Not a lot has been said about the Secretaries of State program that CNN did over the past weekend. Being on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, and in the middle of a financial crisis, it pretty much got ignored. There were a few basic headlines (about the need to talk with Iran, for example).
But the program was really incredible, and so much more in depth. America Abroad Media was CNN's radio partner for the event, turning it into a podcast and public radio show. They've also posted the entire program transcript. If you missed the show, you should download the podcast and really check out this transcript.
Check out, for example, this exchange between Christiane Amanpour (who rocks) and Powell, from the transcript linked above:
POWELL: In Afghanistan, we did not create conditions of security in the early years. And so, soft power has a role to play and it's complimentary to hard power. But don't underestimate the need to do the first thing that all governments have to do, and that is to provide security for the region.
AMANPOUR: Okay, just-- just-- just to be-- you know, call a spade a spade, Afghanistan was on the way to success. And you were there, your administration was there. I would say the consensus is that the eye was taken off the ball and it went to Iraq. Now, you face what could have been a success and an example and a stabilizing phenomenon in that region, you know, you need to snatch back vict-- victory from the jaws of defeat. So really practically, pragmatically, what do you tell the next Secretary of State-- the next president, as a diplomat and as a military man? What do you tell him? How do you get back Afghanistan?
POWELL: If we have provided a level of security in Iraq with our troops, those that are remaining as well as the proving Iraqi forces, shift your attention, shift your hard power attention and your soft power attention to Afghanistan. Because I think the-- the risks in Afghanistan almost outweigh the risks we've been facing for the last few years in Iraq.
Wow! Has anyone really called out Powell like this before? Has any journalist really gone out and said that it is a consensus that America took its eye off the ball? I mean, of course it's true, but it's so refreshing to actually see the truth, reported.
And, to Powell's credit, he does admit that the US failed to provide security, and that the threat in Afghanistan is actually greater than that posed by Iraq.
Again, some incredible admissions here.
Warren Christopher, also, led off the discussion with a powerful statement:
There are two specific things that I think ought to be done, and a president could do it quite promptly. First, is to outlaw torture in a meaningful way...In the same way it's outlawed in our military. Have that extend to all agencies...
And second, I think that a new administration ought to take a forward-leaning position on climate change. We ought to be leaders there rather than hanging back.
Christopher went on to include waterboarding specifically as torture. Of course, McCain has already come out against getting rid of waterboarding. And don't forget that the McCain/GOPalin platform adopted in Minneapolis called human-caused climate change a subject for "debate".
I'm not sure anything like this has ever happened before - five former secretaries of state giving candid opinions and advice. Of course, I was struck by often these sentiments (even from James Baker) seemed to suggest that McCain's dedication to the Bush Doctrine abroad was a colossal mistake.
Too bad the economy went and crapped the bed, preventing a good discussion of the truths unveiled on this program.