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Sunday, March 06, 2005

No dove lost

From time to time anti-war campaigners and commentators present Colin Powell as a voice of reason opposing the more hawkish neo-cons of the Bush administration. His comments to Jack Straw about a troika of 'fucking crazies' - said to be Vice-President Dick Cheney, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz - reinforced this impression.

From reading Bob Woodward's Plan of Attack: The Road to War, it is clear that Powell is hardly a dove. Instead he pursued the administration's agenda as he saw fit. Unlike the crazies, he often had doubts - expressed to Woodward in hindsight - about what he was being expected to do. For instance when pushing for a 'maximalist approach' - trying to get the UN to endorse all US goals in Iraq in a single motion - he thought he was being set up to take a fall (p.221). Eventually Powell comes to realise he is expendable over the WMD issue, as CIA descriptions of rocket launchers prove unreliable (pp.440-441).

The basic difference between Powell and his 'crazy' antagonists is that he had a soldier's appreciation of some of the logistical difficulties in what they proposed: hardly the basis for an anti-war movement.

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