FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A Peek Inside Colin Powell’s Personal Diary

If I jump now, with Karen Hughes just having left and with Democratic darts starting to hit the Administration’s weak spots, it’ll look bad. Like I’m deserting a ship that’s started leaking badly.

Plus, people will think I’m doing it out of ambition, not wanting to be too tarnished by all the Bush administration’s scandals, those already out there and others yet to be revealed. (I’m mostly kept out of the loop, but I suspect many of those transgressions are on the other side of the moral, and probably legal, fence.)

Sure I want to be President — even Bush and Cheney know that, which helps explain why all the behind-the-scenes dissing of me and the State Department — but I also enjoy feeling that I’m helpful in the world, often just by throwing cold water on some of the Wolfpack’s most outrageous proposals. That Wolfowitz is like a dog on a bone in his determination that the U.S. dominate the globe; I think he should be checked out for rabies.

I’m tolerated. I speak my mind about drugs and sex and poverty, and sometimes even about war policy — though I have to move real carefully here — and they don’t get rid of me. I’m their token, in a great many ways. See, we have an all-inclusive, diverse Cabinet — look there’s Colin Powell. See him? He’s black. And he’s even liberal. Ergo, the Administration can’t be all bad. (I’m sure no liberal; I just look that way when measured against rightwing zealots like Ashcroft and Wolfowitz and DeLay. And I resemble a flaming intellectual when measured against our fearless leader, who knows how to mouth the right phrases and read speeches.)

I’m here partially because of my ties to Poppy and my contacts around the world — I’m regarded as trustworthy by many international leaders — but mainly I’m here for window-dressing and moral cover. And to keep me on the inside, busy and somewhat muzzled, so I can’t become head of a GOP opposition movement. I know all that, and they know I know. It’s just the complex po litical dance you have to dance, in order to be in a position to do some good — or, in the case of this administration, to help stop some of the bad. But I have to choose my fights judiciously, or I won’t have any clout.

But it’s getting harder and harder to swallow a good share of the Administration’s line. These guys — who, of course, found convenient ways to escape serving in the military, from Bush to Cheney to DeLay and so on — are preparing for “permanent war.” It’s insane. They figure with no other country to challenge the U.S. superpower, they might as well go take it all. Sure, we could take it, but then what do we have? A return to the Roman Empire, with our armies having to control everything thousands of miles from home, in a world that would resent and hate and attack us all the more, and nonstep dissent at home. (The most depressing thing about all this is that the Democrats in Congress haven’t even called for a debate on attacking Iraq is a good idea, and what the ramifications might be. They’re so scared of looking “unpatriotic” that they’ve become unpatriotic by remaining silent.)

Too many of our top officials have no military, or political, understanding of the complexities involved, just a desire to grab $ome while the getting is good. I believe in greed, too, as a positive motivating force — but within some reasonable limits. These guys, and their corporate backers, can’t see beyond their bank accounts. I keep trying to tell them that they can have a good share, and help others get a good share too — thus bringing more consumers on line to buy stuff the corporations make — but they just smile at me, like I’m a weak-brained kook or something.

The topper for me was my feeling of being hung-out-to-dry during my most recent Middle East mission. My God, I had to pretend that we weren’t giving carte blanche to Sharon’s — I almost said Sherman’s — military campaign to wipe out the Palestinian Authority’s infrastructure and political network. Come on! They had me galivanting all over the globe for nearly a week before finally permitting me to make my way to the Holy Land. Meanwhile, Bush is “ordering” Sharon to withdraw his troops immediately — wink, wink, nudge, nudge, know what I mean? I coulda been killed hanging out there like that, twisting in the wind.

The Arab leaders are even more scared of Sharon than we pretend to be. None are going to risk irritating the guy, for fear he’ll attack them and destroy them, probably in two days, without even having to use their nukes. But the Arabs sure made it clear that unless the U.S. acts forcefully to solve the Israel/Palestine puzzle, we’re putting our credibility and political capital on the line in their area of the world. And nobody is going to even think about helping us attack Iraq — as much as they want Saddam to be eliminated — until the Palestinian issue is taken care of, once and for all.

I must say that I understand a little bit what George Mitchell must have gone through in Northern Ireland. But those two sides had battled each other “only” for 800 years; we’re talking, in a sense, thousands of years here. And it ain’t gonna be easy. Sharon and Arafat, by this time, are like two crazed animals, pawing the earth, seeing nothing but the other guy about to strike and, at this point, wanting nothing but victory, total domination. Sharon thinks he can bludgeon his way into a Greater Israel, Arafat thinks he can suicide-bomb his way into a Greater Palestine. They’re both starkers.

If we ever get to genuine peace talks — and it may not happen in my lifetime, another reason to consider getting out, before I’m slapped with the image of a big-time loser — we’ll probably spend months talking about the correct shape of the negotiating table. The best possible scenario would be — God, I hope nobody ever finds this diary! — for both of them to die in their sleep, with more reasonable leaders emerging to finish the job of devising a treaty and modus vivendi.

Well, got to end this now. More meetings, more troubleshooting in the Mideast — the Saudi plan is moving again: Arafat may want to sign something while he buys time to rebuild his political and military structure, Sharon wants to find new ways to move away from a possible Palestinian state. I’m going to find myself buried in this Administration, which has its eyes only on attacking Iraq and global control. I gotta get out of here, soon.

Bernard Weiner, a playwright and poet, was the San Francisco Chronicle’s theater critic for nearly 20 years. A Ph.D. in government and international relations, he has taught at various universities, and has published in The Nation, Village Voice, The Progressive and widely on the internet.

More articles by:

BERNARD WEINER, Ph.D., is co-editor of The Crisis Papers, has taught at various universities, and was a writer/editor with the San Francisco Chronicle for nearly 20 years.

September 19, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
When Bernie Sold Out His Hero, Anti-Authoritarians Paid
Lawrence Davidson
Political Fragmentation on the Homefront
George Ochenski
How’s That “Chinese Hoax” Treating You, Mr. President?
Cesar Chelala
The Afghan Morass
Chris Wright
Three Cheers for the Decline of the Middle Class
Howard Lisnoff
The Beat Goes On Against Protest in Saudi Arabia
Nomi Prins 
The Donald in Wonderland: Down the Financial Rabbit Hole With Trump
Jack Rasmus
On the 10th Anniversary of Lehman Brothers 2008: Can ‘IT’ Happen Again?
Richard Schuberth
Make Them Suffer Too
Geoff Beckman
Kavanaugh in Extremis
Jonathan Engel
Rather Than Mining in Irreplaceable Wilderness, Why Can’t We Mine Landfills?
Binoy Kampmark
Needled Strawberries: Food Terrorism Down Under
Michael McCaffrey
A Curious Case of Mysterious Attacks, Microwave Weapons and Media Manipulation
Elliot Sperber
Eating the Constitution
September 18, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Britain: the Anti-Semitism Debate
Tamara Pearson
Why Mexico’s Next President is No Friend of Migrants
Richard Moser
Both the Commune and Revolution
Nick Pemberton
Serena 15, Tennis Love
Binoy Kampmark
Inconvenient Realities: Climate Change and the South Pacific
Martin Billheimer
La Grand’Route: Waiting for the Bus
John Kendall Hawkins
Seymour Hersh: a Life of Adversarial Democracy at Work
Faisal Khan
Is Israel a Democracy?
John Feffer
The GOP Wants Trumpism…Without Trump
Kim Ives
The Roots of Haiti’s Movement for PetroCaribe Transparency
Dave Lindorff
We Already Have a Fake Billionaire President; Why Would We want a Real One Running in 2020?
Gerry Brown
Is China Springing Debt Traps or Throwing a Lifeline to Countries in Distress?
Pete Tucker
The Washington Post Really Wants to Stop Ben Jealous
Dean Baker
Getting It Wrong Again: Consumer Spending and the Great Recession
September 17, 2018
Melvin Goodman
What is to be Done?
Rob Urie
American Fascism
Patrick Cockburn
The Adults in the White House Trying to Save the US From Trump Are Just as Dangerous as He Is
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The Long Fall of Bob Woodward: From Nixon’s Nemesis to Cheney’s Savior
Mairead Maguire
Demonization of Russia in a New Cold War Era
Dean Baker
The Bank Bailout of 2008 was Unnecessary
Wim Laven
Hurricane Trump, Season 2
Yves Engler
Smearing Dimitri Lascaris
Ron Jacobs
From ROTC to Revolution and Beyond
Clark T. Scott
The Cannibals of Horsepower
Binoy Kampmark
A Traditional Right: Jimmie Åkesson and the Sweden Democrats
Laura Flanders
History Markers
Weekend Edition
September 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Carl Boggs
Obama’s Imperial Presidency
Joshua Frank
From CO2 to Methane, Trump’s Hurricane of Destruction
Jeffrey St. Clair
Maria’s Missing Dead
Andrew Levine
A Bulwark Against the Idiocy of Conservatives Like Brett Kavanaugh
T.J. Coles
Neil deGrasse Tyson: A Celebrity Salesman for the Military-Industrial-Complex
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail