Ten Years Since Colin Powell Presented Case for Iraq War

On February 5, 2003, Secretary of State Colin Powell went to the U.N. to present the American case to go to war with Iraq.

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Ten years ago today Secretary of State Colin Powell made his case to the United Nations to go to war with Iraq on the assumption that weapons of mass destruction were held there.  Last year in an interview with TIME’s Belinda Luscombe, Powell said:

I feel bad about any loss of life on either side of the conflict, but I think it was a justified decision based on what we knew at the time. I did it, and as I say in the book (It Worked For Me), I had to move on. I was still Secretary of State. I couldn’t go in a corner and go fetal.

In Operation Iraqi Freedom, the U.S. has spent over $800 billion and 4486 American soldiers have died.

Check out the beginning of Powell’s address to the U.N., and his later interview with TIME, below:

Other TIME “10 Questions” interviews can be viewed here.

15 comments
GaryDenton
GaryDenton

At the time I was a blogger and one of the few in this country tracking the lies of the Bush administration.  Powell only created one blatant lie out of thin air - most of his supposed facts were gross exaggerations and questionable claims.

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

I can't get rid of the impression that he smelt something fishy leading up to it.  He did an abnormal amount of due diligence including pouring over the intel to make sure his team - distinct from Bush's - had verified the data.  I think something didn't smell right and he went in anyways.

Sue_N
Sue_N

(Sorry, phone did something screwy)

Three words I want to hear from Powell: I was wrong.

No excuses, no justifications, no attempts to make what he did sound right "given what we knew at the time." Because what we all knew at the time was that the White House, aided by the drum-beating media, was selling was crap. And Powell used his standing in the country's eyes to close the deal.

I don't know if be actually believed what he was saying then, and I don't care. All I want is for him now to say, "We were wrong, and thousands died because of it."

Until he does that, he will never regain his former honor. And no matter what he does or says now, he will always carry the blood-red stain of Iraq on his hands.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

I think it's safe to assume Powell is not celebrating this anniversary.

MrObvious
MrObvious

There's a lot I admire with Colin Powell, but Iraq is not it. It's a blemish on his record and while he might be glad that he can move on, others are not all that happy about it. And Iraq is falling apart in front of our eyes.

TyPollard
TyPollard

Good times. 

I thought he was compelling until the next day when it was laid out how he was using outdated and provably false evidence. I think he is mostly an honorable man but this stain will forever tarnish his legacy.

Paul,nnto
Paul,nnto

"Blemish"?  One could argue his near insubordination while serving President Clinton was a "blemish", his aid selling the distaster in both blood and treasure that was Iraq rates a little higher.

Sue_N
Sue_N

@TyPollard He's just one more victim of the Bush war machine. A not entirely innocent victim, but a victim nonetheless.

Sue_N
Sue_N

@DonQuixotic @Sue_N There's still more hedging there than I'd like (the intelligence was "on point." No it wasn't. It was fabricated out of some very determined people's twisted dreams and ambitions). But, yes, give him props for using the word "wrong."

I do like Powell. And I admire him for calling out the GOP on its current craziness and taking all the crap they're throwing at him now. I think he's a truly decent man, and, yes, even honorable. It's just his honor carries the tarnish of Iraq.

I tend to see him as a sort of tragic hero, though he's done far more to redeem himself than anyone else in that benighted administration.

A

MrObvious
MrObvious

@Paul,nnto 

Everything scales; if it's a blemish on his record for being a 'good soldier' (horrid excuse) I have much stronger words for Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeldt for their roles in this grand tragedy. He was just there to lend credence to this awful war but it was planned by others. As much as he's complicit in what ended up in a terrible mess is just one part that started with the the same group of people that would go into Iraq no matter what. 9/11 was just the excuse they needed. And the result is that Colin Powell was dumb enough to not leave when he was asked to push it.

Paul,nnto
Paul,nnto

@MrObvious @Paul,nnto  No question that is what that administration desired, and today is the anniversary of Powell's most important support of it.

I guess that's all my point is-not in any way that he is wholly (or even mostly) responsible, but he bears some.

Comparing him to crowd to whom he gave legitimacy doesn't elevate him for me. 

(That reads like I am arguing with you, please don't take it that way. Just my opinion.)

MrObvious
MrObvious

@Paul,nnto 

I don't like what Colin did, they destroyed his reputation in the process but you're absolutely right that the admin would've done it anyways. It was writ in stone and 9/11 was just the perfect excuse. It would have happened sooner or later anyways but maybe on a different scale.

Paul,nnto
Paul,nnto

I understand your position.

I suspect that the former administration was going to force it through even without Saint Powell's bogus testimony, but we shouldn't underestimate the ample cover that it provided.

Too much blood spilled, for me, to give him the benefit of the doubt. Others disagree.