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Commentary :: Environment
An open letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell
22 Jun 2004
June 22, 2004

Dear Secretary Powell:

The purpose of this letter is to ask you to consider making a decision which could be the most important and influential action of your term as Secretary. Most analysts seem to agree that you will not choose to serve a second term as Secretary of State. Assuming, that they are correct, I do not think that it would be an exaggeration to say that when you leave so too shall leave the last multi-lateralist in the Bush-Cheney administration. At least the last in any position of significance.

One possible – and quite likely – scenario would have Dr. Rice replacing you at State with Secretary Rumsfeld taking over at NSA and Under-Secretary Wolfewitz moving up at Defense to take the Secretary’s post.

Now Dr. Rice is an extremely intelligent and talented individual but those qualities do not make her the best or even a good choice at this time. In the first place, Dr. Rice has little more than on-the-job training as regards the Middle East and terrorism. Here credentials and background are that of a Kremlinologist. Perhaps of more critical importance, her philosophy has consistently moved toward the neo-conservative end of the spectrum over the past decade or more. As such, she has become firmly entrenched in the unilateralist camp and has shown no ability or desire to assert herself as an independent force within the administration.

It is not the purpose of this letter to expound on my disillusionment over the philosophies of the Cheney-Rumsfeld-Wolfewitz cabal. Suffice it to say that their unilateralist, hegemonic positions are well known and they will have complete, unfettered sway over the President in a second administration. As for Secretary Rumsfeld, a move to NSA would allow him to continue to consolidate his control over all intelligence gathering activities. To date, his attempts in that regard at Defense have proven disastrous.

So what do I request of you with regard to all of this? Well, I am not asking that you stay on in a second administration. Such a request would probably be futile as I believe you are committed to moving on. Even if you did choose to stay on it is highly unlikely that you would be successful in shifting the philosophical center in the current administration to a wider world view. My suggestion (request, plea – call it what you will) is based on serious reflection as to the possible ramifications – to our country and to the world – if a second Bush administration continues to pursue an extreme neo-conservative vision of world hegemony.

I ask that you consider your position in all of this. The general perception is that you have persistently pursued a vision of a United States as a strong and determined world leader. Beyond that however, you would seem to be the only senior administration official who has the vision to understand that at least part of the foundation for that strength and leadership rests in the credibility we earn with the rest of the world rather than in spite of it.

Please do not think that I have mistaken your position on the philosophical spectrum. You have made it very clear that you are conservative leaning (at least as regards foreign policy) and that you are a staunch supporter and advocate of the invasion of Iraq. My intent in writing this letter is not to challenge those positions.

Taking all of the foregoing into consideration, I would ask that you consider – deeply consider and contemplate – the potential ramifications to our country as a result of the decisions that will be made over the next four years. Please also consider this. In your heart of hearts I am sure that you realize that on the issues of national security and foreign affairs, John Kerry’s policies do not vary far from your own. In fact, Senator Kerry has stated that now that we have forcibly deposed Saddam Hussein we must succeed in building a free and secure country there. I would say he very much accepts the responsibility of your “pottery shop” scenario. Furthermore, Senator Kerry is far more consistently aligned with your own doctrines than is the current administration. The doctrines I refer to are overwhelming force and the building of international coalitions.

I ask you today, Secretary Powell, is it in the best interests of this country for you to continue being the “good soldier?” I understand that your impressive military career has been deeply rooted in the precepts of being a team player and never breaking ranks but I respectfully point out that you are no longer the soldier who fights the wars but instead part of the civilian leadership who, when required, must send others to war. Like Senator Kerry and most of the current senior military leadership you were all junior officers caught up in the unfortunate epic of the Vietnam war. I am sure that like many senior officers today you also promised yourself that you would never allow politics to dictate military strategy under your watch. This just may be the best opportunity available to finally exorcise those particular ghosts.

But what can you do? After all, the unilateralists have been the majority influence during the first administration of George W. Bush. But perhaps you can make the most poignant and powerful statement of your tenure. It may not be easy for a solid team player like yourself. What I am suggesting would require a solid, perhaps painful measure of self assessment and personal reflection.

My suggestion, Mr. Secretary is that you resign your position prior to the November election. I am not suggesting that you resign in protest nor even that you take a position in the election. Rather, I suggest that this simple but powerful action on your part may, just may, provide the impetus required for this polarized electorate to actually stop and critically evaluate where we have been and where we are going. To date, nothing seems to have motivated the electorate to pursue any form of inquisitive investigation of the issues that dominate our lives. No speech, book, revelation, article, inquiry, political advertisement or any other form of information dissemination seems to have motivated this electorate to truly examine the issues and alternatives that require our deepest attention.

But you Mr. Secretary, may possibly be the person that can focus America on the seriousness of the decisions that lay ahead. In fact, since you are rather consistently cited as one of the most respected and trusted leaders in America, you may be the only person who can free us from the paralysis that the current polarization of the electorate has resulted in.

Be a good soldier Mr. Secretary and do the right thing.

Sincerely,
Bob Piantedosi
Andover, MA

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a rat is a rat
22 Jun 2004
excuse me, but who was it who rushed to defend Saddam Hussein after he gassed the people of Kurdistan at Halabja? Senater Pell proposed sanctions, but Dick Cheney and Colin Powell, YES POWELL, defended Hussein as our ALLY. And then Powell had the insufferable nerve to visit Halabja and say that we "had to remove the dictator so that this tragedy will never happen again."

Powell just ACTS like a moderate. He turned his back on the people of Halabja and then descecrated their grave by pretending to have removed the dictator that he DEFENDED WHILE THEY WERE BEING SLAUGHTERED. this hypocrisy will be echoing into the future for centuries.

moderate, my ass.