Monday, 20 October 2008

Colin Powell's Judgment & Courage

Colin Powell is in the news it seems and on the receiving end of the plaudits for his judgment and courage in backing Obama. Ironically it is these same two characteristics that he lost so spectacularly in the UN in 2003.
Widely regarded as a dove in an administration of warmongering hawks at the time, Powell did all he could that February afternoon in 2003 to drive the UN to war in Iraq with his presentation that 'proved' Saddam had stockpiles of WMD's and was ready to launch Armageddon with them.
"We know from sources that missile brigades were disbursing warheads containing biological warfare agents" he said showing us satellite photographs of WMD facilities, chemical plants and quoting 'sources' tying Saddam to Al Queada and stating how he could "trace the story of a senior terrorist operative telling how Iraq provided WMD training to Al Queada" and that "We have no indication that Saddam Hussein has ever abandoned his nuclear weapons program".
All fabrication, all lies but Powell urged his colleagues in the UN to join America and Britain in invading Iraq. The UN rightly dismissed Powell's words and refused to back an invasion, leaving the US and the UK without the fig leaf of legitimacy they craved.
Two years on, a regretful Powell told ABC news: "I'm the one who presented it to the world, and it will always be a part of my record. It was painful. It is painful now," and described himself as a reluctant warrior.
In July 2007 Powell revealed that he spent two and a half hours trying to persuade George W. Bush not to invade Iraq, stating, "I tried to avoid this war."
Sorry Colin, you were an active supporter of war, cheerleading at the United Nations for a war that you admit you did not agree with and had doubts about but lacked the courage and judgment to speak out. You are as dishonorable as your colleagues and you must share the responsibility for everything disastrous that has happened in that country since and joining the Obama bandwagon should not cleanse you of your previous abhorrent indiscretions.

19 comments:

Noah "Nog" M. said...

I'll stick up for the guy if he's one of those "serve the king in other areas" men. If his resignation would have done more harm than good, or if he thought so, I don't hold it against him. He's a general. He argues until it's no use and then he goes with the plan whether he likes it or not.

If dumb loyalty is is only vice, he's a pretty good man. And he did just fall on his own sword.


-Nog

David G said...

Nice call, Lucy! We are in total agreement.

Australia, under the American-toadying Prime Minister John Howard, got suckered into the same war. Resultantly, we are also in danger of a terrorist attack.

I wrote many letters to Powell urging no invasion. Not one received a reply. After all, he was in the 'master's house.'

Cheezy said...

"He's a general. "

Or rather, he was a General, because by the time he was a paid liar at the UN, he was retired from the armed forces and was Secretary of State. If - as the holder of this incredibly important position - he was still of the mind-set that he should obey his President even if it involved lying in order to justify an invasion of another sovereign state, then I'd say that this is a major character failing, rather than anything that can be atoned for by a resignation and a few pussy words of retrospective regret.

You get the impression ol' Colin knows this now.

Therefore I see Powell as one of those 'shoulda known better' people i.e. The other Neocons were noticeably 'affected' in the head, whether by strange religious views or by other kinds of intransigent dogmas and worldviews... e.g. Have a look into Rumsfeld's eyes and tell me the guy's all there. Whereas Powell was all there. All the time. But he didn't let this little fact alter what he did & said.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm,

It sounds familiar to me. In the corporate world people are often told to cut 500 or 1,000 people. They often resist only to be told "you do it, or I'll find someone else that will". The person then has a decision to make. Not about the merits of keeping the job, but whether or not they should give it up to someone that has no desire to resist at all. Should the stay and try to minimize the damage...

Since Powell did not have to go public with his endorsement of Obama - opening him to the type of ridicule he is getting here - I'll be the contrarian and give him the benefit of the doubt concerning the decision to speak at the UN and assume that he had the choice of doing it and minimizing the damage, or giving it over to Rumsfeld who would prosecute the war with much more vigor...

Q

Lucy said...

He had a choice Q but decided to go against his true feelings and persecute a war that he didn't agree with. This isn't a case of deciding whether or not to cut a workforce, this was a shock and awe war. If he had stood up and said he didn't agree with it he could have seriously impeded the Brits and Americans adventure. He chose to stay quiet and do the bidding of his superiors against his own judgment and therefore deserves all the ridicule he gets.

Annie said...

agree. as i've said here before, i have little mercy for those that had a hand in the death of millions.

also, he might like a job in obama's cabinet. right?

Lucy said...

Maybe you are not a million miles away with that suggestion annie.

Noah "Nog" M. said...

First, it seems some strange twist of fate that I'm sticking up for Powell.

Second, the odds aren't as easy as we want them to be. In hindsight, it is a dumb war that isn't going well. But in foresight, things aren't as simple. I had the dumb (unjust if you prefer) war part down, but I can't truly say I thought it would end up as badly as it has.

Powell surely knew that, for his part, what mattered the most in his decision on whether or not to resign or otherwise fall on his sword at the moment was only whether or not the war would be "won" as Bush thought of it, not whether or not it was just.

It's not clear that the play out of the conflict could have been foreseen. I'd posit that it could have gone a lot better than it has had Bush and his favored faction not been running things the way that they have.

Everyone in the world can spout all of the normative BS they want. Powell's decision to stay on wasn't a terribly bad one. Again, the question relevant to his public actions wasn't the justice or injustice of the war, it was the war's chance of success regardless of the moral ramifications.


-Nog

Anonymous said...

Lucy,

I know that it wasn't cutting jobs. I know that it is war. I have lost friends and I have many other friends that fought.

I'm trying to remember if I ever used an analogy that you didn't twist? Did I say it was like cutting jobs? NO.

The analogy was supposed to illustrate the Powell could step down and let someone else run the war, perhaps even spread it into Iran or Syria, or he could run the war.

Point being, there was going to be a war.

Question being, could he doing anything about it? No! Especially if he stepped down.

Q

David G said...

You know what Americans are best at, Lucy?

Making excuses for themselves and their warmongering country!

Cheezy said...

Wow ~ I bet some of those Nazis who got strung up after the Nuremberg Trials are absolutely kicking themselves that they didn't use 'The Powell Defence' (it's even better than the Chewbacca Defence!)...

"Do you have anything to say in your defence, Mr von Ribbentrop".

"Er, yes I do. It's that I wasn't too keen on this war, in my heart of hearts. But I just thought I'd keep at it for a while anyway, so that its chances of success were a bit higher".

"Oh, is that right? Well, in that case, you can be on your way, Mr von Ribbentrop! We're sorry to have detained you!".

Lucy said...

It sounds familiar to me. In the corporate world people are often told to cut 500 or 1,000 people. They often resist only to be told "you do it, or I'll find someone else that will". The person then has a decision to make.
This analogy was NOT about cutting jobs?

Anonymous said...

Lucy,

You are right it was not about cutting jobs.

It also was not about comparing layoffs to war.

It was an analogy about a leader having to decide if they are going to be right or effective. Are they going to be right and get run over and cast aside with no hope of having any possibility of influence, or are they going to try and find some way to stay in the fray with the hopes of having a positive influence at a latter time. Somebody from the U.S. was going to address the U.N. with the very same data (substantiated by Russian, English, Saudi, French, and German intell).

David, I didn't make an excuse. I submitted an argument. You made it into a personl attack (which you rarely do to me on your blog...)

Cheezy, the consequences of drastically diminished power, ehh.

Q

Lucy said...

Q - Re-reading what you said i now understood that you were not making comparisons between the decisions Powell had to make and that of a CEO
making redundancies. I hold my hands up and plead guilty to mis-interpreting your words.

David G said...

Q, I looked again at my comment. I didn't see your name mentioned once.

How then did I make a personal attack on you?

Your accusation makes no sense.

Cheers.

Anonymous said...

David,

My bad. since your comment was immediately next to mine, and since i'm american i assumed it was in response to my post.

i've been having problems getting to your blog lately. have others had problems? sometimes it is fine, sometimes it just locks up the browser, other times it causes the browser to fail and stop, and other times it gets the 404 message... i use 6 different computers and have had the problems with each of them...

Q

David G said...

I'm glad we cleared that up, Q!

Your comment about finding difficulties with accessing my blog is worrying. Is anyone else having troubles?

I'd really appreciate some feedback.

Annie said...

i visit near-daily, david. never a single problem accessing it.

has anyone noticed that the repubs are getting a bit jumpy? come on, november 4!!

David G said...

Thanks for the feedback, Annie. Very nice of you.