Lethbridge Herald (Newspaper) - January 17, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta
4-THE LETHBRIDQE HERALD - Thurtday, January 17, 1974 Talks face deadlock By Eric Silver, London Observer commentator And more madness Speculation as to what the Arab states are going to do with their new wealth is answered in part by the continuing flow of stories and rumors out of the Middle East and the capitals of the western world about sales of military equipment. European countries are linking sales to guaranteed oil supplies. West Germany is rumored to be bargaining in tanks. France has jets. It has also just concluded a three-year agreement to furnish arms and other assistance to Saudi Arabia in return for 27 million tons of crude oil (approximately 175 million barrels) and has indicated that it would be favorable to arms-for-oil deals with other countries. The Saudi agreement is thought to include the sale of a large nuniber of Mirage jets. Some deals are simply financial, indicating that military hardware salesmen have been busy. As an example. Iran is buying 30 U.S. jet fighters, Grumman F-UAs, which Grumman officials say is reassuring news for their 6,-000 employees on this project and will keep them working full time into 1977. Adding to the known proliferation of arms is occasional word about Russian armaments and missiles in Egypt and Syria. The latest news is that the Syrians tiave Russian missiles capable of hitting almost all Israeli cities, although there is no evidence that they, or those in Egypt, are equipped with nuclear warheads. Unease over this buildup of arms is augmented by the fact that the Arabs have still not discarded their emotional, and therefore dangerous, approach to political affairs. They still have not been 4ble to control terrorism as a political weapon among their followers. Indeed, they have not been able to convince the world that they wish to control it. Libya is rumored to be using a part of her new wealth to finance guerrilla organizations. While well-armed political entities are at least constrained by the necessity of maintaining a respec- table facade and while political leaders can be presumed to be sanguine enough to recognize the possibilities for self-destruction in precipitous use of their growing piles of armaments, this is not true of guerrillas, whose danger to the world therefore increases with the sophistication and quantity of their hardware. And money buys that hardware. Many of the oil-producing countries have good use for their extra revenues, with large populations and a need for internal development. Venezuela, Indonesia. Algeria, Nigeria - all can put their new found wealth to good use. Iran has the most ambitious program thus far. The Shah has boasted that by the 1980s his country will no longer be exporting oil. but will instead be exporting the products of oil. He even has an acceptable reason for buying the U.S. fighters, since they are considered the best aircraft to cope with the Russian Mig-25s which regularly violate Iranian airspace. But five of the oil-producing countries - all Arabian - cannot possibly spend all their money within their own borders. The World Bank has figured that Saudi Arabia, Libya, Kuwait, Qatar and Abu Dhabi, together, had $20 billion more in 1973 than they could spend on maximum internal development and projects this figure to $280 by 1980. , Libya now has an outlet for revenues in Tunisia, which will be more respectable than arming guerrillas, but the rest, with money to burn, may give in to impulse buying of military hardware just for prestige or just for toys. Abu Dhabi is a prime example of the latter possibility. This small skeikhdom whose oil revenues this year came to more than $23,000 per capita, is buying 32 Mirage jets from France although it has no conceivable use for them and no one to fly them. It plans to import Pakistani pilots. The story of this sale is almost too ridiculous to believe. But it's true and it isnt funny. It's just madness. ART BUCHWALD JERUSALEM - The Geneva peace conference, with all its jet-setting ramifications, is beginning to look dangerously like a re-run of an old Middle Eastern movie. For Dr. Jarring read Dr. Kissinger? In 1974, as in 1971, Israel is offering a limited withdrawal into Sinai. It is prepared to pull its troops back to the defensible line of the Mitla and Gidi passes, a distance of about 20 miles from the Suez Canal. If the terms were right, it might even go further. The quid pro quo is a demonstration of Egyptian good faith. Israel wants what is hardly a concession in itself: Egyptian agreement to reopen the Suez Canal and to restore the battered and evacuated towns along its shore. If President Sadat complied, it is argued here, he would be assuming a vested interest in peace. More ambitiously, Israeli ministers project another familiar scenario. Under the banner of a separation of forces, Israel and Egypt would divide the Sinai peninsula. Israeli troops would command the area to the east of a diagonal line from El Arish to Ras Muhamad, which woiild guarantee control of Sharm el Sheikh and entry to the Gulf of Aqaba. Egypt would regain the western side of the peninsula, but Israel is seeking a substantial, long-term United Nations buffer force between the two armies. It also wants the Egyptians to thin out their garrison east of the canal and to co-operate in joint policing of an agreement. President Sadat rejected anything of the kind before the October war. The theoretical case for his accepting it now is that the Egyptian Army has already established itself on the east bank by its own efforts. His prestige and self-confidence are such that he could present a limited Israeli withdrawal as a phase in the same offensive. He also needs Please sir, just a camel! , WASHINGTON - The French have just made a new deal with Saudi Arabia -r oil in exchange for Mirage airplanes and sophisticated arms. The British are in the process of making a similar deal with other Arab oil-producing countries including the tiny sheikdoms along the Persian Gulf. ] The cruel fact is that in order to guarantee an adequate fuel supply for itself, any industrialized nation is now willing to give the Arabs all the weapons they want. The big question is how much sophisticated armaments can the oil-producing Arab states absorb? Most of their land is covered with sand inhabited by Bedouins who still are not quite used to the sudden wealth that is being showered on them. The following scene will probably take place in a year or tVro: A Bedouin camp 300 miles from the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh. The chief of the area pulls up in a brand-new British armored personnel carrier. "Ahmed," shouts the chief, "you lazy lout, wake up and come out of your tent. I have a gift from the king for you!" Ahmed rushes out of the tent. "Did you bring me a camel?" 'i did better then that, my desert friend. See what I have on the back of the new British armored personnel carrier?" Ahmed follows him to the rear of the truck. The chief strips off the canvas from the object he has in tow. "What is it?" Ahmed asks, staring at the strange machine. . ! "It is the latest French fighter plane, the Phantom-Mirage. It will fly at speeds over I,-100 miles an hour and can carry six air-to-air supersonic missiles. Now what do you say?" "I still would rather have a camel," Ahmed replies to push the Israelis back from their enclave on the west bank, and to remove their hand from the windpipe of the Third Army and the town of Suez. The very fact that Egypt went to Geneva is evidence of a new willingness to do business. But the old sticking point remains. Egypt refuses to allow the new lines to harden into permanence. Cairo is demanding a contractual link between a first stage agreement and eventual Israeli withdrawal to something like the June 1967 frontier. Israel, it seems, is not ready to give more than an under-taking to continue negotiations after disengagement. As with the cease-fire agreement signed at Kilometre 101 on Nov. 11, Jerusalem insists on a prolonged testing of every stage before moving on to the next. Withdrawal from the west bank would mean relinquishing Israel's strongest card. Anything more must depend on what the Foreign Minister, Mr. Abba Eban, calls the "nature of the peace." This is less a matter of seals solemly affixed to documents than the creation of a situation on the ground that makes war implausible. Both Israel and Egypt have good reasons for digging in. For all the blandness of Dr. Kissinger's Washington press conference - "what we expect to do is to see whether we can transform the general ideas into a concrete proposal" - it was probably this realization that brought the Secretary of State winging back so soon to the Middle East this week. Three years ago, Israel iand Egypt could live with a stalemate. The Suez Canal was a neat military waterway. Now they cannot sit it out. Israeli forces are west of the waterway, Egyptians east. The lines are ill-defined and the armies too close. The alternative to peace is war. The danger is greater than ever because both military commands seem convinced that they could win. For the time being, Cairo has reverted to a war of attrition. No one any longer disputes that it is the Egyptians who are breaking the cease-fire day by day. The objective is to make life insufferable for the Israeli soldiers west of the canal. Israel's res.ponse is deliberately restrained. Artillery is answered by artillery, mortars by mortars, small arms by small arms. While there is a chance of a settlement, Israel will not up the ante. But there is a limit to tolerance. The daily bulletins of dead and wounded, even though they remain in single figures, strike echoes of the 1969-70 war of attrition across the canal. The Israeli Defence Minister, General Dayan, has warned President Sadat that Oie cease-fire cannot stay onesided. This week Israel reminded the United Nations that the passage of food convoys to the Egyptian Third Army was an "integral part" of the November agreement, whose first point was a scrupulous adherence to the cease-fire. Israel has already underlined the point by stopping the flow for one day. The encircled Egyptians probably have enou^ stocks by now to hold out for several weeks. The threat to supplies is more psychological than military. If Geneva were seen to have failed, the pressure here would be for something more dramatic. Israel ended the previous war of attrition by refusing to let Cairo dictate its terms. Bombers raided deep into the Egyptian heartiand. The war was made too expensive, and President Nasser signed a cease-fire. This time the balance is different and the outcome would be less predic-Uble. "How dare you talk that way about a gift from your most gracious sovereign?" "Forgive me," 'Ahmed says fearfully," "but I already have four British fighters, six American Sky Hawks and seven heavy armored helicopters out behind my tent. What I really need is something that can cross the desert and doesn't use up water." "I will forget I heard your treasonous words. His majesty has vowed that every citizen in his country will have a complete air squadron of his own by 1977. Now where do you want us to put the Mirage?" "Put it next to the British Centaur tanks you brought me last week. Are you sure I was supposed to get 30 tanks? You know we don't have any children." The chief checked in his book. "That's correct. You are to have 30 tanks, plus 2,000 rounds of armor-piercing cannon shells." "Are you certain his majesty didn't mention anything about giving me a camel? You see my old one is on his last legs, and if I could get a new camel I could sell the dates from the Wadi Oasis and go to the market at Medina and . . ." "Silence, you ungrateful wretch. The next thing you will tell me is that you don't want a nuclear submarine." "A nuclear submarine?" "That is right. The French have agreed to seil us 1,000 nuclear submarines in exchange for 1,000 barrels of oil. As soon as we get the transportation we will be delivering one to you." Ahmed sighs. "All right. But if you can't get me a camel, what about a donkey? I could make do with a donkey until I have enough money to buy a camel." The chief got back on his armored personnel carrier and just laughed. "What industrialized country in the world would give us a donkey?" . Pension plans under study By Richard Gwyn, Toronto Star commentator One of the major political issues of the next few years is being shaped by a study that is underway quietly in the department of health and welfare in Ottawa. The study will decide whether the private pension plans on which most Canadians rely for their security in old age should be replaced by a single, comprehensive national plan. All Canadians at work today are covered by one or both of two quite separate pension schemes. The Canada^uebec Pension Plans provide maximum retirement incomes of $1,089, which is to increase to a maximum of |3,000 by 1980. In addition, four in 10 members of the labor force are covered by company pension plans of which there are some 16,000 big and small, in Canada. Welfare Minister Marc Lalonde, one of the most skilled politicians in the cabinet, has orchestrated his campaign with cautious deliberation. He made his first move last November with a speech in Toronto to the Canadian Pension Conference. In that speech Lalonde asked pointedly whether "it should be a matter of public "You say when you declined to serve as president of the Irish Society of Lethbridge and District the inating committee jumped you?" nil policy concern" that private plans cover only 40 per cent of the labor force; that workers can lose all their rights if their company is bought out or closes down, that the lack of portability between private plans, conflicts "with the increasing mobility of our labor force." Lalonde then attacked the core issue: "Since we are dealing with other people's hard-earned money - dollars they are foregoing for present advantage in expectation of future protection during a much more vulnerable period - we owe it to our contributors to do not only what is minimally required, but what is minimally possible and feasible." A fortnight after Lalonde spoke, Douglas FuUerton, former chairman of the National Capital Commission and not coincidentally, a close friend of Lalonde's, wrote two syndicated articles in which he attacked the private plans as "a chaotic mess." Fullerton proposed that the Canada-Quebec Pension PlanS' be "expanded to cover the bulk of pensionable employees in this country, replacing most private pension plans." The most recent public development has been the ad-. dition to Lalonde's staff, as a part-time consultant, of Claude Castonguay, former minister of welfare in Quebec and author of Quebec's much-praised plan (the QPP earns a yield on its investments of 11.27 per cent compared to 4.4 per cent for the Canada Pension Plan). Private pension plans have few supporters - except their own managers. Trade unions increasingly are challenging the right of companies to exercise exclusive control over what amounts to the savings of their own members. One of Canada's leading pension consultants, William M. Mercer Ltd., recenUy attacked the administration of private schemes as "often incredibly inefficient." Mercer found that while administrative costs should run to about $10 to $20 a member a year, these expenses commonly were $40 or $50, with a consequent reduction in benefits to employees. In political terms the stakes are huge. The assets of trusteed pension plans total about $15 billion. Investment control over this vast pool of capital now rests with trust banks, insurance and private cor- companies, companies porations. A take-over of private plans by a single state-operated scheme, such as Sweden's National Pension Fund, would transfer ah enormous load of decision-making power from the private to the public sector. In part this has already happened. The Canada-Quebec Pension Plans, which have combined assets of some $8 billion, are invested by the respective provinces. Within Ottawa, opposition to a comprehensive national pension plan centres in the department of finance. Finance officials argue this plan would transfer too much investment authority to governments and would squeeze corporate borrowers. Lalonde already has cabinet approval to improve portability between private plans. The weight of responsibility here rests with the provinces and a joint federal-provincial committee is close to agreement on a new portability formula. (A 1972 Ontario pension commission recommended investing after 40 years of age and five years of service instead of 45 years of age and 10 years of service as at present). Lalonde's next step will take him toward "the maximally feasible and possible" comprehensive national plan, by way first of the study and then of a public debate that promises to make the arguments over the government take-over of automobile insurance look like a mild spat between friends. SO TIIKY SAY Most still believe that a democratic system is run by the majority, when in fact it often is not. The truth is that democracy as practiced in the United States tends to be run by the best-organized minority. -Dr. Thomas J. Coyne, associate professor of the University of Akron. "I hope this won't take too long. I've got to drive home by way of Saudi Arabia." Letters Fair price for oil East is east and West is west. When shall the twain meet? The year 1974 will be recorded in Canadian history as the year that Santa Claus, North Pole, changed his name and address to Santa Lougheed, Edmonton, Alberta. This is the year that Alberta started to give fellow Canadians millions of dollars, with central Canada being the chief beneficiary. The Great Canadian Rip-off of Alberta resources commenced. Political banditry of this magnitude has never been equalled in democratic government. This is actually confiscation of a province's resources. It is central Canadian politicism in action! Over 20 years ago Alberta tried to interest our eastern money merchants in the development of Alberta oil. They were too busy investing in "protected" central Canadian industries. Had we waited for them, the oil would still be undiscovered. The foreign companies were the only oneS; interested in developing Alberta. Pursuit of foreign companies has now replaced hockey as Canada's national sport. In 1950 Alberta oil sold for $2.88. It dropped to $2.27 and recovered to $2.49 by 1970. It is now $4.00 per barrel. How does this compare with wages, housing, cars and household appliances during the same period? An honest, non - political solution to our "political" energy crisis is simple. An excess profits tax and close supervision will handle oil company profits. A formula can be found to tax Alberta if Alberta receives a per capita income greatiy in excess of the next highest province for any sustained period. The enunciated oil policy of Messrs. Trudeau, Macdonald and Lewis will guarantee a stagnation of production and exploration with their "below world price" policies. They ensure a never-ending energy crisis for Canada. Canada is treating the United States the same as the Arabs. Retaliation will eventually come. We need the humbling influence of a 10 per cent surtax. The Feds are afraid that Alberta will treat Canada likewise... The cost of oil production is no exception. Its price should be inflating at our national rate of 9 per cent. Under our present energy "policy" oil is worth $4.00. In the U.S. new discovery is worth $8.00. It is easy to see where the exploration and development money will be spent while this differential exists. Is this in Canadian interest? Alberta has the right to price its natural resources. Ontario and Quebec price their manufactured products entering interprovincial trade. The banks price their money entering interprovincial trade. Quebec Hydro prices its power for export. Our freight carriers are allowed discriminatory rates showing favoritism for certain regions. A conflict of interest disqualifies the central Canadian judiciary in rendering an impartial decision in a constitutional confrontation. We have been ."conditioned': to acicept protected central Canadian industry for "Canadian'' interest. Central Canadian consumers now need protection against western produce ~ first, wheat and feed grain, now oil. Will natural gas be next? Federal politics are determined to maintain first-class citizens on a Montreal -Toronto axis and second -class citizens in the rest of Canada. What happened to our just society? The Federal government would never have taken unilateral action respecting oil if it belonged to Ontario or Quebec. They are careful to consult with these provinces before muscling in on their areas of sensitive jurisdiction . . . The Political bums of Central Canada are again cloaking their action in the name of Canada and confederation. Federal policies have been far more effective in perpetuating Bast-West divisions than our natural barriers. GEORGE S. SNOW Milk River Money^saving defence It was announced in a CP release from Ottawa (The Herald, Jan. 12) that the defence department is spending $30 million in the U.S.A. for new anti-tank weapons. According to CP, this is ". . . one more multi-million dollar purchase announced by the defence department since a three-year freeze on its budget was ended last year." Surely someone in Ottawa or the military can think of equally effective means of defence that can be managed with internal expenditures. I have one modest suggestion to make. It seems probable that an invasion of tanks would come by land. Since the U.S.A. is unlikely to allow foreigners to attack Canada across its territory, we can assume that the invading tanks will have English speaking drivers. For only a few million dollars we can hire unemployed people to paint misleading road signs and then be ready to place these signs at strategic places in case of invasion. Think of the savings in foreign exchange and in money presently devoted to unemployment payments. Also note that obsolete signs can be split up and sold to householders to use for kindling. My ideas for defence against invasion from the sea and air are too good to.hint at in public. For only a paltry $2 or $3 million I will volunteer to head a commission to study these ideas and then recommend further expenditures. LOREN HEPLER Lethbridge |i I- 'A i-: boring Security !< hoiini: Man is driven by an iiuitK' neeil to .seek -liinul.iiiiin It IS an unac-I'li^iiiiiieil -iiination for men to tie in - Anthropologist Robert Ardrey. The Lethbridge Herald 504 7th St. S. Lethbridge, Alberta LETHBRIDQE HERALD CO. LTD, Proprietors and Publistiers Second Class Mall Registration No. 0012 CLEO MOWERS, Editor and Publisher DON H. PILLING DONALD R. DORAM Managing Editor General Manager ROV F. MILES Advertising Manager DOUGLAS K. WALKER Editorial Page Editor ROBERT M. FENTON Circulation Manager KENNETH E. BARNETT Business Manager "THE HERALD SERVES THE SOUTH"