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Jewish World Review Jan. 8, 2002 /24 Teves, 5762

Michael Ledeen

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What's the Holdup?: It's time for the next battles in the war against terrorism -- ONE of my colleagues recently muttered, "Colin Powell's gonna get us all killed," and the events of the past weekend show exactly how dangerous our traditional diplomacy can be.

The spectacular Israeli seizure of the ship full of high-powered weaponry headed for PLO warlords not only wrecked the last remnants of Yasser Arafat's grand deception that presented him as a peacemaker, but also showed the true dimensions of the terror network.

That ship was traveling from Dubai to the Palestinian Authority, and Dubai is one of Iran's most important operational centers outside the motherland. Those who care to know such things have long been aware that the two most murderous leaders of the Islamic Republic, Rafsanjani and Rafiqdust, spend considerable time in Dubai, from which Iranians run weapons shipments throughout the region, smuggle Iraqi oil to market, and transfer billions of dollars to their overseas operatives (as well as to their private financial empires in Western Europe, North Africa, and elsewhere in the Middle East). There are more than 40 flights per day between Dubai and Iran, in addition to the countless voyages of ships of the sort captured by Israeli forces. Some sensible individuals in our government have suggested that we interdict some of these ships, by the way, but the usual wimpish lawyers and professional conflict resolvers warned that such operations might not meet with the full approval of some of our most advanced law schools.

All of which brings to mind Winston Churchill's dictum that it is outrageous to hold ourselves to the narrowest possible interpretation of the law while we fight against enemies who, if victorious, will destroy any hope of a world based on law.

Yet our diplomats are fighting desperately with their more realistic colleagues in the Bush administration to include Iran in the Grand Coalition Against Terror, a concept rather like that of bringing Bulgaria into NATO at the height of the Cold War. But then, people still capable of believing that Arafat is a worthy peace partner can believe anything, can't they? And so, on Sunday, the news duly reported that the State Department was unconvinced that the Iranian weapons shipment was destined for the PLO, even though the ship had a PLO captain and Israeli interrogators produced evidence so convincing that Israel's Deputy Prime Minister Natan Sharansky, an extraordinarily thoughtful and reasonable man, declared that the Oslo Agreements were no longer valid, and called upon Western nations to stop all financial assistance to the Palestinian Authority.

At virtually the same time the State Department was whitewashing the latest evidence of Iranian and Palestinian culpability in international terrorism, it moved brazenly to deprive the Iraqi National Congress - a democratic organization devoted to the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's oppressive tyranny - of all financial support from the United States, on the preposterous grounds that the INC's accounting practices had been deemed unsatisfactory by the green eyeshade crowd at Foggy Bottom. This flimsy excuse fools no one, since State's hostility to the INC has been luminously clear for quite a while. Prior to this charade, State had dribbled out a tiny fraction of the funds allocated by Congress, but insisted that the INC couldn't use any of the money for operations inside Iraq, a masterstroke of strategic buffoonery that guaranteed nothing effective would be accomplished.

If Congress were serious about taking the war to Iraq - and no more suitable target can be imagined - it would demand that Secretary Powell explain in detail why the State Department's leaders should not be held in contempt of Congress. Both houses have voted overwhelmingly to fully support the INC's campaign against Saddam, and they have appropriated tens of millions of dollars to make sure it's done effectively. If State doesn't like the INC's bookkeeping practices, they can appoint their own accountants to maintain proper ledgers, but our diplomats are not entitled to thwart legislation voted by the duly elected representatives of the American people.

I have no doubt that, in time, we will deliver proper support to Saddam's enemies, and also show our contempt for the leaders of Iran by endorsing the cries of the Iranian people for freedom and democracy. But we are losing valuable time, and thereby giving the terror states the opportunity to regroup after their humiliation in Afghanistan. The intelligence community is awash with serious indications that the terrorists are hard at work on new operations against us and our friends. It is much easier for them to plot their evil schemes while their supporters in places like Baghdad and Teheran are playing diplomatic games with the United States instead of diving for cover in their underground havens.

President Bush has given his foreign-policy experts more than enough time to debate the fine points, and the real world has produced spectacular evidence that the diplomats have got it wrong. It's time for the next battles in the war against terrorism, and they must be waged against Iraq, Iran, and the PLO. Once those battles have been won, the new leaders - God willing, democratic and freedom-loving leaders - will make our diplomatic work much easier.

JWR contributor Michael Ledeen is a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of Tocqueville on American Character . Comment by clicking here.


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12/06/01: Remembering my family friend, Walt Disney
11/28/01: The Barbara Olson Bomb: Understanding the war
11/13/01: How We're Doing: The Angleton Files, IV
11/06/01: A great revolutionary war is coming
10/25/01: How to talk to a terrorist
10/23/01: Creative Reporting: Learning to appreciate press briefings
10/19/01: Not the Emmys: A Beltway award presentation
10/15/01: Rediscovering American character
10/11/01: Somehow, I've missed Arafat's praise of the first stage of our war on terrorism
10/04/01: What do we not know?
09/28/01: Machiavelli On Our War: Some advice for our leaders
09/25/01: No Room for the U.N.: Keeping Annan & co. out of the picture
09/21/01: Creative destruction
09/14/01: Who Killed Barbara Olson?
08/22/01: How Israel will win this war
08/15/01: Bracing for war
08/09/01: More Dithering Democrats
08/02/01: Delirious Dems
07/31/01: Consulting a legendary counterspy about Chandra and Condit, cont'd
07/19/01: Be careful what you wish for
07/17/01: Consulting a legendary counterspy about Chandra and Condit
07/05/01: Let Slobo Go
05/30/01: Anybody out there afraid of the Republicans?
05/09/01: The bad guys to the rescue
05/07/01: Bye-bye, Blumenthal
04/20/01: Handling China
04/11/01: EXAM TIME!
04/05/01: Chinese over-water torture
03/27/01: Fighting AIDS in Africa is a losing proposition
03/14/01: Big Bird, Oscar, and other threats
03/09/01: Time for a good, old-fashioned purge
03/06/01: Powell’s great (mis)adventure
02/26/01: The Clinton Sopranos
02/20/01: Unity Schmoonity: Sharon is defying the will of the people
01/30/01: The Rest of the Rich Story
01/22/01: Ashcroft the Jew
01/11/01: A fitting close to the Clinton years
12/26/00: Continuing Clinton's shameful legacy
12/21/00: Clinton’s gift for Bush

© 2001, Michael Ledeen