Powell admits there are 'real differences' within cabinet

  • From: "Muslim News" <editor_@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sat, 7 Sep 2002 21:53:58 +0100

05 September 2002: Colin Powell, regarded with yearning by Europeans as
the voice of restraint within the Bush inner circle, has let slip the
fatal words. Yes, he told reporters on the flight to the development
summit in Johannesburg, there were "real differences" within the
administration over how to deal with Saddam Hussein. 
But this staking out of a position against hardliners may amount to less
than it appears. For one thing, it would be astonishing if there were
not differences on an issue of such importance. For another, by staying
relatively quiet in the clamour of words over Iraq, he may have placed
himself better to win the key arguments. 

As Secretary of State, General Powell is in constant contact with
foreign opinion, which is overwhelming in demanding that action against
President Saddam be taken only with the UN's blessing. 

Yesterday President Bush said he would take his case to the UN next
week: almost certainly there will be a last effort to get weapons
inspectors in before a decision to go to war is taken. Behind the
scenes, General Powell is forcing the administration to focus on the
"day after" in Iraq, the role America and its allies would play in the
political and physical rebuilding needed once President Saddam had gone.

Finally, as a former soldier moulded by experience in Vietnam, he
understands the risks of war. The issue pitches him and most of the
uniformed military commanders against Vice-President Dick Cheney and the
civilian leadership of the Pentagon – called by critics the "chicken
hawks" for their advocacy of war now, after having failed to fight in
Vietnam 30 years ago. 

Caution has always been a distinguishing hallmark of General Powell. As
chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under the first President Bush, he
was deeply wary of using force in 1991 to drive Saddam Hussein from

Success in the Gulf gave rise to the "Powell doctrine," that America
should go to war only from a position of overwhelming strength, with
clear-cut objectives and with unequivocal public backing. That also
explains his fury, during discussion of the Bosnian war in 1993, when
Madeleine Albright, then US ambassador to the UN, challenged him:
"What's the point of having this superb military you're always talking
about, if we can't use it?" 

Powell's icy response then was that the military would accept any
mission it was handed, "but that the tough political goals always have
to be set first". That was his view then. It remains his view today 

Source:  Independent

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