Tuesday, November 16


It's tragic to see a good man in a situation beyond his ken:

But it's now clear that Mr. Powell long ago chose loyalty over leadership and was not a major figure in the biggest foreign policy decisions of the Bush administration. Most accounts of the rush to war in Iraq show that Mr. Powell was deeply troubled about the planning for the war, its timing and the intense opposition of most of Washington's European allies. But he was unwilling or unable to exert much influence over the president in that critical time, and it's not clear whether Mr. Bush even consulted him before making his decision to go to war.

There were moments in his tenure when Mr. Powell could have resigned over principle. But he soldiered on, leaving when it was safe and convenient for his boss.

If I've learned anything from the Colin Powell saga, it's that the Peter Principle is alive and well. Powell may have been an outstanding soldier, general, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, but he clearly was beyond his depth when it came to the office of Secretary of State. I don't imply he didn't have the requisite intellectual power or diplomatic skills -- he clearly did, and does. But also clearly, he did not have the moral strength to "speak the truth to power," to stand behind his own principles and expertise. Instead, he played the role of the loyal retainer.

And that's a tragic ending to what was, but is now diminished, a distinguished career of success following success in his professional endeavors.

Well, if Condi doesn't make a diplomatic impact with the "furriners," she can always impress them by playing the piano while she ice-skates and lectures them on great moments in the Cold War with a now non-existent Soviet Union.


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