Colin Powell Picks His Moment

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As many readers of this blog know, I hosted former State Department Chief of Staff Lawrence Wilkerson’s October 2005 cannon blast against the “Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal” and the degradation of the national security decision making process in the White House.
Wilkerson has admirably been working full time since giving speeches, appearing in films and television shows exposing the machinations and duplicity of many who worked in this administration in preparing and executing plans to invade Iraq.
Wilkerson is fascinating and important in his own right — but for many, he is also a proxy for his former boss Colin Powell’s views. Powell and Wilkerson probably disagree on a number of things Wilkerson has said — but he also agrees with much but has been silent. Wilkerson has helped create a “place holder” for Powell until he began to speak.
And now — as of last weekend on Meet the Press, Powell did speak and called for the closing of Guantanamo.
I have written a commentary for the Guardian‘s “Comment is Free” site titled “Guantanamo and Colin Powell” — and wanted to link it here.
Many of my liberal readers will probably rail against Powell, and perhaps he does deserve a lot of criticism. I am trying to both think through and explain his previous silence — and why as well he is beginning to speak up now.
– Steve Clemons

Comments

71 comments on “Colin Powell Picks His Moment

  1. MP says:

    POA writes: “This left versus right shit is as destructive to our nation as any policy is, MP. These bastards are nurturing it at our expense, while they ignore the wishes and the welfare of the constituencies on BOTH sides of the aisle.”
    The other cause of this, IMO, are larger forces tending toward the dis-integrating of society. I’m sure you remember the days when 95% of America watched four TV channels and read Life, Look, The Saturday Evening Post, Reader’s Digest, and a smattering of sports and hobbyist magazines. Now the magazine shelf is filled with titles like The Discriminating Escutcheon Collector. We watch 500 channels filled with the most narrow content. Starbucks gives us 37 ways to order a cup of coffee. And so on.
    Everyone wants choice. Everyone needs to be an “individual.”
    Politicians have followed suit, aided by computer technology, which has created the strangest looking congressional districts, most of which are a “lock” for one of the two parties. Only very few races are ever competitive. One of Rove’s secrets was his ability to uncover “micro climates” within larger blocks of people and tailor highly targeted messages to just those people. Do that enough times with enough people, and you win races.
    The wedge issue strategy is a product of this. You identify narrow issues that significant numbers of people care a LOT about. For Dobsonites, stem cells and abortion are literally matters of life and death. Gun control becomes a matter of being able to protect your family.
    Pretty soon, everyone forgets about being “an American.” And worse, they EQUATE their narrow concerns with what “America” is all about and what it means to be a real American. You know, the framers were all Christians, etc.

    Reply

  2. MP says:

    POA writes: “This left versus right shit is as destructive to our nation as any policy is, MP. These bastards are nurturing it at our expense, while they ignore the wishes and the welfare of the constituencies on BOTH sides of the aisle.”
    I tend to agree with you. The country is like a dog chasing its own tail thinking the tail is another/different dog.

    Reply

  3. PissedOffAmerican says:

    There is absolutely no logic in Steve’s support of Hagel, who he lauds for have a recently acquired and limp wristed imitation of what has been a long standing platform held by Ron Paul. If the positions that Hagel is taking are so admirable, why does Steve ignore Ron Paul?
    Whats more, Ron Paul doesn’t have the ethics baggage that Hagel carries, considering Hagel’s past history in regards to ES&S.

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  4. jdmckay says:

    MP at June 19, 2007 10:50 AM
    (quote)OTOH, how can we do it without them? (…)IMO, however, if you simply attack the Republicans’ constituencies, you simply engender a backlash sooner rather than later. That’s what we’re recovering from (I hope) right now.(end quote)
    Be curious to see your list of repubs who can be “won over.” Honestly, I don’t know any. Listening to their current prez candidates, their claims on Iraq, AG atty purge and everything else… their still in la-la land. The only skill I’ve seen is persisting in charactarizing dems/liberals/progressives in varying terms of evil. Every single lawmaker has caved, on every single issue.
    I’m convinced the reason repubs who voted against the Gonsalez no-confindence vote did so after being reminded that the attny politicization very well may help some of ‘em get “more votes” in upcoming elections.
    I’ve seen nothing but saturation of corruption in the GOP. Until (if?) strong voices arise speaking to this, followed by an effective purge, I see no hope w/these guys… a pact w/the devil is still a pact w/the devil.

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  5. jdmckay says:

    Steve Clemons at June 16, 2007 09:48 AM
    (quote) Powell has put his weight now behind closing Guantanamo — and whether you like his timing or not — I find it surprising that so many on the left who want to close Guantanamo are spending more time criticizing him rather than using him as a heavyweight behind their cause.
    (end quote)
    I think you mischaractarize this. At least for me anyway, the argument is against your charactarization of Powell. I would expect most “progressives” would welcome Powell’s call to close Gitmo.
    But you said in Guardian:
    (quote) That was vintage Powell: he believes in the preservation of a certain decorum around the Office of the President – no matter who that president is or how wrong-headed that president’s policies may be.
    (…)
    Colin Powell is applying the well-known “Powell Doctrine” in this debate over Guantanamo, and perhaps on the larger subject of the character of this administration.
    (end quote)
    Powell was a General, serving a president most of his career. His SOS duties were entirely different. How many destructive eglomaniacs were assisted in continued swaths of destruction because they shut up in the interest of observing “a certain decoram”.
    Powell assisted in the perpetration of this war, based on massive lies. No more, & no less. And Powell was certainly aware of the weight his public perception added to Bush’s legitimacy. As it turned out, Powell chose to let Bush cash in on the currency of Powell’s (percieved?) charactar, rather than stand up and be counted… aka speak plainly.
    It is this history which I hold Powell to. Whatever casting of the “Powell Doctrine” to “give context” doesn’t matter so much to me, quite honestly. Unlike the remaining neo-cons, I would think Powell feels damn dirty right now… I’ll give him that.

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  6. PissedOffAmerican says:

    This left versus right shit is as destructive to our nation as any policy is, MP. These bastards are nurturing it at our expense, while they ignore the wishes and the welfare of the constituencies on BOTH sides of the aisle.

    Reply

  7. MP says:

    jdmckay writes: “With all due respect (which is a lot), I’ve seen virtually no evidence Republicans can be “brought over” to any reasonable position on anything which runs counter to republican’s various well moneyed ideological constituencies… no evidence whatsoever.”
    OTOH, how can we do it without them? I know, folks have done the math and shown how it’s possible mathematically, but practically, it’s another matter. If the Dems forged a truly reformist platform with real teeth, it might sway enough of the disaffected over, so that is one possibility. IMO, however, if you simply attack the Republicans’ constituencies, you simply engender a backlash sooner rather than later. That’s what we’re recovering from (I hope) right now.

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  8. JonU says:

    People are so infuriated with Genuine American Hero Colin Powell because when the chips were down, he did not act like a hero at all. He did not make the right decision when it was hard to do. He took the easy way out, and provided all the necessary cover needed.
    We worshipped him as a hero. As an insightful leader and strategic thinker. As a “heavyweight”. As wise and thoughtful. As above politics.
    But when it mattered most and we the needed the political courage and wisdom of a real hero, he gave us the blind loyalty and bald-faced lies of a common flack.
    Powell is also a symbol of all the moderate Republicans who by quietly walking in lockstep with the Bush Administration, have enabled the deceptions and destruction of the neocon agenda.

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  9. aileench says:

    As the secretary of state Colin Powell should remind the president and congress the importance of the U.S.committment towards the U.N. Millenium Goals. According to The Borgen Project, an annual $19 billion dollars is needed to end world hunger by the year 2025. To my sense it is almost unnaceptable to have spent so far more than $340 billion in Iraq only, when we have more than more war immunities to change the world and eliminate poverty.

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  10. jdmckay says:

    SC said:
    (quote)There is not a single political battle in the country that can currently be won without bringing over some Republicans.(end quote)
    With all due respect (which is a lot), I’ve seen virtually no evidence Republicans can be “brought over” to any reasonable position on anything which runs counter to republican’s various well moneyed ideological constituencies… no evidence whatsoever.
    Recent repub abdication on the Gonzales “no confidence” vote only latest example. I mean, Christ… Jeff Sessions dressed Gonzo down in senate hearings, an event even the most skeptical congressional “watchers” would acknowledge as a turning point. Yet, news accounts I read said repubs abstained because they were unwilling to “hand democrats a victory”.
    (quote)That was the secret of success on John Bolton — on stem cell, on social security reform, and now incrementally on Gonzales.(end quote)
    Other than stopping SS �reform�, one must be depressingly-beat-into-submission by endless repub mis-information in order to call any of these a “victory”. And as far as SS goes, it seems to me all that’s been accomplished is a temporary stopgap halt to GWB’s bs on the subject: eg. Junior’s massive Fed debt increase is very likely to force SS default down the road… a strategy which, as I see it, was part of GWB’s “Grover Norquist” economic plan from the beginning.
    (quote) It is also what is happening on this war — and that is why Chuck Hagel has been so important.(end quote)
    (see above: eg.). Hagel has been a footnote AFAIC. By what metric has Hagel’s after-the-fact critiques actually moved things anywhere? And what makes you think that, if Hagel continues, he won’t get the same swiftboat treatment as all the others?

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  11. Steve says:

    Powel sold his soul to the Bush agenda as far back as when he became H. W.’s protege. He even owes his General’s stars to the man. It is no surprise, then that the lackey would do W’s bidding. He’s indebted to the family.
    Now Powel is trying to clean up his historical image by speaking out on issues he knows are beyond changing. He’s trying to buy himself some cheap grace, as it were. Won’t work, though, the damage is done. He will forever be remembered as the General who fronted the Administration’s distortions so it could wage an illegal, immoral and unjust war. He will always be known as the General who obligingly sacrificed his troops to pay off his lost soul.

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  12. Neal says:

    The new dance, the quadrennial quadrille.

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  13. Neal says:

    It’s all about being viable in the political arena in 2008. The seduction of power allows one to say, I never really loved her, I love you now.

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  14. MP says:

    Steve writes: “There is not a single political battle in the country that can currently be won without bringing over some Republicans. That was the secret of success on John Bolton — on stem cell, on social security reform, and now incrementally on Gonzales. It is also what is happening on this war — and that is why Chuck Hagel has been so important.”
    Amen.

    Reply

  15. carsick says:

    Maybe the more appropriate quote from On the Waterfront is this one:
    “…Charley, you shoulda looked out for me a little bit. You shoulda taken care of me just a little bit so I wouldn’t have to take them dives for the short-end money.”
    The short money indeed (as some say).

    Reply

  16. carsick says:

    The issue I see is that Powell’s credibility with the American public and our allies was in the stratosphere prior to the Administration using that credibility. Credibility is like money in the bank and the administration spent his when they needed it.
    Powell’s ability to effect the debate now is just fair to middling. He is now a middle class ex administration official when before he was a starring player on the world stage. His fall was far and resentment is natural.
    It brings to mind Terry’s speech to Charlie in On the Waterfront. “…I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am, let’s face it. It was you, Charley.”

    Reply

  17. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Hmmmm. Did I miss seeing a comment in support of Powell, or does no such comment exist?
    Personally, I think the anger and disillusionment felt by the citizens of the United States is being under-represented, and completely transcends party lines. All that is missing is a unifying leader with the charisma and conviction to promise the pursuit of accountability and the restoral of a representative government. Apparently, that is Washington, and the media’s, worst fear. In opposition to the terrifying spectre of a united and angry populace, they continue to nurture the divisive and corrosive sham of partisan politics.
    As Democrats we will never institute change. Nor can it be done as Republicans, or Independents. We will have to shed the political labels and refuse to play Washington’s game. Change will come only if we demand it as AMERICANS. And, if the last six years are any indication, it is doubtful that we have it in us. If these last six years haven’t unified us in our Patriotic duty to demand representation, than nothing will.
    Say goodbye to a grand experiment.

    Reply

  18. Charles S. says:

    Mr. Clemons, you are an exceptionally astute observer of contemporary American politics and foreign policy — and I know this to be immutable fact because I agree with almost everything you write. No one bats .1000, though, and you took a pretty ugly swing-and-a-miss in your Guardian piece regarding Colin Powell. I share the doubts that others have expressed concerning General Powell’s moral courage, but that is not really the point here. If you reflect again upon your article and the week-plus that has passed since Powell’s comments, you might agree that his belated call for the prison facility at Gitmo to be closed has in fact had very little impact, either in the media or in actual policy. Hardly raised a burble, in fact. Imagine what would have happened, though, had he entered the public debate on this subject earlier, say during the last election. What an uproar there would have been, and what attention would have focused on the issues surrounding the facilty. By waiting until he has faded from both power and sight before raising his citicisms, Powell has managed to grossly reduce both his risk and his effect. Let’s face it, it would have been bigger news if Vanna White had called for closing the facility — she’d have been swamped with calls for interviews and clarification, pundits would have been musing on how Bush had lost Middle America, etc., etc. Powell, for reasons yet to be adequately explained (including by your Guardian article) has shown appallingly little inclination to help the rest of us set things right, and when he has finally moved his timing has been terrible. Other than that, don’t sweat the criticism too much, and keep up the good work!

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  19. LongTom says:

    I’m sorry, but the excuse-making for Powell just won’t stand up. This guy was the worst Bush-enabler of all. He is smart, glib, and presents himself as “resonable,” but you have to look at the fruits of his actions, all of which are rotten.
    He’s the equal of the most self-serving, image-conscious characters I’ve ever seen in politics. That, plus he was wrong about everything he’s ever done, from Vietnam, to the Gulf War, to now. The classic example of the establishment toad cozying up to extremists.

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  20. susan says:

    Perhaps while serving his country as Secretary of State, Powell “earned” his expensive gift from the Saudis because he raised few objections against the constant funding of extremism and terrorism by the Saudis.
    As I remember, 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers were Saudis.

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  21. brat says:

    Powell is about 5 years too late to say anything of substance. He should have spoken up for the good of the country, but he remained silent for the good of the GOP.
    This is what drives me nuts–BOTH GOP and Dems put good of party before good of country. No wonder most Americans are now independents.

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  22. Mrs. K8 says:

    Why you feel the need to “explain [Powell's] previous silence” is a mystery to me. That’s for him to do, if he’s in the mood to do so.
    When I saw Powell’s dog and pony show at the U.N. before the inevitable shock and awe commenced, I turned to my husband and said, “It figures he would do Bush’s dirty work. This guy’s character was already apparent to me during the fall-out from the My Lai massacre.”
    I extend thanks to those commenters above who also recalled that sorry episode of military atrocities and Powell’s role in sweeping them under the rug, away from American public consciousness (and far away from any serious accountability).
    The whole “military officer of honor” thing was a media creation, and, temporarily, a public relations success — which Powell’s unchanged character ensured would be later undone by his serving as water carrier for yet another set of war criminals. Too bad that this set of war criminals is much more dangerous — and still threatening the very foundation of our beloved Republic.
    I can be gratified to see Powell speak out against Guantanamo — for whatever limited worth that may be — and at the same time see him for what he is (and apparently always has been). Welcoming a public condemnation of Guantanamo is NOT the same thing as seeing Powell as being trustworthy in any serious sense.

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  23. Carroll says:

    Well I not sure that comments criticizing Powell are coming mainly from liberals. I don’t think of myself as all that liberal.
    Sure, some liberals are knee jerks who will jump on any and every one connected to the Bush adm. But forget the fact that Powell could have resigned, he didn’t…just leave out that part.
    And ask why he hasn’t said more, done more to expose this adm and turn up the heat on them to avoid another Iraq, as in Iran, if nothing else……except that Powell puts Powell’s comfort first.
    I wonder what the real military, the real one, not the political fops in the pentagon, thinks of Powell now.
    I can guess.
    I don’t see how Powell running interference for Saudi, if he did, on Bolton says anything about Powell other than he earned that car Bandar gave him.
    As Steve indicates, you take your help where you can find it…so if there is any use for Powell in preventing more disaster, go ahead use the hell out of him…he deserves to be used, he has certainly used this country with his good solider routine/excuse.

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  24. ethan says:

    Your Guardian article is remarkable only for its credulity regarding the import of Powell’s words.
    The truth of the matter is that Guantanamo will not be shut down by this president. This truth undermines the entire thesis of your article.
    Sorry.

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  25. Dennis says:

    Let’s tell it like it is. Over three thousand American soldiers have died in Iraq in a war contrived by the Bush administration. Inspite of the mainstream media hoolah and pumping up the war, there was enough public protest that had Colin Powell gone public with what he knew, the attack on Iraq might have been averted.
    He didn’t.
    You don’t have to be a blind conservative not to see it, just an ignorant one to deny it.

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  26. DonS says:

    Steve,
    I admire your professional attitude an willingness to entertain all views. But your diplomatic insousance at times drives me nuts.
    So I acknowledge you’re thinking things through on Powell. But I can’t possibly know the two tierd system of communication involved between your liberal and centrist audiences! To some extent it reinforces the Washington insider versus hoi polloi image that some accuse you of. Me, I’m just responding to the written page/blog.
    IF I had the power to hold your, or any power possessing being’s feet to the fire to right this oh so sick polity, I would do so. All of us, mere citizens, or like yourself more closely engaged in the circles of power, need to fight the good fight,if we have a conscience. And I think you know what “good” means. You showed that in the Bolton affair.
    I have no idea what you mean about my “effort to denigrate at levels beneath that debate.” I admit to suspecting that you appear at times crazy like a fox; that’s just my surmise. Your methods are your own. My response is candid,not denigrating, if that’s what you’re referring to. Sorry if you took it wrong.
    Best,
    Don

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  27. sdemetri says:

    Powell is certainly an enigma. Hard to forgive someone who is so thoroughly implicated in some of the worst offenses of the Bush administration. But like Comey testifying before the House Judiciary committee of Gonzales’s shocking behavior at Ashcroft’s bedside, and again Comey appointing Fitzgerald to investigate the Plame outing, there are apparently honorable people who have served. Powell was too high, too public, too in the know to not be thoroughly stained whether history shows that indictment to be justified or no.
    I can’t help but think that the Fourth Circuit decision had some part in Powell’s decision to speak out against Guantanamo.

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  28. AlanDownunder says:

    Powell figured out which way the wind blows (a) when he went along and (b) now. He’s a bit slow on the uptake though.

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  29. ... says:

    steve, i admire the fact you speak openly and make your site open to anyone who would like to post their comments/feedback… thanks for allowing this and sharing.

    Reply

  30. Steve Clemons says:

    DonS — a wide variety of people read the blog. those who post comments tend to be liberal. those who email me tend to be liberal/centrist to classic conservatives. some don’t like the tenor of the public comments — so they privately email.
    I don’t mind your note, or even what you think might be snide, but I write what I do because I believe it and am thinking things through. I don’t depend on my commenters to help shape those views or to set up straw men.
    I think I’m right on Powell, but I certainly knew beforehand that many would not give him the kind of treatment I did. I value his decision to speak out on Guantanamo — particularly as forcefully as he did.
    I think that some people forget that while I’m clearly a progressive — I am quite open to how to achieve progressive ends, which means embracing thoughtful, realistic, enlightened Republicans in this effort whenever I can.
    There is not a single political battle in the country that can currently be won without bringing over some Republicans. That was the secret of success on John Bolton — on stem cell, on social security reform, and now incrementally on Gonzales. It is also what is happening on this war — and that is why Chuck Hagel has been so important.
    If I had adopted the view that you have, DonS, of so much of this — the opportunities I’ve had to help bring over some Republicans to the winning side of important arguments might not have happened.
    I don’t want to change your views — but please don’t think that I don’t know my readership, or that I don’t have views that will stand on their own despite the contrarian views of some readers who post here.
    I don’t mind the debate. I do mind your effort to denigrate at levels beneath that debate.
    Best,
    Steve Clemons

    Reply

  31. Chris Brown says:

    Powell’s silence during his tenure with the Bush administration and since has been completely in character, or should I say the lack thereof.
    Powell has always been the good soldier, silently sweeping dirt under the rug for his bosses. Beginning, as noted above, by covering up the My Lai massacre. He has been well rewarded for his janitorial work.
    Powell certainly was in a position to know that the lies he presented to the UN were just that lies. Senator Graham and many others knew.
    Powell was sitting atop the most credible intelligence agency in the USA government and yet he dutifully marched off and lied to the UN.
    The guy should do us all, and himself, a favor and remain silent.

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  32. Arun says:

    When Washington Insider Steve Clemons thinks that Powell is some kind of heavyweight, it just shows how rotten Washington has become. Powell at this point is a heavy pile of unmentionables. I repeat the Jeffersonian call for a new American Revolution every generation. Let us sweep Washington DC and all its denizens into the sea, and start afresh.

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  33. Arun says:

    “”From the moment a soldier enlists, we inculcate loyalty, duty, honor, integrity, and selfless service,” Taguba said. “And yet when we get to the senior-officer level we forget those values. I know that my peers in the Army will be mad at me for speaking out, but the fact is that we violated the laws of land warfare in Abu Ghraib. We violated the tenets of the Geneva Convention. We violated our own principles and we violated the core of our military values. The stress of combat is not an excuse, and I believe, even today, that those civilian and military leaders responsible should be held accountable.”
    General Taguba via Seymour Hersh via
    http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/6/16/1409/88157
    Is Powell one of those “senior-officer level we forget those values” types?

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  34. David N says:

    As someone who held an extremely minor position in the State Department during Powell’s tenure, but who at least witnessed what happened to those who were trying to do their jobs, here is what I have to say.
    Powell did nothing. Foreign policy was run out of the White House, and really out of the VP’s office. There were people in the Department who did their level best to keep our policies rational — and this way predates 9/11 and Iraq — and were ignored. State became a wasteland, and the only people with any influence were neocon wackjobs like Bolton, whose power was based on relationships outside the Department.
    So to say that Powell had any influence on Bush, well, all I can say is, prove it. Give us an example, a demonstration, where Powell’s influence determined a single policy, anywhere.
    And if there is any evidence, or any statements that Powell knew that Iraq was an eminent disaster — hell, I knew at the time, and I didn’t have near his access or information — and stayed quiet to be a “good soldier.” And if he is voicing now, three years too late, things he knew before the 2004 election, then I say he is a coward and a traitor, just like everyone else who has worked for or supported this criminal administration.
    So there. Nyah, nyah, nyah.

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  35. Newton says:

    I just don’t buy it. The use of subtlety to criticize the Bush administration is like the use of scented toilet paper to mask the smell of shit.
    He may be trying to redeem his shattered reputation but true repudiation of his enabling of Bush administration policies, if it is to be believed, will require the use of something slightly stronger than subtlety.
    Say, a rhetorical baseball bat.

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  36. ... says:

    the ‘support the president mantra’ uns deep in usa politics.. it has been used and still is used to cloober those over the head who you don’t agree with. that and patriotism, which is almost always expressed as a particular brand of fanaticism that blinds the one with it other cultural views outside the herd mentality of the particular country the person resides in.. the usa has turned patriotism and ‘support the president’ into a type of fanatical zealous relgion.

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  37. Ian Kaplan says:

    More dogs, fewer Republicans.
    I watched the movie “Shut Up and Sing” about the
    Dixie Chicks and there experience criticising
    Dear Leader. Senator Gordon Smith was in full
    “Support the President” mode at the time. Now,
    we hear about Powell. Anything he says now will
    be to late. He took a distinguised career and
    shattered it on the rocks of the G.W. Bush
    presidency. Powell has no credibility and there’s
    no reason we should care what Powell has to say at
    this point.
    More dog photos, fewer Republicans.
    Ian

    Reply

  38. DonS says:

    I’m trying to think through a few things myself here.
    CW says that Powell is a “realist” in foreign policy. I don’t know how that translates in domestic policy terms.
    On domestic politics I don’t think he has much of a record, yet the CW would probably put him on the liberal end of the spectrum, certainly as far as repulicans.
    Steve calls himself a realist, yet opines that his “liberal” readers will disagree with his analysis of Powell, sort of setting up a tar baby scenario with anyone who disagrees with his analysis.
    Be that as it may, I’m waiting for the myriad of “centrist” readers to come out of the woodwork on behalf of Steve’s pov. Still waiting.
    Does this mean only liberals read this blog? Or comment? Does it mean, on the issue of Powell anyone who disagrees with the analysis is de facto a liberal? Why would only liberals read a blog of an avowed centrist?
    Maybe its wrong to generalize about labels in this instance, and that “even” centrists can think Powell’s a frigging disaster, despite the attempt to marginalize critics, the “anti” pov, as liberal.
    Not to be snide here, but perhaps Steve is a bit fragmented, and depends on his readers/commenters to flesh out that aspect of his thinking that is anathema to the CW. Or even a trial baloon. Maybe for the cocktail weeniers who glance at this blog when they’re not downing weenies.

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  39. susan says:

    Steve is sucking up to Powell for lots of reasons. Here’s another one: Bolton.
    Colin Powell ran interference for the Saudis in trying to derail the nomination of John Bolton who was viewed as a threat by the Saudis.

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  40. Richard W. Crews says:

    Your words :
    “Many of my liberal readers will probably rail against Powell, and perhaps he does deserve a lot of criticism. I am trying to both think through and explain his previous silence — and why as well he is beginning to speak up now”.
    Those words are sort-of future tense. You haven’t explained Powell yet, Steve.
    I am not ready for any explanation of Powell, until he admits lying, admits to being horrible for this country, and asks for world apology. He’s a huge disappointment, I agree with every disparaging remark above, and there’s really NOTHING for you to explain, Steve.
    It’s for Powell to face up to his own sorry mess.

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  41. Jeffery Haas says:

    The former chairman of the Joint Chiefs is saying that he didnt realize that we were in the middle of an insurgency and that he didnt realize the government would collapse. Does this not preclude his qualification TO BE chairman of the Joint Chiefs?
    I’m reminded of the hotel commercial:
    “I’m not REALLY the most knowledgeable and capable military leader in America, one or two steps in rank below the Commander-In-Chief, but I DID STAY at a Holiday Inn last night!”
    IS THERE NO ACCOUNTABILITY?

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  42. parrot says:

    Rail against Powell? Why? I mean, he simply waited, being the brave, loyal guy that he is, til it looked like Bush’s political fortunes were waning before he spoke up. Er, I mean, he let one of his political allies start testing the waters at that point. Now that has got to be the mark of a brave and patriotic guy, right?!

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  43. p.lukasiak says:

    “p.lukasiak — thanks for your post, but we completely disagree. I do believe what I wrote which is why I did. I don’t believe that my comments on why Powell has done what he has done is “pure tripe.” ”
    Steve, unless you think that Powell is such an egomaniac that he thinks an appearance on Meet the Press is the equivalent of “overwhelming military force”, you’re analogy simply makes no sense.
    ” I find it surprising that so many on the left who want to close Guantanamo are spending more time criticizing him rather than using him as a heavyweight behind their cause.”
    Maybe its because “so many on the left” actually have principles that “so many in the center” apparently lack. To those of us on the left, Powell isn’t a “heavyweight”, he a craven hypocrite who either supported the worst policies of the Bush administration, or sat idly by and did nothing while they were being implemented by other. Maybe people like you are willing to degrade yourselves through acts of cynical opportunism by lionizing someone whose actions you consider criminal, but people like me have higher standards — and that means treating Colin Powell with the full level of contempt and disdain that he so fully deserves, even when he finally decides to open his mouth and state the obvious.
    And just because Powell’s friends come to you at your cocktail weenie festivals and tell you how torn up poor Colin is about Iraq, and Guantanamo, and the rest of the disaster that is the Bush administration doesn’t mean squat —
    actually, that not true, it does mean something. It means that you got played, because there are well over 3500 dead troops and hundreds of thousands of other americans who have suffered — not to mention the extraordinary deaths and suffering of the Iraqi people — and finally, NOW, this “heavyweight” decides to speak up and you think its meaningful?
    Its not.
    But I hope its worth it for you, and Powell gives you a nice fat discount to speak at the next big fundraiser for your foundation. (How much did Wilkerson bring in?)

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  44. Joe says:

    History will not be kind to Colin Powell.
    I gave up on him back in 1993 when he served his C’n’C Clinton so poorly on gays in the military and the Yugoslav debacle. Others probably gave up on him earlier (e.g. his shoddy investigation of My Lai) or later (too many failures to count) but does anyone at all think he matters anymore?

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  45. Alan says:

    I don’t know why there is so much pussyfooting when it comes to Gen Powell. He made a big mistake at the UN and he refused to own up in a timely fashion. He could have resigned as SoS and been in great demand today. But he is also the cautious type who has not taken a stand when it counted. Sure he is doing good work for kids. He should keep at it. I will not give him the respect others do because he could have made a difference and many lives would have been saved if he stood up when it was needed: on the eve of the push to the Iraq War.

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  46. Brigitte N says:

    Imagine for a moment what impact Colin Powell would have had, if he resigned before the Iraq war began. Imagine for a moment that he had the courage to speak out against the administration’s disregard for the Geneva Conventions, etc., and the non-existent (9/11 and Al Qaeda connections) and cooked evidence (WMD) against Iraq.
    It is curious that Powell now is available to give advice to candidates on both sides–he is obviously fishing for another high-level job.
    I pretty much hope that none of the candidates listens to Powell whom I held in high regard once upon a time. I will vote against anyone of them who thinks of offering him a job.

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  47. Carroll says:

    I am more on the Boo Powell side…can’t find much to recommend him.
    Then there are things like his son’s plum FCC job/apointment by this adm…Powell’s accepting a car as a gift from Bandar, and I see Powell and wife are still on the privilaged list and attending WH dinners for Queen ELizabeth.
    As for his calling for Gitmo to be closed…some in congress have already done that, plus the ABA, plus the International Law lawyers association or whatever it is called, plus a whole host of high profile academic law professionals.
    So he said something at long last…it doesn’t mean much now..unless he thinks he has some kind of influence left with any one in this adm…which is sort of silly because if this adm hadn’t already taken his measure and correctly judged that he would go along to get along they would never have selected him or kept him for the first four years of this war.
    The suggestion is that Wilkerson is in some ways saying what Powell thinks/thought although they disagree on somethings….or that Powell is somehow speaking thru Wilkerson on somethings
    So the bottom line on Powell is,.. what kind of man would let/send another guy out here to speak truth while he spends his time tooling around in Prince Bandars gift and dinning at the WH?
    Sorry..not much of a man if you ask me. Certainly not the kind you would want to be any foxhole with.
    I think we need to now more than ever have higher standards for hero status.

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  48. Basura says:

    If he’s speaking up now he must have a book coming out soon. That’s the only reason politicians “see the light.”

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  49. Bill R. says:

    Powell once stated he would like to see a sense of shame restored to American society. I would like to see a sense of shame restored to Colin Powell. More than anyone he could have, and should have stopped the Iraq war and all the tragedy that has resulted from it. He was a coward.

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  50. Tom S says:

    I am not sure that attempting to conflate a political “Powell Doctrine” into the military Powell Doctrine is feasible. If Powell wanted his actions to have a maximum impact on the Bush administration, speaking out in September 2004 would have been the time. Then perhaps we would not have had a second Bush administration.
    As someone who admired the idea of Colin Powell, but was disabused by the actual Colin Powell, my thinking on Powell is that he has an excessive caution that borders on moral blindness; which is combined with a totally unspoken dislike for some aspect(s) of the Democratic party that makes it impossible for him to betray the Republican party, no matter how egregious its policies are or how bad they are for US interests.

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  51. Homer says:

    SC: I am trying to both think through and explain his previous silence — and why as well he is beginning to speak up now.
    Are you suggesting Powell would have still spoken up if Iraq had turned out to be a smashing success?
    Like Tenet, Powell is just another `loyal Bushie’ try to get back to the trough.

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  52. jamzo says:

    “Many of my liberal readers will probably rail against Powell, and perhaps he does deserve a lot of criticism. I am trying to both think through and explain his previous silence — and why as well he is beginning to speak up now”
    Zbigniew Brzezinski while a democrat ould probably not be classified as liberal
    on the charlie rose show this week he sharply critized powell for not resigning – if he disagreed with the policy why did he not resign, like other officials in other administrations have done before him
    despite his public image powell has often been criticized as “career-advancement” oriented – from
    as for why is powell speaking up now
    i suspect he recognizes that the bushie adventures are now widely perceived as failures and he is doing what he can to rehabilitate his image
    wikipedia
    “Six months later, a 21 year old soldier of the 11th Light Infantry named Tom Glen wrote a letter accusing the Americal Division (and other entire units of the US military, not just individuals) of routine brutality against Vietnamese civilians; the letter was detailed, its allegations horrifying, and its contents echoed complaints received from other soldiers. Colin Powell, then a young US Army Major, was charged with investigating the letter, which did not specifically reference My Lai (Glen had no knowledge of the events there). Powell wrote: “In direct refutation of this portrayal is the fact that relations between American soldiers and the Vietnamese people are excellent.” Later, Powell’s refutation would be called an act of “white-washing” the news of My Lai, and questions would continue to remain undisclosed to the public. On 4 May 2004, Powell, then United States Secretary of State, said to Larry King, “I mean, I was in a unit that was responsible for My Lai. I got there after My Lai happened. So, in war, these sorts of horrible things happen every now and again, but they are still to be deplored”
    i think you disrespect wilkerson by assigning him the role of powell-proxy – it is as bad as assigning cheney the role of bush-proxy

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  53. DonS says:

    The “I’m a military guy just following orders” does not explain things. Besides, I thought Nuremberg took the gloss off that dodge.
    It may be Powell’s character, or what he would like to project as such, as reflexively putting things in a military frame, but he intervened, or allowed himself to be used to intervene in domestic and foreign political matters of the gravesest sort when the evidence shows he had much information and doubt about the false information he was being fed.
    Nothing washes to exculpate Powell from the great guilt he bears. The fact that he is African American has served to heighten his perceived importance, and his value as a mouthpiece. Because of his color, in significant part I would argue, he became and/or was manipulated as a the “gold standard” spokesperson. Equally, he participated somewhere along the continuum of being taken advantage to knowingly acting for ultimate payoff. It didn’t quite work out.

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  54. PissedOffAmerican says:

    I am suprised Steve sees closing Gitmo as anything other than a symbolic gesture. We have tens of thousands in “custody”, in Iraq and elswhere. Does closing Gitmo somehow assure us that that the renditions have stopped, there will be no more waterboarding, and that our prisoners will be treated with some sort of legal standard beyond the Gonzales/Cheney list of allowable treatments?
    Closing Gitmo will do about as much good as raising the toilet seat AFTER you’ve exercised bad marksmanship.

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  55. Homer says:

    SC: Wilkerson has admirably been working full time since giving speeches, appearing in films ….
    I wish Wilkerson would expose the history of Islamic fundamentalism and the anti-American and anti-Israeli sentiment in the Iraqi Parliament.
    I wish Wilkerson would unveil Al-Maliki, Al-Hakim, Bayan Jabr, et al and fully detail the fact that Al-Dawa has had American blood on its hands for well over a decade.
    I wish Wilkerson let all know that it is NOT that the Iraqi Parliament cannot enact the US’ directives it is that it will not.
    Check out the following exchanges btw Cheney and Maliki.
    I bet Al-Maliki is chuckling to himself saying `karma is a bitch’.
    1) Bush warns Iraq on chemical arms U.S. fears use of weapons against rebels. Chicago Tribune. March 10, 1991 [snip]
    Jawad al-Maliki of the Dawa Party said in Damascus, Syria, that mustard gas was used against protesters in al-Haleh, al-Kifil, Najaf and some areas of Basra, in southeastern Iraq.
    Precisely what is going on inside Iraq is difficult to determine since Western reporters have been expelled. Most information is coming from refugees and opposition leaders in Iran and Syria.
    Defense Secretary Dick Cheney described the situation as “volatile” but said it appears Hussein will be able to keep the unrest in check for now. The Iraqi leader is using his loyal Republican Guard to quell the rebellion.
    2) Iraq Warned on Using Gas. Newsday. March 10, 1991 [snip]
    An exiled Shiite Iraqi opposition figure, Jawad al-Maliki, said in
    Damascus that mustard gas had already been used to kill hundreds of rebellious civilians, mostly in southern Iraq. But Pentagon officials said they were skeptical.
    [Keywords: Iraq, Islamic fundamentalists, Islamic fundamentalism, Shiite fundamentalists, Al Sadr, Al-Maliki, Al-Hakim, Bayan Jabr, Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, SCIRI, Al Dawa, Death Squads]

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  56. Frank says:

    A tragic figure, but more accurate, a coward.
    The antithesis of a profile of courage.
    What a waste!

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  57. Marcia says:

    There seems to be a flaw not in Powell’s character but in the estimation of his character. Had he wished to be number one, that is to say the President he could probably have won the election in 2000. He chose not to. Powell is a military career man. He spent his life in a strictly disciplined hierarchial system subservent to civil control, a system that has always protected us from military coups.
    He did not resign which was what I hoped he would do for two years, nor did he speak out. That was his decision and he has paid the price of his reputation.
    However, one must wonder what weight his stand on the closure of Guantanamo will have on the administration – perhaps none. It may influence some hesitating Republicans who remain on board the “Prempive War” Doctrine and torture fans.
    He may be speaking up now if he thinks the option of using nuclear weapons against Iran in preventive attacks is more than a bluff. He certainly knows Cheney well enough to judge the danger.
    In any case he is rather like a tragic antique figure caught in the web of duty and conscience and as Herodote said custom, the queen of the world.

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  58. Linda says:

    My understanding of the Powell Doctrine is more in line with Lukasiak above–and a lot more. Here’s what Wikipedia says about it:
    The Powell Doctrine, also known as the Powell Doctrine of Overwhelming Force, was elaborated by General Colin Powell in the run up to the 1990-1991 Gulf War. It is based in large part on the Weinberger Doctrine, devised by Caspar Weinberger, former Secretary of Defense and Powell’s former boss.
    The questions posed by the Powell Doctrine, which should be answered affirmatively before military action, are:
    Is a vital national security interest threatened?
    Do we have a clear attainable objective?
    Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed?
    Have all other non-violent policy means been fully exhausted?
    Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement?
    Have the consequences of our action been fully considered?
    Is the action supported by the American people?
    Do we have genuine broad international support?
    The fifth point of the Doctrine is normally interpreted to mean that the U.S. should not get involved in peacekeeping or nation-building exercises. Powell expanded upon the Doctrine, asserting that when a nation is engaging in war, every resource and tool should be used to achieve overwhelming force against the enemy, minimizing US casualties and ending the conflict quickly by forcing the weaker force to capitulate. This is well in line with Western military strategy dating at least from Carl von Clausewitz’s On War. However, in the context of the Just War theory, the doctrine of overwhelming force may violate the Principle of Proportionality.
    End of Wikipedia quote
    Powell’s “Meet the Press” statements have nothing to do with the Powell Doctrine and were all about
    treatment of POWs, enemy combatants, or whatever term is applied to those at Gitmo.
    Powell knew at the time we invaded Iraq that none of these questions could be answered, i.e., we should not invade Iraq. He stayed silent and in the administration for almost two years after that. He’s still silent.
    I have no idea why he made the Gitmo public statement now. We probably won’t know what he thinks until he writes a book for a lot of money.
    I just can’t find any logic to explain his inaction for all these years: loyalty/respect to/for the President? Caring about the troops and military? Caring about the USA? Some other code of honorable behavior?

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  59. Steve Clemons says:

    p.lukasiak — thanks for your post, but we completely disagree. I do believe what I wrote which is why I did. I don’t believe that my comments on why Powell has done what he has done is “pure tripe.”
    Powell has put his weight now behind closing Guantanamo — and whether you like his timing or not — I find it surprising that so many on the left who want to close Guantanamo are spending more time criticizing him rather than using him as a heavyweight behind their cause.
    I like your notes — but we completely, entirely disagree on this one. And your last sentence is a bit offensive.
    best,
    Steve Clemons

    Reply

  60. p.lukasiak says:

    Steve, this (from your Guardian piece) is pure tripe…
    “The Powell Doctrine is really about applying leverage only when it matters – at a decisive point, or tipping point designed to maximize chances of success. ”
    No, Steve. The Powell Doctrine is about the use of MILITARY FORCE, and when and how it should be used. PERIOD. Its not a manifesto about the timing of political pressure, as you would suggest. The only relevance that the Powell Doctrine could have is if you think that Powell was planning/contemplating a military coup…and somehow I doubt that.
    Its apparent that you are simply trying to make up ex poste facto excuses for Powell’s utter lack of character and courage. Its pretty obvious that Powell has spent his time obsessing over his own reputation — weighing the damage that would be done to him by the far right were he to speak out with the need to preserve his good name in the history books.
    Powell is finally speaking out NOW because the far right — the people that did everything they could to shred the reputations of any Bush insider who went public with criticism of Bush — has been rendered virtually impotent. They’ve been so thoroughly discredited, and there are so many people finally openly criticizing Bush, that they are incapable of succeeding in the kind of focussed smear campaign that they conducted in the past.
    Powell has spent the last four years sacrificing American lives — and America’s reputation — on the altar of his own ego. He rendered the Powell Doctrine null and void with the invasion of Afghanistan — where was the “clear exit strategy” for that military intervention, and then went further and virtually endorsed the concept of “pre-emptive war” by supporting the invasion of Iraq.
    Do you seriously think that Guantanamo is going to be shuttered by the Bush administration now that Powell says its the right thing to do?
    Or perhaps is this your point: that Powell is such a raging egomaniac that he actually believes that his speaking out will be decisive on the issue of Guantanamo?
    Because, seriously, if you bother to think about it, the “Powell Doctrine” theory that you’ve come up with is so transparently ridiculous that if someone else had suggested it, you’d be laughing.

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  61. DonS says:

    From Steve’s piece: “Colin Powell cleaned up a lot of messes for President Bush, particularly during the early part of his first term. As his political leverage diminished, his comments and his own influence were best kept under wraps until they could matter.”
    AS an outsider, I disagree. Since having a reasonable foreign policy has not been part of the Bush administration, it would seem really fatuous to assume there is even an audience for Powell that would make a difference.
    To me, the scale of the debacle that has become the US ship of state is so great that we are talking about a multi decade, if not multi generational, if not permanent harm to the possiblility of a . . . fill in your own disgrace. Under these conditions, a patriot would have been screaming and shouting years ago. Some have, like those you call “liberals” here. (not sure of that’s an insult).
    Powell had one of the truly important voices, albeit he didn’t deserve it, but was rather a media construct. Nonetheless, he squandered his important time on stage and let the ship of state further drift, implode, sink. No doubt he collects large fees for speeches, like Clinton, and would probably be cut off if he started to speak real truth, including a non stop mea culpa. (can history ever excuse his shameful particpation at the UN)
    Can’t or we ever speak in non-nuanced phrases, or must we always preserve our viability within the concensus reality that is too much beholden to the powers that be?

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  62. jon says:

    Powell is almost a tragic figure in this debacle. Unfortunately, he suffers from excessive intelligence, self-awareness, and the capacity for long range, strategic thought. He was destined for better, but history and events will judge him harshly. He knows that he needs a stellar third act to redeem his reputation. Being the best of a bad bunch isn’t good enough.
    He was supposed to be a calm, steady hand on the tiller at State, and to be able to influence military decisions due to his lengthy, high ranking service. His forceful defense of the invasion and corroboration of WMD claims swayed far too many people, including those in the House and Senate who used his imprimature to defend their votes for war.
    He has tried to defend staying at State by saying that he prevented far worse things from occurring. This may be true, but cannot be proven. Perhaps he will tell us who would have taken his place and what would have happened in his absence. But he squandered an opportunity to shut down the AUMF, if he had resigned publicly and forcefully before the vote.
    Perhaps he was out maneuvered by Cheney and the neo-cons. Perhaps Bush gave too little weight to his counsel. Perhaps he was genuinely rolled on the intelligence. Perhaps he placed too much importance on personal loyalty and being a team player. Perhaps he thought that his own best interests would be better served by going along.
    All that is possible, but still insufficient to justify his actions.
    Far too many of us without stars on our shoulders or compartmented security access could see clearly that WMD claims were made simply to gin up a war. Powell’s own actions prior to his UN testimony showed that he thought the intelligence stank. And he stood by those claims and made a series of excuses for them for far too long as it became obvious that there was no evidence, no WMDs and no active program. [Doesn't mean Saddam wouldn't have eagerly ramped all that back up the moment he could have. Different issue altogether.] He should also have pushed harder for a larger invasion force, when it became apparent that the invasion would happen no matter what.
    Powell should have resigned after it became apparent that the US would invade in the absence of the second UN resolution. The UN’s after-the-fact soft shuffle to smooth things over is its own piece of mendacity that does not change the fact that the invasion is a violation of the laws of war, the Geneva Conventions, the Nuremburg Tribunals, the UCMJ, and US law.
    Beyond that, Powell has escaped scrutiny for State’s loss of control over the post-invasion occupation planning, transition and establishment of a new government. State had made voluminous plans, and this activity was well within its mandate. State was positioned well and had the capability to undertake and guide the reconstruction effort (with the continued participation of the military), but allowed Rumsfeld to strip this mission from it.
    Sometimes, when you’re dealt a losing hand you have to put the cards down and walk away from the table.
    Powell was made to eat a lot of shit and be publicly humiliated during his tenure at state. He did so with admirable grace, and that is part of the job. But he demonstrated superior loyalty to people who are his categorical inferiors who used him abysmally in the furtherance of criminal acts that have rendered Iraq into a charnel house, and squandered the wealth and prestige of the US, not to speak of the thousands of lives lost and broken.
    Because of Powell’s actions (in concert with others) the foreign policy of the US has become difficult if not impossible to carry out. The range of action of the US is now highly constrained, our future horizons lowered, and progress will come at greater cost.
    I was impressed by his performance on Meet the Press, as I usually am. For a team player, I found his hedging on supporting Republicans to be downright astonishing. He seemed to be all but endorsing the Democrats. But it was also clear that he is positioning to maximize his own power and authority in the election.
    The task of redeeming America’s foreign policy and stature in the world is a difficult and long term task. It will take people with Powell’s intellect and ability, and skill at departmental infighting, to succeed. The adversary is entrenched and will not go quietly. But, I’m not convinced that this is the objective he’s set for himself.
    I am willing to hope and to take assistance in the task from whatever quarter it comes. But Powell best ramp up his efforts if he wants to be effective and if he wants to take the tarnish off his reputation. The 2008 elections will determine whether the republic can stand. And what happens between now and then will determine America’s future in the world.

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  63. mlaw230 says:

    It would seem to me that “speaking up” would only have effect on those that could be swayed by public opinion. Powell has, I understand been speaking out privately for some time.
    Perhaps his timing, and the fact that he is speaking out at all, is a result of the internal battle over Iran between the Cheney “cabal” and Rice’s State Department. The Cheney forces are still powerful and Rice has not proven herself an adept infighter. My guess is he is going to provide reinforcement for Rice in attempting to avoid another war.

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  64. Robert Morrow says:

    Colin Powell is advising Obama. I tell you, the liberal establishment is ready to stick a needle in Hillary and I include Powell as square in the middle of the liberal elite.
    Hillary’s base is lower educated women, many of whom are not paying close attention to the presidential race. Obama, and perhaps Edwards, is going to have a LOT of money to educate these lady voters and show them an attractive alternative to Hillary when the primaries begin.
    Hillary is stuck in the mid to upper 30′s – that sure is a weak showing for a candidate who was supposed to have been a lock. Worse, I am not seeing the grassroots enthusiasm out there for Hillary. I do think Hillary is polling well among bitter, old angry women – that seems to be here base. There is a reason Hillary does not have outdoor rallies a la Obama; because nobody would show up, except maybe some rabid protestors settling old scores with the Clintons.
    There are a lot of young, less educated minority women who are “saying” they are for Hillary right now. But if they ever find out the stuff about her that you and I know, I could fatally poison her campaign.
    For example, if these women voters find out that Hillary, far from being a victim of Monica, is in fact a bisexual lesbian who probably had Chelsea with Webb Hubbell, then had a 10 year affair with Vince Foster, and she hires the secret police to harass and terrify Bill’s sex victims and girlfriends AND she throw lamps in the White House AND she curses like a sailor and treats people like dirt for 36 years … I can see big problems with Hillary’s campaign if the blue collar and minority ladies ever find out about this.

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  65. jake says:

    I think it’s hilarious this lot doesn’t rate a thing Powell has ever done. Shame he had such a crap group of republicans to run with, thus we’ll always conjoin them with him.

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  66. Bucky says:

    Steve,
    I hope my fellow liberals didn’t disappoint you in their comments above. Mr. Powell’s views on Guantanamo are welcome news, of course. But I get the impression that he’s like the guy who hops out of a truck that’s just run over a pedestrian, walks up to the other guy lying bleeding in the street, and says, “Wow, that looks like it hurts. I’ll bet you wish you weren’t standing right at this street corner now, don’t ya?”
    Powell was sitting center stage for the first four years of the train wreck. He may be right about a great number of things that he says in foreign policy, but when he was in a position to actually do something, he failed to act.
    My friends who work in the State Department love relating the story of how Powell went to Bush’s office, sat down with him, and convinced Bush why he had to go to the UN before attacking Iraq. It might have been Powell’s finest hour, had the UN resolutions actually stopped the war and forced a return of unfettered weapons inspections. Maybe that was Powell’s gambit, that he could play good cop to Bush’s bad cop.
    But Powell was in a position to know exactly the kind of people who were making decisions on Iraq. He was a military man and certainly had knowledge of the Pentagon’s very accurate assessments of how an occupation would degenerate. He knew how the war and occupation would strengthen the appeal of Osama bin Laden and the political fortunes of the Iranian mullahs. He had the ability to know that there was a lot of fishy intelligence work going on from Feith’s office in DoD to justify the case for war.
    And still Powell did nothing but abet this all too predictable disaster. He was silent when those of us in the peace movement predicted this war would be a humanitarian nightmare. He said nothing when the administration misled the public into believing Iraq was connected to al-Qaeda. He parceled out what was left of his credibility at the UN to sell a bill of goods to the Security Council (which they didn’t buy for one second).
    I welcome anyone who has seen the light on any of Mr Bush’s myriad disasters. I found it reassuring when Powell got a leading position in the Bush administration six and a half years ago. But since that time, he’s demonstrated that he either lacks the expertise and wisdom I thought he had I how a great power should conduct itself or he lacks the character to act on what even a fool could see.
    It’s not whether he’s right on wrong. It’s just that until Colin Powell does a HUGE mea culpa on the whole Bush-Cheney war machine, he lacks the moral standing to offer the world any of his opinions.

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  67. ... says:

    guantanamo and the military commissions process de- legitimized guantanamo and the military commissions process.. the legal and ethical position/standing of the usa is not going to change even if these criminals running the usa were to end it tomorrow. glad to have Powell coming out and stating the obvious though.. as for why he is speaking out now, it isn’t making any sense to me, even with your commentary and the comments of the other posters here… something is missing in all this and i find it weird… i don’t know if we will find out.. powell is an enigma.

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  68. daCascadian says:

    War criminal babbling
    Screw him & everyhing he stands for
    “Nothing is so admirable in politics as a short memory.” – John Kenneth Galbraith

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  69. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Another rat leaps off the stern, after helping run the ship aground.
    Powell sees the inevitable legacy that this Administration will be remembered by.
    Too late, you treasonous lying prick.

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  70. William Jensen says:

    Perhaps he deserves a lot of criticism? Perhaps? Forgetting his screw up at the UN, he has silently sat on the sideline for four years effectively enabling this Administration to destroy our military and run our foreign policy into the toilet. What’s more American, keeping your mouth shut while your boss is screwing up everything you suppossedly stand for or saying something about it? In Mr. Powell’s case, it was keeping his mouth shut.
    It’s nice to see he is opening up, but it isn’t going to do any good. At this point, God could open up the clouds and tell George to get out of Iraq, negotiate with our enemies, and learn to get along with our Allies and George wouldn’t do it. To think Powell has any influence at this point is to ignore reality. He’s just another tragic figure in an Administration filled with them.
    Maybe if he had opened his trap a little sooner there would be less dead Americans. Maybe if he had opened his trap sooner there wouldn’t have been a second term for Bush. Maybe if he had opened his trap sooner we would be further along in Afghanistan and not in Iraq. Maybe, Maybe, Maybe. So, when I hear that now he speaks all I can think to say is: What a waste.
    Lastly, please don’t make excuses for him. He screwed up and he should have to answer for his faults and doesn’t need others to do his bidding.

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  71. albertchampion says:

    WHY NOW?
    the international court in den haag looms.
    colin[or is it colon] is a war criminal.
    and he would do anything to save his criminal ass.
    he was a war criminal in seasia,daddy’s invasion of iraq, and in so many other theaters of operations.
    i love blackamoors who enlist in the killing of others of the downtrodden, don’t you?
    not.

    Reply

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