- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 1, 2002

Palestinians have a "just cause" in their conflict with Israel, former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan said yesterday in a debate on U.S. policy in the Middle East.
The Palestinians "have a right to use force if necessary" in resisting Israeli occupation, said Mr. Buchanan, who twice sought the Republican presidential nomination before making a third-party run on the Reform ticket in 2000.
"The cause of the present intifada," Mr. Buchanan said, referring to the Arab name for the uprising that began in September 2000, "is the Israeli control and occupation" of Palestinian territory.
In a two-part event titled, "War or Peace: Which Way America?" sponsored by his America's Cause foundation, Mr. Buchanan joined commentator Robert Novak to debate war against Iraq with Richard Perle of the American Enterprise Institute and former CIA analyst Reuel Gerecht.
Arguing for U.S. action against Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein combined with support for internal Iraqi opposition Mr. Perle warned that Saddam is "working feverishly to develop nuclear weapons."
"If we leave Saddam there and hope for the best, we may wait too long," Mr. Perle said. "We waited too long with Osama bin Laden."
But Mr. Novak said some have used the September 11 attacks "as an excuse" for a new war to topple Saddam, even though, he said except for "one slim thread" in reports that one hijacker had met with an Iraqi intelligence official there is no evidence of a connection between Iraq and the terrorist attacks on America.
Warning that war with Iraq "wouldn't be the cakewalk" that some have predicted, Mr. Novak said that, if Saddam already has nuclear weapons, a U.S. attack might provoke nuclear war in the Mideast.
Mr. Buchanan noted that the United States is not threatening war against other nations with dictatorial governments and nuclear weapons, such as communist China, which was recently approved for membership in the World Trade Organization.
"Why don't we bring Saddam into the WTO?" Mr. Buchanan joked.
"The case for war [against Iraq] has not been made," said Mr. Buchanan, saying that, as a "survivor," Saddam would not do anything to provoke a full American attack. "Is there any more certain way for Saddam to commit suicide than to use nuclear weapons against Israel?"
Mr. Buchanan blamed "compulsive interventionism" in U.S. foreign policy for provoking the September 11 attacks. "We finally got bit. We've got to stop stepping on rattlesnakes," he said.
But Mr. Gerecht warned against an isolationist stance: "You can't run away from this problem. You can't stick your head in the sand."
In a separate debate over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Mr. Buchanan and Georgie Anne Geyer, a syndicated columnist, debated Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy, and Tony Blankley, a columnist for The Washington Times.
Mr. Gaffney compared the situation of Israel to that faced by Czechoslovakia in 1938, when Hitler demanded and Britain and France agreed that the western province of the Sudetenland be ceded to Germany.
Demands for a separate Palestinian nation in the West Bank and Gaza, he said, could bring new dangers to the region
"The last thing the world needs is another radical irredentist Arab despotism," Mr. Gaffney said.
But Miss Geyer said "there's only one solution" to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "It's the two-state solution."


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