A candid but highly indiscreet "briefing memorandum" linking the Carter administration directly to the "Israeli lobby" has created consternation here over political reaction within Arab states that have long charged excessive Israeli influence over U.S. Mideast policy.
The memorandum, under a "limited official use" security classification, was written by Assistant Secretary of State Doughlas J. Bennett, the department's chief congressional lobbyist. As a former top aide to Sen. Thomas Eagleton, Bennett well knows the power of the "Israeli lobby."
Addressed to Lucy Benson, Under-secretary of State for security assistance, Bennett's memorandum was a carefully considered lobbying program to block a congressional veto of the sale of AWACS radar planes to Iran.
"Steps 5" in the Bennett agenda - "mobilize Israeli lobby in support of strategy" - says on paper exactly what America's Arab friends have long charged, and what successive Presidents have long denied: that there is a powerful "Israeli lobby," that its tentacles entwine Washington, and that its influence is so pervasive that President Carter should "mobilize" it for the AWACS battle.
"I hate to knock Dough Bennett," said one high official who appalled at this formal assertion of Israel's power within the U.S. government, "but he shouldn't have put in on paper. This is a devastating admission for the U.S. government."
Bennett's memorandum to Benson, dated Aug. 19, also suggested that "pro-Israel senators may be more anxious than previously to help with the scale" of the AWACS because of failure of the U.S. Mideast peace plan. His reasoning: Israel would need Iranian oil in another Mideast war and, therefore, would do all it could to help Iran get the radar planes.
To moderate Arab states trying desperately to hold their friendship with the United States despite the fact that Israel has shot down Carter's Mideast peace plan, Bennett's indiscretion confirms their worst fears: If the U.S. government has enough clout to "mobilize [the] Israeli lobby," it should have resources to turn the lobby off - if it really wants to.
Thus, the Bennett memorandum, while totally accurate in assessing the power of the "Israeli lobby" even on an issue not tied directly to Israel, suggests to the Arabs that Carter and his predecessors have all been insincere in claiming their Mideast policies were "even-handed."
A mission to Japan scheduled for Robert S. Strauss, President Carter's chief trade negotiator, was cancelled so Strauss could quietly take over some of the duties performed by the embattled, immobilized Bert Lance.
Strauss has steadily grown closer to Carter and key Carter aides. A clue to his future was a series of private meetings with important businessmen over the last week, pointing to this conclusion: Strauss may take over from Lance as the administration's chief emissary to the world of business.
But Strauss cannot substitute for Lance in holding the line against rising federal spending. Only the budget direector can do that, and the odds are heavily weighted against Strauss's moving into that post. For one thing, his background as a self-made millionaire in Dallas could cause trouble from a Senate Governmental Affairs Committee that is intent on being much tougher in confirming a successor to Lance than it was in confirming Lance.
A footnote: The bureaucracy believes Dr. Charles Schultze, chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers, will replace Lance as budget director (the post Schultze held during the Johnson administration). But Schultze is adamant that he wants no encore in the job.
The Democratic Party's 1978 mid-term convention is likely to go to Seattle in the Great Pacific Northwest for a peculiar reason: to safeguard Jimmy Carter's option for holding the 1980 presidential nominating convention in his native South.
Out of dozen applicants, the competition for the 1978 convention has narrowed to Seattle or Memphis. But if Memphis gets the bid, there would be pressure against going south again in 1980. Hence, the selection for 1978 probably will be Seattle.