In what might turn out to be one of the most telling episodes of the on-going Iraq conflict, the New York Times reports that Colin Powell had misgivings about going to war or more specifically how it would end. Going forward, the real significance of this story is that Powell isn’t afraid to allow the kind of revelation normally reserved for memoir to leak out now. His days at the Bush administration are clearly numbered… his eye on the presidential election of 2008.
America’s neo-conservatives genuinely believed Iraqis wanted to be like them and in their own domino theory; a democratic Iraq would inspire the entire Middle East to rise up against oppression and the US would need no exit strategy beyond that. It never occurred to them that the US isn’t godly enough for Iraqis… or Iranians… or Syrians.
This twist begins in Bob Woodward’s book Plan of Attack, which also won the Guardian’s front page on Saturday with the revelation that Bush said British troops could stay home if sending them might bring down the Labour government. Together with Blair’s failure to meet Democratic candidate John Kerry, this is taken as further evidence of Blair’s not-so-closet Toryism. But they’re both infected by a different kind of conservatism; the world leaders’ love of stability for which there is plenty of historical precedent… in 1945 Stalin took time out at Yalta to wish Churchill luck in the upcoming British elections.