Eagleburger: Bush Administration rifts 'damaging US credibility abroad'

  • From: "Muslim News" <editor_@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
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  • Date: Tue, 3 Sep 2002 20:56:27 +0100

Washington rifts leave Powell's future in balance 
From Roland Watson in Washington 

RENEWED doubts about Colin Powell’s political future are threatening to
hamper attempts by President Bush to clarify US intentions against Iraq.
Mr Bush was under increasing pressure yesterday to spell out his
Administration’s policy towards President Saddam Hussein after the
Secretary of State contradicted Dick Cheney, the Vice-President. 

General Powell told the BBC that the return of United Nations weapons
inspectors to Iraq should be the “first step”, days after Mr Cheney had
insisted that such a move would provide “no assurance whatsoever”. 

Lawrence Eagleburger, Secretary of State to the first President Bush,
said that the public rifts were damaging US credibility abroad. “I would
suggest to this Administration that it would be a good idea if they
would get their act together,” said Mr Eagleburger, who has warned Mr
Bush against a unilateral attack on Baghdad. 

The wrangle over US efforts to oust Saddam has been muddied by reports
that General Powell will quit the Bush team at the end of the
President’s first term. In a carefully worded leak to Time magazine, a
Powell aide said that the Secretary of State would consider four years’
service enough. 

The leak, which stopped short of blaming frustrations or tensions over
policy, was was not the first time that the prospect of General Powell
excusing himself from a second Bush term has been aired. The timing,
however, could disrupt Washington’s efforts to win round allies over
ousting Saddam. 

For many months the main complaint from US allies has been that they
feel unable to take General Powell and other State Department officials
at their word because they appear to be a marginal voice, often
overturned, in an Administration of aggressive hawks. 

The unnamed Powell aide may have been firing a coded shot across the
White House bows, forcing Bush officials to contemplate life without the
Administration member most respected abroad and more popular than the
President at home, and so seeking to increase General Powell’s leverage
in the coming weeks. 

However, the comments increased the perception that he is out of step
with the rest of the Administration, and could damage efforts by the US
to persuade its sceptical allies that it is united in its determination
and policy towards Iraq. 

Peter Struck, the German Defence Minister, said yesterday that General
Powell’s views on how to approach Iraq made him an odd man out among Mr
Bush’s key officials. “It can be concluded without doubt that Powell is
isolated in the President’s top advising team,” Herr Struck said. 

It is a measure of the General’s peculiar position at the Bush top table
that some commentators across the political spectrum would celebrate a
Powell resignation well before 2004. Many on the Right believe his
cautious pragmatism has no place in the Administration, and those on the
Left would cheer what they regarded as a principled stand. 

General Powell’s background suggests, however, a man more likely to try
to win his way behind the scenes. A career military officer and team
player, he has well-honed political skills, having served the Reagan,
first Bush and Clinton presidencies. 

Mr Eagleburger said that he would understand if General Powell felt
frustrated, particularly with Mr Cheney articulating foreign policy so
forcefully. “It was always my impression that the Secretary of State was
the President’s senior adviser on foreign policy. It’s fairly clear that
the Secretary of State has a somewhat more nuanced view of what to do
than the Vice-President. And what I am not clear about is where the
President is on all of this.” 

Mr Eagleburger advised the Administration to “cool it a bit” and speak
with one voice when differences were resolved. “It is not necessarily
good for the country, good for the Administration and good for our
position in the world when we carry out this debate in the open all the

Source:  The Times

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