I'm watching Colin Powell on last night's Daily Show. And it's incredibly irritating.
Someday people might not remember Colin Powell's UN speech and its context, in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. I may never forget it. He was the only truly respectable expert in the top of the Bush Administration - and he squandered his decades-earned reputation in that one speech. When the march to invade could still have been softened and turned to nothing, when Bush's urge to prove himself a better man than his father and get all that sweet oil under his oil buddies' sway could have been turned aside, Powell proclaimed support of a bunch of such obvious bullshit that EVEN I knew it was factually incorrect.
And worst of all, it worked.
And believe me, I'm not patting myself on the back with having seen through it so early. I don't consider myself any smarter than any number of people who were fooled by that speech. I was just cynical and sought out the truth - like our media was supposed to, but did not.
Powell presented aerial pictures of trucks that he said had to be mobile weapons labs, because they stopped at some shacks from time to time. I'm sure the drivers weren't just taking a dump. He held up a vial of
chemical weapons anthrax - which spoils and becomes unusable, so any Saddam had from the first Gulf War was now about as dangerous as Canola oil. And just to show what a piece of theatre it was, the video cut away from Powell to a shot of a jet plane taking off, to illustrate how booga booga scary Saddam was, and then cut back to Powell layering on more bullshit. That requires orchestration beforehand - that requires someone to insert that video, prep it, and trigger it live. This wasn't for the UN - this was only for US voters.
Which is also why the UN video was cut short before any other nation could speak to US voters in rebuttal.
And no one listened to the damn liberals or our non-Brit European allies. And we invaded, and 3000+ US soldier deaths, probably over 20,000 US soldiers maimed physically and mentally, over 100,000 extra dead CIVILIAN Iraqis and untold hundreds of billions of dollars later, poor l'il ol' Powell just doesn't understand how things could go so wrong.
And this passes for searing introspection among the Bush administration - because he is the only one who will even admit that invading Iraq was a bad idea! (For the reasons specified of course. We all know it was to secure that region for the oil. Bush said that was his plan before he was even elected. But there I go, getting all facty again.)
God damn it.
And Powell can't even hold to this level of admittting he was wrong. He then says to Jon Stewart that he's sure Saddam would have gone for WMD if we'd lifted sanctions. SO WHAT?? Keep inspecting Saddam then! Keep a team of inspectors shining a 100,000 candlepower flashlight so far up that freak's ass his teeth look like a rack of fluorescent bulbs. So he barely has the time to sleep let alone plot. Cheaper and better and 3000+ dead US soldiers less than a war we don't need!
Powell followed that with some other quarter-assed misstatements to Jon Stewart. He blamed the bad information on Congress - when the Bush Administration withheld information from Congress. And he implied that the Congressional resolution showed agreement with Bush in the need to take Saddam out - when the point of the resolution was to invade Iraq ONLY if Saddam did not disarm. Not to invade him anyway. But so it goes.
Jon Stewart did one of many things he does very well in interviews - bringing up inconvenient counter-arguments in a non-confrontational manner. It's good he was there instead of me - because it's obvious nothing will get Colin Powell to admit the staggering depths of his failure. His ego would crumple like a tin can in the Marianas trench.
Powell also complained to Stewart about how often he has to talk about this speech, and referenced the book he's pushing to say how it's important to move on. Important for him, perhaps.
But I just hope that this is remembered properly in history. It's an important and illustrative moment. It shows why we can't trust what people in power say, EVER. Whether in government, corporations or churches.
It is just too hard for humans to spontaneously admit it when they're wrong - and it's too hard to catch them at it without powerful people in the media asking fact-based questions and not taking bullshit for an answer.
EVERYTHING has to be checked against facts. Whether we like what's being said or not. Whether we like the person or not. Whether we like the ideas they're supporting or not.
I do think Colin Powell is at his core and honorable person. That's what makes this whole episode so saddening and enraging, and so important to pay attention to.
There's no shame in expecting honorable behavior from honorable people. It's just not something we as humans can depend on.
Update:I've been here for years, and I believe this is my first diary on the rec list. Thanks all! I can't tell you how much I appreciate you all and the space we have here together. You and dailykos help keep me going strong.