MIKE GINTZ started us off, calling PP RON LYSTER up to lead the Pledge. JACK HARRIS and PP JIM DOWNIE led us in America. Then, TORI HETTINGER, UCLA Rotaract President, stepped forward with the Invocation, which was the current UCLA Alma Mater and a nice touch. Thank you, TORI. There were no Visiting Rotarians, but President Elect DON NELSON brought along ROZ, who he introduced with her new title, “Rotary Roz”. Honorary Member DORIS SUMNER was also present and my Special Guest was John Heidt. John told me afterward that he really enjoyed the meeting you can’t beat Paul Wineman as a Speaker.
VP MIKE asked about Mike’s World. This concerned DG PAT CASHEN’S visit with us last week, and PAT was quite complimentary about the reports and update he and Assistant Governor Scot Clifford received. PP STEVE DAY reported on the coming Paul Harris Celebration, which is scheduled for November 6th at the Long Beach Convention Center. As of today, we have sold $6,150.00 in Raffle Tickets but that still leaves us short by some 35 members if we are to achieve the 100% that we would like to report. As to the dinner itself, we still have some dinner reservations open and for a few of us, that is dependent upon the starting time of the UCLA-Washington State football game. Ah, priorities, priorities…And here’s one you might take up BRUCE ROLF has now moved to Berkeley West, which is on Arizona at 17th street. His direct line is (310) 453-1931, and you should call first, to be sure Marie is available to help his talking. This is a lonesome time for him please do visit.
PP HOMER NEWMAN came forward with a first status report on the estate of VIRGINIA GANDY, of which WVRC is a major recipient. VIRGINIA, whose father, JOHN SANDMAN, was a Charter Member, has an estate valued at something over a million dollars. The two portions which are settled will provide a total of over $300,000 to our Westwood Village Rotary Foundation, and there are conditions attached as to how most of that must be spent it will eventually make its way to the R.I.Foundation, which of course funds all the wonderful projects and events that Rotary carries on worldwide.
When the sale of VIRGINIA’S condo is complete and it’s in escrow we will receive another substancial portion of income, again divided between our spendable and ‘directed’ Foundation accounts. VIRGINIA, we hope you are looking down on us as recipients and feeling good about your wonderful generosity to WVRC.
RALPH WOODWORTH introduced our Speaker, Paul Wineman. As many of you know, Paul is a former member of WVRC, and he returns from time to time to update us with his intimate knowledge of the Middle East. He grew up in Iran, where his family was working, and graduated from the University of Washington. Commissioned a 2nd Lt, he went to Iran as a Special Forces officer, and for the next seven years served as an advisor to the Shah of Iran’s paratroops. During this time, he learned Arabic, already knowing Farzi, and then got a Master’s Degree from American University in Beirut. After leaving the Army, he began a career of advising American businesses on doing business and negotiating with governments in the Middle East. So his knowledge is both firsthand and up to date.
Paul began by reminding us that what he has to say often produces strong responses from his audience but with us, he feels at home and tough comments are what he expects. His subject is Oil, really and he has had a number of military personnel rise up to tell him that they didn’t join up to fight for oil. His response is that they had better rethink that answer, since countries do what is in their economic interest to do. We live in a society that is entirely powered by oil, and we are thus completely dependent upon protecting that oil supply.
His basic credo is, “He who has the gold, makes the rules”. The United States has 5% of the world’s population, and the other 95% do not live like- or believe as we do. Note that we were the unquestioned Superpower from the end of WWII until we lost the Vietnam War. This caused those who wanted to believe otherwise that we perhaps weren’t as powerful as we had been. After all, since then, we are not making things, or servicing them and that does create wealth. In addition, Paul, in his role as go-between for firms doing business overseas detects a lethargy on the part of management. In other words, the top people have not yet recognized this change in attitude, and thus have not made any moves to adjust to the new circumstances.
Paul reminded us that, in 1975, he was abducted off the streets of Beirut by the PLO, and held in an underground cell. He was interrogated every eight hours, with a document in front of him which they insisted he sign, saying he was a member of the CIA This document was in Arabic, and had he signed it, it would have been his death sentence. He was told that they would hold him until he signed, and when he did not, was fortunate to get out. At a later time, those who were kidnapped were held for six or seven years but even after he was released, he continued to live in Beirut. He stayed for another eight years, living within a few blocks of where he had been held. He stayed because he was making a lot of money, and he didn’t want that opportunity to get away. There are only two reasons to go and live in the Middle East today to make money, or as a religious missionary. It is not like the United States the Middle East is for Middle Easterners, period outsiders are not welcome.
Terrorism has been going on for a long time. Terrorists, who are Islamic Fundamentalists, live their religion. That is, they practice it much more intently and consistently than do we, as Christians. There are over a billion Muslins in the world Indonesia is the largest Islamic Republic and while the majority of Muslims are not terrorists, they do tend to accept and tolerate the terrorist activities carried out by their more fundamentalist brethren. Note that a mere four years after Paul was abducted, in 1979, the United States pulled the rug out from under the Shah of Iran. This was done, we said, in support of human rights but it left us without our largest and most important ally in the whole area.
And who replaced the Shah? Ayatolah Khomeni, one of the founding fathers of the entire Islamic Terrorist sect and at that point, terrorism was ignited. Paul feels this was one of the poorest foreign policy decisions ever made by the United States.
He digressed at this point to point out that he has some good Muslim friends it takes time to build the trust that is necessary, but it can be done. When he is asked why Muslims hate the United States, he answers that this is not a true statement. You have a handful of fundamentalists who manage to rally others emotionally. But the arab world admires our free enterprise system and they like the American personality. However, Paul’s answer to the question really is, “Who Cares?”. Why should we, the most powerful nation militarily in the world, care about what others think about us? Do the British care about what people think? The French don’t even like each other (which got a laugh, of course). Paul doesn’t see why we have to be liked by other people in the world. What we should be seeking is respect, he believes.
Osama bin laden was one of over 50 children fathered by the senior bin laden. All the sons inheirited 38 million dollars on his death Osama took his money, and went to Afghanistan, where he watched the Taliban financed by the U.S. drive the Russians out. He fully approved of this, but when he returned to Saudi Arabia, he found that the United States had essentially taken over the country. We had advisors in all the important areas, and their advice was followed. He strongly objected to this, and thus began his career as a Terrorist. Is he still alive we don’t know, but if he doesn’t show up between now and our election in two weeks, you should draw your own conclusions. In any case, his legacy is very much present.
We went into Iraq because they have the second largest known reserves of oil, and we wanted to protect that supply. Our foreign policy in that part of the world is Oil, Oil, Oil, and protect Israel. We give Israel three billion dollars a year and what do we get in return? Basically, the continuing enmity of the entire Arab world. In that regard, we also give the Palestinians and the Pakistanis three billion each again, what do we get for this? After we rescued Kuwait in 1991, we developed bases in all the countries of the area, so that Iran is now effectively surrounded and that is good. He wonders if we really want peace in the Middle East. What would happen to the price of oil, if you combined Israeli know-how with Arab oil? Talk about thinking outside the box…
Will we achieve democracy in Iraq? We are there, and we MUST stay the course otherwise we lose control of the supply of oil. Therefore, we will be able to put together a working government, with some democratic underpinnings. It won’t be quick, and it will cost soldiers lives. And while he doesn’t believe we would consider invading Iran, he thinks we could use selective air strikes to destroy their nuclear capacity.
Paul, thanks very much for your insights into what is going on in the Middle East.
And note, I can make tapes of Paul’s actual speech, if you wish to have one. Please let me know, and I will order them, OK?