The Tragedy of Colin Powell
I used to think pretty highly of Colin Powell. Sure, he annoyed me with his self-righteous speechifying at the 2000 G.O.P. convention. But I always admired him as a military man who knew the cost of war and fought against cocktail-party Churchills of left and right. I loved the story about him reacting with horror when Madeline Albright demanded “What’s the point of having this superb military you’re always talking about, if we can’t use it?”
But his career is winding down on a note of disgrace. He's done his last stint in government watching the death of the eminently sensible Powell Doctrine. He knew what we were getting into in Iraq. And yet, according the latest Woodward, he never made a concerted effort to stop it. Instead, he allowed himself to be used at the UN to pitch a policy he suspected would lead to disaster. He never even demanded a one-on-one with the president to try to talk him out of it.
Now, he tries to clear his rep through repeated, passive-aggressive sniping to reporters via subordinates, as the Post reports today. The story quotes a GQ reporter:
"It was really weird," he said."I didn't have a particular hunger to interview these guys," but the State Department press aide working with him kept setting up interviews and insisting he meet with more people, he said.
It's just sad. He should have done a William Jennings Bryan and publicly resigned. Instead, Powell, a man with much to be proud of, a man who might have stopped the worst foreign policy disaster in 30 years, is reduced to defending himself through surrogates in the thinking man's Maxim.