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Jay Currie

One Damn Thing After Another

11/15/2004

Powell Goes

The US bloggers are seeing Powell as a "great American" or as someone who lost his integrity in the runup to the Iraq War. There is a round up of reaction here. I am not a huge Powell fan simply because I do not think he was an excellent Secretary of State. He failed to create a coalition around Iraq, he was outmanouvered by the French at the UN, and, most damningly, he could not secure the Turk's consent to allowing American troops to move through Turkey on their way to Iraq.

This last meant that the Iraq War began without a full mechanized division. It may have directly contributed to the chaos in post war Iraq. and it was an entirely diplomatic defeat. Essentially, the French told the Turks that their application for EU membership would be vetoed if they allowed the Americans passage. That needed to be countered and countered hard. Powell could not do the job. Now, reasonably, given how corrupted by Saddam the French establishment was it may have been impossible to move the French; but, in that case, the Turks themselves should have been moved.

Powell may well have been a fine, if cautious, general; but he was not a creative diplomat.