Accepting Various Truths

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Albany Times Union

Accepting Various Truths

No one in the Obama administration is going to acknowledge that our foreign policy in the Middle East has alienated many Arabs.

The U.S. pro-Israel policy and our shocking neglect of the beleaguered Palestinians underlie almost every initiative or tactical tilt that comes out of Washington.

President Obama and his predecessors in the White House have scored domestic political points by embracing this world view. This is one vantage point that is truly bipartisan, to the point where no one discusses it.

Michael Scheuer, a former CIA specialist on the al-Qaida terrorists, complained on C-SPAN recently that any debate about American support for Israel is "normally squelched."

"For anyone to say our support for Israel doesn't hurt us is to just defy reality," he added.

Another former CIA analyst, Ray McGovern, says the 9/11 Commission report noted that Khalid Sheikh -- the mastermind of the 9/11 terrorist attacks -- cited his violent disagreement with U.S. support for Israel as the motivating dynamic behind the attacks.

Obama knows enough about the Middle East that tightening airport security is not the whole answer to fighting terrorism. He should try a more even-handed policy in the region.

Grievances of the Arab man on the street include bitter criticism of the U.S. for supporting harsh authoritarian regimes in the Arab world and the failure of those U.S.-backed regimes to help the Palestinians in Gaza.

Surely after several years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan, we can dispense with the obfuscation and evasion that flood forth from official U.S. megaphones.

Terrorism spawned in the Middle East is not the only threat we face.

As the American economy digs out from the debris of the Great Recession triggered by the collapse of the housing bubble, we should think about what could happen about another bubble that invisibly chugs through the American economy.

I refer to our bloated defense spending.

The United States spends more for its arsenal than any other 10 countries combined. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the U.S. accounts for more than 40 percent of the world's total military spending. China is in second place, at a relatively puny 5.8 percent.

If the U.S. defense spending bubble were ever to deflate, domestic job losses would be catastrophic, a stunning fact that raises the question of whether we can ever afford peace.

The American people have long shown they can handle the truth. When it comes to the Middle East and to threats to our economy, so should our leaders.

Helen Thomas

Helen Thomas was an American author and former news service reporter, member of the White House Press Corps and columnist. She worked for the United Press International (UPI) for 57 years, first as a correspondent, and later as White House bureau chief. She was an opinion columnist for Hearst Newspapers from 2000 to 2010, writing on national affairs and the White House. Among other books she was the author of Front Row at The White House: My Life and Times. Helen passed away on July 20, 2013.

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