In 1991, the Chairman of the Joint C-o-S, Colin Powell, convinced President Bush #41 to abort the Gulf War, thus perpetuating the terror regime of Saddam Hussein. Consequently, the deterrence posture of the US was severely eroded, the anti-US wave of terror was drastically emboldened, climaxing on 9/11. Moreover, Saddam has evolved into a potential nuclear power, threatening US national security and requiring a US military effort, larger than the 1991 Gulf War.
In 2002, Secretary of State, Colin Powell, attempts to convince President Bush #43 to pressure Israel into a premature conclusion of its war on Palestinian terrorism, which would perpetuate the terror regime of the Palestinian Authority/PLO. Repeating, rather than avoiding, the Powell errors of 1991 would deal another blow to Israel’s power of deterrence. It would expose Israel to a wave of a re-charged Palestinian terrorism, which would dwarf the murder of the 28 Israeli civilians during the March 27, 2002 Passover Massacre (proportionally, 850 Americans!) and the 750 Israelis killed since the signing of the Oslo Accords (proportionally, 22,500 Americans!). Acceding to Powell’s pressure would undermine regional stability and would force Israel – in a few months – to launch a much costlier war on terrorism than the one currently conducted.
Secretary of State Powell is a key player in the Bush Administration, a decorated warrior. But, he has not been perceived – by the Administration – as the luminary on issues of national and international security. Powell has not been a dominant policy initiator, molder and executor as were Jim Baker, George Schultz and Henry Kissinger. He has not reflected authentically the views of the President (on international relations as well as on abortion) as did Madlyn Albright. He has not shared the special personal chemistry with the President, as was the case with his predecessors and as has been the case with Condoleezza Rice. While Kissinger and Baker overshadowed the Vice Presidents, Secretaries of Defense and Advisors on National Security, Powell is serving along with the most influential Vice President in the history of the US. He serves side-by-side with an authoritative Secretary of Defense, who has risen in stature since 9/11, and with an Advisor on National Security who has been – since 1999 – President Bush’s mentor on international relations. The limits to Secretary Powell’s clout in the Administration were initially apparent when the President appointed Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, in spite of Powell’s explicit objection, and due to Cheney’s insistence. He also had to accept, grudgingly, the appointment of John Bolton as his own Undersecretary for International Security.
However, one should not underestimate the influence of Powell, who has persuaded President Bush to enhance his own involvement in the political process between Israel and the PLO, to enunciate “the vision of a Palestinian state,” and to agree to meet Arafat at the UN. 9/11 has precluded the Bush-Arafat meeting, but has not altered the direction of Powell’s policy, as was proclaimed during his November 19 speech at the University of Kentucky (“end of Israeli occupation”, “Palestinian state”, etc. In order to comprehend Powell’s courting of Arafat, and his tireless efforts to save the skin of Arafat and the PLO/PA, in spite of their staggeringly criminal track record, one should examine Powell’s world view, as reflected in his attitude toward Afghanistan and Iraq.
Contrary to the President, Vice President and Secretary of Defense, who believe that terrorists must be eliminated, Powell believes that terrorists could be integrated. Hence, he disputed the merit of the total obliteration of the Taliban, suggesting that the Taliban could join a coalition government in Afghanistan. He attempted to delay the US bombing of Taliban positions, until a future political settlement is formulated. And, he tried to prevent the takeover of Kabul by the Northern Front, lest there be negative repercussion upon the stability of the region.
In 1990, Powell dismissed much of the intelligence on Saddam’s offensive intentions against Kuwait. He opposed a show of force by the US Navy in the Persian Gulf, which could have deterred Saddam’s belligerence. Following Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait, Powell objected to the war on Iraq, and played a key role in the premature ending of the war, lest it ostensibly exacerbate instability in the area. His recommendation to lower the US profile in the war on Saddam, facilitated the massacre – by Saddam – of his Shi’ite and Kurdish opposition and the elimination of the CIA infrastructure in Iraq. As a Secretary of State, Powell has attempted to reduce the scope of sanctions against Iraq and the inspection over the no-fly zone. He has argued against the campaign to expose Saddam’s complicity with 9/11, and has lobbied against the expansion of the US war on terrorism into Iraq, since it would, supposedly, undermine US attempts to galvanize an Arab coalition against terrorism.
Powell is a friend of UN Secretary General, Annan, and – unlike most Americans – he has been supportive of the UN. While Cheney and Rumsfeld have supported unilateral US military actions against the threats of Islamic terrorism, ballistic missiles, Iraq and Iran, Powell has been a proponent of international and multi-lateral initiatives. He has preferred the diplomatic, legal and financial weapon, rather the military weapon. He has been attentive to the advise of Brent Scowcroft and Edward Djeredjian, who served President Bush #41 as the National Security Advisor and Assistant Secretary of State. Both encouraged the courting of Saddam until the day of the invasion of Kuwait, and both opposed the 1991 Gulf War on Saddam. Both were members of the “Arabist” contingency of the administration.
Powell’s appointments have shed light on his world view. His Special Advisor on the Mideast, General (ret.) Anthony Zini, argued against the 1991 Gulf War and cautions against a 2002 war on Saddam. He has considered terrorism to be a diplomatic and a legal – more than a military – problem. He has been a frequent visitor to Arab capitals, especially to Riad, and minimized until recently contacts with Israel and pro-Israel elements in the US. Powell’s Under Secretary for Policy Planning is Richard Haas, who was the Mideast advisor of President Bush #41, and inflamed #41’s negative attitude toward Prime Minister Shamir. Haas has pushed for a total withdrawal by Israel to the 1967 Lines, for the establishment of a Palestinian state, for the repartitioning of Jerusalem and for the dismantling of all Israeli settlements. He has lobbied against a US war on Saddam, and has spoken up against the assistance to Saddam’s Iraqi opposition. He has considered the Iranian regime to be a potentially constructive entity. William Burns, known for his solid contacts with radical Arabs, has been Powell’s Assistant Secretary for Near East Affairs. And, Dan Kurtzer, an experienced diplomat, a warm and a committed Jew who has been soft on the PLO, adhering to Peace Now’s philosophy, was appointed by Powell to the post of Ambassador to Israel.
Powell has been known – in military and “Foggy Bottom” circles – to fully identify with his State Department bureaucracy. He has provided a complete support to the bureaucracy of the Department of State, adopting much of its classic positions: political engagement with radical states and organizations, opposition to the massive financing of ballistic missile defense, softening of the policy toward China, North Korea, Iran and Iraq and a full backing of the Oslo Process. Powell has even embraced the lingo of Foggy Bottom: “confidence building measures” (code name for further Israeli territorial concessions), “cycle of violence” (moral equivalence between terrorists and victims), “freeze on settlements” (prejudging outcome of negotiations), “even-handedness” (between a democratic ally and the role-model of terrorism), etc.
Secretary of State Colin Powell has been a committed friend of the Jewish People. However, it is pertinent to recognize his proper role and weight in the Bush Administration, as well as his world view, in order to avoid euphoria or depression in reacting to his pronouncements and meetings with Arafat, a role-model of international terrorism and inter-Arab treachery, a serial violator of commitments, an abuser of human rights, an oppressor of Christians, a money counterfeiter and the corrupt ally of Iraq, Iran, Sudan and other terrorist entities.