Friday, October 17, 2008

Open Letter to Colin Powell


I can't decide whether it's more appropriate to address you as 'Secretary Powell' or as 'General Powell'. I am respectful of both ranks which you have achieved and appreciative of your service rendered to our once-great country. But I think I may prefer to address you as 'General' for reasons which may become clear below. Whatever...

Please, General, don't endorse Senator Barack Obama's candidacy for president.

It's long been rumored that you have been considering making an endorsement for some time, especially after the final presidential debate. Lawrence O'Donnell says you're ready to endorse. But going back, even before the Democratic National Convention, Bill Kristol predicted your endorsement. So, I've been sitting here on my sofa, waiting for your shoe sword of Damocles to drop on Barack Obama's candidacy.

This is the exact same sofa on which I was sitting when, on February 5th, 2003 I saw and heard you as Secretary of State tell the U.N. Security Council,
What you will see is an accumulation of facts and disturbing patterns of behavior .....

Saddam Hussein and his regime are concealing their efforts to produce more weapons of mass destruction .....

My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we're giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence .....

The gravity of this moment is matched by the gravity of the threat that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction pose to the world .....
Since then, I have re-upholstered the sofa. But the confidence I placed in your word has not being repaired. As a matter of fact, I recall being on the phone that very moment you were testifying to the world and I asked the person on the other end of the line,

What is the Secretary of State going to say,
after his invasion,
if no weapons of mass destruction turn up?

It turns out that you didn't have much to say. You did say that you were sorry you had been given the wrong intelligence. You did say that, against your better judgment and advice, we didn't go in with a stronger force. You did regret a lack of planning for an extended occupation.

But you said nothing about the political, moral and legal decrepitude about invading a country that never attacked or threatened to attack us. Nothing close to what Illinois Senator Barack Obama had said four months earlier in his 2 October 2002 Chicago’s Federal Plaza speech:
I don’t oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne.

..... What I am opposed to is the attempt by potential hacks like Karl Rove to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty state, a drop in the medium income—to distract us from corporate scandals and a stock market that has just gone thorough the worst month since the Great Depression. That’s what I am opposed to. A dumb war. A rash war, a war based not on reason, but on passion, not on principle, but on politics.

..... I know that even a successful war against Iraq will require a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undermined cost, with undetermined consequence of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequence. I know that an invasion of Iraq without clear rationale and without strong international support will only fan the flames of the Middle East, and encourage the worst, rather than the best, impulses of the Arab world and strengthen the recruitment arm of al Qaeda.
Because of your loyalty to Team Busheney, your legacy has been squandered. Today, you are no longer a game changer. You were, once or twice or more. But your opportunity has passed.

You could have changed the game. Four timely words would have saved the day for you:
I'm sorry. I resign.
A nation should/could/would have celebrated you with heartfelt gratitude. Not to mention your fans in friendly nations throughout the world.

Your service as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the first Gulf War had been distinguished and spectacular. You were so beloved by all Americans that you could have easily been elected President from either party if you could somehow be air-dropped onto a general election ballot without having to go through the grinding march of the primaries. (Bet your wife would had permitted that.) But instead you fell in line with the worst group of worthless liars ever to have captured the White House, and your loyalty to them has irreparably tarnished your reputation. That is why I cannot bear to address you as Secretary of State.

But then again, just last Friday, your wheels went off on another loyalty side-track, crossing on a bridge to nowhere. You went to court to praise Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens' sense of honor at his trial on corruption charges, calling his reputation for honesty and integrity "sterling". That must been because of his supporting role as a chairman of the Senate committee on military appropriations in the quarter-century you've known each other:
…. He fights for his state. He fights for his people ….. But at the same time, he has the best interest of the country at heart - always ….. There was never any suggestion that he would do anything that was improper … He was someone whose word you could rely on ….. as a guy who would tell me when I was off base ….. he would tell me when I had no clothes on-figuratively, that is-and would tell me when I was right and go for it. ….. As we say in the infantry, He's a guy who, as we said in the infantry, we would take on a long patrol.
Very colorful.Well, General, my conclusion is that loyalty is your stronger suit, clearly trumping your judgment of character. I don't think Senator Obama is in as much of a need for your endorsement as you are in need of being seen and found among his supporters.

Why are you not content to fade away like old generals should? You could continue indefinitely what you do now, commanding speaking fees of $100,000 per appearance plus first-class expenses, as you and your wife fly back and forth, cross country in that Lear 60 jet.

Why should you drag back your corruption from your Busheney years and place it around Barack Obama's neck as he concludes his campaign for change and integrity?

Integrity has not been part of your game for some time.