The Road to War (With Iran)

When autocrats feel threatened, they often resort to war as a means of rallying support. Never mind the misery and death they visit on their own people.

So it is that as the noose tightens on Donald J Trump, the possibility that he will seek war as his salvation grows more real. North Korea might be the logical target given the real threat that nation appears to pose.

But there is another potential target which struck could well  be the strike that ignites global conflict. That target is Iran.

Lawrence Wilkerson was Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell. He was a true “insider” as the Bush-Cheney Administration marched the United States into war with Iraq.

In today’s New York Times, Wilkerson outlines the grim similarities between that push to war against Iraq and today’s Tump Adminsitration push to war against Iran.

Here is the link, please read the article:

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/05/opinion/trump-iran-war.html

Wilkerson correctly says that Secretary of State Colin Powell’s popularity with the American people was a key factor in persuading the public to initially support the war with Iraq.

I’d like to say a word about that.

Late in the presidential campaign of 2000,  George W Bush announced that if elected, he would nominate Powell to be Secretary of State. He did that primarily because he knew Powell’s popularity would help him get elected.

Colin Powell has all the qualities Americans prize most: Integrity, honesty, hard work, competence, compassion and warmth toward others, loyalty – the list goes on.

As  a young ROTC Army officer, he was spotted by Seniors in and out of military uniform as an African-American who deserved opportunities to advance. But make no mistake, Powell rose on merit, not race, to become a four star general, National Security Advisor to President Reagan, Chairman of the Join Chiefs of Staff under President George Herbert Walker Bush and finally Secretary of State.

As the drumbeat toward war sounded louder in the Bush-Cheney Administration, Powell’s was a senior voice  urging caution. Famously, he warned the president that by striking Iraq “If you break it, you own it.”

But the Bush-Cheney core thought Saddem Huessein was a threat to Israel, the Region and the World and when the CIA and the Intelligence Units of other friendly nations said they had the proof that Saddem possessed “Weapons of Mass Destruction” the question of war was settled. After all, he had used poison gas in the past and strong “straws in the wind” suggested he was presently perfecting biological and atomic weapons.

United Nations Inspectors were finally allowed back in Iraq in December of 2002. Hans Blix, their leader said “the Americans told us where to look, told us they knew where the weapons were but when we went there we found nothing.” But Blix’s warning was too late to reverse the Administration’s decision to go to war. Now, all that was required was to get the American people on board.

And just as he had used Powell to help get elected, President Bush now called on him to help sell the war.

Powell had doubts but had no way to dis-prove the Intellegence findings which the CIA claimed were not findings of probability but findings of certainty.

When Powell’s presentation to the U N Security Council was scheduled, he asked CIA Director George Tenet to sit behind him in the camera shot as a sign of total agreement with the presentation. Tenet at first begged off but Powell insisted and so there sat Tenet, the “maker” of the feast as Powell served it.

It can be argued that because of doubts, Powell should have resigned his office rather than make the presentation. Yes, he could have done that but “doubts” are not enough to go against the team’s view.

If the quarterback says “swing right” instead of left, no team can function if the players don’t line up to swing right. I think Powell had a duty to make that presentation. You can disagree and say that my long-held affection for this great American has blinded by judgement.

So be it, but that’s my view and I’m “sticking to it!”

 

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