Monday, December 18, 2006

Powell Speaks Out; Unfortunately, It's Too Little, Too Late

Yesterday on CBS’s “Face The Nation,” Colin Powell continued his barrage of criticizing the Bush administration’s handling of the war in Iraq, going so far as to tell Bob Schieffer, "So if it's grave and deteriorating and we're not winning, we are losing. We haven't lost, and this is the time, now, to start to put in place the kinds of strategies that will turn this situation around."

Powell joins a growing list of former Bush administration war architects, including neo-conservatives Ken Adelman and Richard Perle, who all of a sudden find fault with one or more aspects of how the current Bush team is conducting the Iraq war. "I am not persuaded that another surge of troops into Baghdad for the purposes of suppressing this communitarian violence, this civil war, will work," Powell said. "It is the D.C. police force that guards Washington, D.C., not the troops that are stationed at Fort Myer, and in Baghdad, you need a police force to do that, and in the other cities, you need a police force to do that, and not the American troops."

Powell has been relatively quiet since leaving his position as Secretary of State in January, 2005, but in recent months he has been much more willing to comment on the direction the war is heading. While it has been documented that Powell opposed military action in Iraq, a stance that put him at odds with most in the Bush administration, his address to the United Nations Security Council in February, 2003, increased the drumbeat to remove Saddam Hussein by force. It is a moment he himself admits is a “blot” on what was an outstanding career. "It will always be a part of my record. It was painful. It's painful now,” Powell has said.

Now, Powell is no longer shy about speaking to what the United States must do in Iraq to turn things around. "I think that what we should do is to work with the Iraqi government, press them on the political peace, do everything we can to provide equipment, advisers, and whatever the Iraqi armed forces need to become more competent, and to train their leaders so that those leaders realize their responsibility to the government."

While that all makes perfect sense, it’s still difficult to hear it coming from a man who is as culpable as anyone in the Bush administration as it pertains to our situation in Iraq. You can resign, or effectively be fired like Donald Rumsfeld, but your fingerprints will forever be at the scene of the crime. As much as Americans might hate what the war in Iraq has become, they won’t forget the players that got them there. Powell is one of them and while what he says now might be accurate, it also seems disingenuous.

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