Charles Glass is an American political journalist, author and broadcaster specializing in the Middle East affairs. From 1983 to 1993, he was the chief Middle East correspondent of the ABC News. His articles and commentaries have appeared on The Independent, Christian Science Monitor, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, New Statesman and Harper’s Magazine. In 1976, he was granted the Overseas Press Club Award for his radio reporting of the death of Palestinians at the Beirut refugee camp at Tel el Zaatar. In 1986, Glass interviewed the hostage crew of TWA flight 847 on the tarmac of Beirut Airport. He broke the news that the hijackers had removed the hostages from the plane and hidden them in the suburbs of Beirut, causing the Reagan Administration to abort a rescue attempt. In his recent book the “Americans in Paris”, Charles Glass has retold the true story of the thousands of American who stayed in Paris during the Nazi occupation.
Glass took part in an interview with Daily News Corner to discuss the recent developments in the Middle East including the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the prospect of Iran’s nuclear standoff and the role of United States in the current state of affairs in the region.
Q: Iran has been long under the pressure of United States and European countries over its nuclear program. There’s no evidence that Iran’s nuclear program is aimed at military purposes. At the same time, Israel, Pakistan and India possess nuclear weapons and the Western powers have never tried to propel these three countries towards disarmament. How should we justify this hypocrisy?
A: The double standard is a familiar theme in western policy. If a country hostile to American strategic priorities does something, the US administration rejects it. If a client state or a friend does it, the US administration will find a way to accept it. This has been going on for years. It was not all that long ago that the Shah was pursuing nuclear research (including at M.I.T.). Given his status as a client of the US, no one in Washington objected. In the case of Pakistan and India, the US position was officially negative. It did not take long however for Washington to accept what had happened.
Q: Israel attacked the peace activists aboard the sailboats of Freedom Flotilla and killed several people. It’s continually defying a number of UNSC resolutions, including the resolution 487; however, it has never been held accountable as to its criminal actions. How is it possible for Israel to be granted impunity from international law such blatantly?
You know the answer to this as well as I do. Israel is immune to international law, as on most occasions is the U.S. The U.S. has the power to make sure that Israel does not suffer for violating international law (including with its theft of Palestinian land on the West Bank and the replacement of the indigenous population by settlers of one ethnic-religious group). It is tragic for the Palestinian people that they have no benefactor with power to match that of the United States. The Palestinians are not helped in any way by silly statements from Iran’s president that Israel should be wiped off the map. Israel is a fact that even the Palestinians have had to accept, but they still have the right to a state in all of the West Bank and Gaza with full compensation for the refugees who will not be able to return to the small Palestinian state for whatever reason. Israel must decolonize the territories it seized in 1967, but it does not feel the need to while the US tolerates its illegal occupation.
Q: What’s your idea on the prospect of Afghanistan’s security under the invasion of multinational troops? Can the United States and its European allies afford a new adventure in the region that is the long advertised war against Iran?
A: The U.S. can afford a war in Afghanistan for as long as it likes. I don’t believe it is a war against Iran so much as against forces within Afghanistan and Pakistan that the U.S. disapproves of. Iran has legitimate concerns over developments in both Iraq and Afghanistan, given the large numbers of foreign troops near its borders. Iran, however, benefited from the overthrow of regimes, the Baath in Baghdad, the Taliban in Kabul, that were extremely hostile to its interests. Iran also cooperated at certain levels with the U.S. and its local allies in overthrowing both regimes.