Tuesday Feb 06, 2018
A former aide of ex-US secretary of state Colin Powell has revealed that the former army general was chosen to make the pitch in the UN for America's war in Iraq in 2003 as his "standing with the American people was more solid than that of any other member of the Bush administration".
Col (retd) Lawrence Wilkerson served as secretary Powell's chief of staff from 2002 to 2005.
In an opinion piece in the New York Times, Wilkerson writes that: "President George W. Bush would have ordered the war even without the United Nations presentation, or if Secretary Powell had failed miserably in giving it. But the secretary’s gravitas was a significant part of the two-year-long effort by the Bush administration to get Americans on the war wagon".
Wilkerson explains writing about the subject now owing to the 15-year anniversary of Powell's UN speech as well as the Trump administration's use of "much the same playbook to create a false impression that war is the only way to address the threats posed by Iran".
Wilkerson also compares US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley's recent anti-Iran claims to those by Powell 15 years ago.
"It’s astonishing how similar that moment was to Mr. Powell’s 2003 presentation on Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction — and how the Trump administration’s methods overall match those of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney. As I watched Ms. Haley at the Defense Intelligence Agency, I wanted to play the video of Mr. Powell on the wall behind her, so that Americans could recognize instantly how they were being driven down the same path as in 2003 — ultimately to war."
He goes on to mention that Iran's "vast strategic depth and difficult terrain make it a far greater challenge than Iraq" and war with the country would be "10 to 15 times worse than Iraq in terms of casualties and costs".
Wilkerson also critiques the failure of the US news media to counter-question claims by the US defence establishment, much as it did in the case of the Iraq war.
"We’ve seen this before: a campaign built on the politicization of intelligence and shortsighted policy decisions to make the case for war....So far, news organizations have largely failed to refute false narratives coming out of the Trump White House on Iran. In early November, news outlets latched onto claims by unnamed American officials that newly released documents from Osama bin Laden’s compound represented 'evidence of Iran’s support of Al Qaeda’s war with the United States'," he writes.