Colin Powell

Happy Halloween!

In case you still haven't found a costume, here are some politically themed ones. (Who knew you could go as Colin Powell?)  --Keelin McDonell

The Usual Suspect

The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy By John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 484 pp., $26) In October 2002, Osama bin Laden issued a statement in which he analyzed America's inexhaustible number of sins and prescribed ways of repenting for many of them. The statement was, by the standards of bin Laden's cave encyclicals, unusually coherent.

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Powell Speaks

Colin Powell is in the motivation business. He speaks for God-only-knows-how-much-money-per-speech. But if Rudy Guiliani speaks for $100,000, Powell can't be far behind. If at all behind. Now, given the fact that Powell lived his adult life as a soldier in uniform, there was no way for him to have accumulated lots of cash (like Richard Cheney or Don Rumsfeld). But charging each person who wants to listen from $49 to $225, and speaking to as many as 12, 000 people at one time, that's a little tacky.

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Thanks, Colin Powell

Thanks, Colin Powell. You couldn't get your views accepted in the Bush administration. But you seem to think you could win over Hamas.

What distinguishes the politician from the political agitator is a lively concern for his own job security. Politicians sometimes say what they believe, but they don't usually say things that might jeopardize their political future. Until recently, Chuck Hagel was a consummate politician, and a successful one at that. He defeated a popular sitting governor in his first Senate race in 1996 and won reelection, in 2002, with 83 percent of the vote.

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Blind Liberation

The Occupation of Iraq: Winning the War, Losing the Peace By Ali A. Allawi (Yale University Press, 518 pp., $28)   Say what you will about the American experience in Vietnam, that war was well written. A Bright Shining Lie by Neil Sheehan had a character who could have stepped out of the pages of Graham Greene. John Paul Vann was an even more arresting figure than Alden Pyle in The Quiet American. "The odds, he said, did not apply to him," Sheehan wrote of the unforgettable man who embodied the war'shubris and the war's undoing.

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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.

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Can Powell Stop The Surge?

Isaac's post about Powell reminded me that I'd never linked to this Michael Lewis review of Karen DeYoung's new Powell biography. The review is devastating--not so much to the book but to its subject--and may be the best summation of Powell's m.o. that I've ever read. A sample: [DeYoung] leaves the reader with the sense that Colin Powell was a good man in a bad administration, and that he deserves mostly sympathy for his predicament. He argued against war right up until war became inevitable, then, like a good soldier, followed his orders. Only he wasn't a soldier.

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Obligations

All the study groups, all the Council on Foreign Relations white papers, and all the magazine symposia in the world won't change the equation: There is no policy for Iraq that will provide moral and strategic satisfaction and no reason to believe that we might achieve something that could be plausibly described as victory. The coming debate over timetables and troop levels will likely generate much anger, shattering post-election illusions of bipartisanship and provoking intra-party squabbles. But, in the end, this struggle will be over the difference between a largely intolerable outcome and

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At Long Last

At first, McCarthyism was a partisan affair. Wisconsin’s junior senator rocketed to political stardom in February 1950, when he told the Republican Women’s Club in Wheeling, West Virginia, that Harry Truman’s State Department was infested with Communists. As that year’s midterm campaign progressed, Joe McCarthy’s staff helped doctor a photo of Maryland Democrat Millard Tydings, making him appear to be huddled with former U.S. Communist Party chief Earl Browder.

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