Yesterday, David Gregory asked Colin Powell about Chuck Hagel's remark that "the Jewish lobby" intimidates a lot of people on Capitol HIll. "What kind of thinking does that reflect? Can you understand pro-Israel senators being concerned by that comment?"
Powell responded: "They shouldn't be that concerned. That terms slips out from time to time. There was an article this week that the Israeli newspaper Haaretz has occasionally used the same thing. And so Chuck should have said Israeli lobby, and not Jewish lobby, and perhaps he needs to write on a blackboard 100 times, "It is the Israeli lobby." But there is an Israeli lobby. There are people who are very supportive of the state of Israel. I'm very supportive of the state of Israel. So is Senator Hagel, and you'll see that in the confirmation hearings, but it doesn't mean you have to agree with every single position that the Israeli government takes."
Powell doesn't seem to grasp the difference between being pro-Israel (the term David Gregory used) and being Israeli. Americans who are supportive of Israel do not constitute an "Israeli lobby." And while Colin Powell may find the term "Israeli lobby" slipping out from time to time, he really should restrict it to Israelis or those working for the government of Israel. The rest of us--a majority of Americans--are just pro-Israel.
"TOO GOOD TO CHECK" is the technical term for a story like the censoring of "Guernica." Secretary of State Colin Powell, so the story goes, went to the United Nations to present the case for war against Iraq to the Security Council, then took questions from the press standing before a blue backdrop--a backdrop specially erected at the insistence of the warmongers to conceal a tapestry version of Picasso's great painting depicting the horrors of war.
The episode was a bonanza for antiwar, anti-Bush propagandists and those eager to believe them.
I MADE THE MISTAKE of watching French news the night of Colin Powell's presentation before the Security Council. The report on Powell's speech on A2, which is the second most important French channel, wasn't too bad. There was a sneering summary of Powell's argument that there is al Qaeda activity in Baghdad. "As proof, Secretary Powell presented a photograph of a man," the broadcast reported. Naturally, there was no mention of the dramatic footage of an Iraqi-owned but French-made Mirage jet spraying chemical weapons.
ASK FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER Dominique "Sandbag" de Villepin what his country had in mind when it supported the "serious consequences" threatened in U.N. Resolution 1441 for continued Iraqi noncompliance, and he'd likely utter two words: more inspections.
De Villepin's reaction to Colin Powell's case today at the United Nations was as comically incoherent as possible in a discussion of terrorism and deadly weapons. Listening to Villepin after Powell's presentation, I wondered if he had actually understood anything that Powell had said in the previous 80 minutes.
SECRETARY OF STATE Colin Powell hardly had to make the case that Iraq is aggressively thwarting United Nations arms inspectors. The evidence is so overwhelming that even the French concede this point. More important was the compelling case Powell made about the weapons of mass destruction which Iraq today possesses or is developing. And just as important was the solid evidence Powell outlined of a connection between Iraq and al Qaeda.
COLIN POWELL travels to the United Nations today to "make the case" for war in Iraq. He will detail Saddam Hussein's possession, ongoing development, and continued concealment of weapons of mass destruction. It's a solid case, and most Americans buy it. As Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN) told me last week, "There is no doubt in my mind that if Saddam Hussein were put on trial for having weapons of mass destruction, he would be found guilty." Those predisposed to agree with us will find it compelling. So will most of the fence-sitters, including Russia.
BY THE END of last week, months' worth of Bush administration talk about Iraq had been reduced, really, to one talking point: Time is running out.
Senior administration officials had spent a good deal of time debating their public relations strategy for this past week. They had in mind a significant build-up to the important prewar trifecta coming up--the report from U.N. inspectors on the status of Saddam Hussein's disarmament on Monday, the president's State of the Union address on Tuesday, and the week-long discussion at the U.N. Security Council of whether to use force in Iraq.
IS THE UNITED STATES about to become midwife to democracy in the Muslim Middle East? President George W. Bush has certainly given unprecedented speeches on the inalienable right of Muslim men and women to be free, and on December 12, Secretary of State Colin Powell announced a new $29 million pro-democracy U.S.-Middle East Partnership Initiative. "America wants to align itself with the people of the Middle East," declared Powell, and the initiative places "the United States firmly on the side of change, on the side of reform, . . .
SOMETIMES the Washington press corps reports a story, but entirely misses its significance. This was the case with last week's naming of Elliott Abrams to the position of senior director for Near East and North African affairs on the National Security Council staff at the White House. The job makes Abrams a major player in setting policy on Israel and the Palestinians.
Bush at War
by Bob Woodward
Simon & Schuster, 349 pp., $28
The War on Terrorism from Inside the Bush White House
by Bill Sammon
Regnery, 400 pp., $27.95
LET'S GET RIGHT to the scoreboard. The winners in Bob Woodward's account of President Bush's response to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks are Secretary of State Colin Powell, CIA director George Tenet, and, to a lesser extent, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice and her deputy, Stephen Hadley. And Bush himself, who Woodward believes figured out quickly how to be an effective commander in chief.