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Says Iran Arms Scandal will Affect U.S. Credibility

December 8, 1986

ATHENS, Greece (AP) _ A U.S. professor told an international conference on terrorism Sunday that the scandal over America’s arms sales to Iran has altered the United States’ relations with its allies.

″I don’t think the Iran affair has affected the United States’ ability to retaliate against terrorism, but it has affected its ability to be credible on the issue of terrorism in the eyes of our allies,″ said Monte Palmer, a professor of political science at Florida State University.

Palmer, a specialist on Middle East politics and terrorism, was addressing 70 delegates from 30 countries on the final day of a three-day international conference on terrorism and national liberation movememts.

The meeting was organized by the Communist-backed Institute for the Greek Economy and was partly sponsored by the Libya-based International Secretariat for Solidarity with the Arab People and their Central Cause: Palestine.

Palmer said that ″the complexity of the terrorism mosaic″ made it increasingly difficult for the United States to follow a consistent policy on terrorism.

He said Iran’s strategic importance, sharing a border with the Soviet Union, meant it couldn’t become the target of an American military strike.

″Negotiations with Iran were in the strategic interests of the United States. If terrorism could be reduced or hostages released as a byproduct of such negotiations, so much the better,″ Palmer told the conference.

He said that further U.S. military strikes against countries believed to be actively backing terrorism, like the raids on Libya last April, couldn’t be ruled out.

″But one must consider their effectiveness as a deterrent to terrorism,″ he said. ″To date there is little or no evidence to suggest that the raid on Libya significantly reduced terrorism in the region.″

His views were attacked by left-wing conference delegates who sought to condemn the United States for practicing ″state terrorism.″ He also was criticized for describing Soviet policy toward Afghanistan and Poland as examples of terrorism.

″Afghanistan and Poland are not relevant to this discussion. It is the United States that practices state terrorism and must remove its bases from the Middle East region before peace can be made,″ said Abdul Hussain Shaban, the delegate for the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Palmer, who worked five years in the Middle East, predicted terrorism against the United States would increase.

″The U.S. cannot eliminate the social or economic imbalances within Middle East states,″ he said. ″The origins of terrorism are endemic to the region. They are more likely to increase than decrease.″

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