Washington D.C.--So what? He covered his ass just like Eisenhower did with his "military-industrial" speech on his last day in office as president. Yet, both men can be credited as key in their creation. Now, why in the name of logic and reason would you believe them or value what they had to say when they not only did nothing to stop it, but actually did everything to encourage its creation to enrich themselves and their careers? That's correct, logic and the historical record dictate that you wouldn't, but mythologies are very hard to counter once they've taken root.
It's my guess that Powell and his associates and allies are trying very desperately to recast his role in the historical landscape that was his time as Secretary of State under George W. Bush. The fact is that he lied to the public during that time in a manner that got us into an unnecessary war that came directly out of his and the administration's grandstanding and exploitation of the terror attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.
Powell wasn't merely an enabler of the illegal war in Iraq and Afghanistan, he expedited it with gusto and he is a co-conspirator. In fact, General Powell is a war criminal not only from these wars, but from the Gulf War (Bush War I) and Vietnam when he was part of the cover-up of the My Lai massacre in 1969. People from that time refer to Powell as a "team player." Well right, that's the kind of stupid asshole you bring on board, a moron who will follow any order so long as it's coming from a superior. The legality of those orders rarely ever crosses their minds, and when it does, it gets a backseat in the final judgment, theirs.
Yet, somehow, he's a "hero," which is an insult to the mentally handicapped everywhere. He's not a hero, he's a war criminal just like the Einsatzgruppen commanders who slaughtered entire villages of Slavs on the Eastern Front. Nobody made them do these things just as nobody forced Powell into doing it. They did it willingly to further themselves and their position in the hierarchy. To allow someone like Powell to even walk around free is an insult to the rules of war and the rule of law everywhere, and he's not alone in the American pantheon of the damned, not even remotely. Eisenhower was cut of the same cloth--burlap, the preferred material officers are made of, because it gives easy. Officers are political operatives expediting political orders, period. A 1932 example offers some insight into what kind of officers Powell and Eisenhower were and how they rose through the ranks.
In the last full year of the Republican Hoover administration, economic conditions had gotten so bad that WWI veterans were flooding the nation's capital demanding their military pensions ("bonuses" originally slated to be issued in 1945, though you could borrow against them) early. Collapse was in the air. By June, the Bonus March Force had come and many veterans were camping out on Capitol Hill in semi-permament "Hoovervilles," bitterly named for the president who did virtually nothing to alleviate the desperate conditions of the Great Depression. Rather than do that, Hoover allowed the situation to grow worse as a lack of proper hygienic facilities and public services in the makeshift camps--continued neglect--contributed to incidents of violence and an atmosphere of fear and dread. Fear mounted in governing circles since it was known that President Hoover had no intentions of giving the veterans any of their very minimal demands.
On July 28, 1932, when Treasury Dept. agents and Capitol police were unable to evict the marchers peacably, U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Douglas MacArthur mobilized 600 regular troops under the command of Majs. George S. Patton, Jr. and Dwight D. Eisenhower and violently routed the Bonus Marchers with bayonets, bricks, tear-gas, truncheons, and fists. MacArthur was on the scene and actually disobeyed Hoover's orders to go about it as peacably as possible and not to push too hard. Hoover who instructed MacArthur that his men go in unarmed, but no shots were fired by federal troops. Three veterans died, many more were wounded, and an infant died in the scuffle. It all-but handed FDR the election in November of that year, something the Democratic candidate was heard to affirm in his own estimation of the mishap. Others weren't so pleased either.
Patton later went on to describe it all as "discgrace to the service," but it's not entirely clear how Eisenhower felt and seems to have simply followed orders and kept his mouth shut as MacArthur's assistant. How familiar, then, this all is with Powell who helped keep a lid on My Lai and numerous other war crimes we don't even know about. He kept his mouth shut as Eisenhower most certainly did on many occasions to advance upward in the ranks. For what? Money and the perks, of course, but what more was going to await him than just more illegal and unethical orders, more crimes to push events towards war? I won't even bore you with his actions surrounding Iran-Contra. Yes, he was even part of the arms-for-hostages deal, so he'd know about how not to deal with terrorists, a practice he adhered to until he finally, belatedly, left life as a public servant, the one constructive act of his time working for the public.
Now, he and others have released this dumb video of him warning about a "terrorist-industrial complex" because he's realized too late that he's been nothing but a stooge for bad people in high places. The timing is curious, so you have to wonder if charges are coming, possibly from Spanish courts. What an idiot to think that he can do anything to change how he's going to be portrayed in the history books. By even the most casual observation, he's viewed as the man who got us into Iraq with his "16 words" before the U.N. Security Council that were a panoply of lies. Were it not for Powell's 16 words in the early months of 2003, we wouldn't be in Iraq now, there would never have been the all the billions-upon-billions of military defense contracts going to the highest-bidders, meaning friends of the president and vice president.
You don't rise to the top in the military by bucking orders. Eventually, they shut you down, just as they did with Patton and MacArthur, albeit for the right reasons (one of the men Patton slapped is buried here in Michiana and my grandfather served under him). No, those who are rewarded make it to the "top," only to realize that it's really the bottom, and then it's too late. I have very little doubt that this stupid video surfacing is a last-ditch effort on the part of Powell and his associates and allies to repair the damage and to paper over the very dishonorable and criminal acts that General Powell has been party to, his involvement being either before or after the fact. It's not going work.
The other story--the truth--escaped out of the bottle long ago. No human being, no tyrant, has ever been able to escape the judgment of history. Colin Powell is no exception to this rule and should serve as a warning to those willing to follow illegal orders out of convenience and the yearnings of crass careerism that there really is no escape; not from the judgment of history, or that "sun that never sets," one's own mind, that harshest of judges. What most of these men did wasn't serving their country, it was serving criminals and themselves to the detriment of the nation. Shame. Dishonor.