General Powell, God knows you’ve put in your time playing the good soldier, dutifully following the desires of your Commander in Chief, staying silent even when every fiber of your soul cried out in protest. During your term as Secretary of State, you were belittled, ignored and ridiculed by many in your own party (and administration). And you suffered this fate at the hands of the very people who have themselves led this nation into disaster in Iraq.
Still you soldiered on in silence, even allowing yourself to be played for a sucker when you gave that speech to the UN. You know, the one you yourself have rightfully called a blot on your reputation.
But I guess even the ultimate “good soldier” has his breaking point: And yours was apparently (finally) reached when the President of the United States actually set out to rewrite the protections of the Geneva Convention so as to allow the continued use of torture during interrogations. You said:
The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism. To redefine Common Article 3 would add to those doubts. Furthermore, it would put our own troops at risk.
As I’m sure you’ve heard, General Powell, Bush’s response to your letter has been, shall we say, a tad cool: More specifically, he’s accused you of “flawed logic” that is “unacceptable.” Of course, in making this statement he grossly misrepresented what you actually said, but then what else is new?
QUESTION: Mr. President, former Secretary of State Colin Powell says, “The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism.” If a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and former secretary of state feels this way, don’t you think that Americans and the rest of the world are beginning to wonder whether you’re following a flawed strategy?
BUSH: If there’s any comparison between the compassion and decency of the American people and the terrorist tactics of extremists, it’s flawed logic.
It’s just — I simply can’t accept that.
It’s unacceptable to think that there’s any kind of comparison between the behavior of the United States of America and the action of Islamic extremists who kill innocent women and children to achieve an objective.
Jeez, what a skunk.
But that’s okay, General, because I am the bearer of glad tidings. You see, sir, you’re free — as free as a bird. When Bush attacked you that way, without even bothering to hide behind subordinates, and all because you had the audacity to oppose the legalization of torture, he officially handed you your discharge papers.
You are no longer the good soldier; you’re a free man.
Now the question becomes what you’re going to do with this new found freedom. Here’s a thought: How about reclaiming your dignity (and serving your nation well at the same time) by speaking out forcibly and publicly about the damage Bush & Co. is doing to the military and the security of this country.
It’ll feel good, I promise.