Tags: 'Down | and | Dirty' | Human | Intelligence | Vital | Fight

'Down and Dirty' Human Intelligence Vital to Fight Terror, Veteran Diplomat Says

Wednesday, 19 September 2001 12:00 AM

W. Nathaniel Howell knows the Middle East. He was U.S. ambassador to Kuwait in 1990 when Iraq invaded that country and surrounded the U.S. Embassy. He tells about the harrowing experiences he and his staff endured in his recently released book, "Siege.”

A Utah soldier who fought in the Gulf War later told Howell that the ambassador’s bravery and that of his staff during the invasion inspired him to do even better in the fighting that followed.

"I mean, we [hire human criminals to spy on] mobsters,” said Howell, recalling that a star witness in a Mafia investigation in the 1960s had killed 50 people.

Against that precedent, the so-called "Torricelli Principle” forbidding hiring spies who have bad human rights records is ridiculous, in the eyes of this man, who has served on the front lines against enemy threats.

Howell spoke at a Wednesday luncheon of the Kuwait Information office.

"People make dirty things — and it’s a dirty deed — and unfortunately, you’ve got to play it. Other people you’re playing against [are ever dirtier]. And you can’t wear white shoes,” the former ambassador added.

Howell said he "would not be surprised” if it develops that Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein is implicated in the Sept. 11 terrorism, but "not necessarily.” The diplomat has problems with government-sanctioned assassinations against heads of state. However, the same result can happen, as a part of the damage in the course of fighting against a rogue nation.

Americans must also learn to lengthen their attention spans. Right now, we are angry, and want to strike out. As usual, Americans want "instant gratification.” The anger must be blended with patience, Howell believes. Sustaining that perfect balance may be one of President Bush’s greatest challenges.

The ambassador pointed out that the terrorists who hijacked at least four planes in a coordinated attack did so only after careful, deliberate and precise planning. Americans will have to prepare themselves for the necessity of doing exactly the same thing. And that’s tough, stringing out a wartime "go get‘em” mentality when there is no visible action. Revenge is a natural part of healing, the respected diplomat acknowledged, but it will likely take time.

Some analysts hope President Bush includes that warning in his address to Congress tonight.

Lashing out at fellow American citizens "who appear to be Muslims” only distracts from the work at hand and divides the nation, Howell believes. It is born of ignorance.

NewsMax.com cited to the ambassador an article in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal headlined "Anti-Americanism Runs High Among Arab World’s Richer Circles.” The piece seemed to indicate the U.S. might be in denial as to the extent of support it enjoys in the more moderate Arab nations.

The dispatch from Cairo told of students at a gleaming McDonald's on that city’s Arab League Street, cheering the terrorism against the World Trade Center.

Sitting under a poster of "Crispy and Delicious Wings,” an 18-year-old student told the Journal she "rejoiced” at the attack. "Everyone celebrated - people honked in the streets, cheering that finally America got what it deserved.”

One of her giggling girlfriends added, "I just hope there were a lot of Jews in that building.”

A professor of international relations at a university there is quoted in the article as saying, "Any Arab country that will ally itself with the U.S. will incur public opinion losses.”

Is the support this country believes it has from "moderate” Arab states, at least beyond the halls of non-elected governments, more perception than reality? NewsMax wanted to know.

"A hard question to answer,” Howell answered, pointing out that "in this part of the world, you get the same kind of reaction” among some Americans, such as "They get what they deserve, they’re just a bunch of troublemakers, and so forth." There’s a need for education on "both sides.”

"There’s no question that there’s a great deal of dissatisfaction in the Arab world.” The bright new future envisioned at the beginning of the last decade in Arab-Israeli relations, in security against people such as Saddam Hussein, "did not pan out,” and there’s been a lot of disappointment.

Howell, who had been involved in the Camp David negotiations, believes failure to realize the high hopes of that accord is "painful.”

At that point, Dr. Shafeeq N. Ghabra, director of the Kuwait Information Office and a political science professor, interjected and acknowledged, "Yes, there is this atmosphere in the region ... in the beginning [but that] an hour later - two, four, five, seven — you ask these same people, and you get a different response.

"By the end of the day, [it’s] Oh my God! It’s a disaster.”

Howell recalled that after the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993, he was in Egypt and was approached by bellmen, waiters and others offering their sympathies.

"Critics of America?” Ghabra asked rhetorically, "Yes, I mean, the French are critics of America. The Greens are critics of America. But to go to the level of murder … that’s another question.”

To which Leonard B. Zuza, president of International Resources, LTD, who had just returned from Cairo Tuesday, added he was struck "by how many Egyptians stopped us on the street to say how sorry they were for us and to express their sympathies.”

Howell added that the "eerie” pictures of planes flying into the building "looked like something out of Hollywood.” People who saw that may have only later considered that among the thousands in the World Trade Center the morning of Sept. 11, some may very well have been from the Middle East. The tenants in the WTC were very international.

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W. Nathaniel Howell knows the Middle East. He was U.S. ambassador to Kuwait in 1990 when Iraq invaded that country and surrounded the U.S. Embassy. He tells about the harrowing experiences he and his staff endured in his recently released book, Siege." A Utah soldier who...
Wednesday, 19 September 2001 12:00 AM
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