Jewish World Review Oct. 8, 2001/ 21 Tishrei 5762

Wesley Pruden

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More of the stuff that poisoned No. 41 -- SADDAM HUSSEIN won the first war in the Gulf, surviving by snookering the men who thought they had won, and he's taken an early advantage in the war on terrorism.

Colin Powell's retinue of conciliators, appeasers and faint hearts at the State Department have expanded "the Powell doctrine" into "the Powell option," which in practice becomes an insurance policy for the man who is the No. 1 source of American misery in the Middle East.

The Powell doctrine, the work of the professional senior soldiers who were badly abused by the men who devised the debacle in Vietnam, defines the only acceptable military ventures for American arms as those with clear goals achieved by overwhelming force. This makes sense.

But the Powell option, on the other hand, doesn't. The Powell option would build a coalition so broad as to make it irrelevant, and guarantees that the war on terror fails. The secretary of state would include the sponsors of terrorism - Iraq, Syria, even the Taliban - in the coalition in the forlorn and naive hope that including them would neutralize if not reform them, or least persuade them not to assist in blowing up Manhattan skyscrapers while the rest of the coalition tries to punish those who do. You probably have to work at the State Department to believe something so foolish. These pointy heads would have invited Machine-gun Kelly and Pretty Boy Floyd to join a task force on how to rehabilitate Bonnie and Clyde.

Hundreds of foreign service officers and their clerks and typists "wildly cheered" (by the Associated Press account) yesterday when President Bush, who has spent the past three weeks calling Americans to arms, promised $320 million in humanitarian aid to the "poor souls" of Afghanistan. "In our anger," the president said, "we must never forget we're a compassionate people."

Indeed we shouldn't, and the president was right to remind us of our Judeo-Christian duty to help the helpless, to bind up the wounds not only of war but of repression and cruelty, to feed the orphans and widows of those who seek to destroy us. They might even learn something from us about kindness, charity, and the Golden Rule.

But at the moment we have to worry more about doing it unto others before they do it unto us, and this is what escapes those who seek to implement the Powell option. The secretary and his acolytes bend the reality around them in their obsession to have everyone ignore the growing mountain of evidence of the Iraqi connection to the events of September 11. This includes the overwhelming evidence that Mohamed Atta, one of the men who who hijacked the Boeing that rammed the first of the two towers of the World Trade Center, met the chief of the Iraqi intelligence service early this year in Europe.

Mohamed Atta is believed to be the leader of the September 11 terrorists, and the Wall Street Journal, quoting Czech officials, gives details of his meeting in Prague with the Iraqi intelligence chief: "Mr. Atta traveled to Prague in early June 2000 from Germany, where he had been a student at the Technical University in Hamburg. He stayed in the Czech capital for less than a day before boarding a Czech Airlines flight to Newark, N.J. The next month he started flight lessons in Florida.

"Sometime during that visit to Prague - either at the airport or nearby - he contacted one or more Prague-based Iraqi intelligence officials, said the Czech official, who said all information has been passed on to U.S. investigators."

Nevertheless, reports the Journal, U.S. officials "continue to maintain there is no hard evidence of Iraqi participation in the attacks that destroyed the World Trade Center and damaged the Pentagon."

Mr. Powell's minions, notably his deputy Richard Armitage, have tried to demonize everyone, notably Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defense, who gets in the way of building a coalition so broad that no terrorist is left out of it.

Mr. Powell's faint-hearted wise men expect Saddam to survive this time, too. Says one "Powell ally," quoted yesterday in the New York Times: "This dispute will be invented and reinvented in months and years to come."

Mr. Powell himself is the man who talked the first President Bush into letting Saddam Hussein get away after Norman Schwarzkopf's army had got him squarely in their gunsights. This is the advice which, taken by George H.W. Bush, began the slow dismantling of his presidency. President George W. Bush, who is getting similar bad advice today, might consider that all the voices urging him to take it, the voices of pundits and commentators who cheered when his father was driven from office, will cheer again if he becomes the second one-term president in the family.

JWR contributor Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Washington Times. Comment by clicking here.

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