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August 13, 2004 2:35 PM   Subscribe

P. J. O'Rourke interviews Colin Powell in The Atlantic.
posted by semmi (21 comments total)

 
Why, yes, so he does.
posted by nicwolff at 2:45 PM on August 13, 2004


This is actually a very interesting article. I find it fascinating to read about a world leader employing game theory in discussing foreign policy. Definitely worth a read.
posted by Joey Michaels at 3:12 PM on August 13, 2004


Great link, thanks Semmi!

SECRETARY POWELL: I think the public is worrying too much about terrorism. It's starting to affect us too much with respect to issues like traveling. I get all kinds of questions from people. Somebody came up to me at church yesterday and asked, "Do you think it's okay for my daughter to go to Singapore?" I said, "I can't think of anywhere on earth she's going to be safer." But they were terrified that their daughter was going to this faraway place and the terrorists were going to get her. I said, "Let her go and enjoy it."

And now everybody is running around and saying they're going to be bombing all the shopping centers.


Can you imagine if someone else had said that?
posted by cell divide at 3:21 PM on August 13, 2004


if I started acting like the Iraqis are acting, my wife would be after me: "You get right in here, stop looting and blowing up the car. If you blow up the car, how can I get the kids to school?"
Both a fun and an interesting article.

On the weekends, I would go out there and start rebuilding cars. I still have one of them. I've had it for twelve years now. It's still out in my yard. And it just—it cleared my non-zero-sum mind.

Can we get more of our officials rebuilding cars?
posted by weston at 3:24 PM on August 13, 2004


Great link. I like Powell, but...

But I think the world is well served right now with the United States still having the edge on economic power and a heck of a margin with respect to military power. The reason for that is that no other nation, with a few exceptions, is yet as well grounded politically in the democratic system as we are, or to be trusted with the kind of military power that we have.

He must be severely detached if he can say something like that at this point.
posted by mrbula at 3:28 PM on August 13, 2004


Denial ain't just a river in Egypt.
posted by rushmc at 3:52 PM on August 13, 2004


SECRETARY POWELL: But our great strength is the image we still convey to the rest of the world. Notwithstanding all you read about anti-Americanism, people are still standing in line to come here, to get visas and come across our borders.

P. J. O'ROURKE: Voting with their feet?

SECRETARY POWELL: Voting with their feet. So there's something right there.

P. J. O'ROURKE: Back in Lebanon in 1984, I was held at gunpoint by this Hezbollah kid, just a maniac, you know, at one of those checkpoints, screaming at me about America, great Satan, et cetera.

SECRETARY POWELL: Then he wanted a green card?

P. J. O'ROURKE: At the end of this rant, that's exactly what he said: "As soon as I get my green card, I am going to Dearborn, Michigan to study dental school." And he saw no disconnect.

SECRETARY POWELL: He's there now. He's not going back to Beirut.

P. J. O'ROURKE: He hated America so much and wanted nothing more than to be an American.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 3:54 PM on August 13, 2004


Steve, is your quoted anectdote about a disconnected nutball now living in this country supposed to make me feel better?
posted by Wulfgar! at 4:12 PM on August 13, 2004


No, I just for the specificity of dental school amusing.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 4:23 PM on August 13, 2004


I think that's the guy who worked on my teeth last year.
posted by wendell at 5:14 PM on August 13, 2004


Fucking fuck...this is just depressing. Powell is maybe the most reasonable, thoughtful public servant we've had in office--on either side--in I don't know how long, and he's totally wasted.

That being said, I don't think it's just a matter of this administration...I'm not convinced that Kerry would be able to make any better use of his potential than Bush has. What's more, Powell has clearly and sadly learned to play the partisan game, at least a bit. (He wouldn't have gotten nearly as far as he has if hadn't learned to kow-tow. His "testimony" on WMDs before the UN was a travesty.)

It's just a sad indictment of where we've gotten to, where it's pretty much impossible for a smart, self-taught, reasonable person, who's actually risen to a high-ranking position, to make a meaningful difference.

My favorite part, though, is where he stares over his glasses at O'Rourke, when O'Rourke asks if we're "unique for wanting other nations to be as powerful as we are." At least he's got the frankness to call O'Rourke on the absurdity, and O'Rourke has the integrity to report it.
posted by LairBob at 5:17 PM on August 13, 2004


"found" not "for"
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 5:48 PM on August 13, 2004


Anybody standing around thinking that centralized planning—"How do I cook the books so I can be elected again and again and again and again?"—will sustain this is wrong.

And then Karl Rove sulked. (GRATUITOUS!!!)
posted by solistrato at 6:08 PM on August 13, 2004


SECRETARY POWELL: He's there now. He's not going back to Beirut.

P. J. O'ROURKE: He hated America so much and wanted nothing more than to be an American.


That is why I think the U.S. should just quit with the mincing. Offer Iraqis membership in the union. They get American statehood and the U.S. gets to join OPEC. It's a win win.

That way our oil can be under our sand and not their sand.

As it is they already have more military bases than most of the states.
posted by srboisvert at 6:09 PM on August 13, 2004


It's just a sad indictment of where we've gotten to, where it's pretty much impossible for a smart, self-taught, reasonable person, who's actually risen to a high-ranking position, to make a meaningful difference.

I don't think that's true. If Powell had had the foresight and integrity to resign and to speak honestly to the public from outside the government rather than submit to the machinations, he could have made a very meaningful difference and retained both his reputation and his self-respect. The decision to compromise himself to this degree was his choice, no one else's.
posted by rushmc at 6:19 PM on August 13, 2004


rush, I'll grant you the argument, in principle, but it's still a frustrating premise...that the only way he could have made a difference is by chucking it all, and abandoning the system. Sure, he would have had more integrity, but I just don't think he would have gotten as far as he has if he had all that extra spine.
posted by LairBob at 6:24 PM on August 13, 2004


rushmc, slightly smaller fish like Richard Clarke and Rand Beers have done precisely that -- and the smear machine kicks into gear and everything they did before they got fed up and chucked it in gets thrown back in their faces. Powell would be harder to smear than Clarke or Beers because the public knows him, a little, but about 40% of America has shown that they'll believe anything the administration says irrespective of the evidence, their own beliefs or even their own senses. With a compliant press they can usually get another 20%-30% on their side if there's no strong countercampaign at the ready. As for the remaining 30% or so, they've already got the administration's number, and as our fearless leader says "who cares what you think?"
posted by George_Spiggott at 6:48 PM on August 13, 2004


it's still a frustrating premise...that the only way he could have made a difference is by chucking it all, and abandoning the system

I agree that it sucks that the system is so corrupted.

And I hear you, George_Spiggott, but at one time, Powell's credibility was probably higher than Bush's. He definitely could have had more impact than a Clarke or some of the others.

I can appreciate the impulse to try to work to effect change (or minimize damage) from within, but it rarely works, and hasn't here. Better to join honest truthtellers in exile than to capitulate to perverted power (Luke vs. Anakin?).
posted by rushmc at 8:29 PM on August 13, 2004


Powell has always been a team player.
posted by euphorb at 11:29 PM on August 13, 2004


Interesting interview but he seemed more arrogant about the US than I expected. Hasn't he heard of England, Australia, etc, you know places pretty similar to the US (aside from the difference in scale, and the fact that US constituents seem to have a higher tolerance level for poverty and inequality)?
posted by Onanist at 1:04 AM on August 14, 2004


That was a great interview... It's been nice to see P.J. O'Rourke carve out his own "new journalist" niche as he starts to divert from the path laid by Hunter S. Thompson and Tom Wolfe.
posted by ph00dz at 6:39 AM on August 15, 2004


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