Anybody remember the 90’s? Rember our “Long National Nightmare of Peace and Prosperity,” when pundits loved to bash Bill Clinton’s foreign policy by citing “the Powell Doctrine”? This was the Doctrine that was going to keep us from entangling ourselves in another Vietnam. Haven’t heard much about the “Powell Doctrine” recently, especially from its author, Colin Powell. I believe Mr. Powell is too busy wielding his awesome “street cred” to prop up the Bushies “War Right This Very Second!!!” program.
Just for the heck of it, why don’t we examine the Powell Doctrine, and see how it applies to the invasion…er, that is the “liberation” of Iraq. Powell said that six questions MUST be answered before US forces could be committed to combat abroad. Locked, loaded and cocked? Here we go…
1) Is A Vital US Interest At Stake? — Is Saddam massing troops on his borders, threatening one of our allies? No. Has he developed weapons of mass destruction that he might use on Israel or Kuwait? Not that the UN has discovered. Is he acting belligerent toward our friends? Ahhhhhh…no. So the Powell Doctrine votes “NO” on number one.
2) Will We Commit Sufficient Resources To Win? Yes, I know the plan is to rain terror from the sky on Iraq with hundreds of smart bombs in a Dresden-like campaign of horror and demoralization. The hope is that Saddam will realize we mean business, and he’ll give up, and Bush II will have a nice, short, low (US) casualty, telegenic war ending in high-fives all around and a swell coffee table book, available for a $500 donation to the RNC. But most (non-Bush) experts believe there’s an excellent chance the war will get bogged down in block-by-block fighting in Baghdad, where smart bombs are useless and it’s pretty much M-16 versus AK-47. This could lead to a long, nasty, bloody war — and this is NOT the war Bush is selling the American people. The answer to this is a conditonal “Yes, but…” as in yes, but when Bush’s popularity goes below 30%, look for a quick “declaration of victory” and let’s get the hell out of there no matter what the circumstance.
3) Are Our Objectives Clearly Defined? Well, kinda sorta. We want to find and destroy their weapons…if they have any. We want to destroy Saddam…unless he agrees to go into exile. We want Iraq to become a new bastion of Democracy in the Middle East…but Islamic extremists might capture free elections, so that won’t happen in our lifetime. We want to “safeguard” their oil fields (Bwaa Haa Haa!) The Defense Department clearly wants to kick Saddam’s ass and scram. The State Department wants us to stick around a few decades to re-make the Middle East as a vassal state of the Republican Party. So the answer to #3 is no.
4) Will We Sustain the Commitment? See #2. Bush begins running for re-election next summer. Most likely, the economy will still be in the dumper. If the evening news is a montage of stacked body bags, gleeful al-Jazeera bin Laden tapes and “concerned Defense Officials” looking everywhere for the “light at the end of the tunnel,” the answer is an emphatic NO.
5) Is There A Reasonable Expectation that the Public and Congress Will Support the Operation? Bush is clearly promising the American public “War Lite” — a hailstorm of smart bombs, a lightning troop sweep, and a Victory Parade featuring the Grateful Iraqui Public welcoming their Liberators. If the war lasts longer than a month and we seem to be bogging down, expect public support to plummet. And since every Congressman and 1/3 of our Senators are running for re-election next year, expect them to run for cover. An resounding NO on this one.
6) Have we exhausted our other options? The only folks who believe we’ve exhausted our options are the Bushies. The UN doesn’t believe it. The Pope doesn’t believe it. Our NATO allies don’t believe it. Most of the public doesn’t believe it. Bush says he believes it, but he can’t seem to muster the proof, beyond some fuzzy photographs and some ginned up “evidence” designed to keep the true believers in line. NO to this one.
So there you have it, sports fans. Five NOs and one “Yes, but…” Ouch! If Colin were taking this test at a State University, his grade would be “F — See Me.” Of course, Colin Powell will never be grilled on applying his own Doctrine, because the “liberal” press won’t bring it up. And the man who created a Doctrine designed to insure that America would never suffer another Vietnam will go along with Bush to plunge America into a war based on an elaborate web of deliberate lies (like Vietnam), with squishy public support (like Vietnam), creating what could turn into a catastrophic debacle with huge loss of life (like Vietnam).
Mr. Powell seems to have misplaced his own Doctrine. Would somebody please give him a copy before it’s too late?
RICH PROCTER can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org