FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Colin Powell’s Career as a "Yes Man"

 

“A hoax on the American people, the international community, and the United Nations Security Council.”

That is how Secretary of State General Colin Powell’s February 2003 Iraq WMD speech to the UN was described last Friday (Feb. 3) on PBS by one who ought to know, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff to Secretary Powell.

In a February 2005 interview with Barbara Walters on ABC News “20/20” program, Powell himself declared his UN Iraq speech to be a blot on his reputation.

Since departing the Bush administration, both Wilkerson and Powell have made it completely clear that they had serious doubts about the “evidence” of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and malevolent Iraqi intentions that was loaded by the White House into Powell’s UN speech, a speech designed by neoconservatives to initiate the invasion of Iraq. Both Powell and Wilkerson knew that the “evidence” was greatly overstated if not an outright fabrication.

What if Secretary Powell had shared his doubts with the UN? What if instead of reading the Speech of Lies Powell had addressed the UN as follows:

“As a loyal soldier following orders I came here today intending to deliver the Bush administration’s evidence against Saddam Hussein. Now that I am standing here before you, I find myself caught in conflict between following orders and doing the right thing. I should have resolved this conflict before I arrived. I do so now by delivering the speech to you in its written form–here it is–but I refuse to deliver it out of my mouth. I cannot participate in an act of deception against the United Nations Security Council, the international community, and the American people. I have no confidence in the evidence in the speech. Under the Nuremberg Standard established by the United States in the trials of Nazi war criminals, following orders is no excuse. I will not participate in the war crime of naked aggression against another state. I hereby resign as Secretary of State of the United States.”

Powell would have saved the world from a strategic blunder, the disastrous consequences of which are only beginning to unfold. The maelstrom set in motion by the treachery of the neoconservatives, people who Powell has decribed as “crazy,” has already cost tens of thousands of dead and wounded and hundreds of billions of dollars, destroyed America’s reputation, and radicalized Middle East politics.

If Powell had refused three years ago to deliver the Speech of Lies, we would not now be watching an identical duplicity being rolled out against Iran. The ultimate cost of the deception being practiced on the American people will dwarf the terrible price that has already been paid.

Why didn’t Powell do the right thing? His own reputation would have been forever secure as a man of integrity. Why did he sacrifice his integrity to the crooked scheme of his commander in chief?

Alas, that is the way our generals are bred. In the politicized US military, no officer can advance beyond the rank of Lt. Col. unless he toes the political line. The game is played to advance in rank as high as possible, collect the pension, and be rewarded for compliant behavior with consultancies. Real leadership means making waves, and that is not tolerated.

Even in rare instances of a real man, concerned with the honor of his country and the safety of his troops, reaching the top, he is powerless to prevent disastrous mistakes of the ignorant civilian authorities. Consider the fate of US Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki, who correctly informed Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld that the US invasion force was not sufficiently numerous to successfully occupy and subdue Iraq once the pitched battles were over. Shinseki was fired for telling the truth–as was Secretary of the Army Thomas White, Lt. Gen. John Riggs, and four star general Kevin P. Byrnes. Riggs was framed, demoted, and retired for saying that the US army was overstretched in Iraq and Afghanistan and needed more troops. Byrnes, who was in charge of Army training, was framed on adultery charges for objecting to bottom of the barrel recruitment policies that accepted criminals and immigrants with a lack of English proficiency. Nothing like having an army that can’t understand orders.

The only way a military can constrain their civilian masters from cooking up a war is to resign in mass. If every general and colonel had resigned, there would have been no invasion of Iraq. But this would require a military with leadership and a tradition of sticking together. A military in which promotion is the highest virtue is powerless to prevent disastrous mistakes, such as the invasion of Iraq.

The Bush administration went to war on the basis of its fantasy that if merely a few US troops marched into Iraq, the regime would collapse and the population would welcome Americans as liberators with flowers and kisses. It was to be a “cakewalk war.”

No general officer in the US military believed that. Yet few spoke out (Marine General Anthony Zinni was a notable exception). The entire US military command could only produce a handful of men to warn of the looming catastrophe. Who can forget the orchestrated media dismissals of “over-cautious generals” that greeted these few?
The reason Colin Powell disgraced himself is that he could not free himself of the conditioning that breeds success in the US military.

Who today will stand up to stop the potential armageddon of a US attack on Iran?

PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at: paulcraigroberts@yahoo.com

 

 

More articles by:

Paul Craig Roberts is a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. Roberts’ How the Economy Was Lost is now available from CounterPunch in electronic format. His latest book is The Neoconservative Threat to World Order.

January 22, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
On the Brink of Brexit: the Only Thing Most People Outside Westminster Know About Brexit is That It’s a Mess
Raouf Halaby
The Little Brett Kavanaughs from Covington Catholic High
Dean Baker
The Trump Tax Cut is Even Worse Than They Say
Stanley L. Cohen
The Brazen Detention of Marzieh Hashemi, America’s Newest Political Prisoner
Karl Grossman
Darth Trump: From Space Force to Star Wars
Glenn Sacks
Teachers Strike Dispatch #8: New Independent Study Confirms LAUSD Has the Money to Meet UTLA’s Demands
Haydar Khan
The Double Bind of Human Senescence
Alvaro Huerta
Mr. President, We Don’t Need Your Stinking Wall
Howard Lisnoff
Another Slugger from Louisville: Muhammad Ali
Nicole Patrice Hill – Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
The Scarlet “I”: Climate Change, “Invasive” Plants and Our Culture of Domination
Jonah Raskin
Disposable Man Gets His Balls Back
Thomas Knapp
Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go
January 21, 2019
W. T. Whitney
New US Economic Attack Against Cuba, Long Threatened, May Hit Soon
Jérôme Duval
Macronist Repression Against the People in Yellow Vests
Dean Baker
The Next Recession: What It Could Look Like
Eric Mann
All Hail the Revolutionary King: Martin Luther King and the Black Revolutionary Tradition
Binoy Kampmark
Spy Theories and the White House: Donald Trump as Russian Agent
Edward Curtin
We Need a Martin Luther King Day of Truth
Bill Fried
Jeff Sessions and the Federalists
Ed Corcoran
Central America Needs a Marshall Plan
Colin Todhunter
Complaint Lodged with European Ombudsman: Regulatory Authorities Colluding with Agrochemicals Industry
Manuel E. Yepe
The US War Against the Weak
Weekend Edition
January 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Melvin Goodman
Star Wars Revisited: One More Nightmare From Trump
John Davis
“Weather Terrorism:” a National Emergency
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Sometimes an Establishment Hack is Just What You Need
Joshua Frank
Montana Public Schools Block Pro-LGBTQ Websites
Louisa Willcox
Sky Bears, Earth Bears: Finding and Losing True North
Robert Fisk
Bernie Sanders, Israel and the Middle East
Robert Fantina
Pompeo, the U.S. and Iran
David Rosen
The Biden Band-Aid: Will Democrats Contain the Insurgency?
Nick Pemberton
Human Trafficking Should Be Illegal
Steve Early - Suzanne Gordon
Did Donald Get The Memo? Trump’s VA Secretary Denounces ‘Veteran as Victim’ Stereotyping
Andrew Levine
The Tulsi Gabbard Factor
John W. Whitehead
The Danger Within: Border Patrol is Turning America into a Constitution-Free Zone
Dana E. Abizaid
Kafka’s Grave: a Pilgrimage in Prague
Rebecca Lee
Punishment Through Humiliation: Justice For Sexual Assault Survivors
Dahr Jamail
A Planet in Crisis: The Heat’s On Us
John Feffer
Trump Punts on Syria: The Forever War is Far From Over
Dave Lindorff
Shut Down the War Machine!
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: Student Voices of the Los Angeles Education Revolt  
Mark Ashwill
The Metamorphosis of International Students Into Honorary US Nationalists: a View from Viet Nam
Ramzy Baroud
The Moral Travesty of Israel Seeking Arab, Iranian Money for its Alleged Nakba
Ron Jacobs
Allen Ginsberg Takes a Trip
Jake Johnston
Haiti by the Numbers
Binoy Kampmark
No-Confidence Survivor: Theresa May and Brexit
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail