Powell Said That Backing Iraq War Was a 'Blot' on His Record

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Politics|Powell said that backing the warfare successful Iraq was a ‘blot’ connected his record.


Mr. Powell listening to speeches and speechmaking  a enactment      astatine  the United Nations Security Council league   successful  New York successful  2003.
Credit...Ruby Washington/The New York Times

Eric Schmitt

  • Oct. 18, 2021Updated 11:18 a.m. ET

As caput of state, Colin L. Powell was a reluctant warrior successful President George W. Bush’s propulsion to invade Iraq aft the Sept. 11 violent attacks. He warned the president that it could destabilize the Middle East, upset lipid markets and divert governmental volition and resources from the unfinished combat against Al Qaeda.

In a two-hour gathering with Mr. Bush connected Aug. 5, 2002, Mr. Powell laid down what became known arsenic the Pottery Barn rules: “You interruption it, you’re going to ain it.”

Mr. Powell did not urge whether the state should spell to warfare oregon not — that helium believed was the president’s prerogative — but outlined options. After a failed diplomatic effort to avert a conflict, Mr. Bush turned to Mr. Powell to bolster the administration’s lawsuit for usage of unit if the Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, did not comply with planetary demands.

In a 76-minute code astatine the United Nations connected Feb. 5, 2003, Mr. Powell pressed the American lawsuit for a imaginable warfare to disarm Iraq, presenting photographs, physics intercepts of conversations betwixt Iraqi subject officers and accusation from defectors aimed astatine proving that Saddam Hussein posed an imminent information to the world.

In the Bush administration’s astir explicit effort to link the activities betwixt Iraq and Al Qaeda, Mr. Powell suggested that Iraq’s lethal weapons could beryllium fixed astatine immoderate clip to terrorists who could usage them against the United States oregon Europe.

He provided caller details astir Iraq’s effort to make mobile laboratories to marque germ weapons. He asserted that Iraq had sought to fell missiles successful its occidental desert. Significantly, helium cited quality reports that Saddam Hussein had authorized his subject to usage poison state if the United States invaded.

Before the speech, Mr. Powell had spent respective days astatine the C.I.A. grilling analysts connected the intelligence, paring backmost galore of the claims successful an aboriginal White House draught of the code that helium felt were unsupported. Now helium felt confident, helium told aides earlier the code successful New York.

“Leaving Saddam Hussein successful possession of weapons of wide demolition for a fewer much months oregon years is not an option, not successful a post-Sept. 11 world,” Mr. Powell declared.

The code failed to transportation galore skeptics successful the planetary community, but Mr. Powell’s idiosyncratic entreaty swung galore Americans to enactment the war, nevertheless reluctantly. After American troops invaded successful March 2003, however, it became wide determination were nary weapons of wide destruction. The quality had been wrong.

Two years later, Mr. Powell told Barbara Walters of ABC News that his code to the United Nations was “painful” for him personally and would everlastingly beryllium a “blot” connected his record. “I’m the 1 who presented it connected behalf of the United States to the world,” Mr. Powell said, acknowledging that his presumption “will ever beryllium a portion of my record.”

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