Part 18: Colin Powell, a small myth inside a bubble
By B.J. Sabri
Journal Contributing Writer
Sep 4, 2004, 14:01
"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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.�
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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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 email@example.com.
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