C-Span broadcast a talk given by Larry Wilkerson* this past week at the Middle East Institute. Wilkerson, who is currently teaching at William and Mary College and George Washington University, was Colin Powell's Chief of Staff at the State Department from 2002-2005.
Wilkerson expanded on the op-ed article that he wrote for the L.A. Times last year, "The White House Cabal," in which he asserted that a small group of people led by Vice-President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld have subverted the foreign policy process by going against the normal procedures established by the 1947 National Security Act. In this week's presentation to the Middle East Institute:
[Wilkerson] examined the role of ideology in America's foreign policy efforts in the Middle East. Among the topics he addressed were the role the military had taken in forging foreign policy in recent years, the radical beliefs in government power held by Vice President Cheney and Secretary Rumsfeld, and the development of national security strategy in the early Bush administration. He also addressed specific areas in which he believed the U.S. had made severe mistakes, such as post-war Iraq planning, policy toward Iran, the Middle East peace process, and North Korea. He also answered questions from the audience.
More directly, Wilkerson explained the neocon coup over U.S. foreign policy as only someone who has had a front row seat in this administration can. His description of a Secretary of State (Powell), at odds with a President who has nothing but disdain for the role of diplomacy in foreign affairs, is that of a classic AA enabler. According to Wilkerson, Powell defends himself (for staying on as Secretary of State after he realized that the White House cabal's vision for America was for an imperialist empire) by saying "It could have been worse." Bush's plan for empire called for unprovoked preemptive war and didn't have any need for a "Diplomat-in-chief." Bush only wanted Powell in his administration for the gravitas and respect that his name and reputation lent to the operation. Bush wanted and needed Powell as a beard, a cover for his radical shift of America's foreign policy. Powell believed that by staying on with Bush, he prevented worse damage.
Powell, like the moderate Republicans in Congress who have decided to fall on their swords rather than go against this President, is as complicit as Bush - for going along when he should have taken a stand, quit and gone public. It reminds me of those who refused to support sanctions against South Africa because "it would be better to ease Afrikaners past their repressive, racist policies and work within the system to get rid of apartheid." Apartheid would still be with us had the U.S. not imposed sanctions.
Different day, different issue, same bullshit.
[* - This link to C-Span's video is good for 15 days, after which the video is only available for sale.]