USA Colin Powell dead at 84

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Freo Big Fella

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General Colin Powell, a former US secretary of state and Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, has died of complications from COVID-19. He was 84.

Would struggle to think of a public reputation that's suffered a bigger 180 than Powell's pre and post that WMD press conference at the UN. Although he's probably far from alone in that Cabinet in being steamrolled by Cheney and his cronies.

The 1996 Presidential Campaign that never was is one of the great historical "What if's" of US Politics - he'd have beaten Clinton had he thrown his hat in the ring at the time IMO.
 

Gough

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A reminder of the not to distant past when war crimes, not treason was the worst of the problems for the GOP and a further reminder of when they weren't inhabited by the worst and most ignorant people in America.
 

The Passenger

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Not written with quite the mauling that Hunter S gave to Tricky Dick once he shuffled off this mortal coil, but nevertheless a fair serve on C.L. Powell. And a not too subtle reminder that winners do indeed write the history books and the Yokel States of America's scarcity convicted war criminals is indeed testament to that.


There was, of course, a big problem with all of his assertions: They were lies. The intelligence behind his speech was the opposite of emphatic — it was false, manipulated, and fabricated. The trucks were just trucks. The tubes were just tubes. There was no anthrax. There was, more fundamentally, no reason to invade Iraq. Nonetheless, thanks to Powell’s presentation, the Bush administration went ahead with its plans, and in the ensuing catastrophe, at least several hundred thousand Iraqis lost their lives, as well as more than 4,000 U.S. soldiers.
 

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Sweet Jesus

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He does seem like he was a fine and decent man. He turned away from the lunatic fringe of the Republican party more decisively than any of them have managed since. But even though I don't think it provides the full measure of the man, it's impossible to separate him from that UN speech.

That said, for context, he was likely misled by Cheney and Rumsfeld. And the US probably would have invaded anyway. It's not like Powell's speech was the moment that determined US foreign policy. It's been over-emphasised because it was on TV but the course was likely charted regardless. It's not like Powell made the decision. I'm not sure the speech was as consequential as people have argued.

It reveals something about the current state of US politics that the Democratic president eulogised him more warmly than Trump, the former president of Powell's own party. Once upon a time, Republicans would have rejected Trump's comments about Powell as disqualifying. Not anymore. Trump wraps himself in the cloak of the military but takes a dump on the folks who actually served it.


I've been watching a BBC series about the relationship between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, and it reminded me how effective Blair was at returning Labour to a governing majority, but now everyone just remembers him for Iraq. And I say that as someone who shared Christopher Hitchens' view that there was a moral argument for overthrowing Saddam Hussein, independent of whatever bullshit came out of the Bush administration.

We can but wonder what might have happened if Powell had run for president - either as a Republican in 1996 or as a Democrat in 2000. I guess his ties to the first Bush administration meant he was always going to lean towards the Republicans, although it's not clear he was seriously ideologically aligned with the American right.

The lady in this piece says Powell was brought undone by his overriding impulse to be "a good soldier". That both infantilises and makes excuses for a clever man. But based on my understanding of the dynamics in the Bush administration, I suspect it's probably close to the mark.

 

HairyO

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One speech took him from great man to lying sack of sh*t.

Impressive fall.

Never paid the price for it either.
 

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