Sunday :: Apr 30, 2006

Powell Puts Some Distance Between Himself And Bush


by Steve

Mark this weekend as the moment when Colin Powell chose to throw George W. Bush under the train. Sort of, that is.

At a time when things are so bad in Iraq three years after “Mission Accomplished” that smart people inside the military cannot agree on what to do about Iraq, Powell chose this anniversary weekend to finally break with the president and point out that he advised the president directly, challenging Tommy Franks and Donald Rumsfeld to their faces, that they were short-changing the number of troops necessary to win the war and the peace. Powell made his remarks to ITV in Great Britain, as Condi Rice, who was also part of the decision to lowball the number of troops necessary, was trying to take a victory lap on the weekend talk shows on the recent formation of another new Iraqi government. Instead of touting successes, Rice was thrown off message and forced to defend the disastrous decisions of over three years ago that have led to the loss of over 2400 troops, the destabilization of the Middle East, and the rise of Iran while a impotent America can only watch.

Powell, in an interview broadcast Sunday in London, said he gave the advice to now retired Gen. Tommy Franks, who developed and executed the Iraq invasion plan, and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld while the president was present.
"I made the case to General Franks and Secretary Rumsfeld before the president that I was not sure we had enough troops," Powell said in an interview on Britain's ITV television. "The case was made, it was listened to, it was considered. ... A judgment was made by those responsible that the troop strength was adequate."

And this is where Colin Powell throws Bush under the train, and is defending the brass against the right wing claim that Bush only gave the brass what it said it needed for the occupation.

"At the time, the president was listening to those who were supposed to be providing him with military advice," Powell said. "They were anticipating a different kind of immediate aftermath of the fall of Baghdad; it turned out to be not exactly as they had anticipated."
[snip]
In an interview with AARP The Magazine released Sunday, Powell did not say what advice he gave Bush about whether to go to war. Known to be less hawkish than Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney and some other presidential advisers, Powell implied he had been more cautious.
"The decisions that were made were not made by me or Mr. Cheney or Rumsfeld. They were made by the president of the United States," he said.
"And my responsibility was to tell him what I thought. And if others were going in at different times and telling him different things, it was his decision to decide whether he wanted to listen to that person or somebody else."

Powell is clearly laying the blame for this travesty on Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Franks, and yes, Rice. He sees the generals who have spoken out recently against Rumsfeld, sees the usual pushback from the right wing cultists who are quick to blame the brass for speaking out against Bush and Cheney, and now decides that enough is enough.

Don’t think for a moment that the brass won’t notice Powell’s remarks today. But even now, Powell is too spineless to take Bush on directly, hiding behind the falsehood that many could not have foreseen the problems encountered by our forces after the occupation, when in fact Powell’s own department prepared the report that predicted everything that happened.

Powell is content to play a blame game now with Rumsfeld and Cheney, even though he was too gutless to resign at the time. And although it is noteworthy that Powell pointed out that Bush made the final decision and is therefore ultimately responsible, it is a faint admission from a man who valued loyalty over integrity.

But the silver lining here is that despite the gymnastics that the cultists do to defend the war ("it was the intel community's fault", "everyone thought he had WMDs", "the world is a safer place with him gone"), the one catastrophe that Bush owns is the occupation and its failures. And now Powell is making it clear that he, Powell, won't be pinned with that one.

Image and video link courtesy of ThinkProgress

Steve :: 5:38 PM :: Comments (36) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!