His Way

How Colin Powell Could Have Stopped The War

Many of us feel betrayed by former Secretary of State Colin Powell, sold out for reasons which remain murky at best. Powell almost single-handedly sold President Bush's “war on Terrorism” to the American public, squandering both his unassailable integrity and our unconditional trust in it on the failed policies of a dilettante Goober president. There was a moment in time when the eyes of the world were on Powell, and, in that moment, Powell had it in his hands to prevent this war.

Having learned absolutely nothing from history,

President Bush and his Moron Brigade are pushing forward into a war without the popular support of the American people. Bush, who has no apparent sense of political timing, has alienated the five African Americans who actually may have liked him (National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice among them) by taking on a Supreme Court case regarding collegiate affirmative action practices. Why the president chose now, when he needs the nation to rally around him, to toss so explosive a political grenade over the fence is just beyond me, other than it speaks to the utter political ineptness of the man. Maybe it was yet another diversion attempt from the fact Bush never caught bin Laden, is powerless to do anything against Kim Jong Il, and really has no case for sending a quarter million Americans to Baghdad.

“Bush's opposition to the Michigan admissions plans is exactly in line with all of his domestic policies since being anointed to office,” writes Greg Morrow, Ph.D., a physicist and programmer buddy of mine. “Specifically, instead of ruling from the center because of his damaged legitimacy, he's playing full steam ahead for his conservative base's bedrock wish list. It's not a dumb move. His legitimacy was damaged and it's not reasonable to expect it to be repairable, so he's playing to the people he knows he's got. “Bush doesn't compromise. The modern conservative movement hates affirmative action and taxes only rich people pay, so Bush targets them.”

Ignoring the pleas of weapons inspectors and former presidents, Bush has, bizarrely and wholly inaccurately, proclaimed nearly all available avenues have been exhausted, likening Saddam's stalling tactics to a rerun of a movie he's seen before, one he doesn't care to sit through again. With nearly ever nation on the globe refusing to join Bush's War, Tommy Franks and The Boyz are preparing to go it alone (or at least with the “coalition” of states that owe us money), ignoring the puzzlement of the world body and the United Nations and the cries of the American people.

These guys in the White House are criminals. They are criminally petty and possibly criminally stupid or possibly OJ Stupid. Or, maybe they're just nuts. Michael Jackson dangling his kid over the rail. Whichever it is, there is no excuse, none, for the United States to ever start a war. A war these guys have had more than a year to sell to the American people, and they have not.

The most common rallying cry I've heard from people who back Bush is, “Well, he's our president and we support him! We must stop Saddam!” Meanwhile, a much worse dictator and much more serious and immediate threat to our national interests, Kim Jong Il of North Korea, is all but ignored. But, then, Kim has no oil and not much strategic value to our interests. What he does have are nuclear warheads and missiles that can actually hit us.

You do realize Kim Jong Il could put a stop to this entire invasion nonsense by simply signing a mutual defense pact with Saddam? If Bush attacks Iraq, Kim will attack South Korea. In the 1960's, Henry Kissinger practiced triangular diplomacy, uniting the globe in mutual self-interest. Kim and Saddam's self-interest is (a) survival (b) making a monkey out of our hapless president. The consequences of Bush's mysterious Iraq obsession are too terrible to contemplate.

Ultimately, what scares me the most about all of this is not that these guys are actually determined to go no matter how irrational or how unsupported this military action is, but that the American people are just going to let them do it. It's a sad state for our country when men of good conscience do absolutely nothing, and the bozos run wild. The senate should have the stones to demand proof— a smoking gun or what have you— before we commit our troops to war. And if Bush does so anyway, our representatives should have the courage to call for the president's impeachment. We wasted seventy million dollars on an intern's sexual indiscretion. Bush's crime— this war he's manufactured for clearly political purposes— is far more obscene. The only thing more obscene than that is our willingness to let him get away with it.

A friend of mine put it this way, “Fascism is basically one person getting a country to think his way.”

Yup. And this sums up the Bush Administration succinctly. How can EVERYONE else in the world be WRONG? Isn't that the message these days: “You're ALL WRONG.”

He's determined to go in. The failure of the inspection teams was a foregone conclusion. This is utter madness and, as pointed out here, there doesn't seem to be anything we can do about it. 

I think the great silent majority is absolutely puzzled as to how this could actually be happening. It's the Gulf of Tonkin all over again, and we're stupid and gullible enough to believe it.

I foresee marches on Washington, media blitzes and lots more. Worse, I foresee a rapid and terrible escalation of terrorist attacks on our country, and an evaporation of moderate Muslim states willing to help us, while that nutty Kim Jong guy takes advantage of our ineptness to deal his way into the big table of the global power brokers.

Saddam may be able to hit us via terrorism and other acts. Kim can hit us with missiles. Bush's entire case against Saddam indeed makes him both a coward and a hypocrite towards Kim, and Kim knows it. Kim is maximizing this opportunity to improve his nation's position on the world scene. 

Like the Cuban missile crisis (the Russians never actually even put their forces on alert, and they never, not once, had anything close to nuclear parity with us), Kim is bluffing. I sincerely doubt he actually has nukes. If he does, he has a couple three of them. And if he used any of them on US troops or fired them at us, he knows the US would annihilate his end of the island. 

This is, likely, why the Bush administration is giving Kim the brush off: they know he's just making noise trying to improve his hand. He's got the South running scared because they'd be grievously harmed in any nuke exchange with us. But I doubt Bush or anyone actually thinks Kim is nutty enough to even aim one of those nukes at us, let alone launch one. 

None of which makes the administration any less hypocritical. Their grounds for disarming Saddam most certainly apply to Kim Jong Il. That we let the North Koreans skate makes Bush look all the more like he's only after the oil, and is trying to boost the US economy by starting his own little war. But this ain't Grenada. This is a war with very serious, far-reaching, and exponentially escalating consequences. This is Seriously Dumb.

Click To Play Video

Now It Can Be Told: the step-by-step true story of how the American people were sold on the Iraq war.

Powell In Bush's House of Cards

There were four paragraphs in the president's State of The Union address promising help to African nations ravaged by the AIDS epidemic. Fifteen million dead, five of that children, while this administration has done little more than rail against Saddam. On Donahue last night, NBC Meet The Press anchor Tim Russert reported that Matthew Dowd, Bush's primary political pollster, issued a memo where he told the president that Bush will need three million more minority votes in 2004 than he won in 2000 or he will not be reelected. Russert speculated (an informed speculation) that, in the post Trent Lott political wake, the president needs to soften his image and appeal to minorities. To look less like a man obsessed with Saddam, damn the cost in lives and our spiraling economy. Last year Bill Frist, the Tennessee Senator, tried to pass an AIDS research bill and the Bush Administration cut it to a fraction of what Frist wanted. But now, the White House wants to play brazen politics with the African holocaust. A tragedy greater than the Bubonic plague. Our country stopped in its tracks because less than fifty people, nearly all of them white, were exposed to the Anthrax virus. But we, as a people, still see AIDS as, largely, a “gay plague,” and have very little concern for the epidemic here or abroad. If we had fifteen million dead in this country, dead of anything, I guarantee you no one would stand for a president idly playing politics with it.

Having said that, so far as I can tell, Bush's speech had not much effect on the country. Anti Bush folks remain steadfastly Anti Bush, and Pro Bush folk remain... odd. Pro Bush folk seem, to this moderate, universally less credible and more fanatic; they sound like Christian fundamentalists sputtering about when asked where Mrs. Cain came from. Or they seem disingenuous, like Colin Powell. I tend to believe Condoleezza Rice more than Powell, but even Rice is a hard sell for me as she dutifully sells her soul for this man. Post-Bush, I think, by most objective speculation, both Powell and Rice will have less political gravitas than they did going in. Among a great many in the black community, both are seen as disappointments and we, well, I, simply no longer trust either of them. I don't believe them. I believe, in their heart of hearts, they both know they are trapped in a burning building. That Dan Quayle has, inexplicably, taken over our government in the form of the son of a much smarter president. The president's case for war with Iraq remains weak, the Democrats remain cowards, and, for the most part, the black community remains an impotent bystander as our sons and daughters re carted off to Baghdad by this lunatic.

I am grossly disappointed by Rice and Powell, though. They seem clearly at odds with this president but obliged to keep appearances up, including Rice's NY Times article this week about Saddam. Powell, pulling back from the brink of resignation, disappoints me the most. He is clearly uncomfortable with all of this, but he's letting it happen anyway. Disappointing, considering the fate of Bush's irrational dash to war is actually in Powell's hands. Bush is sending Powell to the U.N. next week to deliver a report and demand for action against Iraq. As unlikely and ridiculous s this sounds, Powell could certainly blunt, and possibly halt, this spiral to war by doing a very simple thing: resign.

If Powell takes the podium next week and delivers the speech of a lifetime, then ultimately disagrees with the president, resigns, and walks out of the UN, Bush's entire house of cards would come down. Condoleezza Rice could spin until she's dizzy, there'd just be no recovering from it. The fate of hundreds and likely thousands if not tens of thousands of lives— not only US troops but Iraqi troops and Iraqi citizens, and US civilians at home and abroad who will absolutely come under ramped-up terrorist attacks should the US go into Iraq. Israeli lives, as Saddam will most certainly lash out at Israel, as he's done before, to try and lure them into the conflict. Pakistani lives, which will certainly be lost when Muslim extremists revolt against a US invasion. Indian lives lost if the Pakistani government falls and India, fearful of a Muslim fundamentalist regime in neighboring Pakistan, opts to invade. Nuclear war.

Bush seems to only be concerned about mowing down Saddam's troops, having not realized the greater and prolonged battle will not be in the desert or even in Baghdad with tanks, but in the NYC subway system with Smallpox and Serin gas.

With a great speech and simple act of political bravery, Powell could turn all of that on its ear. “I respectfully disagree with my president.” It may not stop Bush, but it would certainly force him to reassess and rethink the whole game plan, while giving the Democrats desperately needed Hand. Ted Kennedy bravely, or perhaps not so since he's got to be nearing the end of his political usefulness anyway, came out firmly against the president. A Powell defection would certainly restore some balance and forethought about the consequences of Bush's insane saber rattling. About the dire and sobering consequences of our country's choice to do nothing whatsoever to halt this madness.

Mr. Secretary: it's up to you..

Christopher J. Priest
30 January 2003