Friday, September 09, 2005

A leader admits his mistakes

Colin Powell is showing the world, and Harry "Achtung" Belafonte, how wrong they are in negatively challenging the credibility of his military and political tenure. If you recall, Belafonte basically accussed Powell, Dr. Condoleezza Rice and other African-Americans in high-profile positions of serving the man by not towing the line. That line being the African-American cause. A few months ago Belafonte said, in describing Pres. Bush's racisim, "Hitler had a lot of Jews high up in the hierarchy of the Third Reich. Color does not necessarily denote quality, content or value."

In a recent ABC News interview with Barbara Walters, Powell voices "his disappointments and frustration on everything from the invasion of Iraq to the federal response to Hurricane Katrina."

Powell's key talking points:
  • Critical of Katrina response: "I think there have been a lot of failures at a lot of levels — local, state and federal. There was more than enough warning over time about the dangers to New Orleans. Not enough was done. I don't think advantage was taken of the time that was available to us, and I just don't know why." Powell doesn't think race was a factor in the slow delivery of relief to the hurricane victims as some have suggested. "When you look at those who weren't able to get out, it should have been a blinding flash of the obvious to everybody that when you order a mandatory evacuation, you can't expect everybody to evacuate on their own. These are people who don't have credit cards; only one in 10 families at that economic level in New Orleans have a car. So it wasn't a racial thing — but poverty disproportionately affects African-Americans in this country. And it happened because they were poor."
  • Critical of the Iraq invasion: While Secretary of State, Powell "told the United Nations and the world that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and posed an imminent threat. He told Walters that he feels 'terrible' about the claims he made in that now-infamous address — assertions that later proved to be false."
  • Critical of post-invasion Iraq: "I think there is little choice but to keep investing in the Iraqi armed forces, and to do everything we can to increase their size and their capability and their strength ... And it may not have turned out to be such a mess if we had done some things differently. But it is now a difficult situation, but difficult situations are there to be worked on and solved, not walked away from, not cutting and running from." Powell said he is sensitive to Cindy Sheehan and other mothers and family members whose loved ones have been wounded or killed in Iraq, but stressed that soldiers are risking their lives for a worthy purpose. When asked what he would say to Sheehan ... "We regret the loss, but your loved one died in service to the nation and in service to the cause." He acknowledged that the pain of losing a loved one would be heightened if a family feels the war is unjust.
I don't know Powell's agenda — if any — but his responses are surprisingly candid. His admission of culpability has the sincerity Mary Landrieu aspires to. Since seeing him during the first Iraq invasion, I've believed him to have political ambitions yet not at the cost of his morals or self-respect. It will be interesting to see the response from the "fair and balanced" and "Air America" crowds.

This is in my humble opinion.


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