September 30, 2003


Powell Tells Arab-Americans of Hopes to Develop Mideast (JOSEPH B. TREASTER, 9/30/03, NY Times)

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell came here tonight, to the American city with the biggest concentration of Arab-Americans, and said the United States was dedicated to building a prosperous and peaceful Middle East.

Mr. Powell, speaking at an economic conference of leaders from the Middle East and hundreds of American and Arab-American executives, said millions of people in the Middle East were frustrated by joblessness and poverty. "With so much frustration," he said, "no wonder so many people are angry."

"I come to help you build a new Middle East," Mr. Powell said.

Echoing the Administration's call for help from other nations in Iraq, Mr. Powell said the United States "was committed to supporting Arab efforts at reform and development." But he added: "We cannot do it alone. We need partners in the region and in the international community."

He spoke of the administration's effort to develop a huge free trade zone in an area that is now hobbled with more trade barriers than any other part of the world, and he spoke of United States programs like those that finance small-business start-ups for women and send Arab students to intern at American companies.

Summarizing developments in the region, Mr. Powell said the United States was making "remarkable progress" in Iraq, but he said the Middle East peace plan for the Israelis and the Palestinians was stalled because of continuing violence.

To move forward in Israel, he said, the Palestinians must be fully committed to fighting violence. He drew his first ripple of applause when he said that "Israel, too, has obligations," and that "settlement activity" in the West Bank "must end."

That "first ripple of applause" bit is ominous, because if these guys aren't enthused about reforming the Middle East, only about focusing on Israel, then they're useless.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 30, 2003 8:47 AM

Too many Americans casually assume that we
can simply assimilate millions of people of vastly
different cultures with vastly different values.

Arab's may be the best example of the limits
of that assimlating ability. It seems to me
the only Arab group that has ever really
come fully into the fold are the lebanese Maronite (Catholic) christians that came
earlier in the century.

Posted by: J.H. at September 30, 2003 9:28 AM

On the other hand, this was a crowd of the elites. One may think of the response to an equivalent talk of vouchers and how that would differ between African-American "leaders" vs. the rank and file.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at September 30, 2003 10:46 AM

This report coming from the New York Times, I went back to the source. The State Department shows a lot more applause than the Times will admit to.

Although Powell sucks up to the Arabs more than I like to see, he gets applause for, among others, the following lines:

Over the past half-century alone, we, and the peoples of the Middle East have suffered through war, revolution, boycotts and terrorism. The region has seen the development and use of some of the most lethal weapons known to man. It is no exaggeration to say that without a transformation of the Middle East, the region will remain a source of violence and terrorism fueled by poverty, by alienation, and by despair.

We must not let that happen. We will not let that happen. (Applause.) . . .

I know that the Detroit area hosts many Iraqis who fled Saddam's brutality. To them, and to all the world, I now proudly say, Saddam is gone, that evil regime is gone, and he and it will not return. He will not return. (Applause). . .

As Secretary of State, as a former soldier, and as an American, I am so proud of the wonderful young men and women that are out there doing their job every day on behalf of the American people, on behalf of the Iraqi people, and on behalf of the sacred cause of freedom. And I know that each and every one of you here tonight is as proud of those young people as I am. (Applause.) . . .

All these lines come before the line about Israeli obligations, which is the last applause line until the end of the speech.

Posted by: David Cohen at September 30, 2003 11:01 AM

If nothing else, that guarantees the Sox will win the Series. All things are possible now that a Brother, even if from another mother, has cited a State Department memo as an authority. :)

Posted by: oj at September 30, 2003 11:55 AM

You know I'm pulling for a Cubs/Red Sox series, just to immanetize the eschaton.

I thought about the State Department issue, but I figured that between State and the Times, I'd go with State.

Posted by: David Cohen at September 30, 2003 3:00 PM

It is like choosing between Bill Clinton and Joe Isuzu, isn't it?

Posted by: oj at September 30, 2003 5:31 PM

So, they arrested another Muslim criminal "working for us" at Guantanamo. If the moderate Muslims want to show they can live with us, they could start by vetting some honorable Muslims to work there.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at September 30, 2003 9:07 PM

Harry, I'll bet the ones they caught were all 'vetted' to some degree. That makes it worse. I must say, however, that sending Powell to speak to this group was an excellent idea. Even if we are dubious at the prospects, such contacts can only help in the long run.

Posted by: jim hamlen at September 30, 2003 10:18 PM