Jewish World Review August 1, 2002 /24 Menachem-Av 5762

Clarence Page

Clarence Page
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Powell's premature obituaries | NEW YORK CITY Secretary of State Colin Powell must be feeling a bit like Mark Twain did after hearing that his obituary had been published in the New York Journal. "The report of my death was an exaggeration," Twain remarked.

Or maybe the retired general feels like Rodney Dangerfield, who "don't get no respect."

Either way, questions have resurfaced recently in The New York Times and other major media about whether Powell is on the verge of quitting his post out of frustration with the Bush White House over the Middle East, overseas family-planning funds and other thorny issues.

Confronted by reporters last week, Powell denied that he was leaving. Instead, he suggested that databases bulge with premature reports of his imminent departure dating back almost to his arrival.

"I can go back and do a LexisNexis ™ search and (find many such stories)," he said, "…you've been doing them every two weeks since I came in here last year and I am sure you will keep doing them. They make great reading."

They apparently make great writing, too, as a departure from the usual repetitive tedium of debates between the Bush administration and the Bush administration. A quick surf across the Internet turns up overseas headlines even bolder than the ones published here.

"Powell: 'Bastards Won't Drive Me Out,'" shouts London's Sunday Telegraph.

"Powell: 'Read My Lips, I'm Not Quitting,'" roars The Straits Times of Singapore.

Behind the will-he-stay-or-will-he-go stories, serious policy differences have bubbled up within the Bush administration over what the last big superpower's role should be in the world.

Following the pattern of previous administrations, Bush's foreign policy heads constantly jostle with each other for the president's ear. Unlike such predecessors as John Foster Dulles or Henry Kissinger, Powell has been blocked or scuttled on several important issues in recent months.

The family planning dispute was particularly embarrassing--on a global scale. Last year, Powell praised the "invaluable work" the United Nations Population Fund has done around the world. Last week, Powell, acting as megaphone for the administration, withheld $34 million in funds designated for the agency, channeled the money instead to our own Agency for International Development, even though USAID reaches only 84 countries compared to the United Nations' 140.

The reason? The administration claimed that if the U.N. received the money, this would help Beijing to "implement more effectively" the forced sterilizations and abortions that China's one-child policy too often has encouraged.

Yet, a task force that Powell sent to China found "no evidence" in May of such a connection and recommended releasing the funds. The United Nations, as a matter of policy, opposes such family planning coercion, too. Quite the opposite, in fact. The loss of the U.S. funds, which are 12 percent of the United Nation's $270 million family planning budget, will mean 2 million more unwanted pregnancies, 800,000 more abortions, almost 5,000 more dead mothers and more than 75,000 more dead children under age 5 worldwide, according to the United Nations.

During an invitational lunch meeting with African-American journalists, I asked U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan about Powell's actions. He called his reversal "very unfortunate," then added, "I think the reversal came from someone else in the administration."

Annan did not say who the "someone else" was, but administration sources say the family-planning issue, a hot-button favorite among social conservatives in Bush's political base, was pushed by Bush's political advisors.

More widely reported are Powell's battles with administration hawks over the Middle East, particularly the eagerness of Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, to topple Saddam Hussein by any means necessary, including a unilateral U.S. invasion.

Powell wants to go slow on that option, which is wise. The administration has yet to establish that Hussein is developing weapons of mass destruction or is linked to the al Qaeda terrorist network or the Sept. 11 attacks. Nor have we secured the backing of our Middle East friends or our European allies, except for Britain's Tony Blair. Small wonder, the hawks seem to want to attack first and find a reason for the action later.

Powell, mindful perhaps of his own two tours in the Vietnam War, wants us to avoid future quagmires like that one, which makes him a valuable advocate for caution, pragmatism and common sense.

The most recent Harris poll shows Bush's positive approval ratings to be an impressive 62 percent in July, but Powell's an even more impressive 76 percent -- compared to 46 percent for Cheney and 56 percent for Rumsfeld.

Powell still holds the respect of the American public. Too bad he hasn't found more in the White House.

Enjoy this writer's work? Why not sign-up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Comment on JWR contributor Clarence Page's column by clicking here.


07/30/02: A common sense tip on internal snooping
07/18/02: Jacko plays race card badly
07/12/02: Last flight for a pioneer airman
07/08/02: Dems will miss Watts, too
06/28/02: 'Supreme Court reads polls, too
06/25/02: 'The Body' bites, then bows out
06/21/02: Punishment first, then the crime?
06/18/02: Reporting still risky for Haiti's press
06/14/02: Bush's security plan leaves large gaps
06/04/02: Fix FBI's culture gap first
05/28/02: Fidel's new apartheid for tourists
05/21/02: Now McKinney's lunacy sounds like the Democratic Party line
05/19/02: A paradox of historical proportions
05/14/02: 'Murphy Brown' revisited in age of Ozzy
05/10/02: America looks like a model of tolerance and inclusion
05/07/02: Forget it, Bill, you're no Oprah
04/26/02: Mapping out ethnic and racial change
04/23/02: A game of another color
04/19/02: It's high time to open up pot-law debate
04/11/02: 'Osbourne' family values rock, aging Ozzy quakes
03/22/02: Zimbabwe election leaves world sleepless
03/19/02: A slur? Where is thy sting?
03/15/02: A Pearl of wisdom for reporter's unborn son
03/12/02: Army race and gender policies on trial
03/08/02: A short list of losers to be left behind
03/05/02: Revenge of the 'mediasaurus'
02/26/02: Jihads aren't just for Muslims
02/26/02: It's hard to be 'objective' during wartime
02/19/02: Hollywood's new villain: Your HMO
02/12/02: Father of 'Manchild' leaves lasting message
02/08/02: $nookering the reparations crowd
01/31/02: Prisoners of a War of Words
01/29/02: One more Enron woe: Al Sharpton & company
01/25/02: Searching for slaves in bin Laden's attic
01/22/02: Andrew Young's newest 'friend'
01/08/02: Hard-earned lessons from 9-11
12/18/01: Whatever happened to questions about the birds and the bees?
12/14/01: The "White Negro" Taliban?
12/07/01: Jackson's turn to gloat
11/27/01: Friendly warning from a lover of liberty
11/21/01: The face of hunger is changing
11/15/01: Our troubled sense of trust
11/08/01: Lessons about terror from the 'hood
11/06/01: Getting used to the 'new normal'
11/02/01: Wicked ways to make them talk
10/30/01: It's not just about bin Laden
10/26/01: More than mail fell between the cracks
10/23/01: Terrorists threaten urban recovery, too
10/18/01: Sometimes, assassination warranted
10/15/01: Self-censorship rises again
10/12/01: Contradictions illustrate the complicated nature of the new terrorism
10/05/01: Look who's 'profiling' now
10/01/01: Don't trash liberty to save it
09/28/01: Life, love and cell phones during wartime
09/24/01: How to catch an elusive terrorist
09/21/01: The war I was waiting for
09/17/01: When rage turns to hate
09/13/01: Terror attack tests US, let's give right response
09/06/01: U.S. should have stayed and argued
09/04/01: Columbine killer's parents get upclose and personal
08/31/01: Virtual kids? Log me out
08/28/01: Two Africans, one black, one white, same fight
08/23/01: Sharpton for president
08/20/01: Shaking up the rules on keeping secrets
08/16/01: Bush's u-turn on racial goals
08/09/01: Outsider Bubba comes 'in' again
08/06/01: Not ready for 'color-blindness' yet
08/02/01: Immigration timing couldn't be better
07/26/01: Summer of Chandra: An international traveler's perspective
07/17/01: Overthrowing a régime is only the beginning
07/10/01: Big Brother is watching you, fining you
07/05/01: Can blacks be patriotic? Should they be?
06/19/01: Get 'real' about marriage
06/12/01: Amos, Andy and Tony Soprano
06/07/01: Getting tough with the Bush Twins
06/05/01: Bringing marriage back into fashion
05/31/01: "Ken" and "Johnnie": The odd-couple legal team
05/24/01: Sharpton's challenge to Jackson
05/22/01: Test scores equal (a) MERIT? (b) MENACE? (c) ALL OF ABOVE?
05/17/01: Anti-pot politics squeeze the ill
05/15/01: Was Babe Ruth black?
05/10/01: U.N.'s torture caucus slaps Uncle Sam
05/08/01: 'The Sopranos' a reflection of our times
05/03/01: 'Free-fire' zones, then and now
05/01/01: War on drugs misfires against students
04/26/01: Another athlete gets foot-in-mouth disease
04/23/01: 'Slave' boat mystery reveals real tragedy
04/19/01: McVeigh's execution show
04/12/01: Not this time, Jesse
04/05/01: Dubya is DEFINITELY his own man, you fools!
04/02/01: Milking MLK
03/29/01: The candidate who censored himself?
03/22/01: "Will Hispanics elbow blacks out of the way as the nation's most prominent minority group?"
03/19/01: Blacks and the SATs
03/15/01: The census: How much race still matters in the everyday life of America
03/12/01: Jesse is a victim!
03/08/01: Saving kids from becoming killers
03/01/01: Parents owe "Puffy" and Eminem our thanks

© 2001 TMS