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Jewish World Review June 5, 2002 / 24 Sivan, 5762

Michael Ledeen

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Is George Tenet endangering peace in Israel? | Perhaps the most astonishing thing about recent Middle East diplomacy is that the director of Central Intelligence has become a member of the Foreign Service and also a technical adviser to the Palestinian terrorists, and nobody seems to think there's anything unusual or objectionable about it.

And yet this is an enormous mistake, and not just because the very idea of the United States working for the creation of an "integrated security force" for Yasser Arafat is one of those seemingly clever ideas that falls apart upon close examination. It is breathtakingly stupid for any American official - let alone the director of Central Intelligence - to work to improve the discipline and power of a terrorist force that has already murdered several Americans. You can easily imagine the lawsuits, can't you?

But that is only the beginning of the stupidity. Tenet's mission throws his own reliability into serious doubt, and undermines the credibility of anything on the Middle East coming out of the Intelligence Community. The director of Central Intelligence is supposed to guarantee our policymakers reliable, bias-free information so that they can make policy. But once the DCI is engaged on behalf of a particular policy, anything the Agency says about that policy, or related subjects, is automatically suspect, since he has a personal stake in the assessment.

If somebody else - say, someone from the uniformed services - worked with Arafat, then we might have some confidence in, say, the CIA's ability to tell us what was actually going on. But not this way.

The whole idea is terrible, and it should never have been proposed to Tenet in the first place. But even so, he should have had the courage to reject it. He should have told the president that if he were ordered to do this thing, he would resign from the intelligence position and simply become a special emissary or an NSC consultant, or a member of the Foreign Service. The DCI must not do it if he wants the intelligence community to be believable.

It's hard to tell the origin of this very bad idea. A friend of mine thinks it's actually an Israeli idea, which makes sense since in recent years the Israelis have specialized in ideas that are too clever by half. It might also be a State Department idea, since our diplomats are quite capable of such thoughts. Whatever the source, it's profoundly alarming to see that the president, the secretary of state, and the DCI have all found it attractive, when its main consequences will surely be to strengthen Arafat's ability to kill innocent civilians, intimidate his Palestinian opponents, and gravely weaken the stature of the DCI.

As with so much of the current confusion, all of this derives from a fundamental misunderstanding of the current situation. Unable or unwilling to recognize that it is impossible to bring about a serious peace between Israel and the Palestinians unless Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Saudi Arabia support it (and the current leaders of those countries will never support it, which is why they are the targets of the war against terrorism), the Bush administration, egged on by the Saudis, the Egyptians, and the Europeans, is desperately looking for a magic formula. They have bought into the big lie that we can't wage war against the terror states until there is peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

They have it backwards. If we destroy the terror masters in Baghdad, Damascus, Tehran, and Riyadh, we might have a chance of brokering a durable peace. Without that, it's hopeless. The terror now afflicting Israel is not a purely Palestinian operation. Iran, Iraq, and Syria are all deeply involved, and Saudi Arabia foots many of the bills. Therefore there can be no "peace" until and unless we win the war...first.

So let's get on with the war. Faster, please.

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


06/03/02: Ridiculous, even for a journalist
05/20/02: So how come nobody's been fired yet?
05/14/02: Open doors for thugs
04/20/02: Iran on the Brink … and the U.S. does nothing
04/16/02: It’s the war, stupid … someone remind Colin Powell
04/08/02: Gulled: In the Middle East, Arafat doesn't matter
04/02/02: Faster, Please: The war falters
03/26/02: The Revolution Continues: What's brewing in Iran
03/18/02: Iran simmers still: Where's the press?
03/05/02: We can't lose any more ground in Iran
02/14/02: The Great Iranian Hoax
02/12/02: Unnoticed Bombshell: Key information in a new book
01/31/02: The truth behind the Powell play
01/29/02: My past with "Johnny Jihad's" lawyer
01/21/02: It's Munich, all over again
01/08/02: What's the Holdup?: It's time for the next battles in the war against terrorism
12/11/01: We must be imperious, ruthless, and relentless
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