Could Powell Have Stopped The War?

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THE PLANK DECEMBER 19, 2006

Could Powell Have Stopped The War?

Matt Yglesias has a post flagging a new report from Chatham House, a British think tank. The study rips Blair and his cabinet for their "inability to influence the Bush administration in any significant way despite the sacrifice--military, political and financial--that the United Kingdom has made." Surely this is true, as Matt says. Then he writes this:

 

It's particularly sad because, as I've said before, Blair was really near the top of the pyramid in terms of people whose combination of objective authority and apparent credibility were key to persuading people to back the war. Obviously, neither Blair nor Colin Powell could have actually prevented the war, were Bush sufficiently determined to launch it, but without their backing it would have been a much more politically problematic enterprise. [His italics]

 

I think he's right about Blair, but I'm not convinced Powell couldn't have stopped the war. I suppose that "sufficiently determined" leaves a lot of room, but if Powell had come out in August of 2002 (before his credibility was shattered), resigned from the administration, and said it was set on launching a war no matter what, and for bad reasons, I'm not really sure what Bush would, or could, have done. Obviously the above scenario was never going to happen: Can anyone imagine Powell doing this? Still, the General had a certain level of influence with the American people that Blair did not. --Isaac Chotiner

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posted in: the plank, politics, united kingdom, blair, bush, colin powell, matt yglesias

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