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Powell’s Dog and Pony Show
by Bill Onasch

Colin Powell is a remarkable fellow. He has made an Ike-like transition from Army brass to top diplomat and media icon. Whether he will also follow Eisenhower’s footsteps into the White House remains to be seen but it certainly can’t be ruled out. A lot of people just plain like Powell. They seem to trust him more than any professional politicians.

Powell had been used as the "soft cop" in imposing the Bush Doctrine on the rest of the world. He was credited with restraining Bush, coming up with the UN compromise resolution that sent inspectors back into Iraq, delaying war for at least a few months.

So when this beloved Dutch Uncle impatiently came before them a second time they knew the situation was grave.

He gave a masterful performance at the UN. He had lots of audio-visual props. He spoke forcefully but never like a bully. Bush/Blair couldn’t have picked a better shill for their war plans.

What did we learn from Powell’s speech?

Weapons of mass destruction are very bad and shouldn’t be tolerated. Well he should know something about WMDs from his stint as Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He knows the United States has more of them than all other countries combined. He is also aware that the USA is the only country to have ever used nuclear weapons on human targets. If this hypocrisy caused him any discomfort he certainly hid it well. Nor did it seem to trouble the intense exalted delegates, or the frantic media "reporters," who managed to keep a straight face through this whole tragedy played out as farce.

Saddam Hussein is a liar. I think we will all grant him that. However, Saddam has no monopoly on deceit. The world would be a bloody place indeed if wars were launched solely over lies.

Saddam has been moving his WMDs around to fool the inspectors. The "evidence" presented consisted mainly of blurry spy-in-the-sky photos and cryptic cell phone intercepts. It should be noted that the UN Inspectors dismiss this "proof" of deception.

Saddam is giving aid and comfort to bin Laden's terrorist network. If true this would be shocking indeed. Bin Laden the fanatical Muslim hooked up with a secular fascist dictator known for repressing Islam? This charge left many delegates scratching their head. Even Powell's spin doctors had to admit that there was no link whatever between Iraq and the 9/11 terrorists. 

The UN is in danger of becoming irrelevant if it doesn’t endorse the Bush/Blair war on Iraq. The B&B boys want to have our cake and eat it too. On the one hand they proclaim the sanctity of the UN—after all, their whole legal argument for attacking Iraq is based on alleged violations of previous UN resolutions. But, on the other hand, if the vote goes the wrong way for them then the UN suddenly becomes irrelevant and Bush/Blair go off marching toward Baghdad anyway.

It is disturbing—if true—that the polls show many Americans claiming to be persuaded by Powell’s show and are now ready to attack Iraq even if Tony Blair is the only ally. Many people are still in denial about their own government being capable of lying to them, still reluctant to attribute any class greed to the adminstration’s motives.

Polls are of course not always reliable. Questions can be manipulated to "push" preferred responses. This little upsurge in public support may be just a passing blip.

But Powell’s skit is being eagerly embraced by most of the "opposition" Democrat politicians and some nervous union bureaucrats. That’s why it is all the more crucial for those of us who know better to throw all of our efforts into the antiwar movement.