November 18, 2004

Haass on Powell

Q: People have made a lot of assumptions about what Powell might have said or might have done if his way had been accepted. I guess Powell was the classic "good soldier." He never complained publicly, as far as I know.

A: I think Colin Powell has an old-fashioned but what I believe to be admirable approach to the definition of loyalty. Loyalty essentially means you tell your boss what you believe in private. And then, once the decision is made, in public you defend the decision as if it were your own, regardless of whether you got your way or not. I think that's essentially his code. In Washington, my experience has often been the opposite. By that I mean I have come across a lot of people who in private failed to give the president honest advice, and then, after a decision was made, actually went out of their way to undermine it. Colin Powell plays the game by the rules. That's one of the reasons I think he is such an admirable person.

That's about right. Link here.

Posted by Gregory at November 18, 2004 05:59 AM

Powell's judgement on Iraq was pretty disastrous though. He wanted to give sanctions two years to work in 1990. He stopped his armies from destroying the rest of the Republican Guard as it fled from Kuwait in 1991, with the result that Saddam survived. If it were up to him, Saddam would still be in power - probably with nukes.

Posted by: PJ at November 18, 2004 10:24 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

The good soldier monica only goes so far. What about all the under the table comments appearing in books. The I don't really approve but I will do it. This is not loyalty but the worst kind of obnoxious backstabbing. History will not treat Powell well.

Posted by: davod at November 18, 2004 10:50 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I agree that this is true loyalty and that Powell exemplifies it and is an admirable person. I also believe that this is the reason why Powell could never be president. This type of loyalty is not exactly the sort of quality voters will think of when they describe their ideal candidate for the highest leader. And what is more, it would have been held against him were he to run as a candidate. Sad actually when you come to think of it...

Posted by: Bruno at November 18, 2004 01:36 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

My own opinion is that Bush and Powell set up the perfect good cop/bad cop duo. And everyone fell for it

Posted by: TedM at November 18, 2004 05:28 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Does Powell think you back any decision the boss makes? When does resignation become the right thing to do?

I don't want a "good soldier" running the State Department; they belong in Defense.

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