What Colin Powell Needs to Convey to Barack Obama

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colin-powell-500.preview.jpg
(photo courtesy of Atlantic Council of the United States)
Barack Obama has invited Colin Powell in to see him today — and knowing General Powell’s respect for the Office of the President, whether occupied by Barack Obama or George W. Bush, we aren’t going to have a fully informed read of what transpires in this meeting for some time, if ever.
As Laura Rozen notes, Defense Secretary Gates will be meeting with the President two and a half hours after the chat with Powell.
But while not knowing whether Barack Obama is meeting with Powell to get a tutorial on what to do about the growing challenges in Afghanistan, or getting the General’s views on an Iran strategy, or perhaps kicking Powell’s tires about taking on some kind of national role — perhaps as a presidential emissary for public service or as yet another super-czar focused on the Middle East or becoming the President’s lever in rolling back Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell — I think Powell should take the opportunity to convey some Powell-isms to Barack Obama.
The eight pillars of the Powell Doctrine, which means achieving victory by applying overwhelming assets to a clearly defined challenge, are worth working through — whether in considering a build-up on Afghanistan or hatching another war:

1. Is a vital national security interest threatened?
2. Do we have a clear attainable objective?
3. Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed?
4. Have all other non-violent policy means been fully exhausted?
5. Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement?
6. Have the consequences of our action been fully considered?
7. Is the action supported by the American people?
8. Do we have genuine broad international support?

Barack Obama’s “good war” on Afghanistan does not fare well when viewed through Powell’s portals.
George W. Bush, at the beginning of his presidency, had several tutorials from journalist and national security expert Robert Kaplan on how to conduct foreign policy decisions in a world in which Bush believed American power was on the ascendancy.
Colin Powell will hopefully be given the opportunity by Obama to teach the President a few things about the cultivation and deployment of power in a world that doubts America’s ability to achieve its objectives.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

28 comments on “What Colin Powell Needs to Convey to Barack Obama

  1. Kathleen Grasso Andersen says:

    Somehow this article by the Iraqi Shoe Yhrowing Journalist seems appropriate here..,
    Why I threw the Shoe by Iraqi Journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi
    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article23535.htm
    Muntazer, The only unprofessional journalist would be one who silently sat by in the face of lies and injustices…I can’t tell you how vicariously therapeutic it is for me to see that footoge of you throwing your shoe at Busholini..in the name of all oppressed people….Vox Populi
    Now if we could only get our President to throw the book the bastard….

    Reply

  2. arthurdecco says:

    You blowhards keep discussing Powell as if he were a Statesman rather that the WAR CRIMINAL he actually is.
    Arrest the motherfucker before he becomes the fulcrum for a new Reich Wing Movement.

    Reply

  3. DonS says:

    BTW, I think I note a certain irony in the use of Powell’s ‘pillars’ with/against Obama, and perhaps against Powell himself. The phrase “respect for the Office of the President” and the notation that it will be long, if ever, that Powell speaks, candidly, about the matter, drips with a certain icy truth.
    Not that irony is always the best way to get a point across. But it sometimes is. In a way, this corresponds to Steve’s often rejoinder, when criticized for his ‘methods’, that they are useful to his ongoing policy work. And I think we have seen important examples of that.

    Reply

  4. Outraged American says:

    Old Tree is obviously Steve’s dad. My dad says stuff like that to
    me over the internet all the time except he adds “nympho” and ,
    “When are you going to shave your underarms and get a real
    job?”
    Steve probably hears that all the time too.
    Same with Questions who I’m convinced is 80 – years-old and
    lives in her uncle’s attack with a whole pile of rotting carrots and
    zuchinni the size of donkies’ privates.
    JUST KIDDING QUESTIONS — you know I love you. You are
    going to be the Court Jester of Feminazia, should you accept the
    mission, and if it’s still around after the Taliban invade Arizona,
    blow-up our Buddhas and force us all to have voluntary
    cliterectomies using dull butter knives and cholorform.
    Geez, I’m filling up my cabinet faster than Obama is.

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  5. ... says:

    donS – thanks..
    twn comment section is what we make it.. no one’s perfect( thinking of myself here anyway, lol) there are many interesting articulate posters here which is one of the many reasons i enjoy coming and reading the comments section.. i also find it refreshing to be reminded that in spite of the harsh criticism i level towards the usa for its agenda of war either direct or covert, i’m always happy to see many posters that i assume are american, completely at odds with their own countries agenda and general direction… this gives me a good reason to be detached in making any connection between what goes on in a country and it being a direct reflection on ”all” the people in that country.. perhaps this is just automatically taken for granted by others, but when you see rhetoric about having to send someone to the psychiatrist, you have to wonder….

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  6. DonS says:

    Pretty well said, …(.)
    Those of us who frequent this site for a while have seen many reminders to Steve that being involved with the Washington culture poses risks for one’s perspective, not to say sense of humanity. And Steve has noted that it’s his site and his views.
    I think, as a mental health professional of longstanding, that it is of course possible to become inured to the harsh realities of cultural “products”, such as killing of other human beings. (BTW, it seems Obama may have well gotten over any squeamishness in this regard). Does participating in that “culture” to any degree (e.g., even commenting here), make one a party to it and it’s products?
    My own experience of TWN does not validate a hardness of heart, or moral myopia.

    Reply

  7. ... says:

    oldtree, your last paragraph is a bit rich… while it’s true those disconnected from others are capable of disturbing acts, steve has never recommended death for others in a direct manner, and he seems to be coming around to realizing the futility of the afghanistan war project.. it would be nice if he and others could make a general observation of the harm brought on by war and be opposed to it on principle at all times.. however attitudes in the usa seem to have gone so far out of whack that he appears to reflect a cultural miasma that is deeply embedded in a nation constantly at war in one way or the other… if he shows signs of coming around, encourage him… suggesting he go see a psychiatrist is a bit rich…
    on another note :
    A powerful car bomb killed six NATO troops and at least 10 Afghan civilians in downtown Kabul Thursday, injuring more than 50 people when it exploded just after noon at a busy traffic circle near the international airport.
    A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the attack, which was aimed at an Italian military convoy and left bodies strewn through nearby market stalls and streets. The six slain troops were reportedly all Italian, but NATO officials did not release their nationalities.

    Reply

  8. oldtree says:

    It is truly sad to see my fellow humans walk around like
    generals. Acting like kings, planning on killing people with
    reason, invading and conquering for reasons that hide the goal
    of plunder.
    General Powell has proven himself to be a traitor to this
    country. He deserves to be standing in the dock at the Hague,
    as so many of his “allies” in the war on terror. One does not
    come back from such a crime. He allowed people he knew were
    lying to game him into lying to prop up a pretend war. He never
    spoke up when he had a chance to stop it.
    It is unbelievable that little tiny chicken like birds make up
    stories about how a war for choice must be run. It is also
    disgusting to see ever tinier birds line up to recommend such
    genocide as a means to an end by commenting how right it
    seems.
    Steve, you are a psychopath. Perhaps a sociopath. You
    probably don’t realize it, as few ever find a way to admit it to
    themselves. To be recommending death for others from an
    armchair in your cozy little bubble is alarming. The thought
    processes that come up with this are a clear indicator that
    reason, and perhaps even human feeling are lacking.
    Get yourself a competent psychiatrist. When you being
    defending the indefensible, you too should realize how far you
    have gone toward the brink.

    Reply

  9. pauline says:

    The good general can convey to the president, “go ahead and lie through your teeth. . .I got away with it.”
    On Powell —
    “Tom Glen, a 21-year-old soldier of the 11th Light Infantry Brigade, wrote a letter to General Creighton Abrams, the new overall commander of U.S. forces in Vietnam, accusing the American Division (and other entire units of the U.S. military) of routine and pervasive brutality against Vietnamese civilians. The letter was detailed and its contents echoed complaints received from other soldiers.
    Colin Powell, then a 31-year-old Army Major, was charged with investigating the letter, which did not specifically reference My Lai (Glen had limited knowledge of the events there). In his report Powell wrote: “In direct refutation of this portrayal is the fact that relations between American soldiers and the Vietnamese people are excellent.” Powell’s handling of the assignment was later characterized by some observers as “whitewashing” the atrocities of My Lai.”

    Reply

  10. Outraged American says:

    I know so many Members of the Tribe, including my husband,
    who vehemently reject Zionism. That a lot of Members of the
    Tribe (shortened in Hollywood to MOT, and I have no idea where
    the other “t” went) are actively working for peace is not going to
    stop an attack on Iran.
    I have worked in the past and am working right now with MOTs
    who are determined to stop a UsRael attack on Iran. The man
    who I spoke with this afternoon is at least as connected as
    Steve’s sources.
    There’s nothing we can do to stop an attack on Iran so go
    outside and prepare death masks for your kids. Pretend they’re
    for Halloween.

    Reply

  11. Kathleen Grasso Andersen says:

    Carroll…this one’s for you but sit down and take a few deep breaths before clicking the link..maybe get the barf bags ready
    How Low Will Israel Stoop In Its Propoganda War?
    http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article23511.htm

    Reply

  12. DonS says:

    Yes, re decency, OA, it has long been my contention that fidelity to human rights outranks loyalty to the tribal/religious group, particularly the extremist factions.
    Of the Jewish tribe, I have also long opined that I am dead tired of having the blood of truly martyred ancestors used as an excuse for utter brutality by the zealot, neocon, uber-Zionists of the day. As, BTW, are most Jews of my acquaintance, who have shed the lust for dominance and the vicarious false security that comes from oppressing others.
    When folks never learn, or don’t remember the truth of brothers in humanity, any self-delusion is possible.

    Reply

  13. Outraged American says:

    DonS, the man I just spoke with about an Israeli attack on Iran
    would be in a position to know. One of the things I don’t get
    about pro-war types is have they ever loved anyone? Have they
    ever grieved over the body of a relative or a friend? Knowing
    that they would never hear them laugh again?
    Kotza, Questions, Nadine, Wig, all of whom appear to be
    Members of the Tribe, as you have said that you, yourself are,
    appear to lack even the basic shreds of human decency.
    In the run-up to our second attack on Iraq I did everything I
    could to stop it and I couldn’t eat — I curled into a ball between
    forcing the fucking press to covering the antiwar rallies in LA.
    I actually got into a fist fight with some asshole in line at the
    Fatburger down the street in West LA after Rumsfeld said that
    the WMD were “North, South, East or West of Baghdad.” Or
    whatever Tamiflu Rumsfeld said.
    It was on the TV as we waited for our orders: I asked the pimply
    idiot behind me in line that if he supported the attack on Iraq
    why wasn’t he over there fighting? Two Korean-American UCLA
    students had to separate us, because I was about to beat the
    fascist to a pulp.
    I feel the same way now. This is SUCH FUCKING BULLSHIT.
    HOW MANY PEOPLE ARE WE GOING TO KILL?????? AND HOW
    MANY OF OUR OWN KIDS???
    Israel needs to get the FUCK out of US foreign policy. I won’t say
    what I’m thinking because Yahweh knows the Jewish Holocaust
    is sacrosanct.

    Reply

  14. Kathleen Grasso Andersen says:

    OutragedAmerican…many thanxxx for rescuing my sense of humor…it really was ready for the dumpster…on the goddess thing, my husband used to say I was statuesque, but alas, my hourglasss figure has become a two hour glass…
    ….teeheeeee

    Reply

  15. DonS says:

    OA, glad/sad for the news, though I can’t say I or many here would be in the least surprised by an Israeli attack. Doing the outrageous and unthinkable is their speciality. And why not? Consequences from Uncle Sugar are always zilch and, in this case, the politicos will either cheer them on or regret the action but completely understand it, blah, blah.
    Now assuming that Israel is indeed on the glide path for an attack, a la Cheney/Bush and Iraq, no amount of “proof” will deter this forgone conclusion.
    An interesting conclusory remark from the report Outraged American linked to was that “. . . an Israeli strike “entails more risks than a U.S. strike.” Now, admittedly, that worm Chuck Robb was part of this so-called bipartisan group, but in what universe does such a comment make sense? Or, I should say, what perverted assumptions does this inbred, corrupted, money grubbing, war mongering lobbyists-for-war make that allows such a comment to be even uttered.
    Do we have a President to order refutation of this stupidity, which worked so well in Iraq? Or an aspiring den mother; not to demean den mothers?

    Reply

  16. Outraged American says:

    Just got off the phone with someone who might know: Israel will
    attack Iran in December. The Saudis have given the green light.
    The talks are just for show. Duh.
    And because of the fucking endless “War on Terror” mandate,
    Obama could do it.
    If I die tomorrow it would be OK because I’ve lived, but I am
    enraged about all those little Iranian kids probably just eating
    dinner right now, who are going to die because of that FUCKING
    COUNTRY, Israel.
    I just got a picture of my latest grand-nephew. An Australian,
    no less. He’s going to never have a life because the FUCKWADS
    in the “US” Congress can’t stand up to the FUCKING ZIONISTS.
    Obama Urged to Ready Tougher Iran Sanctions, Military Strike
    (h/t antiwar.com)
    Sept. 15 (Bloomberg) — The U.S. should begin preparing
    crippling sanctions on Iran and publicly make clear that a
    military strike is possible should the Iranian government press
    ahead with its nuclear effort, a bipartisan policy group said.
    “If biting sanctions do not persuade the Islamic Republic to
    demonstrate sincerity in negotiations and give up its enrichment
    activities, the White House will have to begin serious
    consideration of the option of a U.S.-led military strike against
    Iranian nuclear facilities
    http://tinyurl.com/pzhfnd
    That fucking piece of…no words can describe him, Daschle, is
    also involved. They can’t even stop prostituting themselves after
    they leave Congress. Well, that goes without saying.
    Let’s stop the personal attacks because we’re all jackasses.
    Except for Kathleen, who doesn’t even need barrettes to pin her
    halo to her head. Kathleen is the Official Goddess of Feminazia.

    Reply

  17. DonS says:

    Questions poses “Finally there is a whole other issue that I don’t see raised often which is what does it mean to do nothing even when doing something is pointless?”
    I’m trying to be charitable here, but this proposition is the sort of philosophical naval gazing that is irrelevant, even obscene, in light of the costs, including the opportunity costs, involved in doing “something”, e.g., Afghanistan. I imagine Question can extrapolate on all the “what ifs?”, but eschewing simple logic is really what is pointless.

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  18. questions says:

    “your” marshmallows.
    EDIT PLEASE!!

    Reply

  19. questions says:

    Do you have an obligation to try to stop a murder even if you can’t stop the murder?
    Or should you just wait til it’s over, grab the purse or the nice shirt the dead person is wearing and go home?
    Do you have an obligation to try to rescue someone even if you can’t?
    Or should you just toast you marshmallows at the burning building instead of running in?
    What do you owe?
    HA HA HA HA! It’s a joke!!!!!

    Reply

  20. ... says:

    don’t worry OA – there’s an endless ongoing conversation with questions and poa …it’s like waiting for the resolution to a flat 5 chord…it never happens!!

    Reply

  21. Outraged American says:

    OK …, you made me laugh.
    Don’t encourage Questions not to post, because her refined wit is
    what keeps me going.

    Reply

  22. ... says:

    questions quote “”Futile action may be preferable to inaction at some bizarre level.””
    i noticed that in your posting tendencies.. might want to consider something different..

    Reply

  23. questions says:

    I think we have to think through three sides of these conflicts.
    There’s a whole issue of what CAN be done militarily or otherwise. Can we beat the bad guys by being bigger and/or badder…. Efficacy seems to be pretty important, maybe.
    There’s a whole issue of whether or not the recipients of our “largesse” want the “gift” we are giving, or if they want to deal with it themselves. This, of course is a mess given that a society in chaos is divided in its desires.
    Finally there is a whole other issue that I don’t see raised often which is what does it mean to do nothing even when doing something is pointless?
    If there’s a wicked deed being done, do we have an obligation to stop it even when we can’t stop it, and how does that play out? If one is to be a passive witness to the horrors of a domestic government’s attacks on its own or neighboring people, what does that mean?
    What does it mean as well for those whose deaths are watched?
    Futile action may be preferable to inaction at some bizarre level.
    Action that would utterly worsen the situation seems pretty clearly something we can rule out, but even though we have the phrase “The road to hell is paved with good intentions” maybe hell is a necessary direction.
    I have no answers to this at all. Debt to others is a significant issue to be puzzled through even as we act based on answers we don’t have.
    So, toss into the Powell Doctrine something about debt, witnessing, the (im)possibility of patience.

    Reply

  24. ... says:

    i agree with donS… neither of these 2 men are able to ‘rock the boat’… military industrial complex is the ‘boat’ in this example and continues to call the shots…

    Reply

  25. Outraged American says:

    Colin Powell based his UN lies, oh, um “presentation” on a
    plagiarized student thesis. Here’s proof :
    http://www.commondreams.org/headlines03/0206-08.htm
    it’s from the UK Channel 4 news and has some factual errors, but
    the gist is true.
    Being a congenital dickhead, I wanted to make sure for myself
    so interviewed the professor, Glen Rangwala of Cambridge Univ.
    in the UK, who first exposed the falsehood. I also tried to get
    the author of the thesis, Al-something, on the show but
    apparently he was hiding in Dick Cheney’s bunker.
    The blood of everyone of those more than 1.2 million Iraqis and
    US soldiers, the lives destroyed, like the young Christian Iraqis
    forced into prostitution in Syria, are on Powell’s “the Good
    Soldier” hands.

    Reply

  26. PissedOffAmerican says:

    We keep going back to the “great minds” that got us into this clusterfuck.
    I note Colin’s “eight pillars” do not contain the words “legal”, “humane”, or “moral”.
    To this day, I firmly believe Colin Powell has information that could and should put Cheney and Bush on trial for treason. His unwillingness to “come clean” with the American people, and stand up for the basic tenets upon which the Founding Fathers built our country’s foundation, should bar his entry into the people’s residence where we house what is supposed to be our highest representative.
    Considering Powell’s complicity in a crime that has cost the lives of over a million, we are now to take heart that he is advising a President that has shown remarkable cowardice and disdain for his promise of “change”? We’ve already seen what Powell can do in collusion with the POTUS, we don’t need any further demonstrations.
    Powell would be well advised to spend his money and his time washing the blood off his hands by aiding the American people in sending Dick Cheney to a federal prison. Short that, he’s awash in a pool of blood of his own making, and is every bit the criminal monster that George Bush and Dick Cheney have shown themselves to be.

    Reply

  27. JohnH says:

    I am very please to see Steve finally asking the right questions. Let’s hope they get widely adopted by the movers and shakers.
    Here is another guide–the Just War Doctrine–which should be put on the wall of every leader and adviser in Washington: the Catechism of the Catholic Church, in paragraph 2309, lists four strict conditions for “legitimate defense by military force”:
    * the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
    * all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
    * there must be serious prospects of success;
    * the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.
    Does any US intervention since WWII meet these criteria, or have they all been unjust wars?

    Reply

  28. DonS says:

    Let’s not forget that Powell was so tightly wedded to the command structure — and to being the ultimate ‘good soldier’ — that he (probably) knowingly lied for a President, and apparently did not forcefully push alternative approaches to dealing with a disastrous foreign policy — and stuck it out, while being marginalized and insulted by administration bigwigs, until he was basically forced out. And still he fails to fully level with the American people, with Lawrence Wilkerson left to gingerly pull the curtain aside. So what kind of outcome can we expect from and Obama-Powell meeting; two men who appear loathe to rock the boat.

    Reply

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