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The Splendid Failure of Occupation Last Updated: Jan 4th, 2007 - 01:08:31

Part 18: Colin Powell, a small myth inside a bubble
By B.J. Sabri
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Sep 4, 2004, 14:01

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"I've seen no evidence of mass graves . . . no evidence that would suggest a massacre took place . . . Clearly people died in Jenin - people who were terrorists died in Jenin - and in the prosecution of that battle innocent lives may well have been lost." �Secretary of State Colin Powell reporting to a U.S. congressional panel about his visit to the Jenin refugee camp where Israel committed war crimes; April 2002.

Fox News, the rabid voice of U.S. militant fascism and bugle of war hysteria, bombastically informed its viewers on August 9 that the U.S. army killed over 300 �terrorists� in the Iraqi city of Najaf. The station was referring to an attack conducted by U.S. occupation forces against supporters of the Iraqi leader Moqtada al-Sadr, otherwise derogatorily referred to by the occupiers as a �cleric,� which he is.

Al-Sadr and supporters were defending themselves against injunctions by John Negroponte, the new American Proconsul of Iraq, to either accept the American-made Iraqi political order or face annihilation. Al-Sadr has been leading a peaceful, steady opposition against the occupation regime until former Proconsul Paul Bremer, closed his al-Hawza newspaper that repeatedly called for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from Iraq.

Considering how much ideological pus Fox and other media can regurgitate in any given day, the characterization that Fox gave to the murdered Iraqis was not surprising. The jest of the story is that Fox, citing the U.S. Army, dubbed the Iraqis resisting a brutal occupation, as �terrorists.� This reminds us of the Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon calling the Palestinians fighting against the Israeli occupation, �terrorists.� In turn, this reminds us of Colin Powell, a man who shares with Sharon many of his violent instincts. Powell loves to call the Iraqis fighting against U.S. invaders, �foreign fighters,� �Saddamist,� �common criminals� and �terrorists.� This forcefully brings us back to complete our discussion on Powell, his ideological makeup and his theories on U.S. Zionist colonialism in Mesopotamia.

One way to look at how the diplomacy of Powell is unfolding in Iraq is by looking at his �ambassador� to Iraq, John Negroponte, and to how the U.S. media reports on the war on Iraq. As American F-16�s keep pounding Najaf, Negroponte, a specialist in death squads, sends a pro-occupation Iraqi delegation to Al-Sadr, not to negotiate but only to discuss surrender and evacuation of the city. When Al-Sadr insisted on negotiation, the delegates replied that they have no such authority, and that this order comes from the �embassy.� (Where is the Iraqi sovereignty?)

What did U.S. printed media say about the Hitlerian onslaught on al-Najaf? While, USA Today (August 18) printed a large headline saying, �Al-Sadr rebuffs delegation,� the Atlanta Journal Constitution (August 20) waves a completely lunatic headline, �Cleric defies Iraq.� [Emphasis added]. Having given samples of Powell�s diplomacy of occupation in Iraq, and media distortion at home, we have to confront other issues related to Powell�s myth and theories.

Powell says many things that make no sense, and in doing so, he exposes his limited political literacy. His convoluted theories on Iraq�s WMD, invasion, liberation, occupation, sovereignty, and future, are such that we need to study them attentively to understand their meaning. This is not because his theories are complicated as those on the origin of the universe, but because he formulated them with such knotted hyper-imperialistic logic, that it is difficult to straighten out without linguistic surgery. If, on the other hand, Powell delivers his themes in plain language, or when he reads masterly from a text, he still incarnates the essence of U.S. militarist imperialism, thus prompting us to refute his assertions and flatten his flimsy conclusions.

To understand Powell, we have to understand first his ideological environment and the language of Zionist hyper-imperialism. While the language of traditional U.S. imperialists is somewhat straightforward and leaves no confusion as to the conveyed meaning, the language of hyper-imperialists is loaded with obscure meanings and insignificant reference points. If you compare foreign policy speeches of Powell, Rumsfeld, or Bush with those of their former respective peers, George Marshall, Robert McNamara, or Franklin D. Roosevelt, you will find out that the difference in style, substance, and clarity of the old guard is startling.

Are hyper-imperialists less intelligent from their predecessors to the point they cannot formulate a thought? The answer is no. The main reason for this phenomenon is that Powell and comrades do not want, for multiple reasons, to explain the true purpose of their policy and philosophy of action. The direct result of this insidious reticence to explain motives is that dark linguistic tunnels have become the principal avenues for expression.

In short, hyper-imperialists are a unique class of ideologues. They think in the same way, clone each other�s ideas in the same way, and use inarticulate thoughts in the same way. Most importantly, they all operate at the same level of deception. Three primary factors allow the prevalence of contrived thinking of people such as Powell. First, the lack of valid explanations for explosive issues makes contrived thinking the only method for evading scrutiny, which has the potential to expose fallacies and inconsistencies. Second, the omnipresent intent to avoid discussing real motives succeeds in diverting the attention in favor of inconsequential details. Third, the exploitation of people�s hesitation when confronting personalities in a commanding position who use contrived language as a means to avoid potential imbroglios.

Consequently, the failure of the explainer to explain, and the explainee to request a clarification put the matter to rest and ends any viable discussion. This happens because: 1) debating serious arguments requires capability to debate and preparation�not always available�on the subject of discussion, and 2) political control of questions and rebuttals that annuls the comprehension of policy.

We can see that very clearly in the following sequence: a journalist asks a question, the personality gives a laconic answer without really answering anything, and then he or she points to the next journalist. Our journalist, having no power or opportunity to rebut, sits down . . . And so on, from one to the next, and to the last journalist. Moreover, if you pay attention, you will notice that in most of these exchanges, while the question is irrelevant, the answer is either impertinent, or does not answer the question. This is not surprising, as the hyper-imperialist repertoire of clich�s, disconnected contentions, misleading declarations, flagrant lies, specious political intellectualizations, meaningless circumlocutions, malapropism, sui generis theological theorizations, and laughable explanations, is so vast, that it is difficult to track down or categorize.

Throughout this series, I stated that 9/11 provided the most persuasive and exploitable rationale for Israel, U.S. Jewish Zionists, Christian Zionists, Muslim and Arab Zionists in the Middle East and in the U.S., and traditional American imperialists, each one for his own reasons, to carry out a daring project to destabilize the Arab states permanently. It is imperative to note, that the plan to take Iraq was not the brainchild of Bush. Nor is it correct to call the war on Iraq, Bush�s War. Despite all claims to the contrary, Bush�s brain could not produce or understand such a complex plan. Bush, being a Christian Zionist, having connections to the Zionist and Israeli projects for the Middle East, and being an heir to a bicentennial imperialist ideology was only the most significant instrument to execute the plan to conquer Iraq and the rest the Middle East, especially oil-producing states.

In fact, with the exception of Iran, Lebanon, Syria, and Turkey all other states of the Asian Middle East, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Yemen, and Jordan are, to varying degrees, under either indirect U.S. military control, or direct military occupation. This is not to mention a settler Jewish State controlling all of historic Arab Palestine. Simply put, Israel and the United States are militarily in control of a good half of the vanishing �Arab World.�

That plan was a five-decade old Israeli-British-American crusading project, but in the strictest sense of the word, it has become an exclusive ideological product by association between Israelis and American Zionists, but with American Christian Zionists acting as the official promoters. The three principle objectives of the plan are the strengthening of Israel vis-�-vis the Palestinians and the Arabs, direct American-Israeli control over Arab oil, and to build an American world empire ruled by Israelis via U.S. Jewish Zionists (Christian Zionists� role is to soften the Jewish Zionist nature of the new American Empire.) What made this plan so easy to implement in American context was that American Jewish Zionists, through massive propaganda and control of the media, the Congress, and political parties of the United States, have always managed to cast their objectives as purely American and not conceived in Tel Aviv.

As expected, once the U.S. found the means to occupy Iraq, the only remaining outstanding question was, �How to implement colonialism without saying it?� In other words, can the U.S. implement colonial conquest without defining it as such? Definitely, if Wolfowitz or Perle would publicly admit that Israel wants to colonize the Middle East via the United States, there would be serious international repercussions that could tear the world system asunder and lead to generalized wars with all powers trying to grab something from someone before it is too late. The median astute way that U.S. politicians came up with is what I call �mitigated or veiled conquest.� Although I shall discuss this concept in the upcoming parts of this series, a definition is in order.

Mitigated conquest is a soft mechanism by which the U.S., major powers, minor powers, regional states, and the UN, all know that the U.S. enterprise in Iraq is about colonialism, but they do not dare say so. Indeed, while progressive political analysts have the courage to dub U.S. actions in Iraq as pure colonialism, no world government ever dared to use that term publicly. It seems that the mere thinking of the word �colonialism� would send quivers down the spines of world leaders for fear of U.S. retaliation. Consequently, as the fear of an American military intervention is suffocating regimes around the world, the U.S. devised a mild alternative to describe its military conquest of Iraq. The concepts that supplanted implementing crude colonialism include but are not limited to �limited sovereignty,� �rule by Iraqi proxy,� �our mission,� �our goal,� �nation building,� �bringing democracy to Iraq� (why Iraq, and not China?), The �Wider Middle East Plan� and so on.

Where does Powell fit in this mosaic, and why do I dwell on him, as if he had a pivotal role in the calculations of imperialism?

First, studying a movement or ideology through the personalities that lead it is a fundamental instrument to understand the movement itself. For example, without understanding Hitler�s mind and ideology, it would be extremely difficult to understand Nazism. Second, as I asserted earlier, Powell�s job is to find ways to inform the world in general and the Iraqis in particular about the U.S. intention to colonialize Iraq, but without detailing or even mentioning all technicalities and procedures of the action. However, Powell, not knowing how to explain his theories on conquest in simple terms, turned them into clumsy dissertations on the arcane. In essence, to describe Powell�s statements on U.S. hyper-imperialist colonialism in a Powellesque lingo, I would say, that Powell�s arguments are full with not only �semantic duplicity, but are loaded with �duplicitous semantics.� I shall give examples of these arguments next, in part 19.

From the Gulf war in 1991 to the present, Powell made hundreds of statements on how he viewed the developing Iraqi situation. Many writers and analysts have already shredded Powell�s myth and exposed the falsehood, contradictions, and his flagrant role in the mass murder of Iraqis and the destruction of Iraq. Am I going to add something new? No, but I do aspire to puncture the small bubble where Powell�s myth resides, and expose his imperialist arrogance, vacuous political substance, and genocidal mind.

In part 17, I described Powell as �a cool doctrinaire of hyper-imperialism.� That description however applies to his manners, but not to his thought. Unequivocally, Powell is the crown prince of all devious minds in the Bush administration. During his presentation to the Security Council on Iraq�s weapons of mass destruction (February 2003), many imperialist circles and their mouthpieces around the globe hailed that presentation and described how the former general put all the weight of his �prestige� behind that presentation.

The question is was that a presentation, performance, or farce? Of course, it was a farce where Powell put together outdated data, fabricated stories, reiteration of plagiarized British material, and spurious photographic evidence to justify U.S. impending aggression on Iraq. Can we credit Powell�s farce with being a catalyst for war? The answer is no. The war was to happen with or without Powell�s presentation. Powell�s role, however, was significant. He refined the show. He added drama, provoked tension, scuffled debates, and showed that an imaginative Hollywood style presentation can sell a war to the indifferent American people.

To view Powell from various angles, it is instructive to note how western imperialists, especially British, anoint each other. Andrew Walker, a British writer at the BBC, wrote an adulating profile of Powell, that I am going to use as a basis for my analysis. Said Walker, �At 63, he [Powell] is a national hero whose charismatic image bridges America's racial divide. The Presidency is said to stand at his feet.� [Emphasis added.]

In reading Walker�s words, I must ask, �Exactly, what did Powell do to deserve the title of �national hero,� and according to what standards does Walker consider Powell a charismatic image? Further, based on what theory did Walker conclude, as per attribution, that the presidency stands at Powell�s feet, especially in a country that sees everything in black and white, and where African American candidates can barely make it to the House? Finally, how did Powell, who is detached from the African American social struggle, manage to bridge such a deep racial divide? Let us tear down Walker�s attempt at indoctrination. Incidentally, while I consider the myths of �national hero� and �charisma� worth studying in relation to Powell and his ideology of imperialism, I regard the other two myths, the �presidency at his feet,� and that he �bridges the racial divide� as simplistic expedients to augment Powell�s size. The purpose is evident: to turn the personal fortune of one man to an alibi for a policy that he never deliberated or designed.

The Myth of National Hero

The Cognitive Science Laboratory at Princeton University defines a �hero� as �a man distinguished by exceptional courage and nobility and strength.� Let us see if Powell fits these attributes.

  • Powell does not fit in the category of �exceptional courage.� Although Cognitive Science neither specifies the conditions of heroism, nor indicates its relation to moral versus daring, there is no evidence that Powell possesses any. In all his positions, military or diplomatic, Powell�s �courage� derived from the strength of the United States. Strength conferred to an individual through a position never translates into endowing that same individual with courage. In addition, there is no courage in the planned destruction of the army and population of any weak country. On the contrary, that is the extreme end of cowardice and barbarity, especially if the attack originates from predetermined calculations of imperialism such as the two wars against Iraq.
  • Moreover, how could any one dub Powell, a man of foreign invasions, as a �national hero,� while he: 1) never engaged in the defense of the national territory of the United States, and 2) was responsible for the killing, maiming, and poisoning of thousands of U.S. soldiers by sending them to fight in wars of aggression? It is hardly a celebration of national heroism, when U.S. soldiers die and their children remain orphans while Mr. Powell smilingly enjoys the title of an armchair �national hero.�
  • Powell does not fit the description of nobility either. Cognitive Science, among other things, defines nobility as magnanimousness, grandeur�(the quality of being exalted in character or ideals or conduct). If we limit ourselves to the notions of ideals, and by ideals, I mean those that apply to the universal values of humanity and its principles of liberty, justice, and emancipation, Powell as a man of aggression cannot possibly have any such ideals.
  • As for strength, Walker did not specify what type of strength he was alluding to; but we have no problems if Powell is of Herculean strength or Lilliputian weakness. What counts here is what Powell can do with his position, and as I have already stipulated, Powell�s strength derives solely from his association with the empire.

The Myth of Charismatic Image

Cognitive Science defines Charisma in multiple contexts, each of which is highly specialized. The following are extracts of three most important definitions:

  • �Trait approach (visionary, energetic, unconventional, and exemplary).� Powell is no visionary in the noble sense. He is man of war, and his hands are full with the blood of Vietnamese, Iraqis, and Americans. The rest of the attributes are personal, and have no relevance to our discussion.
  • �Theatrical approach (In their charismatic character roles, actors were coached to use nonverbal cues such as extended eye contact, using vocal variety, speaking in a relaxed posture, and using animated facial expression).� Powell fits this category perfectly. The problem, however, is not fitting. The implication here is that Powell and his image-makers have created an artificial charisma. Compare Powell�s artificial charisma with that natural charisma of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • �Theatrical Perspective on Charismatic Leadership (charisma is dramaturgical, a theatrical role played by a leader that is jointly constructed with followers, as well as by suppliers, competitors, and customers. Dramaturgical perspective is that charismatic leadership is an impression management process enacted theatrically in acts of framing, scripting, staging, and performing).� This description perfectly fits Powell�s public persona. In essence, Powell has mastered the acts of framing, scripting, staging, and performing more than any other public personality with the exception of Bill Clinton and Jimmy Swaggart.

Walker�s theory on Powell�s Charisma and his status as a national hero are nothing more than a spin aimed at creating a special image of Powell. In my opinion, Walker did not appear as wanting to please Powell. Rather, he attempted to manufacture an impression that Powell is extraordinary to amplify the lure of war on Iraq and spread its acceptance. Still, how can we evaluate Powell according to his imperialist record in Iraq?

First, as I debated in the previous parts of this series, the United States has in effect become a fascist state with precise Hitlerian philosophy and attitudes. By implication, any personality associated functionally with the imperialist project of the United States necessarily possesses all of its attributes. Powell is no exception. Powell, based on what he said, symbolizes the Hitlerian essence of American Imperialism. Andrew Walker in the same exaltation of Powell�s persona reported that when he [Powell] was the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Gulf War, he theorized the following on how he would confront the Iraqi army. Said Powell, "Our strategy for going after this army is very, very, simple. First we are going to cut it off, then we are going to kill it." In just two sentences, Powell summarized and evoked Himmler�s philosophy of extermination:

  • He considered the army of a modern sovereign state that is over 80 years old (at the time of the Gulf War), as Saddam�s army and not the Iraqi army. This is a sly poly. By saying Saddam�s army, he treated the Iraqi army as a private army under the command of Saddam. The purpose is obvious: so the U.S. army can inflict the maximum destruction on a conscripted army that had no say on the choices of a dictator under the pretext of being a private army. What Powell predicted happened verbatim. Indeed, immediately consequent to the end of military operations of the Gulf War Aggression, the British-based but American financed Center for Strategic & International Studies reported that the U.S. had killed over 640,000 Iraqis between military ands civilians. During the ensuing years, that number kept climbing down to lessen its impact and bury the true human cost of that war, and Saddam himself was a part to the cover-up.
  • Additionally, Powell, like an experienced Nazi, explained his theory on extermination with such ease as in, �Very, very simple,� i.e., there would be no qualms or compunction after the killing.
  • Powell then, categorically, explained how he and the U.S. could commit genocide or cataclysmic mass destruction with ease. This is how I view it. While the first part of the strategy, �First we are going to cut it off� is acceptable militarily, the second part, �Then we are going to kill it� sounds as if Hitler said it. First, Powell did not prospect the possibility of forcing the Iraqi military to surrender en mass; he went directly to the kill. Second, and this is my contention of premeditated mass destruction, he inadvertently admitted that the U.S. was about to commit mass destruction by saying, �Kill it.� Why is this so? Because �army� is a word that is plural in nature, then it could be 1,000, 10,000, 100,000, or 1,000,000 soldiers, and when Powell said �kill it� he, necessarily, meant the destruction of the plural nature of the army, hence, that was intentional mass destruction.

To conclude this part, I have to add that Powell did not struggle to invent himself as a diplomat; he became a diplomat overnight, but without understanding the slightest notions of diplomacy. Further, if we expect that diplomacy may have softened Powell, we are in for a surprise. The passage from the war on Vietnam, to the Gulf war, and to the war on Iraq again, and finally to the diplomacy of hyper-imperialism, not only hardened Powell�s belligerence, but also made of him a stultified imperialist ideologue. In part 19, I shall conclude my discussion on Powell by addressing his frivolous theories on Iraq.

Next: Part 19: Colin Powell, the Delirium of Empire

B. J. Sabri is an Iraqi-American anti-war activist. He can be reached at

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The Splendid Failure of Occupation
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Part 45: How the U.S. engineered the Iraqi holocaust
Part 44: Burning the cradle of civilization
Part 43: The scheme behind the bombardment of Iraq
Part 42: Postwar aftermath or imperialist mutatis mutandis?
Part 41: The choice: obedience or annihilation
Part 40: A one-way bombardment called Gulf War
Part 39: Iraq: The second stage of conquest
Part 38: Inside America's lab of horror
Part 37: Iraq, America�s Lab of Horror
Part 36: George Bush occupies Iraq
Part 35: When an American Hulagu invades Mesopotamia
Part 34: Iraq, another chapter of American fascism, colonialism, and extermination
Part 33: Facing East: Iraqi hating and empire building*
Part 32: From Alexander Hamilton and Iroquois to George Bush and Iraqis
Part 31: Achtung! We can invent a pretext to conquer you
Part 30: Iraq Occupation, pretext, encroachment, and colonialism
Part 29: Iraq Occupation, anatomy of pretext
Part 28: Imperialist expansions and 9/11
Part 27: Demystifying 9/11
Part 26: Dick Cheney, numbers and the metaphysics of 9/11