Monday, September 13, 2004

Powell the Diplomat, take one

Via Cursor, I found a link to this transcript of a discussion between Sy Hersh and Colin Powell. Some interesting points:

  • Powell discussing the cause of going to war in Iraq:
    We have not found those stockpiles.  We certainly have found the history of the use of such weapons and the intention and capability.  There's no doubt in my mind that if he had ever been freed of international constraints and the pressure of the international community--if we all said, "Never mind" and walked away, he would have gone back to developing those weapons.

    Fair enough. Was anyone talking about saying "Never mind" and walking away? Nope. Not even the French. We were going to keep our eyes on them and keep sending inspectors into the country. The inspections were obviously working - even though we blasted the rubble into bits, they found no weaps. Ergo, effective inspections, right? The only way to say the inspections weren't effective would be to find weapons. Which we didn't. Who was going "Never mind," Mr. Powell?

    Powell then goes on to talk about how even though they didn't find weapons, sending troops to Iraq was justified because if Saddam had had a weapon, he might have used it. This is embarrassing, as you'll see later.

  • Another interchange:

    MR. RUSSERT:  Do you believe if John Kerry was elected and we were attacked by terrorists, he would simply treat it as a criminal act?  Or would he deal with it in a robust way, an act of war?

    SEC'Y POWELL:  I can't tell you how he might respond to it.  As commander in chief, I think he'd respond in a robust way.  The vice president clarified those remarks later in the week.  He wasn't casting any aspersions on Mr. Kerry by those remarks.  What he was essentially saying is, "You know how this president has responded, how President Bush has responded to this kind of terrorist attack, and so you know where we're coming from and how we will deal with this kind of threat."

    Personally, I'd hope Kerry would have more than those simple two options. The fact is the latter option hasn't worked; it's impossible to wage traditional war on something that isn't a country. Without being grounded, centered, and hierarchial the way our military is, a terrorist individual or organization has the advantage of not being as susceptible to the weapons the military possesses - weapons developed often because the military examines military weaknesses.

    The former option is equally problematic, although slightly better; focusing as it does on the individual or the group as perpetrators of a crime, it permits a large variety of responses, from police surveillance to, yes, large scale intervention. Neither response would be effective at eliminating the cause of terrorism or preventing it. In fact, since most terrorists indicate the war-like status of the United States as one of their prima facie, we get stuck with this dualistic thing where our punishment - becomes our punishment. Even bounty hunting, about as close to the edge of legal as we've gotten, hasn't worked. Every time we start having this discussion, someone complains that we're pandering to terrorists. No. We want to find an effective solution.

  • Last comment:

    MR. RUSSERT:  You said that in Sudan we are witnessing genocide.  In Bosnia, when we witnessed genocide, we sent in American troops.  Is there a possibility we would send American troops as part of an international force into Sudan to stop this bloodshed?

    SEC'Y POWELL:  I don't see that as a possibility at this time.  In fact, there's not a need to.  I don't think it's the right solution, and no European troops are prepared to go in.  The African Union has sent in a small number of troops, but they've indicated a willingness to send in a much larger number of troops, in the thousands.  And so the strategy we're following now is to press the Sudanese very hard in the Security Council.  And as you may have noticed, we're the only ones who have declared it as genocide. 

    So what's happening in Sudan is genocide. An entire people are dying. Yet it's far more important to invade Iraq, because they might have weapons. Right. Of course.

No wonder we're losing international support, with our foremost diplomat making these kinds of brainless statements in one interview.

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