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Cameron Sawyer says: "Colin Powell and Condi Rice are supremely competent people, people who would have risen to the top even in the face of a certain amount of discrimination, in my opinion the best foreign policy team in living memory. As such they are not tokens; on the contrary one might say that they are anti-tokens. If Bush was trying desperately to give blacks their due then it is remarkable that he was able to do so without compromising other values".

My comment: The two are very different. Condi Rice is always loyal to her boss, whatever his views, and she is essentially a hard-liner. The Bush policy has alienated many of the sensible, informed people in other countries, who cannot be dismissed as fools. Colin Powell, the soldier, is kinder and his kindness carries conviction. He loves to help and advise children. It was a surprise that he is more respected and liked than Bush in the US. His bearing is more presidential, and I think he would make an excellent president. He has a much better feel for world affairs, and he is much better liked abroad. This week he spoke worldwide on a TV talk show to millions of people, and enhanced his already good reputation. In this regard, he is more genuine and convincing than President Kennedy was.

Insight is a well-informed journal, but it is utterly hardline. The December 24, 2001 issue ran two articles involving Powell. The first was entitled "Powell: Is He the President's Man?" wish a subtitle "Lone wolf: Powell often seems to be on a different page than the rest of the president's national security team". The cover story is entitled "Defense First: The national security team is devoted to dismantling the failed defense policies that came back to haunt America on Sept. 11". A photograph shows Condi Rice striding ahead as though nothing would stop her. Uri Ra'anan, director of Boston University's Institute for the Study of Conflict, Ideology and Policy, is quoted as saying"She´s got guts". Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld is more relaxed and popular. The article is full of jabs at Powell. Insight has close ties to the Pentagon, and one suspects that the article is a result of conversations with super-hawk Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz.

All this makes me uneasy. Wars are the result of miscalculations (Osama bin Laden made one!). Germany before World War I made one. It was greatly respected as Europe's superpower, a land of great universities, a democracy with strong social problems. It had the world's leading theologians, and considered itself a religious country. Together with the rest of Europe, it blundered into World War I, and its army was largely to blame for its policy which led to defeat. World War I led to World War II, since when Germany has been striving to prove it is just a normal country. We should be warned by this story. This does not mean that the policies of Bush are wrong. It does mean that Powell should not be undermined. he has a greater understanding of the world than any other member of the cabinet.

There are thoughtful people in the Pentagon, notably Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Keith. Instead of just repeating that the nuclear disarmament agreement with Russia is outmoded and must go, he gave an excellent presentation to the Senate Armed Services Committee. He is little known and of dubious clout.

Ronald Hilton - 2/16/02


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