Thursday, June 09, 2005

Colin Powell on The Daily Show

Politics and partisanship aside, a truly admirable man who deserves our attention. I may not always agree with him, and he may have unintentionally misrepresented the Iraqi threat at the U.N., but I have nothing but respect for him. If only the other actors behind the Iraq War were so eloquent in defence of their actions. If only those other actors had listened to him at the time (and on so much else).

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  • Frankly, I don't have as much respect for Colin Powell as you do. It seems to me he spent his tenure as Secretary of State trying to showcase how he was the moderate instead of trying to get his policy implemented. Granted, he was pretty isolated in the Bush Administration, but if he was so unhappy with the policy (which apparently he was),then he should have fought to change it. My impression is that he was pretty passive--he neither wholeheartedly supported Bush's policies or wholeheartedly opposed them. Plus, the fact that he was unwilling to travel made him relatively ineffective. While I don't agree with the policy in general, I have been much more impressed with Rice, who at least seems to be willing to get out and mix it up with players in the international community and who seems willing to fight for her views within the administration.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:24 AM  

  • I hear you. I've been up and down on Powell over the years, and it certainly bothered me that he seemed to put loyalty (toeing the party line) over conviction at the State Department) -- though maybe he was more active behind the scenes than we know, and maybe he was in fact a force of sobriety in an otherwise intoxicated environment. In other words, maybe he did fight for change, just not publicly (which isn't his way). Either way, there's just a sense of gravity and purpose to him that I admire.

    I'm iffy on Rice. I don't think she did a great job as NSA (not that I know the full extent of her role there, of course), but she does seem to be far more effective over at State, where I think she's able to counterbalance Cheney and Rumsfeld from a position of relative independence.

    By Blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, at 12:39 PM  

  • I would add that Powell is a "hard-bitten realist" who can't escape the shadows of Vietnam. Which is why he generally opposes any military intervention that lacks the prospects for quick resolution. This puts an enormous limitation on flexibility, but at least provides a certain sobriety that is lacking in the gung-ho mentality of the present warmongers.

    As I said in my previous comment, I'm not necessarily a Powell booster. I respect him -- and I even admire him -- but I see that there are enormous limitations to his view of foreign relations and military action. He was, I think, a voice of reason in the Bush Administration, but perhaps his loyalty got the better of him. He seems to have lobbied internally for multilateralism and diplomatic efforts to prevent war, but in the end he obviously wasn't all that effective.

    Again, there are two sides to this. Powell may have been right to argue for a less rash policy towards Iraq and, say, for greater diplomatic efforts to deal with North Korea, but I agree that he didn't necessarily offer anything in the way of a serious alternative to the way things have been done in the Middle East for a generation. On this, I do give Bush a good deal of credit for thinking "outside the box". Whatever my disagreements with Bush on any number of issues, I generally support at least his rhetoric to change the way things are done in parts of the world that have historically been unfriendly to freedom and democracy.

    By Blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, at 11:05 AM  

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