Colin Powell's recent performances at the United Nations, and then before the center-organization of the Israeli/Jewish lobby (AIPAC), were clearly designed for domestic rather than international consumption. For Colin Powell is conducting a stealth campaign to be the first Black (he is almost Black after all) American President...or at least Vice-President.
Rumsfeld 'resisting' Powell's Iraq team
By Elaine Monaghan in Washington
The Times, UK, 3 April
A NEW chapter opened yesterday in the battle for control of US policy in postwar Iraq.
A US official told The Times that Donald Rumsfeld, the Defence Secretary, was resisting State Department appointments to the administration-in-waiting, at least one of whom is already in Kuwait.
He said that the Pentagon had ruled that Mr Rumsfeld should personally approve appointments to the temporary US-British administration, “and there are many people who question his authority to take that decision, including, I assume, the Secretary of State”.
Of Colin Powell’s nominees, he added: “We haven’t gotten a no, we just haven’t gotten an answer (from the Pentagon).”
He said that it was unclear how the row would end as the decision-making process was in flux. “The White House has to step in. One of the variables is Mr Tony Blair. Once again, he will be a critical voice in all of this,” he said.
Barbara Bodine, an experienced US diplomat expected to take the job of administering Baghdad, is in Kuwait waiting to enter Iraq. US officials have said that an inter-agency tussle is going on over whether she should get that job or a national position as coordinator of the civil administration, for which Michael Mobbs, a Pentagon lawyer, was the favourite.
Other State Department appointees whose participation is now in question include Robin Raphel, the vice-president of the National Defence University, and Kenton Keith, a former ambassador to Qatar.
The row boils down to control over policy-making on Iraq in the postwar phase, with the State Department anxious to create an environment that is more acceptable to foreign countries while the Pentagon is anxious to stay in control.
Critics of the Bush Administration’s neo-conservative wing, which dominates the Pentagon, say that its ranks are anxious to build a new Iraq in the image of the United States, using Westernised Iraqi exiles such as Ahmed Chalabi, a favourite of the Pentagon who is disliked by the State Department. The differences over how to involve Mr Chalabi, the Iraqi opposition leader, have raged for months.
Meanwhile, General Powell and Mr Blair are trying to secure a prominent role for the United Nations in an attempt to avoid further alienating US allies in Europe. State Department moderates are hoping that Mr Blair can repeat his apparent diplomatic success in keeping the Middle East peace process high up on President Bush’s priority list by getting him to intervene in the State Department-Pentagon spat.
The official said Mr Blair wanted an international flavour for the postwar phase in Iraq “and that naturally means a larger role for the State Department”. Foreign- aid experts have written to Mr Bush asking him to invite the UN to appoint a humanitarian co-ordinator for Iraq.
Mr Blair supports the State Department position that the UN should play a prominent role in Iraq.