Esquire Magazine | Reader Supported News | May 15 2012
OPINION ~ Has there been a more vastly overrated person in the past 50 years than Colin Powell? He helped cover up My Lai. He did his part to make sure that the Iran-Contra mess never came fully to light. He buckled under to chickenhawk bullies in the Bush White House and did his part to lie us into a destructive war with a speech to the U.N. that he knew was based on stovepiped bullshit from people he already didn’t trust. And still, people trust him and revere him and, I have no doubt, if he came to them shilling another war, they’d salute and agree with him as devoutly as they did back in 2003, when he was before the UN talking about those lagoons of anthrax consomme that didn’t really exist.
And now, of course, he’s back with another book in which he polishes his own apple to a high gloss while ducking his responsibility for the greatest foreign-policy foul-up of our time. And he’s still talking like a hapless apparatchik:
“By then, the President did not think war could be avoided,” Powell writes. “He had crossed the line in his own mind, even though the NSC [National Security Council] had never met – and never would meet – to discuss the decision.”
The president “didn’t think war could be avoided”? Jesus H. Christ on a 10-day contract, at what point in his presidency did George W. Bush try to avoid a war with Iraq? Paul O’Neill has told us that he was spoiling for that fight almost immediately after the theft of the elect… er… the inauguration was complete. Donald Rumsfeld was talking about it while the towers were still burning. Dick Cheney was parceling out Iraqi oil fields almost from jump. The Downing Street Memos track it back to 2002. There was no “decision” made to go to war with Iraq because the entire administration was the decision. The passive voice is the sound of a true career underling trying to keep his job.
But the tap-dancing on his UN speech, the one that had liberal hawks like Richard Cohen all swoony, is an insult to history. Powell ‘fesses up that the speech was “one of my most momentous failures, the one with the widest-ranging impact,” but it is also not his fault. “Any public official” would have made that case, especially if they wanted to keep their phoney-baloney jobs. Remember that Cheney told Powell he should give the speech because Powell could afford to lose a few points off his approval numbers and, instead of spitting in that vile old vampire’s eye, Powell went out and… gave the speech. There apparently is almost nothing a superior can do to this guy that makes him angry, but nasty bloggers piss him off.
“I get mad when bloggers accuse me of lying – of knowing the information was false. I didn’t.”
Even assuming that’s true, which I don’t, not entirely, anyway, the question remains why in the hell didn’t he know the information was false. He knew that some of what he was being fed by the White House was absolute moonshine. There are accounts of him literally tearing up intelligence reports and throwing them on the floor, and calling them “bullshit.” So at that point, he knew he was being pushed to put his credibility on the line before the world on behalf of a case for war that he knew already was at least partly cooked. Is he the least suspicious person on the planet?
Sorry, you don’t get a do-over on this one. You gave the speech. You made the case. It was all a lie, which you must have at least suspected at the time. Hundreds of thousands of people died, or were wounded, or were displaced. An apology is in order. In fact, several.
- Colin Powell’s New Book: War With Iraq Never Debated (tribuneofthepeople.com)
- Colin Powell: U.S. was set for war with Iraq before his U.N. speech (weeklyintercept.blogspot.com)
- Colin Powell is so sad he can’t erase ‘blot’ on his reputation (dailykos.com)