Colin Powell, Profile in Cowardice

At a speech at the Middle East Institute yesterday, Colin Powell’s former chief of staff Col. Larry Wilkerson described Dick Cheney as a dangerous “paranoid,” the most powerful vice president in history, a man whose world view was locked in place by 9/11, and the key tossed aside. Wilkerson is an admirable guy. He is speaking out against the Administration because he is ashamed of his own role in promoting a disastrous foreign policy, and trying to do all he can now to avert further damage.

But when Wilkerson was asked why Colin Powell didn’t do more to stop this juggernaut when he had a chance, he grinned and said his old boss had asked him not to respond to this sort of question. I will say, Wilkerson went on to say, Powell likes to work inside, behind the scenes, not outside throwing stones. (I’ll put the exact quote in when the Institute sends me the transcript)

That’s no answer. Powell’s collapse in the runup to the Iraq war, so that he might continue to work on the inside, is one of the great tragedies of our time. If he really wants to help out, he should follow the fine military model set by Wilkerson and the many retired generals who have begun attacking Rumsfeld publicly, and say something about the war, now, when a change in policy might actually save lives.

I assume he is planning to wait 30 years ala Robert McNamara to wring his hands when it doesn’t matter, and salve his conscience in old age…