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Mar. 2004 - Open letter to Colin Powell

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Mar. 2004 - Open letter to Colin Powell

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The following thread is to discuss Massimo Pigliucci's March 2004 Rationally Speaking article entitled, "Open letter to Colin Powell."N. 47, March 2004Open letter to Colin PowellDear Mr. Powell,Like most Americans of either political persuasion, I think you are a fundamentally decent person, principled, and honest. Heck, I would have liked to see you as the first American Vice President with a Democratic ticket (this country apparently isn't ready for a black or a woman President, though many other democracies have jumped through at least the latter hoop on the long road to civilization).It is therefore with sincere hope that I ask you to formally resign from the Bush administration before the upcoming elections. That, of course, would help the American people put in perspective a President who ran a campaign as a "compassionate conservative," only to clearly demonstrate that he is neither (he is not treating gays or Haitians with compassion, and the ballooning deficit that he created makes it clear that he sure ain't fiscally conservative).More importantly, your resignations would help the rest of the world avoid four more years of an administration bent on destroyng the environment for economic gain, on demolishing nations to score cheap political points, and on risking the destabilization of international finances just so that a crooked minority of rich people can get just a tinsy bitsy more rich than they already are.However, the fundamental reason for you to resign is because you are a decent man, and resignation at this point is the only decent thing to do. Mr. Powell, most Americans believed you when you went to the United Nations, sticking your neck way out in order to substantiate Bush's case that Iraq was a clear and present danger to the US, that Saddam Hussein was building an arsenal of nuclear and biological weapons (you know, nothing compared to what the US already has, but that's another matter...), and that he was also somehow connected with Osama Bin Laden's Al Qaeda operations.A year after the beginning of the war we know beyond reasonable doubt that Iraq was not a direct threat to the United States, for the simple fact that there are no detectable amounts of weapons of mass destruction on Iraqui territory. Moreover, it is true that Al Qaeda is now connected to Iraq, but it is the American invasion and the fall of Hussein that has created that connection, in yet another example of alleged good intentions gone bad in American international policy (other examples include the funding and political backing of both Osama and Saddam, when it was convenient to do so against the Soviet and Iranian threats respectively -- I particularly like that photo of Don Rumsfeld shaking hands with Hussein, back in 1983).Of course, intelligent observers did have serious doubts about your show at the United Nations to begin with. I mean, simply pointing to fuzzy dots on a satellite image and saying "see? Here, this is a chemical weapons factory!" did seem a bit far fetched even then. I, for one, didn't believe you for a second. But there was your perceived honesty and integrity that did leave some reasonable doubt that you could be, after all, right.Well, you were not, and it seems to me that the only decent thing to do at this point -- if you really are as honest and deserving of respect as I still think you may be -- is to admit that you and Bush were wrong, and leave the latter to face the consequences.Yes, I know, you have been saying that surely no decent person can regret the departure of Hussein and the liberation of Iraq. I completely agree on the first point, though the second one will depend greatly on what will happen there during the next few months (you don't really think that an Iran-style theocracy would be an improvement, do you? And yet, at the moment that seems the most likely outcome of upcoming democratic elections).But that wasn't why you and Bush (and Cheney, and Rumsfeld, and the rest of that fine gang) advocated war. If it were a matter of loosing American lives and jeopardizing American international prestige in order to liberate oppressed people, why start with Iraq? Pakistan or North Korea would have made much worthier targets, especially considering that we know they have nuclear capability. Not to mention other croocked countries, such as Saudi Arabia (remember that Bin Ladin and most of his followers come from there, not from Iraq?), or Iran (look at what sham the "democratic" elections have been there very recently).No, what you said to the world that fateful day at the United Nations was that the reason for the US to invade Iraq was that Hussein was working toward developing the capacity for direct nuclear strike on America. He wasn't, you were wrong, and honest people of integrity admit their mistakes and try to amend the consequences, if possible. It is the decent thing to do, Mr. Powell.Hopefully Yours,Massimo Pigliucci "The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them"
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Re: Mar. 2004 - Open letter to Colin Powell

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I strongly believe Colin Powell and the rest of the administration were going off of the available intelligence and made the decisions they thought were in the best interest of the United States. Powell wasn't lying and doesn't need to step down from his office.The world thought that Iraq had WoMD. Heck, we KNOW Saddam had them. We sold them to him! Again...we KNOW Saddam had WoMD. At sometime between when we sold them to him and when we attacked...he got rid of them. What did he do with them? To this day we don't know. Or maybe we do know. Maybe they are torturing it out of him little by little and not telling anyone until the opportune political time.The fact is the man did everything he could to bluff that he had them, thinking the US would never attack. He gambled and lost. What a jackass.Now, as far as whether or not we should have attacked Saddam goes...I don't think so. As Massimo states, if our real issue was the oppression of human beings, there are many more fitting targets. Bush lied about why we were attacking. There is more to this than any of us here on the outside can know. Possibly, actually probably, Bush was finishing his father's dirty work. This was a payback for Bush Jr.Was it for oil? I have yet to see any real evidence proving this theory one way or the other. But suppose it was for oil. Isn't oil worth dying for? Our entire economy depends on the flow of crude oil. I'd like to hear some opinions...Chris "The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them"
Hestiasmissives

Re: Mar. 2004 - Open letter to Colin Powell

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Where is this supposed failure of intelligence?Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill was a member of the president's National Security Team. He has stated that he never saw any evidence Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. In his book are copies of Minutes from the first week of President Bush's administration wherein an attack on Iraq was discussed. I do not believe there was ever a failure of intelligence regarding Iraq.The same is true for 9/11. German intelligence warned both the CIA and Isreael that Middle Eastern terrorist planned to hijack commercial aircraft. Russian intelligence also notified the United States, and President Putin affirmed on September 15th that he ordered Russian intelligence to waren the US in the strongest possible terms.Then, of course, there is the case of Delmart "Mike" Vreeland, a US naval lieutenant, who was jailed in Canada at the request of the US while trying to notify the US of the impending attack.Even if there were such a "failure," the error would be so egregious that it should require the immediate arrest and possible prosecution of the person in charge.
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Lack of Knowledge is Power

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The attached article shows how the Bush administration replaced veteran intelligence officials with neoconservative ideologues who would start with a conclusion and then try to find corroborating evidence. www.salon.com/opinion/fea...sp_moveon/ This is why it is ridiculous not to hold the Bush administration responsible for "intelligence failures."CIA Director Tenet recently testified before the Senate. He stated that the CIA just provides intelligence and it is the administration's job to analyze the intelligence and form policy. He said the administration's action did not always comport with the CIA's risk assessment. That is ludicrous because a risk assessment is an analysis which the Administration chooses to ignore. When I served in the now defunct ASA, our motto was "Knowledge Is Power." I believe the motto for the Bush Administration's motto should be "Lack of Knowledge Is Power."
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----

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THe thing is, they knew that their 'best intelligence' wasn't in any way accurate. The intelligence that they gave to Blix yielded no results.Lets remember that the US isn't the only country in the world who have intelligence services. If there had been evidence of a threat, every member of the UN would have endorsed war with Iraq.Does anyone really think that the Russians wanted Islamic militants getting their hands on WMD? If there was evidence of a threat, why would Germany have opposed the invasion? After all, it would be physically difficult to launch an attack on America, it is easier to attack targets within Europe and the middle east.
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Re: Powell resign?

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If Powell truly is decent, honest, and principled, would it not be better for him to remain in a position where he can have some influence? If he were to resign, it would make himself look better politically (to those who think he lied if he then makes a statement and apology), but would the absence of his contributions be better or worse for the country? If he remains in place, he is restrained in airing publicly how he truly feels about policy decided by the president, but can put forth his viewpoint in cabinet meetings -- which are supposed to help the president decide policy. If he resigns, he can tell the World that wrong courses of action were taken (if that is how he feels) but he won't be in a position to influence future decisions. What if President Bush were to win despite Powell resigning? That would mean 4 whole years of Bush without Powell.
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Re: Powell resign?

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I fail to see how Powell's presence has in any way better the situation. I can't see his absence leading to worse results.
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Another Question for Powell: Vietnam

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In 1968, you were assigned to investigate a letter by Private Tom Glen alleging that soldiers in the Americal division in Vietnam were committing numerous war crimes, including shooting unarmed civilians and torturing and beating suspected NLF members. You wrote a report denying any systematic wrongdoing and alleging that "Relations between Americal soldiers and the Vietnamese are excellent." (Covert Action Quarterly, William Blum, Winter 1995-96) Not only had this division recently committed the My Lai massacre, you were well aware of standard criminal tactics used by U.S. forces in Vietnam. In your memoirs, you describe the practice of murdering unarmed male Vietnamese civilians
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Re: Another Question for Powell: Vietnam

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ShannonYou've really had me thinking the past few days. First of all, I'll admit that I'm rather ignorant about all that goes into this conversation. My interest in politics and world events is minimal, and as a result I don't feel qualified to pass judgment.With that said...you have me worried. I remember buying Colin Powell's autobiography years ago and reading the first few chapters. Due to a financial crisis I took the book back and got a refund. So I never completed it, not that his autobiography would move me any closer to understanding the real nature of his character. The point being I used to admire Colin Powell, and after your contributions to this thread I'm wondering if I'm just a gullible fool.I'm not going to address anything particular from your post. The purpose of my response is to make a few general comments. We're all guilty of passing judgments on other people, whether positive or negative, with limited and often heavily biased information. The rational person strives to see through the bullshit and differentiate between fact and fantasy, truth and propaganda. If what is coming out in this thread about Colin Powell is correct I feel ashamed. Actually, I feel a bit pissed off too. For years I've looked at him as a fine example of a man with much character. When I see him on the news I feel proud to have him on our side, so to speak. Someone somewhere could probably refute each one of your bullet points, but what is the truth? I'm frustrated. I'm tired of being played. If a person's character could be easily identified by some outward display, like varying stripes on his shoulders, then we wouldn't have this problem. But every single politician, maybe even every single person, on this planet, is a complete jackass to someone somewhere. If someone were given a reason to dig deep enough, could each of us be made out to be the scum that our politicians seem to be?So whom do we trust? Do we just vote along party lines? It's obvious many people judge other people with limited information, and common sense tells us their characterization is often completely wrong. I want to be different. I want to be open-minded and not allow my biases to filter things in such a way that I swing this way or that way by default. @#%$...I'm tired and probably not making sense.Quote:The US is a nation governed by the super wealthy for the super wealthy. Powell is no exception.Shannon, there was a time when I would have argued you on this point. But now I'm not so sure. Too many examples exist that demonstrate the validity of your position. The rich do control this nation, and the world. So what do we do about it? Institute a socialistic system that doesn't possess the incentives to fuel individuals to achieve great things, thus benefiting all of society?Chris "The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who cannot read them"
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An alternative

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Chris, the idea that socialistic systems are without innovators is little more than a myth. If you're looking for something of a practical alternative then perhaps you should examine Nordic socialism.People aren't driven solely out of a desire for money. People want to work. People want to achieve. For example, in a rural part of my country, there was a government supported scheme to employ and train people. Basically what it amounted to was building walls along the roadsides. The men were paid a pretty low wage. It was only 20 euro more than what they would have got for unemployment benefit and they had to work a 45 hour week. Yet, those men protested like crazy when the government tried to shut the scheme down and it wasn't because of the 20 euro they were going to be without.
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