Saturday, February 26, 2005

If you read this interview of the London Telegraph with Colin Powell, you get the sense that the interviewer is trying with every question to get Powell to criticize the Bush administration and policies and say that, yeah "I hate Don Rumsfeld and everything the Bush administration did." But Powell doesn't do that and it seems very disappointing to the interviewer.
It is time to take Colin Powell back a little. Everyone knows, I say, that you had your doubts about the war in Iraq, but it seems you never fully expressed them. Don't you regret not being more upfront?

Powell comes back hard: "I was upfront with the President, who is the person I'm paid to be upfront with." In early August 2002, the two men had dinner together, and Powell sounded his warning: "My caution was that you need to understand that the difficult bit will come afterwards - the military piece will be easy. This place [Iraq] will crack like a crystal goblet, and it'll be a problem to pick up the bits. It was on this basis that he decided to let me see if we can find a UN solution to this."

They were all in it together, Powell emphasises. "Everyone agreed - Don [Rumsfeld], Dick [Vice-President Cheney] and Condi [Rice, at that time National Security Adviser, now Powell's successor at State]. I had to take the brunt of the criticism. I had no love for that regime: I'd been hearing for more than 10 years how we should have gone on to Baghdad in the first Gulf War - even though we'd never discussed going on to Baghdad."

He knew, he says, that if the UN route failed, this would produce war. "When you get to the branch in the road which is either diplomacy or war, I'm not going to walk away from either one of those. I fully dispatched my obligations to the President."