October 23, 2008

Colin Powell

My general opinion of Colin Powell is that he is a sensible man. Moreover, I believe that the employment of sensible men in affairs of state should be encouraged.

Powell tried to slow the rush to war in 2002. In the final analysis, he lacked the moral fiber to take the last steps available to him: resign and speak out against the war.

On the other hand, his situation was directly analogous to Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan's in 1915. Fearing that President Wilson was propelling America into the Great War, Bryan resigned.

That's why Bryan's name is treated with such reverence in the media today.

Oh, sorry, wrong universe ... Nobody remembers Bryan's sacrifice of the highest position he ever attained. They just snicker at him for the Monkey Trial. And we ended up in the war anyway...

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer


Anonymous said...

In the final analysis, he lacked the moral fiber to take the last steps available to him: resign and speak out against the war.

You are much too kind here. Actually, only weeks before the outbreak of the war he went before the UN and made that patently and completely unconvincing case for the war -- that Iraq was developing WMDs. I felt embarrassed for him just watching it. He cooked his political goose right then. If not for his race/ethnicity he'd be a total nothing right now; his antics in London might be seen as fun-living by some, but buffoonish is more like it.

With his Obama endorsement he must be lobbying for a job.

Garland said...

Eh...come on. Not much of an analogy there.

The media (our elites, historians, what-have-you) today:

-are weirdly tolerant of WWI at best, supportive of it at worst

-are tolerant of Wilson at best and love him at worst, and for much more than his war, though the above point on the war is a product of that love for him

-are mildly bemused by Bryan's economics at best, fear and loath it at worst

-have a mythical Inherit-the-Wind conception of Bryan's position on the Scopes matter (it wasnt as bigoted as they think)

-have "Darwin proves the religious right is defunct BUT NOTHING ELSE BEYOND THAT, WHAT VARIATION?" view of all Darwin politics, and Bryan of course is a necessary sacrifice at that altar

In other words, they have contemporary reasons to dislike Bryan. And the bold stance he took was against a war that see point 1 above, they are soft on at best, in defiance of a president they are fond of at the least.

Powell on the other hand? He is a company man in every way, that company being theirs. He has no other point of dissent from them, only that one moment of failure (back when many of them were on is side). Indeed, this whole endorsement is meaningless nonsense because the dude has always been a liberal ever since he debuted in San Diego in '96 in support of affirmative action, gun control, and abortion rights. Some Democratic spin doctor remarked that week that he gave a great speech, one they would have been proud to have hosted at their own convention. Right on. So a liberal in '96 endorses a liberal in '08 because the liberal's opponent represents a too conservative party. What a story!

You're so clever and we appreciate your thoughts being bounced on this blog, but let's not forget that a good healthy dose of constant fear and paranoia of our globalist elites can keep you from overly clever mistakes!

Anonymous said...

Get off it. You like Powell and call him sensible because he seemed to have some moments of doubt about the war you hate. The truth is that Powell is an over-promoted mulatto who simply could not resist the pull of tribal affiliation against the party that did all the over-promoting. SS of all people ought to recognize that.

michael farris said...

Had he played his cards better Powell was certainly on track to be the first black president (though like Obama his parents weren't part of the US Black community).

But he played them pretty badly. I think joining the republicans instead of democrats was his first mistake. The dems could probably be led to overlook his military background (cause he's black) but the repubs could never overlook his positions on some social issues.

His biggest mistake, however, was getting involved in the W administration (I suspect the number of high profile individuals who come to bitterly regret ever meeting W is a lot higher than for the average president).

I don't necessarily even blame him that much for his donkey show at the UN. The guy was obviously just following CE orders as he was socialized to do in the military. W wanted to invade Iraq because he wanted to invade Iraq and no one was going to stop him. Powell probably thought he could bring a modicum of sanity to the operation.

All things considered I'd probably rather have Powell than Obama as FBP.

Anonymous said...

I've seen more attention paid Bryan this year, largely due to the Cross of Gold speech. Oddly enough, I've heard it brought up in two contexts: first was Sarah Palin's acceptance speech and second was the recent meltdown.

Acilius said...

Garland, are you suggesting that bemusement and loathing do not exhaust the options available for a contemporary response to Bryan's economic views?

Anonymous said...

The analogy is apt. Bryan was a proto-Keynesian dilutionist, a pacifist who was as ineffective in preventing a war as any pacifist ever, and an anti-evolutionist long after the evidence for that theory had become perfectly sufficient. His "Cross of Gold" mixture of religion and bad economics helped to convert the Democratic Party from an effective opponent of imperialism and protectionism into an vehicle for the theories that would create the Servile State. The Democrats got what they deserved only until the messy divorce between Taft and Roosevelt gave the election the man who later sent the US Army to Europe with no chemical warfare equipment.

Powell is emblematic of the splintering that is the necessary consequence of Rove's ideological dominance of the Republican Party. His timing is scorchingly opportunistic. His attack on Sarah Palin was nothing but conventional wisdom. His purported opposition to the Mesopotamian adventure is mostly in the minds of lefties who love him for the usual reason.

And the grace with which he switched from helping neocons to endorsing the freshman from Illinois speaks volumes about the ideological kinship between the "neoconservative" left and the "liberal" left.

Anonymous said...

Sensible man? I guess. Maybe he had to lie in the U.N. at the beginning of the Iraq war in order to save his life. That would be sensible.
Not presidential material, but the bar is very, very low this election.

albertosaurus said...

The best comment on Colin Powell was in the 1996 movie "Mars Attacks". Paul Winfield the black head of the Joint Cheifs goes to meet the Martians. He takes a call from his wife -

Hello? This is General Casey. I get to meet the Martian Ambassador! Ain't that great? Oh, it's a hell of an honor. But didn't I always tell you honey, if I just stayed in place and never spoke up, good things are bound to happen. Yeah... Ok

Anonymous said...

No Steve, Colin Powell is not sensible.

His "advice" left a sore, nasty mess of Saddam that plagued America for another 12 years, of constant no-fly zones, a guy who can thumb his nose at the US with impunity (dangerous in a world of nuclear proliferation) and a guy who cannot be trusted to adhere to the terms of any deal.

If Powell had a lick of sense, he'd have advised the first Bush to remove Saddam, take all the pain at once, put the coalition of the Saudis, Egyptians, etc. in charge of running the country and the transition, and leave a very visible point -- "Don't screw with the US."

Instead, Powell fought Vietnam all over again, instead of addressing the issues of instability in the region where US policy since 1944 had been to control the Persian Gulf, and where our traditional ally, the Shah, was long gone and replaced by the Ayatollah's regime, inimically hostile to us.

Moreover, as Blode points out, pacifism is a stupid policy, as is isolationism. It didn't work in 1812, it certainly did not in 1917 (we would have gone to war to prevent the Kaiser from dominating all of Europe, and his overt meddling in Mexico, Carranza was well-supplied with the Kaiser's military advisors). It did not apply in 1991, nor in 2003.

Like it or not, nuclear proliferation means ALL Americans live in fear, until we lose several cities and pure survival mode kicks in ... a huge tragedy. No, the Cold War's end means no more risk of total annihilation, but greatly enhanced risk of losing two or more major cities because some tribal leader figured it would bring him more wealth, men, and power.

Powell doesn't understand that.

Anonymous said...


My favorite part of that sequence: Back at the White House the president is watching on television as Winfield/Powell welcomes the Martian detachment. With him is Martin Short, who's playing a George Stephanopolous type. Winfield pretentiously delivers the lines that he's been given; Short turns to the president, exchanges approving looks with him and says, in a sort of smarmy reverie, "he did that well." Another inconsequential star is born!
Vastly underrated film.

Anonymous said...

What was truly interesting about the Powell endorsement was how it reflected not merely his sensibility, but his comedic sensibility. The genius comic timing of waiting until this moment and thus taking the piss completely out of the Ayers hoopla was utterly hilarious. At another level, the endorsement seems to be an ironic gesture that takes us full circle through the obnoxious perceptual game that is too often the center of the election campaign. Obama, guilted by association, Obama redeemed by association.

And yes, please, feel free to follow up with posts about deathly serious the Ayers issue is that I'll neither bother to read or respond to.

Anonymous said...

Be quiet Testing. Saddam was doing for free what is now bankrupting the US.

Anonymous said...

Random thoughts, à la T. Sowell:

This is cross-posted at Vdare.com, so I'm quite surprised no one has mentioned Peter Gadiel's very different take there on the Colin.

Sept. 11 itself was a bipartisan deal-- Bush let them on a plane in America, Clinton let them on a plane to America. But it took Colin Powell to promote the people responsible!

Nothing could redeem Powell in my mind after he called himself a "Rockefeller Republican".

The latest Chronicles reports that Bryan supported women's suffrage (as a Prohibitionist naturally would), but his daughter Ruth questioned it. At least until she ran for Congress.

Saddam was doing for free what is now bankrupting the US. --Michael T

Saddam was giving the Arabs the treatment they so richly deserve, per Joseph de Maistre.

Anonymous said...

Reg Caesar,

Interesting link about Bryan's daughter Ruth. This part of the wiki article caught my eye---

"From 1933 to 1936 she was U.S. Minister to Denmark, appointed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. [4][5] She served successfully until 1936 when she married Borge Rohde, a Danish Captain of the King's Guard, in July. This gave her dual citizenship as a Dane, so she resigned her post in September.[6]"

That's in contrast to US Ambassador to Mexico Tony Garza, still on the job three years after marrying a Mexican billionaire heiress, Maria Asunción Aramburuzabala.

Anonymous said...

Bryan was right about World War I, and Wilson was wrong, we should have stayed out. Thomas Fleming's Illusion of Victory is a damn good book about the politics of World War I (his book about World War II, The New Dealer's War is a great read too).

It amusing that British war propaganda worked too well on our idiot ruling class. Congress thought the Allies had all but won when they voted to declare war.

The Army asked a Senate committee for billions in new spending a mere 2 days after the Senate vote for war because "we may have to have an army in France". Virginia Senator Thomas Martin exclaimed, "Good Lord! You're not going to send troops over there are you?" (page 86 of Illusion).

That's about as dumb as thinking the Iraq War would pay for itself.

Anonymous said...

Waitasec, Beowolf! You are not saying Tony Garza has ... "dual loyalties" ... are you?

You best be careful or I'll sic MeCha and the ADL on you!

Anonymous said...

"My general opinion of Colin Powell is that he is a sensible man."

Et tu, Steve? He was used as a human shield to sell the Iraq war in the same way his fellow part-black counterpart Obama is being used as a human shield to sell radical socialism. Nobody wants to be the first to criticize a part-black guy, not after four decades of intense brainwashing courtesy of Hollywood, the teevee, and the MSM, so they get a free pass. You know this.

Sailer may be God, but even God takes a mulligan or two.

Anonymous said...

Is testing99 the return of Evil Neocon?

Brett said...

"But he played them pretty badly. I think joining the republicans instead of democrats was his first mistake."

He did it for purely oportunistic reasons: The Democratic nomination that year was already locked up, if he was going to run for President, it was either as a Republican or independent, and the system is rigged against independents.

Of course, an honest man would have switched parties by now, but if he were that honest, he would have registered as a Democrat in the first place. He's always had major disagreements with the Republican platform, and has he ever actually endorsed a 'fellow' Republican?

Anonymous said...

Is testing99 the return of Evil Neocon?

Sure is.

Sebastian said...

Agreed on Powell. Another casualty of duty, honor, country.

The other big loser? Tony Blair. I hope he does well with his initiative on bridging the gap between religions.

I think both Blair and Powell's next chapter can be very good.

Unlike the next chapter for Bush, Cheney, Rummy, Wolfie, Condi, et al. I don't think there will be a rush to hear their words of wisdom. Unless it's at a meeting of "how not to do things really badly"