PT Interview with Colin Powell

5 February 2003

Editor's Note: Progressive Theology is very excited to have received this exclusive interview with the U.S. Secretary of State, Mr. Colin Powell. Our interviewer is Jon Swift, a roving reporter and occasional columnist with this exclusive publication. The interview occurred immediately after the Secretary of State completed his presentation Wednesday to the U.N. Security Council.

(Sounds of polite applause, along with a few raucous cat-calls)

Progressive Theology: Mr. Secretary! Mr. Secretary! Could I have a moment of your time? Jon Swift with Progressive Theology here!

Secretary of State: Of course, Jon, of course! It's good to see you again.

PT: Mr. Secretary, the speech you just gave to the Security Council was a masterpiece of rhetoric. You marshaled your evidence beautifully.

SOS: (Chuckling) Heh-heh. Yes, I think I hit a home run, if I do say so myself.

PT: Aside to our British allies: that means "hitting a six."

SOS: Our British allies know that. They're not stupes, you know!

PT: Of course not. Now Mr. Secretary, I have a few questions for you. First, let me verify for our readers the accuracy of your information. Are you convinced that everything you've said here today is true and accurate? None of if came from DARPA's Total Information Awareness project did it? (Chortles)

SOS: (Astonished) Of course not! Disinformation is only for our allies--I mean, our adversaries around the world. We would never deceive the American public!

PT: It's interesting that you say that, since during the first incarnation of the Gulf War, stories circulated about Iraqi soldiers taking Kuwaiti babies out of incubators and leaving them to die on the floor. These stories were widely reported in the media, and government sources confirmed them. Later on, of course, they turned out to be fabrications, or, one might say, propaganda.

SOS: In the first place, the government was simply misinformed by what we believed were reliable sources, namely, Kuwaiti royalty fleeing the country ahead of Saddam's godless hordes. Secondly, we can't help what the media reports. Everyone knows that the media is a bastion of liberal reporting that has it in for patriotic Americans. Ooh, don't get me started.

PT: There's no doubt that Fox News and CNN are riddled with radical, left-wing reporters. Why, a month hardly goes by when someone on one of those two networks doesn't offer at least a mild criticism of White House policies. Usually it's someone being interviewed rather than the reporters themselves, but that's neither here nor there. I want to follow up on the first point you made, though. If our intelligence during the first Bush administration was so poor that we couldn't tell the difference between fact and fiction, what makes you so sure that our intelligence is right this time?

SOS: (Somewhat perturbed) Look, we've learned a lot from the mistakes of Bush I and his colleagues. That's why so many of us are back in positions of power in Bush II. We want to right the mistakes we made that left the world in the situation it's in. Of course, things wouldn't be so bad if Clinton hadn't decimated our military, ruined our economy, and let the war on drugs get so out of hand. Plus, 9/11 is his fault, like everything else bad.

PT: Do you mean to say that when Clinton's advisors recommended to the Bush team that they focus more on the possibility of terrorism within the borders of the U.S., they were wrong?

SOS: Well, yes and no. No they weren't wrong, but since almost everything else they did was un-American, liberal, and scandalous, how were we supposed to guess that they'd be right in this one area?

PT: That's certainly a valid point. Let me turn now to another line of questioning. Let's suppose for the sake of argument that Saddam really does have weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), as the U.S. suggests. Isn't it a double standard to "take out" Iraq when other nations have weapons just as dangerous, including the U.S.?

SOS: No, not at all. The difference is that Iraq is evil. Or rather, I should say, Saddam Hussein is evil. He's part of the axis of evil, you know.

PT: I know. But isn't evil really a theological term? And if so, shouldn't we leave it to God to sort out who's good and evil?

SOS: Generally speaking, yes. But in Saddam's case, it's just so obvious. And besides (looks left and right, lowers his voice), just between you, me, and the fencepost, God told the president that Saddam was evil and needed to be "dealt with." You know his dad said that he hates Saddam, and the president feels the same way.

PT: (In a whisper) But isn't hating someone itself evil? I seem to recall that Jesus said we were to love even our enemies.

SOS: Yeah, but Jesus never met Saddam. Besides, when it comes to foreign policy, only the Old Testament really applies. You know, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and all that.

PT: Right, stoning adulterers and those who curse their parents, and the family members of various sorts of criminals. Not to mention extermination of an entire race of people, if they happen to be living in the promised land.

SOS: Exactly.

PT: But I digress. If Saddam is so evil, why did we support him during the Iran-Iraq War? Wasn't he evil then, too?

SOS: Well duh! But Iran was even more evil--remember that Iran is part of the axis of evil, too! They were run by that Ayatollah, you remember, the one who took American hostages.

PT: (In a lather) I'll say I remember! I got out of Iran just before they overthrew our good friend the Shah of Iran, whom we had installed a few years before. So you're saying that Saddam was the "lesser of two evils?" (laughs)

SOS: (Guffaws) Yes, I guess you could say that!

PT: But what about this idea of a double standard? Let's say Iraq has a supply of WMDs. Don't England and France as well, and don't we?

SOS: Well, France hardly counts. Those Luddites may have the technology, but they don't have the cohones to use it. They're part of Old Europe, you know.

PT: So I've heard Don Rumsfeld say. But to return to the question, so what if Saddam has WMDs, if he hasn't used them?

SOS: You forget that he did use them on his own people several years ago.

PT: You mean during the Iran-Iraq War, when we were supporting Iraq--and supplying them with chemical and biological agents?

SOS: Well, yes, we did supply them. But we didn't expect them to use them. We thought they were doing advanced research on anthrax. That's a disease that affects cattle, you know.

PT: Yes, I know. But we'd certainly complain if Iraq sold WMDs to another country, wouldn't we?

SOS: You better believe it! Only the U.S. and its closest allies are allowed to possess and distribute WMDs.

PT: Because we're good, not evil?

SOS: You got it.

PT: You say that we're going after Iraq now because they used WMDs on their own people--actually it was the Kurds in northern Iraq, who were probably aiding the Iranians in the war--but Iran used chemical weapons during that war as well. Will we go after them next?

SOS: (Smiles knowingly) We'll see.

PT: I guess we will. So, to press the point, you're saying that anyone who uses WMDs against a neighboring country, or anyone who tries to overthrow another country's government, is prime cannon fodder for the U.S.?

SOS: That's right.

PT: Well, what about when the U.S. dropped atomic bombs on Japan at the end of World War II. Doesn't that count as attacking another country with WMDs?

SOS: No, for two reasons. First, if you'll read the transcript, you'll see that you said " anyone who uses WMDs against a neighboring country." No one can say that Japan is our neighbor--they're thousands of miles away!

PT: (Reads the transcript) Hmm, you got me there.

SOS: Second, that was a long time ago.

PT: So 58 years is a long time, and 12 years isn't?

SOS: Right.

PT: OK, let's get a little more recent. How about the U.S.'s interference in the internal policies of Vietnam, Chile, and most recently, Venezuela?

SOS: Well, all those countries were communist, so they deserved it. There aren't any communists any more. They've all become terrorists. So that's why we're going after them. We have to keep the military-industrial complex employed, you know.

PT: No communists any more? What about China? Or Cuba?

SOS: The Chinese are good communists, because they trade with us. The Cubans are bad communists, so we don't trade with them. Understand?

PT: (Shakes his head, befuddled) Not really, but let's get back to Iraq. Even if Iraq did use WMDs several years ago during the Iran-Iraq War, are they threatening to do it again now?

SOS: Yes they are. We have reliable intelligence that says so.

PT: Do you think that any country that has a policy of using WMDs against its enemies (notice I didn't say neighbors) (Powell smiles) needs a "regime change"?

SOS: Yes I do. They're dangerous, and they can't be tolerated by the family of nations.

PT: Family of nations, huh? I pass over the numerous examples of the current administration thumbing its nose at the international community, and especially the U.N.

SOS: Thank you.

PT: Well, what about the U.S.'s recently announced policy of preemptive nuclear strikes, if necessary, against other nations? Do we need a regime change as well?

SOS: (Shifts nervously from one foot to the other) Let's change the subject.

PT: Good. I just have a couple more questions. First, what about the alleged connection between Al Qaeda and Iraq. Since Al Qaeda consists of radical Muslim extremists, and since Saddam runs a secular state, aren't they natural enemies? Why would one support the other?

SOS: They might put their differences aside and work together if circumstances were right.

PT: You mean, like if the U.S. invades Iraq?

SOS: Well, that's one possibility, I suppose. But Al Qaeda operatives are already in Northern Iraq.

PT: You mean in the area under the no-fly zone, where Saddam's troops aren't allowed to go?

SOS: (Angrily) He could go get those guys if he really wanted to. It's not so hard to dodge a few bombs. That proves that he's in cahoots with Al Qaeda!

PT: Note to our British colleagues; "in cahoots" means "in league."

SOS: (Exasperated) I've already told you, the British aren't morons. They watch American TV, so they grok the lingo.

PT: I'm not sure I caught that last bit. But I do have one last question. Isn't Iraq's army really Lilliputian in comparison with the U.S. military capability?

SOS: (Proudly, puffing out his chest) You bet they are! We don't spend more on our military than the next twenty countries combined for nothing!

PT: Then how can Saddam really be a threat to us? He doesn't have a missile capable of carrying a warhead as far as our shores--we're not neighbors, you know. And even if he did send a missile our way once, it would be the last thing he ever did. Iraq would be a glowing nuclear wasteland for millions of years, even worse than it is now with all those depleted uranium shells around.

SOS: (Snappily) There's absolutely no proof that depleted uranium is responsible for all the cases of leukemia and birth defects that have been showing up in Iraq since the Gulf War. It's probably another example of Saddam testing WMDs on his own people.

PT: Probably. But how much of a threat is Iraq to us, really?

SOS: (Quietly, with a wink) Just between you, me, and the Gate of Ishtar, he's no threat at all, at least to us. His neighbors don't want us to invade, because they're afraid it will destabilize the region. Besides, they know they might be next.

PT: And might they?

SOS: (Again smiles knowingly) Do they have oil?

PT: Well, thanks again, Mr. Secretary, for this exclusive interview. I've learned a lot from it.

SOS: My pleasure, Jon.

With that, Colin Powell left to look for the lunch buffet, apparently unaware that his initials in the transcript might be interpreted as a cry for help, the lone member of the Bush II administration who ever advocated a diplomatic solution to the Iraq problem. But that's behind him now, so we can all look forward to a nice, Chicago-style, Valentine's Day.

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