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tv   President Johnson and the 1967 Six- Day War  CSPAN  June 25, 2017 1:00pm-2:36pm EDT

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this year marks the 50th anniversary of the june 1967 six day war between israel, egypt, jordan, and syria. next on american history tv, a panel of four and policy scholars response to johnson's response to the war, and how the conflict has had a continuing effect on the middle east. :lb andminute event titled is hosted by the washington institute or near east policy. >> good afternoon. i'm delighted to welcome you to this event. 2017 is a year of anniversary. today we are discussing one 50th of the the six-day war. importantny other
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middle east anniversaries, some less known, some better known. martin kramer has an article out this week on the 100th anniversary of this declaration, which is being marked in the beginning of november. does anybody know what the begin of her story -- the big anniversary is? 75th anniversary of america's planting in the middle east, operation torch from the end of world war ii. the end of november, the 70th anniversary of the partition on november 29. it is definitely a year of anniversaries. is, and anniversary that has not only historic significance, but pressing real-world significance.
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there are many ways to recall what happened 50 years ago, and to connect it to today's events. all of them worthy and legitimate. i know that there are events, conferences, seminars, lectures, in many different places looking at different aspect of the impact of the six day war, whether it's the military impacts, political, all of it quite important to recall. this ring the washington institute for near-east policy, that focuses on american policy in the middle east, we thought it most appropriate to take this moment to focus on the american angle. what went into american , during,making before and immediately our -- after the sixth day war. what drove our leaders -- six
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day war. what was the process of decision-making? what are the implications of fat american -- that american for u.s. strategy? after the war, for the long-term engagement for america with parties? that is what today's event is about, and i couldn't the more pleased to have this trio of legacy oflk about the lbj, the middle east, in the 67 war. what went into the thinking of president johnson, how other actors in the administration approached these issues, and the lasting imprint of the decisions made in those fateful days of may and june, on american policy in the middle east.
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to start, i am going to turn to my colleague, dennis ross. in addition to his own personal experience in the making of middle east policy over the last 25 years, dennis is an author and historian on america's engagement in these issues. if you haven't already read "doo to succeedmed", now is a great time to pick it up. among its final chapters is one and -- ine 67 war, the middle east, in which there are fascinating nuggets that give us a window into the thinking of president johnson. tost i will turn to dennis give us the strategic context of
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this episode. then, i am pleased to turn to nicholas roughed up -- nicholas, 's title is a wonderful mouthful. colgate university, down the -- former advisor to president reagan and president bush. also a wonderful historian, who likes to delve deeply into these issues. he brings the special -- the of knowingribute this from a family angle as well as a professional angle, given that his father and uncle had critical positions in the johnson administration. his father. state, as secretary of playing a major role during and after this episode in the
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diplomacy, surrounding the 67 war. i will just say, as an aside, i was proud to know gene. he was a member of the washington institute's board of advisors, and i am proud to have him in that position. i am glad nick is with us, welcome. speaking third is a member of our current board, professor michael mandel. he is a professor at johns , an author onsity a long list of sterling books and american foreign policy, including mission failure, america in a post-cold war era. elbaum will talk about the implications of the 67 sure thate, and i am
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when we wrapped all of this up, we will have a fascinating discussion about what all this means, both then and today. i will turn first to dennis. this is all being life streamed -- live streamed and facebook live'd, turn your tasers to stun . you are welcome to tweet out as much of the brilliance as you are going to hear as you would like. dennis. dennis: thank you, rob. chapter on a long this, shrinking this to 15 minutes is very difficult, on the other hand, it forces a discipline to pull out what you think is most appropriate. in this case, you will get what i think is most important -- important. you are great. i want to say something about
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lbj. lbj is probably someone who, in my estimation, after having researched, gone through every administration, having been a , lbjof a number of them was the most emotionally attached, committed of any american president, from truman until today, which may seem like a strange statement to say because he is not necessarily thought of that way. his background, connections go way back. his aunt, who influenced him, but -- was a member of the zionist organization of america. during the run-up to world war ii, he was very active in terms of health and get refugees, jewish refugees, who couldn't get into the states come into the countries. he took a trip as a congressman in june of 1945, and it affected him in a profound way. in the aftermath of the 1966
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war, when dwight eisenhower was trying to make the case for why we should impose sanctions on tried to persuade johnson, then the majority leader of the senate -- johnson completely rejected it -- and when he becomes resident, he is the first american president to receive an israeli prime minister at the white house. this is something president kennedy agreed to before the assassination, but johnson not only carries through with it, withstanding a lack of enthusiasm within the bureaucracy, but he also later, after the 1967 war, let them come to the ranch, as a way of signaling a special connection. he is the first american resident to provide israel offensive weaponry. john kennedy break the taboo on providing weapons, but he provides hock anti-aircraft
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missiles. johnson is the first to provide tanks and aircraft. before he leaves, he makes the decision to provide f4 again something opposed by the state department and the pentagon, unless at a minimum, we have conditions on the israelis related, in the case of the pentagon to israel in theg the nbt -- case of the state department, israel withdrawing from the territories. johnson overrides their opposition. here is a guy who demonstrates over time this kind of unmistakable commitment, and a resistance to what he faces when he is president within the bureaucracy. ofn you look at the wekak may 14, when forces are
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, until july -- there is a whole series of things that take place. he is missing in action. what takes place? well, six divisions sent in. arestraits of tehran closed. on may 29, a speech is given to the egyptian parliament "not only have the -- we reversed the results of 1956, but we will reverse the result of 1948 as well. " meaning, we will avenge the loss of palestine. after -- forces are put under egyptian leadership. we have the president of iraq saying, we will wipe israel off the map.
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johnson essentially is missing in action. how do you square, explain this? here's were strategic context comes in. there is a part of johnson who wants to avoid any confrontation with the soviet union, but that is not the issue. the issue is, vietnam. vietnam is overwhelming. .t consumes everything it is the complete preoccupation for the military. the pentagon is supposed to anything that would divert assets away. isn't just the military. it's the intelligence assets devoted again, to what is going on completely to vietnam. domestically, johnson has lost moral authority. he has almost no capacity to convince congress to do anything . it's interesting to recall. togress in 1967 is unwilling
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respond to johnson on almost any foreign policy issue. they are also not interested in playing any kind of military role in the middle east, even if it is coming to the aid of israel. again, the impact of vietnam was so great. congress in 1967 doesn't look a whole lot like the congress of today. there -- vietnam creates a broader context. ,hen you dig deeper, you find not surprisingly, vietnam was a complete distraction. the -- again, some of how this period unfolds, you seem -- see things hard in retrospect to understand, but that took place. when i say distraction -- when the israelis come to the administration after the straits of tehran are closed, and they remind the administration that eisenhower made a couple of commitments.
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one commencement is, if the straits are close, israel has the right of self defense and military could act on its own. the second commitments, because it's an international waterway, we will act to ensure that it is open. when it's is conveyed to the administration, no one is aware. literally. johnson asked someone to go to gettysburg to find out from eisenhower, are these real? they can't find a record of it in the state department. that's why they send -- one of , ofthings that is striking course one book i read was to look at everything -- i read everything eisenhower wrote -- he wrote one book that came out the year before. in that book, it has a memoir sent from the state department to the israelis, that outlines
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these two commitments. but the administration can't find any record of the commitments. [laughter] that is shall we say, at a minimum, not a great example of recordkeeping, and an indication , ijust how distracted think, the administration was. there's a better example. the one thing that guides johnson from the beginning is the desire to avoid a war. one of the striking things -- if you want to avoid a war -- when nassar goes and makes a request to the u.n. to withdraw the united nations emergency forces that were there since they had been in place in the aftermath of the war of 56, basically, lufont says, it's all or none. nassar says all. once the request was made, there
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was a perfect opportunity for us to intervene. if your aim is to avoid a war, and you want to play -- and you do not want egyptian forces entering, u.n. forces to leave so at least you have a separating presence, you ought to be doing something to resist or convinced the secretary-general not to act. what makes this more extraordinary,.com or shall wrote a letter to the israelis and secretary of state. he says, they cannot be withdrawn without a process that reviews whether their mission has been fulfilled. lufont knows nothing about the letter. he knows nothing about the letter, number one. number two, why aren't we active? why don't we go and say, look,
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here is a commitment made by the secretary-general. at a minimum, let's review the status of the commitment, whether what he says is being fulfilled. has mission been achieved? the answer would have been .bvious for anybody who has worked with or associated with the u.n., you know it's good at drawing out discussion. and yet, we are missing in action! arthur goldberg is our investor at the time. -- wengs the letter to are not doing anything. i attribute that to a complete distraction. you would have thought, if they administration was determined to not fighting a war, they should have focused on, withdrawing -- preventing
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the withdraw of the u.n. ef. we are missing in action there as well. this i call a broader mindset. the broader mindset that exists within the different parts of the national security apparatus. here, there is a perceptive -- perception of nassar that doesn't quite fit with reality. it is striking that harol saunders writes to the president, two days after the egyptians have mobilized their forces, sent them in. writtenir, the memo is prior to the formal request for .nef to leave the sinai still, egyptians have begun to .mport divisions into the sinai the memo doesn't focus on this, other than to say, and sr is one of the coolest customers in the region. nassar is one of the coolest
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customers in the region. he is not interested in the war. things, weto affect should encourage the israelis to have a quick in-and-out militarily. the reason was, syria -- i will not go through all the background -- syria is a key player in creating a set of circumstances and events that helps to lead to the war! ar, ise way nass described, and the sense that we can shift the focus from syria -- you can argue there is logic but it ignores something us. nassar is suddenly celebrated. he has been writing a losing streak since the end of a ua r in 61, the entry into yemen. there's a war of words between saudi's and the jordanian
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monarchy's, also others with nassar. one of my professors wrote an extraordinary book called, the arab cold war, all about it during the 1960's. nassar has lost his stature, until he announces he is sending horses back in to the sinai. suddenly he is the hero again. the idea that he would give this up, which is the memo implies without getting into it, i think was generally, unrealistic. but that was part of the mindset, in terms of how you look at nassar. , there is al see mindset also about the israelis. the interesting thing here, nassar is the one that has changed the status quo, and yet the entire focus of the administration wants -- once
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they realize there is a crisis, israel doesn't act. there will be six divisions on israel's border, but israel shouldn't act. 25,oesn't come until may doesn't start till may 14th. when he comes, one of the things he says before he sees president johnson is, israel has intelligence that egypt might be prepared to strike. in fact, there was such intelligence. so much so that the soviets at that point tell nassar that egypt shouldn't strike. is, we see no evidence -- i hope this isn't an excuse for israel to strike -- if it is it would be a her renders there were. presidents tone is completely different.
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it is much more sympathetic. but, it's also the tone of somebody who is very constrained. repeatedamental line over and over, is that israel will be alone only if it acts alone. if the president says, we can't be responsible or assumed to be responsible, if you act. a sense, preemptively. he goes on to say, in response to fulfilling the commitment -- the commitment he will fulfill his opening the streets of tehran. traits of tehran. he says, i am not a feeble mouse or coward, but they can't do a thing without a process. the suspect to domestic restraint because of vietnam. interesting thing, he is talking about his constraints, he makes
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-- he says to do the israelis think i will actually act now? no,berg and -- ushers him, that's your way out. even if we could have opened up the straits, that still would have left six divisions. a readiness toe had to kee accept somehow, status quo have been changed. if you go back and look at the cables coming in from the embassies, for those of us who live in this world, they wouldn't -- not only would they
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have surprised you, they uniformly said, we should accept .he status quo there's -- i will not quote them now in great detail, but there's one of the things that says, look, israel is an artificial state. we have no real interest in it. our real interest is the arabs, let's accept the reality. without anybody asking the question, with the new reality be stable? ,ou open the straits of tehran but if egypt has six divisions on israel's border, nassar would have been highly successful, with the pressure not have built to actually do something about this, to fulfill what he said on may 29th about avenging? anyway, that's not asked. now, johnson, even though he is missing in action, when the war takes place, he reverts to his own instincts. there is no pressure on israelis to stop until june 10, when
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there is a perception that maybe they are moving towards damascus. even then, the pressure comes up only because we get a message hotline,soviets on the whatever it is called. they warned that they might have to act unilaterally. we see this again in 73, but it happens on june 10. we moved forces close to 50 miles from syria in response to this, to deter them from acting. they sickly, there's no pressure on the israelis to do anything, to the idea that they should stop. secondly, he consciously adopts a position different from eisenhower. he says, we will not do what eisenhower did, repeat the idea that they should withdraw, and what they get is a cease-fire. his position, israel does not have to withdraw until they get
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peace in return. speech one gives a june 19, a forerunner in many respects to you and resolution 242, not until november. he lays out a number of different principles. the essence later become embodied. on june 19,resting, the israeli cabinet adopts a secret resolution, which -- in which they will agree to withdraw from international borders with egypt and syria. in return for peace. getsesn't get -- it rescinded later, only after ofsar -- by summit in august 1967. what is interesting, i mentioned a readiness to withdraw. there isn't one when it comes to west bank. even though there isn't complete consensus within the cabinet, the vote is 10-9.
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in favor. the director of the research part of the idf, the intelligence part, right a memo -- writes a memo immediately after the war saying, we do not want to occupy one million arabs . he suggests at that point that they militarize the independent palestinian state. say, heon't agree and will chair the committee, we will look at options. the reason nothing is there in june 19, they had just begun discussions. point, you have to understand, between may 14-the
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beginning of the war, given everything coming out of the arab world -- we will wipe israel off the map -- what's going on inside israel is the israeli public is digging trenches around each of their cities, and preparing cemeteries or mass graves. this is an existential struggle. they are more focused on ensuring that there is not a replay of 1956, a gap between israel and the united states, they pay a terrible price within israel. they're forced to create a national unity government on june 1. has lost a lot of his moral authority. in the aftermath -- the leader has lost a lot of his moral authority.
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in the aftermath, he wants to play a role but refers to his second in command. i could go on for a long period of time, i promised not to. [laughter] let me conclude with two thoughts. one, the war has a profound effect on israel's attitudes towards whether or not to could ever depend on anybody else. the answer is no. in the sinaisence meant nothing because it would be withdrawn. -- from an to israeli standpoint was, count on yourself. you can't depend on anybody else, even the united states is not reliable in a circumstance like this. maybe you do not want the u.s. to be opposed, but the fact is, you have to act on your own. the second thing, and this gets -- thatisionist history the israelis planned this were
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all along. this is a trap they drew nassar into. what is clear in the immediate aftermath, this was a work that was forced on the israelis that they didn't expect. plans for the west bank at all. the government tried hard to persuade them -- not to join the war. they had to do that from scratch. diane was waiting for the phone to ring after the war with the expectation, maybe something will happen. the fact that by june 19, you do have a cabinet decision to that thislso suggests was not seen it as being a world conquest, this was seen as being a war forced upon. may be reflective of the military's confidence if they would do well in the war. i do not think anybody anticipated what they were -- what they produced in the time they did.
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i'll stop there. [applause] >> thank you, rob, although ising to follow dennis ross is not something outcome will menu for. but anyway. it's quite an honor to be here. say i want to begin with general observations, but in 1992 -- they held a session on the 25th anniversary of the -- the publication of the proceedings as the subtitle, the building block of peacemaking. dennis ross was one of the participants. in that discussion. perhaps he alone would not be latersed that 25 years
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the final acceptance of and -- i hadhin israel originally just written over the horizon. this remains the building block of peacemaking. the fact that it is still the only agreed framework for arab-israeli peace is both a also the to -- apparent permanency of the issues addressed. the approach to problems he believed he never solved problems when he changed the circumstances, circumstances in which they arose.
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i know the history of rest -- the resolution -- some general thoughts. 1967, thell, in may israeli government and people believe that their lives were at stake. the u.s. government had a more optimistic view of the possible result of war but did not minimize israeli perceptions or the basis for them. the risk of such role posed international peace in the area -- more generally. my uncle told the presidents -- to prevent israel's destruction and stop aggression, either alone or through the united nations. reviewing the diplomatic record, when the text great urgency under the usually calm pros of u.s. -- prose of u.s. official reports.
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time, u.s. intelligence estimates were stagnant with how the israeli military would stack up against the arab military. that's worth recalling. warher is just the general .f government dennis stressed the lack of the u.n.e with respect and withdrawal with the u.n. ef unef, brought -- the decision in 19 94 to veto any decision that would have authorized anything to do it -- anybody to do anything and rwanda on the grounds of, that was a u.n. ploy.
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about energizing and seeing what other people might be encouraged to do. the right to use force internationally in self-defense is in the first sense, instant self-judging. against an armed attack -- until the un security council takes measures necessary to make peace and security. it must make customary international law standards. necessity and proportionality. the six-day war demises the lawful use of force and self-defense. date -- this was the consensus position in 1967. the encouragement of taxes calling for war
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-- constituted an armed attack, or if you prefer, and imminent armed attack leaving no alternative to the right to use force in some defense. u.n. secretary-general as we heard, who in american official -- withdrawn without the latest date -- without delay the you an emergency force station on board as a -- a guarantor of peace. there is no reasonable basis in may 1967.
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restore diplomacy would caused immobilization of egyptian forces. israel's use of force was proportional to targeting military forces against it. it achieves the lawful purpose of bringing to an end the situation. they felt they had made a , just as bad are told the egyptians they made a grave error in blocking -- blocking the streets of tehran, which constituted an arms attack in violation of international law. johnson was thinking more -- long-term and may have u.s. intelligence assessments in mind.
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to favor israel -- defeat f or israel is not an option. defeat meant the end of israel. this goes with the arab leaders held out as their purpose. they meant what they said presumably. of the other hand they are of states would not disappear no matter how badly they were beaten. what dennis said so well -- one 'ss to do with lyndon johnson
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decisive role in this. the record is replaced -- first of all, records are available online and they are fascinating, diplomatic records. there -- purely john sony and touches. his use of anecdotes and meeting with arab ambassadors for example. saying, this was after the war he said he tried in may to persuade nassar not to go to war, but that didn't work. he pleaded with the foreign minister, but that didn't work. now making israel pullback is easier said than done. found situations like this again and again, that one party through dispute -- urging a third-party to get involved, always assumed the third party had influence over the second party, but the third does not
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have over the first. for instance, the president said -- usedtor had influence -- senator a note for president doesn't have over senator a himself. the same is true in the a -- arab-israeli dispute. he said, there's some similarity to a marriage. once a get into trouble third party may be useful in salvaging it, but that third-party risks worst kind of -- worse kinds of abuse for medela. i'm not sure the ambassadors fully understood, but it was characteristic of johnson's approach. american officials -- from a national security adviser on isn, referring to nassar having slipped our throat or cut our throat. he regarded nassar's having cut his throat from ear to ear area i remember my father saying that at the time.
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phrase in a meeting with the jordanian foreign minister in october 1967. secondly, the run-up to the war -- was to try to prevent a war. handcuffed by the war in vietnam -- the secretary of state frequently recorded, saying you back off from our commitments -- it doesn't work that way. put the president tried to heether an international -- felt he needed a new congressional resolution, even
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though in the 1950's, there had been a congressional resolution authorizing the united states to use force to assist the victims -- a victim of aggression from international commons -- united states new enough about what the soviet union was doing to prevent this crisis. and to provide misleading intelligence to the arab states to try to get them into a war, which they hoped would suck the united states in to a second vietnam at least. so one could have made the argument from the 1950's resolution -- it worked, but the willing to do't that and could get another resolution of congress.
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allies were going to win -- treating wars a football game, really not sensible. now, it is perfectly true that the state department did not have a record of eisenhower's commit to israel. there was a settlement they weren't aware of, including the whole set of arrangements, which were agreed to in the form of
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speeches given at the u.n. general assembly. the commitment was made to preserve the status-quote. and, to guarantee it. but, people come and go in washington, memories are short. full of may, irrelevancy when it comes down to crisis. i think a lot of officials learned more when they left office they may knew at the time. johnson on june 19, gave a very important speech on the middle east. thatid out the five ideas became embodied in resolution 242.
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even the soviet union and knowledge that. they were -- every nation in the area is fundamental right to live in peace, and to have that right to live acted by the neighbors. they have to agree to this in order to be true to their pledges to the u.n. charter. and said, there has to be a new energetic efforts on among otherfugees things, there were 100,000 refugees on the west bank. thee will be no peace
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president said, for any party in the middle east, must the problems take new energy by all, certainly primarily by those immediately concerned.
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the other point was, israel would not be forced to ask of the territories it conquered without peace. at the point and is made. vessel happened in 1957, the israelis did not get a peace agreement from egypt. the process to getting to 242 was arduous. at this held important cards. i think after the initial pressure of war had come to an end, then states were more willing to look nationally october,roblem in by nassar privately was talking about indirect agreement with israel.
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-- let's go for principles and not try to settle the summer solutions. out -- set 242 is out the way it is. it sets out the principles that have to be respected. i have gone over, so i will pull it to a close. i would just want to say something about this meeting today. i think it's really important, and i commend the washington institute for doing it. i hope we don't have to do it every 25 years, but if we do, so be it. why is it important? at the united nations people
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talk about this history. they talk and behave as if israel woke up one day. this was not the self-defense -- and they don't discuss it anyway -- any of the issues we talked about. in three days -- this would be the anniversary of the french version of this war. ae minister france issued letter to the zionist organization, saying they would on the creation of a jewish homeland in palestine.
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the third point i think, is that working -- despite the u.s. position -- has never stood alone. johnson may have felt said,ained, but as dennis he was alone, willing to supply -- to start a real arms supply regime that presently exists, with regard to israel, and to that alle requirement states have to recognize and accept. in this year of anniversaries, it is worth the balfourthat declaration, in all of its many tendrils, auletta to the need for mutual respect, finding a
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way to accommodate rights in the same area. israelis and palestinians, and others. and in a world of nuclear weapons, one would think that the imperative to do this would be obvious. but it's not. i'll stop there. [applause]
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michael: the war had one overriding consequence that has pervaded the region and shaped the policies of the conflict ever since then. establishment it's a fact of life to which the arabs have had to -- one of which is peace. the fact of his minute -- israeli military supremacy has been can -- and continues to be a major strategic asset for the united states. why is that, how is that?
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to pull back initially, goal 1945, the principal of american foreign-policy, the prevental, has been to the hostile domination by a single power of the three great areas of geo-political contention. europe, east asia, the middle east. , the united states has been successful. areas, thee three american goal resembles and is in a way a descendent of great britain's traditional policy for europe. that was to prevent any single power from dominating the
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continent, from which position it could menace the british isles. the british thought there major modern wars to prevent a single power from dominating the continent. the united states did not have to deploy american troops on the ground. in the middle east. and one important reason for this, not the only reason, but
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an important reason was, israeli military strength, combined with the fact that israel did not seek and in fact actively rejected the presence of american troops on its territories. has proven to be a reliable surrogate for the united states in this volatile region. that has meant that american policy in the middle east, on the whole, not always -- has assumed the form that britain preferred for centuries, namely balance.of offshore united states was a balancer in east asia, especially in europe. there it was an onshore balancer. that was more expensive. at the very least, israel has helped save american taxpayers money. the middle east differed from europe.
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experienced setbacks -- but in the early days of the 1967 crisis, he seems set to resume his challenge to dominate the region. israeli military puts an end to that challenge. 1991 postedin in
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similar challenge. his invasion and occupation of kuwait meant that he not only oil,olled oil and kuwait's but he was in a position to intimidate and control saudi arabia, and thereby control a large portion of oil reserves, which would have given him significant leverage against the united states and its allies. in 1991 as we know, the united states broke its pattern of staying offshore, and sent an army to the middle east. that army defeated saddam hussein. without direct israeli assistance. as we recall, the united states insisted not only that israel not be part of the anti-saddam coalition, but that it refrain from retaliating
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militarily against iraq, even when iraq fired missiles into israel. this second yet, in response to a bid for hostile hegemony in the middle east, israeli military power was crucial. for a decade before saddam to -- invasion and occupation of kuwait. conducted aome -- raid on its nuclear facilities, theyor at the ceric three destroyed it. at the end of the 1991 war, americans discovered saddam had come closer, much closer to getting a nuclear weapon than the western intelligence communities had believe. what is really done a decade
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saddam/1991,21 -- saddam hussein may have well had nuclear weapons, in which case the crisis would have proceeded differently and not to the advantage of the united states. now, this -- the israeli role in bolstering american interest has been largely unappreciated. the reason is, it is by its nature, invisible. israel has contributed to the turns. deterrence is not palpable. there was an important exception to this pattern in 1970. in the fall of that year, syria moved on the kingdom of jordan. an american ally in the region. theollusion, if i may use term, with the united states, and really at americans request, israel mobilized militarily, and was prepared to intervene to
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block syrian troops. that was important. to fend off the syrians. so in that case, the israeli role and the larger american strategy, the role of israeli military supremacy was clear clear but in general, it has not been visible. offer an analogy, i do consider myself an expert in sports. israel has acted in the middle east like a player in basketball who is an expert at blocking shots. the shot blocker contribution is to discourage shots the opposing team would otherwise have taken and might have made.
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the discouraged shots that are iner taken do not show up the statistics of a basketball game and similarly, the major contribution to american policy over the long term in the middle east does not appear in the historical record. of whatis a chronicle happened, not what did not happen. , recently, israeli military power did play an role in american middle eastern policy. was explicit because the american government deliberately and in my view foolishly chose not to make use of it. today is seeking to
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dominate the middle east. its program to acquire nuclear to that end. -- did reach such an agreement with the government, the so-called joint copperheads of in 2015.ction or jcpoa ordinarily, the outcome of international negotiation reflects the relative strength of the party's. very damaging concessions. enriching uranium, something all american president including -- and the limits on iran's nuclear
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program expire after 15 years, leaving iran free to get the bomb at that point. for this seemingly counterintuitive outcome was mr. obama's clear unwillingness to america'sf substantial military advantage with a credible threat to attack iran's nuclear facilities. still, a substitute for a credible american threat was available. the israeli government announced it was prepared to launch an attack of the united states or not. israeli military power and israel's track record made the threat credible. leverageusing this as in his dealings with iran, in order to deal with an outcome
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more favorable to the united states and regional allies, mr. obama very publicly opposed any israeli strike, even hinting that washington would punish launchif it dared to one. no doubt the american president had several motives for his iran policy. apparently including the belief that offering the hand of american rent ship would cause them to moderate foreign policy. iran'sne out with conduct in 2015. while the ultimate consequences of obama's nuclear bargain cannot yet be assessed, one .hing can be said of it in negotiating the obama been inration, what has the united states, a valuable legacy of the war, thank you.
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[applause] >> so fascinating. with a detailed look of what is going on and brought it all the up to where we are today with american foreign-policy and dealing with iran and the middle east at the moment. there are a lot of different threats of this that we can pull out. i just wanted to ask, i wanted to focus on one or two of them enter in the floor over to everyone else. i do want to pick up what was a bit of subliminal attention between the accounts. dennis focused on the question thatarantees, guarantees
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certainly the israelis did not fulfill. nick emphasized a bit more the fact that america was with israel even throughout the crisis, perhaps despite the fact we made guarantees we did not fulfill. i want to bring this through and look at the implications of the question of guarantees and ask all of our speakers just if they are worried about is -- the and how america and partners viewed the episode. is there any legacy of this and how we approve -- approach guarantees and how our allies look at america's guarantees. is there any legacy of this episode?
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gentlemen? >> it is a very interesting question. there is no doubt it has been consciously in the mind of , not only speaking among themselves and how to describe this period. to some extent maybe the way ony have focused with us, the one hand, israelis have said we have to rely on ourselves because he made commitments and did not live up to them. on the other hand, every single agreement we have had with israelis, they have sought american assurances and american commitments which -- which suggests they do not question whether they live up to our assurances. in every negotiation i was a
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part of, we would spend as much time in our discussions over what assurances they were seeking, what commitments they were seeking, as we did even in terms of trying to resolve the very issues that involve israelis with their neighbors. so i think it is part of in termsoverall ethos of how they approach the world, and what is clear is a sense that they have to be self-reliant. part of that is not to be a burden on the united states. it has at the same time made them less desirous of gaining -- some of that is for the political benefit of having much likeitments, tom may 14 on, determined ensure that the u.s. understands
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what it will do and that is why he constantly gives -- while he is ready to continue to have even at as with us, time when he is under enormous pressure first from the military chiefs of staff and from the israeli public later on because this connection with the u.s. is so important. some ensure our function of trying to ensure there is a favorable political climate afterwards and that the u.s. will be there to help protect israel on the world stage against other kinds of pressure. of an irony on the one hand. you cannot trust external commitments and yet that is what you seek all the time. >> other remarks? >> that is an ironic aspect of it. i think one should reflect a
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little bit on the article in the aboutic in 2015 or 2016 obama's current foreign-policy -- obama's foreign policy and his skepticism about what he regarded as washington that -- a view that american credibility , and yet i for one believe it does matter because it helps you achieve good crisis .anagement the historical record of things that don't happen. whether it is the u.s. with britain and russia with respect ukraine in 1994 that has yet to be or other such when countries cannot rely on the united states, then the whole
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system of order that we have grown up with is at risk. it is bad enough with ordinary weapons. it is worse with nuclear weapons. >> i find this episode curious anomalousous -- because the important commitment a powerful theme -- an enormously powerful theme. persevering in the vietnam at great cost, the united states had made a commitment and it is then celebrated foreign affairs essay just before becoming national security adviser, henry kissinger said something like, i am paraphrasing, the rights and wrongs of vietnam no longer
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matter. other nations can gear their policies to ours only if they are confident that we will keep our commitments and therefore, we have to keep it. the question of credibility of the american commitment to was perhaps the most important issue in american policy for europe from's but sputnik to the middle of the 1950's be a for about a decade, that is all anyone ever talked about. for the night stays to make a commitment that was so cavalier seems to me on because it is in the whole thrust of american foreign-policy. that leads me to two questions i would like to ask. first, if this was a serious commitment in 1957, why wasn't it made public?
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this obviously was intended to .eter it from doing what it did he american conception of deterrence was to make it public, to make it visible, to engage in some version of throwing away the steering wheel so the other party knows you are going to do this. why was it not made public? second, i am a little puzzled by one feature of johnson's behavior in the crisis leading because there was the issue of whether the united states would open and that led to this issue, which fell apart. had notsk you both, i thought of this question before but the johnson position was we they jointhis whether us. the united states, it was often
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excuse to not do anything. second, the second issue which the job -- johnson and the israelis come when the united states would be with israel, and , myson have this line question is why. have thought that would be a cheap assurance for johnson to give especially because the american military was confident israel would win the war, as indeed was the israeli minute dutch military. the war they expected to win is not the war they fought. they expect going to fight on the southern front or they expected a repeat of 1956. as the record says and is well-known, dead set against fighting either, especially the
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north and people in the north came and northern command a sickly drag them into it. johnson even't give a concession, which would seem to be purely nominal? did he really think this would drag the united states into the war? >> ok. do you want to start with this and we will move back to dennis? all, the israelis may have been confident they were going to win but do not forget the nervous breakdown before the war. he clearly was not so sure and the stress was enormous. i do not think one should forget about that when looking back. was the eisenhower commitment secret? hadink because eisenhower to be persuaded over time that
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the israeli participation was different from the british and the french and they had a better butification for doing it still, he did not want any of israeliication attacks in egypt in 1956. i think that is why it was done privately and it is a big mistake. forgotten.nough, in his memoirs. who reads memoirs? historians. it is interesting because i , the about the settlement
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crisis as a senior in college after the publication. i can check the paper but i .on't recall reading the memoir i think johnson probably, almost certainly, believed he needed nor to pledge any committed to anybody and he was not going to get it. he was not going to act alone. he thought that truman had made outg mistake and went obtaining a resolution for the korean war and he did not know, he talked to the congressional no, wehip and they said do not want to listen to anymore speeches by bob taft. [laughter] unquote.
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>> i think you are essentially it was private. there is an additional factor. eisenhower's of the view that any public association with israel is that for us. -- bad for us. disaster arms will be he does arabs, so here, feel that he does not want to somehow look like he sanctions -- he felt israelis had no right to ask, nonetheless, he did see not promises that he will and his forces into gaza then he sends his courses into gaza. it is unfortunate.
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he will play -- he will pay a price for that. a sense that any association heh israel, the idea that would make a public commitment to israel, he saw it as costing us something. the only thing i would add on , which was actually the real name of it, why not just organize it ourselves? why require something more collective? had such little credibility with congress at this point, the way he could make the case more persuasive to congress is if he had other nations joining in.
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>> ok peerless turn over the floor to your questions. log -- centerleft is an unusual is issue for him. [laughter] all, i think you made a persuasive case that history is worth knowing. .nd is relevant my sense is this is the minority view in official circles in washington. the problem goes back to her the current administration. but anyway, a very good discussion and i compliment you on it. there has been in recent decades and inclination on the part of historians to argue that the likewar was a little bit barbara's image of world war i, that people just stumbled into it.
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that is not the sense one would from your presentation or nick's presentation that addressed the run-up to the war. i don't think michael contradicted that. but i would be interested in your comments on the fundamental question of why the war happened. that the legalnt model of self-defense, but it that jessicarely --nt, a conscious war that something that people stumbled into. this, was add on to it preventable. to slow down the decision or if
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we have our allies take certain actions? it is the flip side of the question. >> let me address both. because i did not give the full actra, some of the factors suggest this was a war more by accident or design, it starts by the fact that the soviet giving him false information about 14 come when2 to the israelis had not done that, this was not the first time the soviets had done that with the egyptians like that to 1960. the egyptians in response sent forces in and israelis quietly say they have no intentions of doing anything against syria.
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and israelis, we also play a bit of a roll and what ends up happening is egyptians quietly pull forces out. maybe we found a way to use the suits theiren it purpose. they do it again in 1956 and then they do it in may. what happened is being accused , primeng behind the u.n. minister says i would rather die than have the u.n. in my territory. and byt taunting of nasa fall of 56 come makes quiet -- what he will do in the event of
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israelis moving against him. so when he gets the information from soviets, this is how he feels he has to do something. been al 7, there has dogfight over damascus where the israelis flyaway having lost none. ande is a buildup to this when nasa sends his forces in, there is a time of several days where he is not clear about where the forces will go and it is not clear that he will ask the u.n. to leave. he basically says, look, it has to be all or nothing. you cannot pull out some. get -- he attended to
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intended to go where he was going or not, then it is a position where he feels it is hard to back down. no other reason than the fact that it is being celebrated again after being berated. there is a little bit of a certain dynamic here. i want to put it in a larger context as well. this is bound to happen at some point. that is a theme. i will advance this in a social and political sense. i will create modernization. bethe one hand, he wanted to the focal point and on the other he always wanted not
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necessarily to get drawn into a war that he might lose and he whathe might lose based on actually happened as opposed to the mythology that was built up around it. loss debtcontext almost rated an inevitable tension vivid some point he would stick to this it would be hard not to end up in a war at some point. the answer about do turbo at this point, absolutely. had it happened in the u.n., had thehreatened egypt, one of interesting things is you have a gap in time from when nasa announces mobilizing and sending blockadingin, and here you have almost five days where that is the case. when you get serious numbers in there and it is longer than five days, in the intervening time, where were we?
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why didn't we warn nasa? why didn't we say you do this and we will face a problem? again i come back to vietnam. the unum is overwhelming in terms of the impact on us. it is true in the case of military. our military says let the israelis take care of this. our estimates are that israel will win in 10 days here but again, it is easy to say you will win in 10 days. it avoids the notion of, ok, you are winning the what is the cost? the only measure is not whether you win or lose. you can win at a high price. it wins at a high price. there were, i think things we could have done that we did not do in the u.n. and in with nasaake threats
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before he across the threshold that makes it irreversible. once you put six divisions on the border, and he does not rush to send divisions to the border. to deter, then he at least puts himself in a position where he has a great ability to stop this. >> why was learning the history not takenar i, it was seriously and the conventional , andm, i had not read this maybe nick has, the conventional wisdom. explanationaccepted was that germany was responsible for the war and germany was willing to have a war, germany were likelyps that to lead to war, and germans were willing and in some ways welcome because they thought it would be a european war that they would
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win. it turned out to be a world war and they lost. , they committed acts of it -- of aggression. he did it because he thought he would get away with it. he didn't because he lost. >> actions led him to believe that he could get away with it. on june 3, the egyptian vice president to come to washington, there are no conditions for his coming and nasa has conveyed to us there are two things he won't do. he will not draw his forces back to the border. his conclusion is not such a bad conclusion. >> on the world war i point, most of the literature for celebrating the 100th anniversary is not going to do any credit because they have not
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been in the archives. it is even worse when you present it, there is a story at absoluteone called destruction in the military culture and the other is a scrap of paper on making and breaking world war i, must-read for anyone interested. thefundamental thing about day war, is a rejection of the idea that there should be a cherish state in palestine. he thought he would win and his generals thought they would win. they told him they would win. that was the objective and it did not work.
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enough, the saudi king of the negotiations kept referring to an american for this evilty creation in 1948 and 1949 and they should be undone. extent that it was not accidental, that is a motivating and rallying cry and it is a afraid. cry today i am >> rod raised the question of what we learn from this and what governments have learned and what we can learn from this about commitments. discussion of this and dennis and nick's response to my question, my conclusion of the lesson we should draw is a private commitment is not a
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commitment. i'm afraid i have to apologize to peter and others, although 50 years late, we always played by the clock around here and we conclude promptly at 2:00. so i want to thank nick, michael, and dennis for taking us back 50 years. i hope you all agree there are still lessons we will continue to learn from this very much alive episode and middle east history. thank you so much for joining us today. >> very good panel. >> well done. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017]
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>> you are watching american history tv all weekend every weekend on c-span3. like us on facebook at c-span history. tonight, financial expert rachel schneider and economics professor jonathan detail how low to moderate income families manage money in their book, the financial diaries, how american families cope in a world of uncertainty. miss schneider and the professor were interviewed by catherine, author of "two dollars a day: living on almost nothing in america." the risk of small -- >> the risk of small decisions going badly or higher and wealthy decisions make decisions all the time. mean come up with some for in the last year. the consequence of that is really diminished. there is not one. at the consequence for people struggling is often really big.
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>> the data that really surprised me, income and program participation, between 2009 and that it was a bit unusual during that, 10 million americans were poor during every month of that but 90 million americans at some point were poor during that time. a third of america experienced poverty at some moment, often for a short time you get to really rethink what is going on. tonight onfterward" c-span3's book tv. >> c-span was created as a public service by american tell -- companies.
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>> this year's the 30th anniversary of president ronald reagan's visit to berlin where teratoma -- gave his down the wall speech. next, former u.s. ambassador to germany recall the president's speech and trip. the international center for journalist posted this event. it is an hour and a half. collects evening, everybody. please find your seats. good evening. thanks for setting up this wonderful event. mr. robinson, members of the board, alumni in attendance, students, and ladies and gentlemen.


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