Paul Wineman, Provacative As Expected
WVRC on May 31st
GODON FELL led the Pledge. LENNY came forward with the Song, You Are My Sunshine, and we even got through the second verse. ART HENRY provided the Invocation. It was a 5th Century AD prayer from India by Kali Dasa. It spoke of looking to today, so that today will make every day a vision of happiness and tomorrow a vision of hope. Good work, ART.
Birthdays were next those eligible included BURLEIGH ARNOLD, who was first in May and asked for the 12th, which took place in Lewiston, MO. Next was SALLY BRANT, on the 14th in Los Angeles. ELEANOR MORE liked the next day, the 15th, and chose Urbana, Ill. The day following, the 16th, appealed to PP HOWIE HENKES, and he arrived in faraway Vicennes, Ind. REGINA HERRICK liked May 26, back in Los Angeles. Last was GEORGE COX, on the 27th in Westmoreland and we know you are aware that is also in California. Of all the above, only Mr. COX was present to be serenaded, but he also signed our three books for the Westwood Library all by himself.
There were several guests. Two Visiting Rotarians, PDG Rick Mendoza, from Redondo Beach, and another, from India unfortunately I didn’t get his name. Both LENNY FRIEDMAN and RAY ZICKFELD brought their wives, Sunny and Marjorie. PP TOM LENEHEN came with his Supervisor at the Getty, Erich Shanon. President of Rotaract SEEMA PATEL was accompanied by PP Candice Danshevar, and incoming President Katia Vaisberg. Candice has just returned from her first year at Medical School at the U. of Pittsburgh, and she tells me the studying is more concentrated, but she likes it. Another guest was Rabbi Mendel Aisenbach, who is Director of Marketing at Chabad on the UCLA campus. I had two guests, Dave Lund and Grover Heyler both are or were attorneys, and the Middle East topic interested them. There was another guest, but I missed his name, somehow.
The unfortunate condition of LEO TSENG was called to our attention by PP STEVE SCHERER. It’s certainly true that he was wearing dark glasses, but he did appear to have some superficial roughage to his cheekbone. LEO first premised that he, LEO, had made a proposal to a young lady, which was rejected - this caused BILL EDWARDS to leap to his feet, apparently defending what he called LEO running into BILL’S tennis racket. And of course, whether they were playing tennis at the time was not clear. This incident provoked several (probably planted) calls for a fine, but alas, the matter slipped away without a public solution.
Prexy MIKE announced that a young lady will be visiting in Los Angeles, next month, and she is seeking accommodations for 3 or 4 nights. This will be around the middle of June. She is a Veterinarian, and of course there was the usual anonymous, even soto voce, requests for her picture. However, MIKE has details. Inglewood Rotary is hosting a Day at the Races on June 8th cost is $75, and again, MIKE is the source of further information. And last but not least, June 23rd is the date of MIKE”S demotion so get your checks in soon, please.
The Joke followed. Somewhere (I didn’t get the location) apparently, there is a fondness for brains as a culinary delight. They are sold by the ounce, and the price does vary. A carpenter’s brain goes for $l.50, while a plumber’s gray matter jumps to $2.75. However, politician’s brains fetch $375.00 PER OUNCE! When questioned as to why this huge jump, the proprietor asked, “Just think of how many politicians it takes to get an ounce of brains!”
PP PETER MORE introduced our Speaker, Paul Wineman. PETER’S opening comment was, “A story like that is an easy act to follow”! But moving right along, Paul Wineman was born in Hollywood, and he joined WVRC in 1986. He serves as a Contract Negotiator with both domestic and international corporations. As a former member and a several-times repeat Speaker, Paul was given a warm welcome.
Paul began be reminding us that his message would be a sobering assessment of a sensitive part of the world. This is his eighth talk before WVRC, and each time it’s a little more bleak. We needn’t agree with what he has to say, and some of what he says may offend new listeners. He speaks, as an American, to a roomful of Americans, and it is bi-partisan. His family moved to Iran when he was two years old, during the 1930’s, and the first language he learned to speak was Farsi. He next returned to America when he was 18, to attend college. The role of America in those days was far different than it is today. He intends to give us his views based on having been there, and who will be there again.
The President of the United States, and the Congress, is responsible for the national security of this country not just politically, but also militarily and economically. So this is his impression, based on living there, receiving his Masters at Beirut University, serving in the U.S. Army while in Iran, as an advisor to the Iranian Army Paul was a paratrooper - and living there during the start of the Lebanese Civil War.
The first of the three elements of American interest in the Middle East is oil. Remember that Iraq was the second largest producer of oil in the world, Kuwait being 3rd, and Iran, 4th. That’s why we have 170,000 troops there. On the map which was passed out, all the countries are shown, with those that produce oil being underlined in red. Saudi Arabia is of course the biggest country, and the largest producer of oil. Pipelines run from the south up to the Mediterranean, and keeping these open is of paramount importance to our country, which is totally dependent upon fossil fuel.
This situation has changed in the last ten years. China has now become a major importer of oil, as have other developing countries so not everything the Saudis produce goes just to us. Refineries are in short supply, and many are not being built. What about the price of oil? Paul doesn’t know where it will go, but until we begin to successfully produce alternative fuels, it won’t come down in price. And such production will take decades literally to lessen our dependence. To maintain the standard of living that we now enjoy, oil must continue to flow into the U.S. The Arabs realize this.
The second element of our interest in the Middle East and you won’t like this is the huge amount of money we make by selling arms, not only to the Middle East but to the rest of the developing world. And yet, if we were to stop selling arms to the rest of the world this isn’t right, after all who would step right in? Russia is just starting, and our friends the British aren’t far behind, followed by the Germans, the Chinese the list is long. The clear monopoly we had at the end of WWII is long gone. We are just a part of a worldwide economy, which we no longer control or dominate. Why is our CIA and related Intelligence systems not nearly as effective as, for instance, that of Israel? Because we rely on electronic surveillance, while Israel has agents on the ground.
The third element of our interest in the Middle East is the proliferation of nuclear weapons in countries which we do not control. India and Pakistan are prime examples but Russia, and yes, Israel, have deliverable nuclear weapons. Now Iran is moving that way. But you say, certainly we can trust (some of) these countries but can we, really? If you were responsible for the national security of America, would you be content, right now? The reason that Paul became a Green Beret in the Army was because he had lived in another culture. His strong advice to young people today is to seek employment
Overseas, either in the foreign operations of U.S. companies, or for the U.S. Government. He believes that is where the future leaders of American will come from. If he were a student today, he would take Chinese, by the way. He speaks to the incoming classes from Wharton. His audience usually numbers about 60 students, and half of them are non-Americans - and half of the 30 are Chinese. He asks them what they consider of primary importance in their future and they say, speaking English.
This whole slide downward started, in his opinion, when President Carter pulled the rug out from under the Shah in 1979. He did it because he didn’t like the Human Rights record of the Shah and it wasn’t a good record. But, remember that in the Middle East, they respect strength and despise weakness. Their credo is “He who has the gold makes the rules”. Because of the price of oil, these countries have power. And Paul believes that if Iran is allowed to have nuclear power, they will use it! While they probably won’t have the “throw power” to reach the U.S. they could use nuclear weapons on Israel or on any other country in the area.
If you look again at the map, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, the Emirates are all oil-producing states, and they are all ‘friendly’ to the West. Oil continues to flow, and their regimes are all corrupt. Yet we need these corrupt regimes. Remember that eight hundred years ago, the Christians from Europe were fighting the Muslims from the Holy Land, so this conflict is not new. Paul guesses that out of one hundred million Arabs, perhaps one percent are fanatics, and they are the vocal ones. Note that nobody does something for nothing, and if you want something done in the Middle East, you pay for it.
Look at the map again, and notice how big and flat Saudi Arabia is. There are literally hundreds of pipelines running across it. Yet you don’t hear of them being sabotaged, or refineries being blown up. Why not? Saudi Arabia pays Al Queda for what we would call ‘Protection Money”! So do the other oil-producing Middle Eastern states. Iran is seeking control of the Shiite population of Iraq which would give them control of Iraq itself. Their next target might be Pakistan. We could say, “Let’s negotiate”. But you can’t negotiate with people who are out to kill you.
Arabs as a people like Americans. They believe that we have no control over our government, as they have none over theirs, and thus they don’t blame us personally for mistakes our government may make. Remember that a practicing Muslim kneels toward Mecca five times every day, and prays do any of us approach such religious fervor? A particular peeve of Paul’s is that we wear our hearts on our sleeves. Let’s not forget that whatever we do, there will be some people out there who won’t like it. So being liked should not drive our diplomacy.
Q&A. I asked, Is there any way we can force Israel into making a start toward peace with the Palestinians? We give aid to Israel, the Palestinians, and Egypt three billion dollars each year. He’s not sure the Americans really want peace. Consider, for a moment, what could happen if Israeli engineering and Muslim money were working together. Someone asked if there could be a split among Muslims along Shiite vs. Sunni lines. It’s possible, but they are, after all, Muslims, so long term, probably not. Should we consider invading Iran? No, that would be a disaster like the Germans invading Russia in WWII. But we could send in highly trained teams that could accomplish our objective of eliminating or at least seriously incapacitating their nuclear bomb program. Israel also has the capability of sending in similar teams.
I missed a couple of questions but I want to thank You, Paul, for a dose of reality regarding what is going on and what may go on in the Middle East. Please come back, and soon.