General Schwarzkopf Says: Don't Give Back The Golan Heights
We all admired the dynamic personality and rhetoric of General (Stormin') Norman Schwarzkopf, the commander of the Allied Forces during the Gulf War. Daily, his briefings over TV were classics in relaxed, but professional, descriptions of intricate military operations. Last Wednesday night my wife and I had the opportunity of hearing him in person when he addressed a mainly Jewish audience in the Jackie Gleason Theater in Miami Beach. About 2000 people crowded the auditorium and gave him a resounding ovation and applause at many occasions during his witty and hard-hitting talk. Here are some of the most important points he made:
About Israel he had this to say: "I admire Israel because she is a democracy; I admire Israel because I love the underdog, I always loved the underdog, and as a military man I cannot help but admire Israel's military successes. But let me tell you I that I have never admired Israel more than I did during Operation Desert Storm be cause Israel had 40 reasons to enter the war—that is how many Scuds were fired at Israel. Sometimes it is said that Israel does not have the interest of the world at heart, and only has its own interest at heart, but this is not true. The Desert War proved the opposite: Israel was under tremendous pressure to enter the war, but for the good of everyone in the Coalition, Israel showed great forbearance for the common good, and because of that I am convinced today that we have the greatest opportunity today for peace, greater than at any time in my lifetime."
He singled out one of Israel's famous military inventions for special praise: the pilotless small planes, the VUA, which the American Army is using for aerial surveillance. He told us that the plane was so successful that in some cases Iraqi troops surrendered to the pilotless plane! What the General probably did not know was that in Israel's military history there have been several instances when Arabs surrendered to invisible armies and arms. An old Palmach leader once told me that in Safed, the old city of Kabbalists, the Arabs surrendered during the War of Independence and afterwards told the utterly surprised Israelis that they had heard the noise of a giant (non-existent) Jewish army approaching with vastly superior arms. Or think of the gun which is still displayed near the Central Hotel in Jerusalem, the famous "David-ka" which, with its enormous noise, although without much fire power, overwhelmed Arab armies.
On the question of the Golan Heights, General Schwarzkopf made the most significant political statement for the benefit of Israel, and I quote his words: "If I were in charge of the Golan Heights, I would only argue from a position of strength.
I would not consider giving them up unless I had absolutely satisfactory assurances that the security of my country is protected. I would make that determination entirely on the basis of very, very strong assurances." He implied, of course, that such assurances cannot be expected from either Syrians nor any other power! Coming from the highest Allied field officer, who has close knowledge of the Arabs and their mentality and military capabilities, this is surely a most important and telling utterance, which no doubt will carry much weight in Jerusalem as well as, hopefully, in Washington.
One questioner asked the General: "When Kuwait executed Palestinians and deported hundreds of thousands of them, no one said anything. So why is Israel condemned for deporting 12 known terrorists?" The General replied: "The Palestinians are a terrible problem for the Arabs in the entire region. They are a destabilizing element and that is the reason that all Arabs are very anxious to solve their problem. This is the reason for the general support among the Arabs for the peace process. But, of course, we cannot expect instantaneous results, and nobody does." In other words, the Arabs would like to get rid of their Palestinians by unloading them on Israel.
Of course, he had to justify somehow that despite the "victory" in the Desert Storm war, Saddam Hussein is still in place. This can be compared to President Roosevelt and General Eisenhower leaving Hitler in charge of Europe after World War II! General Schwarzkopf professed certainty that Saddam is totally powerless, having lost his entire nuclear and chemical arsenal, and that he has lost face in the Arab world. "Saddam Hussein is irrelevant! I know nothing worse than being irrelevant!" Perhaps it was on this point that the General was less convincing than on any other point he made during his talk. He came back again and again to the prospect of the peace process and commented: "If Saddam Hussein had any influence whatsoever in the Arab world, do you think there would be a peace process today?"