If there is one person in government who continues to surprise and impress me, it would have to be Colin Powell. In addition to his commendable service as National Security Adviser (1987-1989) and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989–1993), he was the first African American to serve as the United States Secretary of State. During his tenure with George W. Bush, he often was the lone voice of reason in the administration. On several occasions he attempted to temper Bush and Cheney’s call for rash and dangerous action in regards to foreign relations and how this country deals with its enemies. He initially resisted the idea of a military invasion of Iraq, instead favoring the proven policy of sanctions and was a chief advocate of working with the U.N. to diplomatically solve the Hussein problem.
Unfortunately, history will most likely remember him for the case he made at the U.N. on February 5th, 2003 to garner support for the coming U.S. invasion. Built on mountains of false and manipulated intelligence, Powell now says about his speech: “It will always be a part of my record. It was painful. It’s painful now.” Personally, I still have a sour spot for his participation in Bush’s drum beat to war, but in hindsight I cannot place blame. I’m sure he thought he was acting in the best interests of the country and in his position, he was doing what the President asked him to do.
Free of his Bush ties since November of 2004, Powell has only increased his role as a voice of reason in the political landscape. He often presents viewpoints that run counter to the conservative thought process and has consistently argued from a position of common sense and logic. He did so again today with an appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press where he discussed the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, saying:
“If it was up to me, I would close Guantanamo — not tomorrow, this afternoon. We have shaken the belief that the world had in America’s justice system by keeping a place like Guantanamo open… We don’t need it, and it’s causing us far more damage than any good we get for it.”
Why will no one in this current administration listen to him and others like him? If the United States is so sure of the guilt of those held at Guantanamo, then why are we afraid to prosecute them accordingly? Give them access to due process, determine their guilt (or innocence), and let the country regain the moral high ground regarding its treatment of prisoners. The death of Habeus Corpus was one of the lowest moments in our country’s history. There are now calls to reverse this un-American position, and as far as I’m concerned they cannot come soon enough.
Some progressives would never, ever, vote for a “Republican”. I am proud to say that if Colin Powell ran for office, I would gladly vote for him. His actions and words since leaving Bush behind help to restore my faith in government. Many on the left would do well to get past his U.N. speech and see him for what he has become. This country needs public servants able to see the big picture if we are to rescue America’s standing in the world. We need more people of reason. People like Colin Powell.