat reviled approach, 'Step on my toes and I'll drop a house on you.'.

David Sternlight, Ph.D.
Los Angeles

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

Daniel Pipes replies:

I agree that Henry Siegman sabotaged what had been an acceptable program at the CFR.

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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