Former Diplomat Predicts New U.S. Mid-East Policy

The U.S. must adjust its policy supporting Israel in order to assure peace in the Persian Gulf and the flow of Arab oil to the west, a former British diplomat said yesterday.

Sir William Luce, former British governor of Aden, said yesterday at a lecture in the Undergraduate Science Center that vast oil resources will enable Arab leaders to use future U.S. dependence on Arab oil as a lever to chance U.S.Mid-East policy.

"There is clearly an important link between European and American oil needs and the Arab-Israeli conflict," Luce said.

About 60 per cent of the world's proven oil reserves are located in the Middle East, and it is estimated that the U.S.will be more than 50 per cent dependent on this Arab oil by the 1980s.

"Those who need oil must persuade those who have it in the Middle East to sell; I don't know how long this will be possible," Luce said.


Libya, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait are so wealthy (with yearly assets now exceeding what they can efficiently use) that there is little need for more revenue, and it may be economically wiser to leave the oil in the ground, Luce said.

At the same time, he said, Libya's revolutionary regime, Egypt's President Anwar el-Sadat, and organizations like the Palestine Liberation Organization, place pressure on conservative Arab leaders such as King Faisal of Saudi Arabia to use the oil weapon.

"The Gulf states [Saudia Arabia, Kuwait, etc.] want to treat oil purely as a commercial item, but the U.S. must help reduce pressure on them to use the oil weapon," Luce said.

"The Arab leaders want to see a more even-handed U.S. policy on the Arab-Israeli conflict," Luce said. "Perhaps some movement to encourage a settlement of the conquered territories is necessary."


Luce speculated that U.S. policy specifically might include pressure on Israel to negotiate directly and finally with the Arabs on the future of the Golan Heights and Jerusalem.

Luce termed Soviet presence in the area "cautious" due to Arab mistrust, the failure of Soviet plans in Egypt, and the hostility of the Iranian government.

"Russia is a restraining influence, at this point, not an aggressor," Luce said.