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Talk of the town

Afghanistan and Iraq not enough
The Pentagon wants complete control over foreign policy -- and go after Iran

By Art Buchwald
August 21, 2003
The Iranian
Source: Washington Post

I was sitting in the park with J. Clancy Vanderbilt (not his real name), who has a high position in the State Department.

He said, "Besides all the Axis of Evil countries around the world, we now have to deal with the Pentagon."

"They are dangerous?"I asked.

"You better believe it. Rumsfeld is sticking a Black Hawk in Colin Powell's back."

"How so?"

"The Pentagon wants complete control over our foreign policy."

"Why? Doesn't Rumsfeld have enough to do in Iraq and Afghanistan?"

"My theory -- but if you quote me I'll deny it -- is that Rumsfeld is a take-charge guy and he has the aircraft carriers to do anything he wants."

Vanderbilt showed me a top-secret cable. It said Rumsfeld had sent Pentagon people to meet with Iranians and a very shady arms dealer several times without telling Powell about it.

"Our intelligence department found out about it from a mole who works in the NATO Officers Club kitchen. A general revealed that Rumsfeld wanted State to stay out of Iranian negotiations since it might lead to peace."

"Do you think the Pentagon is out to completely close down the State Department?"

"Not completely,"Vanderbilt said. "Rumsfeld still wants the State Department to issue passports and give fat-cat Bush supporters ambassadorships. But the important foreign policy will be handled by Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle."

"You aren't going to let this happen?"

Vanderbilt said, "How many tank divisions does Colin Powell have?"

I asked, "Where is the president in all this?"

"Our people believe he is on Rumsfeld's side because Bush thinks State is always sucking up to the United Nations."

"And does the president also believe that State is always trying to find a diplomatic solution to a problem?"

"Bush would rather have a military solution to show the world he is not going to be pushed around."

"What about the 16 words in the State of the Union address that said Iraq had sought to buy uranium from an African country?"

"The White House tried to blame us for that, but they finally made George Tenet, the CIA chief, walk the plank."

"Do you think the Pentagon wants to destabilize Iran by force?"

"The United States has a lot of troops over there and they don't want to send them home if there is going to be another war next door."

"So what are you going to do?"

"Hang tough, leak stuff to the press that will reveal what the Pentagon is doing, publicly announce that Iran is also our problem, and see that Powell gets as much time on television as Rumsfeld. If we don't, Defense will turn the State Department building into a hangar for B-52s."

"I will quote what you have just told me and you can deny you said it."

"Good boy."

Originally published in the Washington Post, under the heading, "Uneasy Lie The Heads of State" (August 21, 2003 ).

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