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Powell Scoffs at Conspiracy Theories on Iraq War

Secretary of state Colin Powell flatly rejected on Thursday any suggestion that the Bush administration's confrontation with Iraq was engineered by Israel or American Jews.

Powell told a House Appropriations Subcommittee that the drive to compel Iraq to disarm stretches back over two administrations and 12 years of United Nations resolutions.

"It is driven by our own national interest," Powell said under questioning by the subcommittee chairman, Rep. Jim Kolbe, R-Ariz., who said he wanted to clear up media suggestions that American supporters of Israel — and Israel itself — were driving U.S. strategy.

Americans Jews appear to express significantly less support for military action against Iraq to end the rule of Saddam Hussein, according to research by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. Overall support is just above six in 10, 62 percent, in an analysis of Pew polls over the past six months, while Jewish support is at 52 percent. Evangelical Protestants are most likely to support military action, with 73 percent backing a war with Iraq.

Powell told the subcommittee the U.S policy "is not driven by any small cabal that is buried away somewhere," nor by a small group of individuals.

Among the U.S. goals are helping the U.N. to "do its job" and concern for the Iraqi people, Powell said.

Powell's comments came a day after Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., apologized for making comments asserting that influential leaders of the Jewish community were pushing the country toward war with Iraq.

Some Jewish leaders, including six Jewish members of Congress, have called on Moran to resign, but Moran says he has no intention of doing so.