Colin Powell: Examining a Key Player in the Bush Administration

By Jessica M. Biedron
2010, Vol. 2 No. 05 | pg. 1/1

To understand an administration, you need to understand the key players. Through analyzing the Bush presidency, it is clear that the agenda was constructed and shaped by more than just one man. The President’s choice for executive cabinet members is the first major decision he will make and may affect the outcome of his presidency. The President’s cabinet is comprised of the most senior appointed officers in the executive branch of the federal government. Amongst other things, Article II, Section II of the US Constitution gives the President the power to create an executive cabinet. Its history goes back to the first American President. George Washington appointed a cabinet of only four people to advise and assist him. Modern presidents can have more than twenty. Cabinet officers are nominated by the President, and then confirmed by the Senate by a simple majority. George W. Bush became president in 2000 and soon thereafter, he appointed his cabinet. Today, in 2010, giving a retrospective analysis of the Bush administration, paints a clearer picture then there was only a year ago. I will be analyzing one key member of the Bush administration, Secretary of State, Colin Powell. By examining a single key player, the story of the Bush administration is shed in new light. Through the understanding of Powell’s roll in the Bush administration, I hope to reveal another layer of Bush’s presidency. Powell’s public approval and strong sense of duty was key to advancing the agenda of the administration. Understanding Powell’s personal history, influence within the administration, and conflicts that arose during his time with the administration and beyond, allows us to analyze Bush as a leader. This paper will highlight the reasoning for George W Bush’s decisions in selecting Powell and whether or not he took the advice of his appointee or more broadly if he understood in selecting his cabinet members he fully understood their purpose. George W. Bush had the perfect opportunity in that Colin Powell, a respected well known and revered figure could influence public opinion and the opinion of the credibility of his own Presidency.

Colin Luther Powell was born in Harlem in 1937, the son of Jamaican immigrants, Maud Arial and Luther Theophilus. Powell was raised in the South Bronx. He attended the City College of New York receiving a bachelors degree in Geology. Powell achieved average grades until he found a path of direction and discipline and joined the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC). By the time he graduated in 1958, he was at the top of his ROTC program. Powell achieved the rank of Cadet Colonel, the highest rank in the ROTC.1

For 35 years, Powell was a professional soldier, and held a variety of command and staff positions and eventually rising to the rank of a Four Star General. Shortly after college, he was dispatched to South Vietnam by President Kennedy in 1962. In 1963, Powell was wounded by a punji-stick booby trap at the Vietnamese border. He was awarded the Purple Heart, and later that year, the Bronze Star. From 1968 to 1969 Powell served a second tour of duty in Vietnam. During this time he survived a helicopter crash. He was able to rescue other soldiers as well earning him the Soldier's Medal. In total, Powell has earned eleven military decorations. 2

Soon after his second tour in Vietnam, Powell earned an MBA at George Washington University. He was awarded a fellowship at the White House, a highly exclusive, extremely prestigious position. Powell’s fellowship allowed him to work for the Nixon administration in the Office of Management and Budget from 1972 to 1973. It was here that Powell met and impressed many influential characters that would help him advance in his career years later.

In total, Powell worked for five different administrations before becoming Secretary of State under George W. Bush. After his fellowship under Nixon, Powell served under Jimmy Carter as the assistant to the Secretary of Energy and to the Deputy Secretary of Defense. During the Reagan administrations, Powell became the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. In this position, Powell coordinated technical and policy advisers for Reagan’s summit meetings with Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev. Powell was the first African American to hold this position. He would be the first African American in every subsequent position that he held.3

In 1991, Powell served as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under George Herbert Walker Bush. Powell‘s notoriety came from the successful Desert Shield and Desert Storm operations. These operations removed Iraq from Kuwait, making the Gulf War a success. Later, under the Clinton administration, Powell continued as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for the beginning of Clinton’s first term. Powell retired from the military in 1993 and published his autobiography, My American Journey, in 1995. 4

Due to Powell’s popularity and respectability, it was often a questioned whether he would run for office. Powell was always a registered independent in the military. He served in both Democrat and Republican administrations and would have been welcomed warmly by both parties. In 1995, Powell declared that he had registered as a Republican and spoke at the GOP convention the following year. In 2001, Powell returned to the White House as President Elect George W. Bush’s Secretary of State.

After a highly contested presidential election in 2000 with the U.S. Supreme Court declaring the recount in Florida was over, George Bush could then concentrate on filling positions in his administration. Powell had worked for Bush’s father and was highly respected. It came as no surprise that Bush immediately thought of Powell when developing his own administration. Powell would later say, "It just sort of happened as it was assumed to happen."5 After Al Gore declared that he was defeated by Bush, Powell flew to Bush's Texas ranch. Powell was Bush’s first Cabinet nominee. After Bush’s announcement of his decision about Powell, a Gallup poll was conducted in December 15 that further justified his choice. 83% of polled Americans said that they have a favorable opinion of Powell. Only 6% had an unfavorable opinion. Furthermore, Powell was liked by both parties, giving the new Bush administration more bipartisan credibility. 90% of Republicans, 80% of independents, and 80% of Democrats had a favorable opinion of the newly appointed Secretary of State.6

A personal relationship between Bush and Powell was almost nonexistent. They have very different personalities, making their relationship formal and stiff. It is believed that Powell thought that Bush’s impatience and fidgety demeanor was irritating. Powell was also annoyed by Bush’s tendency to interrupt everyone, no matter who they were or their importance.7 Bush had a high level of respect for Powell, as he did with all cabinet members that also worked under his father. Powell had a respect for Bush resulting from his military background that fostered in him a strong respect for authority and a duty to serve.

Bush publicly presented his views as being aligned with Powell in part to give his own views credibility. “Our next secretary of state believes as I do that we must work closely with our allies and friends in times of calm so that we will be able to work together in times of crises. He believes as I do that our nation is best when we project our strength and our purpose with humility.” President Elect George W. Bush announcing Collin Powell for Secretary of State. Bush recalls Harry Truman’s announcement speech of his Secretary of State, George Marshall, and tearfully quotes “‘He is a tower of strength and common sense. When you find somebody like that, you have to hang on to them.’ I have found such a man." Later, when reporters asked about the tears in his eyes he said that he was emotional because "I so admire Colin Powell. I love his story." Powell made remarks about working with our allies that clearly demonstrated his support for inclusion. His position on working within the international community crystallized when Powell insisted on getting approval from the UN before using force in Iraq. He said, “Not by using our strength and our position of power to get back behind our walls but by being engaged with the world. By first and foremost letting our allies know that we appreciate all we have been through over the last 50 years and our alliances are as strong now as they ever have been and they are as needed now as they ever have been. And we will work with our allies to expand and to make those alliances the center of our foreign policy activity.” 8

The decision making process of the Bush administration was nothing like that of other administrations that Powell had previously worked. It was not like that of Reagan’s administration where that had to submit formal option papers. It was nothing like the "less formal but decisive" policy decisions of the H.W. Bush administration. It was nothing like that of the Clinton administration where there was open and lengthy debates. The policy making process in the Bush administration was a “bureaucratic battlefield”. 9 Pulling the President aside and conveying a position was more likely to change Bush’s mind then a formal representation of that opinion. Approval often wasn’t needed for those within the administration to play a key role in the way things were handled. The result was that the better at politicking, the more influence one had with the President.10 Powell was not good at this type of influence and decision making. He was a soldier. He respected his superiors and followed the chain of command. He was formal in the representation of his views so when they were rejected, he believed his role ended with Bush’s decision. The reality, however, was that Bush often needed to be convinced and pushed in a personal and informal way to have his mind changed. Because the mentality of a soldier was up against politicians that meant that views of Powell and the State Department were often over looked and the more hawkish views of Cheney and Rumsfeld where more influential. Powell commented on this influence and said “Very often maybe Mr. Rumsfeld and vice president Cheney would take decisions into the president that the rest of us weren't aware of. That did happen, on a number of occasions." 11

Powell was frustrated by the manner in which the Bush administration approached influence and decision making. In March of 2000, Powell received an urgent request from National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice. He was told to give a comment about a public letter that put Bush on the record as opposing mandatory restrictions on global emissions. This letter had already been drafted by Cheney’s office and awaiting Bush’s signature. Powell raised no objection with his task but thought that the letter should include a section that would reassure US allies that the administration would continue to work with them on climate control issues. Powell wrote his opinion and included suggested wording and sent it to Rice. When she informed him that his suggestion "didn't make it" into the letter, Powell rushed to the White House so he could argue his case to Bush in person, only to find that the letter had been personally taken to Capitol Hill by Cheney, who blatantly bypassed Powell’s thoughts and never responded to his concerns or even addressed them with the President.

In the beginning of 2002, the debate of the legal statues of al Qaeda and Taliban members captured in Afghanistan was underway. The State Department and Powell believed that these people should be considered Prisoners of War and were guaranteed certain rights by the Geneva Conventions. The Justice Department and John Ashcroft believed that the Geneva rules did not apply to the prisoners because they were “illegal combatants”. In the middle of the debate in Washington, Powell was sent on a trip to Asia when the Justice Department’s position was approved. Ashcroft was able to get to Bush sooner.12

These scenarios are telling of the interplay of politicking in the administration that strained the control that Powell had over any given issue. When Powell’s opinion became outweighed and silenced by that of Rumsfeld and Cheney, he referred to his position as “in the ice-box again”, stored there until they needed him, and they eventually would.13 Powell was to pretend in public that the huge differences about key issues in the White House didn’t exist. Bush would not tolerate the public learning of the difference of opinion and Powell was not going to speak out openly because of his back ground in the military, a soldier obeys orders.

“A second plane has hit the tower. America is under attack.” The events that followed the attacks would determine the success of the Bush presidency, subsequently; it would also determine the seemingly last chapter in Powell’s career. Support to retaliate with force was at 90% in the weeks following the attacks.14 Bush announced that the prime suspect was Osama bin Laden who was thought to be in Afghanistan at the time. The US attacked Afghanistan on October 7th, 2001. In January, Bush gave a State of the Union Address. Bush told the country and the world that he would not "wait on events, while dangers gather". This speech included naming Iraq, Iran, and North Korea as the now infamous “axis of evil”. In a document published on September 17, 2002, Bush laid out what would later be referred to as the Bush Doctrine, in the National Security Strategy of the United States. “To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively in exercising our inherent right of self-defense.”15 This claim that the US will be acting preemptively against countries that are a perceived threat directly went against the laws of war stated by the Geneva Convention, concerning acceptable justifications to engage in war. The administration was already discussing using force in Iraq behind the White House doors. Vice President, Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld where both concrete in their position that Iraq was a threat that needed to be dealt with sooner rather than later. They alleged that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD). Powell held the position that Iraq was being contained successfully.16

Bush and Powell had a discussion about the plan in Iraq. "I really think we are going to have to take this guy out”, Bush said to him. Bush had made up his mind that the US should go to war with Iraq.17 Powell would later express that Bush had made the decision to go to war without a meeting in which the relevant members of his administration debated their positions. The UN inspections did not give clear evidence that there was WMD in Iraq. But the inspections did highlight a cat and mouse game between Saddam and the inspectors. Saddam’s attempts to delay inspections would later be revealed as a bluff, regardless Iraq was in violation of the UN Security Council resolution 1441. This resolution demanded Saddam give “immediate, unconditional and active cooperation” with inspections and the US insisted on a disarmed Iraq. When the UN inspections did not find WMD’s in Iraq, the Bush administration need another approach, they were going to highlight Saddam’s hesitancy to be inspected. Bush had said to Powell "The inspections are not getting us there." There being war as Bush believed peaceful measures would not disarm Iraq, "You understand the consequences," Powell asked Bush. For almost six months, Bush had been preaching that the US would be taking down an evil regime. 18Powell reminded him that the US would have to govern Iraq and the effect in the Middle East could not be predicted. He reminded him of the financial implications on the US. An invasion would mean assuming the troubles of Iraq. Powell was weary of the pottery barn rule; you break it, you buy it. Powell believed that this war would suck the money, resources and energy out of everything else the US was doing. Powell wondered openly in the administration about the goals and implications of this war. How long would it take to achieve these goals? How would success be defined? He wasn’t certain that Bush had fully understood the consequences of owning Iraq. Bush then made it clear that this was not up for discussion, it was essentially, and order to back this new position. Powell did. Bush asked him, “what else can I do?” and Powell said, “You can still make a pitch for a coalition or UN action to do what needs to be done.” He said, “They are the offended party. Their resolution was offended.”19

Once Powell understood the orders of the President, he became a “good, loyal member of the team” Paul Wolfowitz had said.20 The presentation stating the case for war to the UN was going to make or break the opinion about utilizing force to remove Saddam and ensure that WMD would not be used against the US or its allies. Powell was the most highly respected person in the Bush Administration and more popular than everyone in it. Powell’s favorable rating was 18 percentage points higher than Bush’s. The UN also trusted Powell more than they did Bush when dealing with US policies towards Iraq, with Powell at 63% and Bush at 24%, according to a Gallup Poll taken before the UN presentation.21 The decision to have Powell give the presentation was a calculated one. Despite Powell’s personal belief that military force was not appropriate at this time, Powell was asked to give the presentation. Powell’s credibility, popularity, and military background would make the presentation to the UN Security Council an ultimate success. Much was riding on Powell’s ability to convince the UN and subsequently the public, that it was time to take military action in Iraq. 87% of Americans said that Powell's appearance before the U.N. Security Council would be important in helping determine their view about invading Iraq; 60% said it will be very important.22

Powell spent five days and four nights in a CIA conference room with then-Director George Tenet and other top officials trying to ensure the accuracy of the presentation. "There was no way the Secretary of State was going to read off a script about serious matters of intelligence that could lead to war when the script was basically un-sourced," Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, a top aide to Powell at the time said during a CNN interview.23 After forming a solid presentation that was backed by the” highest intelligence available”, Powell addressed the UN’s National Security Council and the world. 24

“These are not assumptions. They are facts.” Powell claimed on February 5, 2003. He spoke for about 80 minutes, making the claim that it was time for military force in Iraq. Powell gave a comprehensive and detailed assessment of Iraq’s bio, chemical, and nuclear weapons programs, the link between al Qaeda and the Iraqi government, and the overall threat that Iraq was to the US and the World. Powell used audio tape, satellite imagery, and CIA attained testimony from captured Taliban members. His multimedia presentation showed that Iraq had not disarmed. Powell asserts, “The facts show that Saddam is concealing his efforts to produce weapons of mass destruction.”25 Powell also stressed that Saddam was uncooperative during UN issued inspections. Powell had claimed that Iraq moved its weapons to hide them from inspectors. He also used testimony by an Iraqi engineer who supervised a mobile weapons facility. These mobile labs were intended to be moved to evade inspection. The unnamed engineer also claimed that weapons productions always began on a Thursday at midnight because they assumed that the inspectors would not come on the Muslim holy day. These actions defied UN Resolution 1441, and now forceful action was to be taken.

Powell was also concerned about the amount of anthrax Iraq admits to having, 8,500 liters, and the amount that the United Nations Special Commission claims he has, about 25,000 liters. Powell infamously held up a vial of simulated anthrax and says, “Less than a teaspoon of dry anthrax in an envelope shutdown the US Senate. This forced several hundred people to undergo emergency medical treatment & killed two postal workers.” Iraq has enough anthrax to “fill tens upon tens upon tens of thousands of teaspoons.” Powell also showed photos and videos of modified jets that the Iraqi’s were testing to spray anthrax. “Iraq had a program to modify aerial fuel tanks for Mirage jets. This video shows an Iraqi F-1 Mirage jet. Note the spray coming from beneath the Mirage; that is 2,000 liters of simulated anthrax that a jet is spraying.” Powell also addressed the alleged stock pile of chemical weapons Iraq possessed, estimated between 100 to 500 tons.

Powell also connected al Qaeda to Iraq. He said, “Leaving Saddam in possession of weapons of mass destruction for a few more months or years is not an option, not in a post-September 11th world.” He called the relationship that exists between Iraq and al Qaeda a “nexus that combines classic terrorist organizations and modern methods of murder.” 26Powell was convincing. The evidence was convincing. Powell concluded with statements about how Iraq remained in “material breach of its disarmament obligations” and he reminds the Council that Saddam has not taken his last chance that was graciously given by the UN, and now it is time to act. March 20, 2003, the US launches a full invasion of Bagdad, Iraq despite the failure of the US to convince the UN to authorize the use of force.

In April of 2005, the CIA’s top weapons inspector in Iraq, Charles Duelfer, wrote that the hunt for weapons of mass destruction has “gone as far as feasible” and has found nothing. He concluded that “After more than 18 months, the WMD investigation and debriefing of the WMD related detainees has been exhausted.” There were no WMD’s. The U.S. military's first and only study looking into the connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda showed none. The Pentagon released a report that concludes that after reviewing about 600,000 captured Iraqi documents and looking at interviews of key Iraqi leadership there is no connection between Saddam and al Qaeda.27 This meant that the argument Powell presented at the UN was based on unreliable intelligence. The “concrete intelligence” turned out to be anything but. Many of the sources Powell was given to back up the information he presented, were not credible.

The sources given to Powell had been flagged by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) as not reliable, unfortunately, these flags on the intelligence never made it to Powell. The CIA and the DIA have opposing accounts of where there was a lapse in communication. The CIA uses a seemingly “bureaucratic defense”, claiming that they never received a formal memo expressing doubts about the sources. The DIA clams that there was more than enough communication between the two intelligence agencies about the creditability of the sources. A DIA official said, "Believe me, there are literally inches and inches of documentation" including "dozens and dozens of e-mails and memos and things like that detailing meetings" where they questioned the credibility of the sources. Powell mentioned that he believes that key CIA officials knew about the faulty intelligence and did not inform him.28 In 2004, Powell made a powerful assertion that “the sourcing was inaccurate and wrong and in some cases, deliberately misleading."29And for that, I am disappointed and I regret it," he added. Powell believes that these officials were in the room with him, helping him to solidify his presentation before speaking to the Security Council. Powell said in an interview given in 2008 “There were people in the room that knew that burn notices hadn’t gone out”. Powell’s reputation was seriously jeopardized because of this unreliable intelligence. He had a major interest in an investigation to uncover the true source of the miscommunication and how he falsely justified the war. "Powell has made it clear that he wants to know how this could have happened," a Bush administration official said in 2004. 30

Eight days after Bush was reelected, Powell was fired from his position as Secretary of State. He received a call from Chief of Staff, Andrew Card. "The president would like to make a change," Card said. Bush wanted Powell’s resignation letter dated two days from the date of the phone call, November 12th. Bush also wanted him to stay in his position until his successor, Condoleezza Rice, was confirmed by the Senate.31 Powell had mentioned indirectly that he did not intend to stay into a second term in the summer of that year. This led to some confusion on whether he had been fired or resigned from the position but years later it is clear that Powell would have stayed throughout the rest of Bush’s time in office, but was not welcome too. For Powell, this was the end of the battle between him and the administration on foreign policy. Rice replacing Powell signifies Bush wanting to stream line the opinions within the administration. Powell was the voice of negotiating, diplomatic strategies and multilateral approaches on the foreign affairs of the US. Where Powell contracted and objected many of the views of Bush and others in the administration, Rice would uphold the policies and beliefs of Bush without digression. When Bush announced Rice as Powell successor, the feeling that Bush picked Rice because she would uphold his view of foreign policy was apparent by his remarks. "The secretary of state is America's face to the world, and in Dr. Rice the world will see the strength, the grace and the decency of our country," he said. Powell typed up his resignation letter on his home computer, but after the White House found a typo, he was told to rewrite it. For whatever reason, possibly out of insult, Powell wrote the letter of resignation as if it was his choice to leave the administration. He wrote, “Dear Mr. President: As we have discussed in recent months, I believe that now that the election is over, the time has come for me to step down as Secretary of State and return to private life. I, therefore, resign as the 65th Secretary of State, effective at your pleasure."32 One can assume that Powell felt betrayed by the Bush administration yet again as he was loyal to the end.

In 2005 Powell did a revealing interview with Barbra Walters. He says that learning about the false intelligence was “painful” for him. He calls his speech to the UN a permanent blot on his record. “I'm the one who presented it on behalf of the United States to the world”. He said that it was “devastating” to learn that some intelligence agents knew the information he had wasn’t reliable and they did not speak up. 33These feelings of betrayal affected Powell then and would affect his political ideology later.

Powell wrote “The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism.” Bush responded with saying that criticism like Powell’s was “flawed logic” and “unacceptable.” In a Larry King interview Powell was asked, “Is torture a good idea?” Powell‘s answer was ultimately “no”. Powell said in that interview that he “won’t know for a while yet if the war is worth the price we paid”. He added that he never thought the war would “get this bad” Powell also criticized Guantanamo Bay, as he did throughout his service under Bush. He believed that Guantanamo should be closed and that it is “killing our reputation in the world”. He mentioned that it is difficult to criticize other nations in breach of human rights when we are still using Guantanamo to indefinitely detain prisoners. Powell also criticized the Bush administration as not having a structure in place to look at all points of view, insinuating groupthink was a large factor in the administration. “It was not a system which we routinely exposed all points of view.”

In a Meet the Press interview, Powell backed Democratic candidate Barack Obama for President. This meant that he was straying from his political party lines. Powell endorsement did not bring a state, nor did it bring many additional supporters, but what it brought was reassurance that he was ready to be President and that he wasn’t just for extremely left citizens. It reassured voters and gave Obama additional credibility. Powell’s choice to endorse a Democrat was another political blow to the Bush administration and Republican party. He used basic civic engagement to exercise his dissatisfaction with the Bush administration. Powell criticized John McCain, the Republican candidate, for using inappropriate tactics to discredit Obama during the campaign. Powell thought the campaigns attempt to link Obama to terrorist ties was troubling. “I think this goes too far. And I think it has made the McCain campaign look a little narrow. It’s not what the American people are looking for. And I look at these kinds of approaches to the campaign, and they trouble me,” he said. Powell also made the point that the Republican Party was shifting far to the right, alienating the moderate constituency. “I feel strongly about this particular point,” he added. “We have got to stop polarizing ourselves in this way.” Powell did not like McCain’s choice of Sara Palin as the Vice Presidential. “I don’t believe she’s ready to be President of the United States, which is the job of the Vice President,” Powell said. He also tied Palin to the rightward shift of the party. Powell said that he would be concerned if there were two conservative Supreme Court appointments, as there would likely be during McCain’s prospective term. McCain and Powell were close friends and share a military history so this decision was difficult for Powell. “It isn't easy for me to disappoint Senator McCain in the way that I have this morning, and I regret that.” McCain gave a response to Powell’s endorsement and said that he had "always admired and respected General Powell", continuing that he was “not surprised” at his choice either. 34

“Well, if I had to choose, in terms of being a Republican, I’d go with Rush Limbaugh”,35 Cheney said when asked who he would rather be in the Republican Party, Powell or Limbaugh. Powell and Cheney indirectly debated through separate interviews given to Face the Nation. Powell’s response to this statement was that he was in fact, still a Republican and proud to be one. Powell continued that the direction of the Republican Party was alienating more moderate members. He thought that to ensure the longevity and influence of the Party, it needed to become more inclusive then it had been in the past, reaching out to the country to expand on the party. “If they don’t reach out more the party is going to be sitting on a very narrow base. And all you can do with a base is sit and watch the world go by”. 36

Powell and Cheney also debated in that same fashion about the safety of the country under Obama. Cheney said that we are less safe under this administration. Powell rejects Cheney’s charge and his creditability by saying that "To suggest that somehow we have become much less safer because of the actions of the administration, I don't think that's borne out by the facts.” Powell defended Obama by saying that many of the programs enacted by the Bush administration were still in place now. "The Transportation Security Administration created by George Bush is still in action working in our airports.” The Office of the Director of National Intelligence was also created under President Bush and still in use today. “Our law enforcement officials are hard at work. We have gone after the enemy in Afghanistan with 50,000 more troops, more predators are striking al-Qaida and Taliban leaders in Pakistan. We have continued the policies that President Bush put in place with respect to Iraq. And so I don't know where the claim comes that we are less safe."37 Powell and Cheney have clearly different views today that are for everyone to see in the public arena. It is telling of the differences that were happening in the administration, and without a formal structure to disagree, this type of disagreement in the White House was played out behind closed doors.

Colin Powell’s story adds another dimension to the Bush presidency. In the Bush administration, Powell acted as a steady hand during a time of turmoil. The Bush administration has been criticized for creating an environment within the White House that breeds groupthink, a type of thought that is intentionally avoided in other administrations. The structure within the administration inhibited independent thinking in the pursuit of group cohesiveness. The administration lost the advantages of balance by discouraging descending opinions. The administration did not take advantage of Powell’s full potential as Secretary of State; instead, they took advantage of his prestige and willingness to serve to accomplish support for the war in Iraq. Powell’s reputation was damaged because of his speech to the UN. He was able to give seemly accurate information to a hesitant body and gain support for the war. Upon invasion, the information was wrong. There were no weapons of mass destruction. The general consensus is that Powell was fooled and just as appalled as everyone else at the discovery of this misinformation, nonetheless, he was the spokes person and it was his reputation that was tarnished. His loyalty to the administration in the end left him vulnerable. It is my opinion that the Bush administration thinks that their use of Powell was a success. He was a respected choice that pleased both sides of the isle and brought credibility to the administration. The administration kept him in the “ice-box” until they could use his abilities to benefit the agenda. After he served his purpose, the administration replaced him with an individual that would be a key player in streamlining the goals and positions within the administration, making it more cohesive, to move further with its agenda. Powell’s loyally led him to be a fallen solider. To the administration he served his role and was an ultimate success, despite its lack of allegiance to the General.


Academy of Achievement . Feb 8, 2010. (accessed March 10, 2010).

CNN. Aug 23, 2005.

CNN. Feb 6, 2003.

Colin Powell Biography.

DeYoung, Karen. Washington Post. Oct 1, 2006.

Face The Nation. Jan 4, 2009.

Face The Nation. May 24, 2009.

Gallup . Feb 1, 2000.

Gallup. Sept 17, 2001.

Kaplan, Fred. The Slate. Feb 19, 2004.

Lewis, Michael. New York Times. Nov 26, 2006.

Moore, David. Gallup. Feb 4, 2003.

MSNBC. April 25, 2005.

MSNBC. May 17, 2004.

New York times. Dec 17, 2000.

Powell, Colin, and Persico Joseph. My American Journey. Random House Publishing Group, 1996.

Taylor, Rachel. The World Press.

Weisman, Steven. April 9, 2005.

Woodward, Bob. Bush At War. Simon & Schuster Adult Publishing Group, 2003.

1.) (Academy of Achievement 2010)

2.) (Colin Powell Biography n.d.)

3.) (Powell and Joseph 1996)

4.) Ibid.

5.) (DeYoung 2006)

6.) (Gallup 2000)

7.) (Lewis 2006)

8.) (New York times 2000)

9.) (Powell and Joseph 1996)

10.) (Kaplan 2004)

11.) (DeYoung 2006)

12.) Ibid.

13.) (Woodward 2003)

14.) (Gallup 2001)

15.) (Taylor n.d.)

16.) (Lewis 2006)

17.) (DeYoung 2006)

18.) Ibid

19.) Ibid

20.) (Woodward 2003)

21.) (Moore 2003)

22.) (Moore 2003)

23.) (CNN 2005)

24.) (CNN 2003)

25.) Ibid

26.) Ibid

27.) (MSNBC 2005)

28.) (DeYoung 2006)

29.) (MSNBC 2004)

30.) Ibid

31.) (DeYoung 2006)

32.) Ibid

33.) (Weisman 2005)

34.) (MSNBC 2005)

35.) (Face The Nation 2009)

36.) (Face The Nation 2009)

37.) Ibid

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Strong linkages between autocrats and the military are often seen as a necessary condition for authoritarian regime survival in the face of uprising. The Arab Spring of 2011 supports this contention: the armed forces in Libya and Syria suppressed... Read Article »
2022, Vol. 14 No. 04
During the summer of 2020, two fatal shootings occurred following Black Lives Matter protests. The first event involved Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and the second Michael Reinoehl in Portland, Oregon. Two shootings, each committed by... Read Article »
2022, Vol. 14 No. 02
In popular international relations (IR) theory, knowledge production is often dismissed as an objective process between the researcher and the empirical world. This article rejects this notion and contends that the process of knowledge production... Read Article »
2022, Vol. 14 No. 01
This article explores the political relationship between nation-building, ethnicity, and democracy in the context of Ethiopia. It traces Ethiopia's poltical history, explores the consequential role ethnicity has played in the formation of the modern... Read Article »
2022, Vol. 14 No. 01
The study examines the degree to which Xi Jinping has brought about a strategic shift to the Chinese outward investment pattern and how this may present significant political leverage and military advantages for China in the Indian Ocean Region (... Read Article »

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