The Hypocrisy Of Colin Powell
John Greeley
The Hypocrisy Of Colin Powell
Fri Feb 20 14:26:59 2004

The Hypocrisy Of Colin Powell

Colin Powell was once outraged by elites who “wrangle slots in Reserve and Guard units.” Now he defends George Bush, who wrangled himself into a Guard unit.
By John Greeley

In his autobiography, Colin Powel is truly revealed as a man of honor. Certainly his military career provides us an example of what is best in American society and also in the man himself. His rise to the heights of military command speaks volumes on both counts. This is especially true since he is a man of color. Perhaps in no other country in the world could this happen, and it should make us all proud.

In particular, one comment he makes in his autobiography comes to mind at this time because of something he just said while giving testimony on Capitol Hill. It was in response to some questions Rep. Brown, (Dem, Ohio), had concerning the ongoing problem of President Bush and his Air National Guard attendance record.

The Secretary of State fairly bristled at the comment that President Bush might have been AWOL towards the end of his Air National Guard career and told the Representative in no uncertain terms, “Don’t go there!” along with an admonition that if the Representative wanted to turn this into a political fight, there was a time and place for it.

From where I sat, it was a ferocious and threatening display of raw, confrontational, Executive Branch power. It immediately reminded me of something I had read in his autobiography in which he wrote:

I am angry that so many of the sons of the powerful and well-placed ... managed to wangle slots in Reserve and National Guard units .... Of the many tragedies of Vietnam, this raw class discrimination strikes me as the most damaging to the ideal that all Americans are created equal and owe equal allegiance to their country (Colin Powell, My American Journey, p. 148)

We are all entitled, of course, to change our minds about important issues over the course of our lifetimes. But there is the unmistakable ring of truth, I think, in that quotation from his book. Here we have a man dedicated to the honor and glory of the Army and the terrible sacrifices those who serve in it must make. He is justly outraged at the prospect of wealth and privilege trumping the need for sacrifice in the cause of this great nation. He reveals himself as a genuine, life-long soldier. A man imbued with duty and honor.

Yet the face he shows as Secretary of State is entirely different. Here, he defends his President from the slings and arrows of the political fray no matter what the cost to him personally or to those ideals expressed above. Perhaps if Colin Powell had done his duty in his capacity as Secretary of State, that “allegiance to their country” he spoke of so eloquently might have saved us from the unwarranted invasion of Iraq and thus preserved thousands of lives. That failure certainly is “…damaging to the ideal that all Americans are created equal…”

It must be hard to reconcile the two positions, but that is what happens at the top of the pyramid where all power coalesces and moral clarity is sharpest. On the day the invasion of Iraq began, there should have been resignations tendered at the highest levels because those men, of all people, understood what a betrayal of our basic American principles it was. To stay meant to acquiesce in the lies and now there is nothing left to do but to bristle at the criticisms, even the very timid ones such as Representative Brown offered, and hope that is enough to save your job and your dignity.

John Greeley is a Marine Corps veteran of Vietnam, a graduate of St. John's University Law School and a contributing editor at Intervention. You can email your comments to John at

Posted Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Wounded U.S. Soldiers Maltreated
By Frederick Sweet

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Main Page -02/21/04

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