The interests of the United States will be served best only when peace -- true peace -- is forged in the Middle East. And that will occur only when all nations of that troubled region sit down with one another and negotiate the settlement that has eluded them for so long.
I regret deeply that I must oppose my President over his proposed sale of the F-15 enhancement/AWACS package ot Saudi Arabia. But my conscience will not allow me to support an action which I believe would further erode the prospects for peace and thereby damage our vital national interests in the Middle East.
The President's good intentions are not in doubt, nor are those of any who support the administration's position. But our disagreement is as deep as it is honest. And the issue is no less than peace itself.
Consider our recent experience with Saudi Arabia:
In 1978, after extensive debate in the Senate, we agreed to President Carter's request to sell the F-15s to the Saudis. We were told then that this sale would demonstrate our willingness to solidify our friendship to that country.
And, in exchange, we expected that Saudi Arabia would provide a moderating balance in the Middle East. We hoped that if we sold them the planes we might have some leverage to encourage them to further the peace process.
Now, some three years later, we have Saudi Arabia's response to our hopes. And it is the response that I felt deeply in my heart in 1978 would be the case. This what the Saudis have done since we sold them the F-15 planes:
1. condemned the Israeli-Egypt peace treaty.
2. Opposed Israeli ships in the Suez Canal.
3. Led the Arab political and economic boycott of Egypt.
4. Cut off diplomatic relations with Egypt.
5. Provided substantial financial aid to the Palestine Liberation Organization.
6.Called for a "holy war" against Israel.
7. Refused to even consider peace negotiations with Israel.
8. Increased its price of oil from $12 to $32 a barrel.
Even though the Saudis assured us in 1978 that all they wanted were the F-15s , we now are being told by this Administration that Saudi Arabia needs much more , including sophisticated military surveillance technology.
We nust realize as Americans that we cannot trade integrity and national security for Arabian oil and false hopes for peace.
Only when the Saudis provide strong and clear evidence of their desire for peace; only when they demonstrate by action their willingness to move forward to a truly peaceful solution, only then should we even consider selling them additional armaments. That time, obviously, is not now.