Colin Powell on War & Peace

Support Iraqi opposition while maintaining sanctions

A State Department official said yesterday that the administration is seeking to develop a policy that combines support for the Iraqi opposition with maintaining the economic sanctions that were imposed after Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Colin Powell said he had not determined whether it would be realistic ultimately to remove Hussein by funding opposition groups. “Iraq is a problem for its own people,” Powell said. He said his focus would remain on Hussein’s refusal to cooperate with United Nations weapons inspectors. “I think we have to keep reminding everybody that this is an arms control problem,” Powell said.

The US had provided covert aid to opposition groups in the years after the end of the Persian Gulf War in 1991. But those efforts came to a tumultuous end when Hussein’s military rolled into the US-protected “safe area” of northern Iraq, routing the opposition. Opposition organizations can now draw from $4 million set aside by Congress for gathering information inside Iraq.

Source: Alan Sipress, Washington Post, p. A1 Feb 2, 2001

US need not choose between Israel & Arabs

Powell has been as popular with the Jewish community as he has with the general public. He wowed many Jews in 1991 when he addressed the AIPAC Policy Conference, starting off in Yiddish [which he learned as a boy growing up in New York City]. In that speech, he noted that the Gulf War destroyed the myth that the United States must choose between Israel and the Arabs. He lauded Israel’s “heroic restraint” after withstanding the Scud missile attacks. He also said the friendship between our nations is “symbolized by the strategic cooperation between both countries. Cooperation that will grow.”

He also talked about going to Israel and feeling so comfortable he could speak to his Israeli counterparts in “short-hand, the kind that develops among close and dear friends.” He traced this relationship to the basis of the alliance’s “democratic cooperation...a cooperation based on rules of law and democracy.”

Source: Jewish Bulletin of Northern California, Op-Ed, Mitchell Bard Nov 3, 1995

US has always stood with Israel; and will continue to do so

Powell concluded a 1991 speech to the AIPAC Policy Conference with the kind of passionate statement every friend of Israel hopes for from public officials: “We have stood with Israel throughout its history. We have demonstrated again and again that our roots are intertwined, as they are with all nations who share our beliefs in openness and democracy. So let there be no question that America will stand by Israel today. And, let there be no question that America will stand by Israel in the future. Peace in the Middle East, a peace we all yearn for, can only be secured if the U.S.-Israeli relationship remains strong and vibrant.“

Those were his most extensive public remarks on the Middle East. As Joint Chiefs chairman, Powell had a role in the growth of strategic cooperation between the United States and Israel, but he was not a catalyst.

Source: Jewish Bulletin of Northern California, Op-Ed, Mitchell Bard Nov 3, 1995

Lebanon: providing “presence” not sufficient basis

Our Marines had been stationed in Lebanon for the fuzzy idea of providing a “presence.” The year before, in 1982, the Israelis had invaded Lebanon to drive out the PLO terrorists. The US was attempting to referee the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Lebanon.

I was developing a strong distaste for the antiseptic phrases coined by State Department officials for foreign interventions which usually had bloody consequences for the military, words like “presence,” “symbol,” “signal.” Their use is fine if beneath them lay a solid mission. But too often these words were used to give the appearance of clarity to mud.

I saw America sticking its hand into a thousand-year-old hornet’s nest with the expectation that our mere presence might pacify the hornets. There are times when American lives must be risked and lost. But lives must not be risked until we can face a parent or spouse with a clear answer to the question of why. To provide a “symbol” or a “presence” is not good enough.

Source: My American Journey, by Colin Powell, p. 280-1 Jan 1, 1995

Unapologetic about not taking Baghdad; result spread peace

I am relieved that I don’t have to say to many more parents, “I’m sorry your son or daughter died in the siege of Baghdad.” I stand by my role in the President’s decision to end the war when and how he did. It is an accountability I carry with pride and without apology.

Not only did Desert Storm [the expulsion of Iraqi forces from Kuwait in 1991] accomplish its political objective, it started to reverse the climate of chronic hostility in the Middle East. King Hussein of Jordan and Yasser Arafat, chairman of the PLO, were the only two major Arab leaders who showed any support for the Iraqi position during the Gulf War, and both were weakened by their stance. As a result, three years later, they were trying to reach accommodations with Israel and their other neighbors. The Madrid Middle East Peace Conference, following Desert Storm, started the process that resulted in the historic agreement between Arafat and Israel in 1993, and the peace treaty between King Hussein and Israel in 1994.

Source: My American Journey, by Colin Powell, p. 513 Jan 1, 1995

Air strikes can’t guarantee changes; only ground troops can

In response to calls to “do something” to punish the Bosnian Serbs from the air for shelling Sarajevo [in1992]. I laid out the same military options [to newly-elected President Clinton] as I had presented to Pres. Bush. Our choices ranged from limited air strikes around Sarajevo to heavy bombing of the Serbs throughout the theater. I emphasized that none of these actions was guaranteed to change Serb behavior. Only troops on the ground could do that. Heavy bombing might persuade them to give in, but would not compel them to quit. And, faced with limited air strikes, the Serbs would have little difficulty hiding tanks and artillery in the woods and fog of Bosnia or keeping them close to civilian populations. Furthermore, no matter what we did, it would be easy for the Serbs to respond by seizing UN humanitarian personnel as hostages.

My constant, unwelcome message at all the meetings on Bosnia was simply that we should not commit military forces until we had a clear political objective.

Source: My American Journey, by Colin Powell, p. 561 Jan 1, 1995

When I hear “limited” & “surgical”, I head for the bunker

In 1991, I was asked why the US could not assume a “limited” role in Bosnia. I had been engaged in limited military involvements before, in Vietnam for starters. I said, “As soon as they tell me it’s limited, it means they do not care whether you achieve a result or not. As soon as they tell me ‘surgical,’ I head for the bunker.” I criticized the pseudo-policy of establishing a US “presence” without a defined mission in trouble spots. This approach had cost the lives of 241 Marines in Lebanon.
Source: My American Journey, by Colin Powell, p. 543-4 Jan 1, 1995

Predicted Saddam’s mischief in 1994

Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait occurred about nine months after I projected, in my “Strategic Overview-1994,” that Korea and the Persian Gulf were the two world hot spots likeliest to involve US forces. The Iraqi army had made me uncomfortable ever since Iraq and Iran ended their eight-year war in 1988, while I was National Security Advisor. Once Saddam, with an army of over one million men strong, no longer had Iran to worry about, I feared he would look for mischief somewhere else.
Source: My American Journey, by Colin Powell, p. 446-7 Jan 1, 1995

Other candidates on War & Peace: Colin Powell on other issues:
John Ashcroft
Pat Buchanan
George W. Bush
Dick Cheney
Bill Clinton
Hillary Clinton (D,NY)
Elizabeth Dole
Steve Forbes
Rudy Giuliani (R,NYC)
Al Gore
Alan Keyes
John McCain (R,AZ)
Ralph Nader
Ross Perot
Colin Powell
Jesse Ventura (I,MN)

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