Johnny come lately? I’ll take it!

That Colin Powell was against the war in Iraq from the beginning is something we pretty well already knew (although shamefully he was never willing to go to the wall in opposing it).  Something we didn’t know until now, however, was that he actually spent 2½ hours trying in vain to personally convince George W. Bush not to launch the disastrous invasion.  Or so Powell now says.

(TimesOnLine) Powell tried to talk Bush out of war

THE former American secretary of state Colin Powell has revealed that he spent 2½ hours vainly trying to persuade President George W Bush not to invade Iraq and believes today’s conflict cannot be resolved by US forces.

“I tried to avoid this war,” Powell said at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado. “I took him through the consequences of going into an Arab country and becoming the occupiers.”

This, of course, is merely the latest salvo in Powell’s increasingly vocal criticism of the Bush Administration’s actions in Iraq.  And with every such statement by Powell we invariably also hear the entirely justified snarls from many who publically opposed the war from the beginning, saying: “So now he speaks up.  Where the hell has he been for the last four years?”

Similar sentiments pop up as inevitably as Bush smirks and Cheney sneers every time a former war supporter turns away from the dark side.  We saw it with Sunday’s stunning New York Times editorial calling for a complete withdrawal of American forces from Iraq.  While thrilled, of course, with the The Times’ change of heart, few war opponents could resist chiding the paper of record for its past trumpeting of the Administration’s lies that led us into the war in the first place.

And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this, so long — and here’s the important point –  so long as we don’t allow it to get in the way of our embracing all comers to the flowering antiwar movement.  The bottom line, of course, is that we can only end this war by enlisting the support of many people who previously supported it.  And ending the war is job one, job two and job three. 

Holding those who helped to enable Bush and Cheney to commit this catastrophic blunder historically accountable, while important, is about job 73 (it’s actually more important than that but you get the idea).

Is Powell a Johnny come lately?  Are the members of the editorial board of The Times ones as well?  You bet, and I won’t forget that.  But to the extent they’ll now help to end this awful war, I’m damn glad to have them.

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