ON THE MAP; Exploring the Fault Where the Next Big One May Be WaitingBy MARGO NASHPublished: March 25, 2001Alexander Gates, a geology professor at Rutgers-Newark, is co-author of ”The Encyclopedia of Earthquakes and Volcanoes,” which will be published by Facts on File in July. He has been leading a four-year effort to remap an area known as the Sloatsburg Quadrangle, a 5-by-7-mile tract near Mahwah that crosses into New York State. The Ramapo Fault, which runs through it, was responsible for a big earthquake in 1884, and Dr. Gates warns that a recurrence is overdue. He recently talked about his findings.Q. What have you found?A. We’re basically looking at a lot more rock, and we’re looking at the fracturing and jointing in the bedrock and putting it on the maps. Any break in the rock is a fracture. If it has movement, then it’s a fault. There are a lot of faults that are offshoots of the Ramapo. Basically when there are faults, it means you had an earthquake that made it. So there was a lot of earthquake activity to produce these features. We are basically not in a period of earthquake activity along the Ramapo Fault now, but we can see that about six or seven times in history, about 250 million years ago, it had major earthquake activity. And because it’s such a fundamental zone of weakness, anytime anything happens, the Ramapo Fault goes.Q. Where is the Ramapo Fault? A. The fault line is in western New Jersey and goes through a good chunk of the state, all the way down to Flemington. It goes right along where they put in the new 287. It continues northeast across the Hudson River right under the Indian Point power plant up into Westchester County. There are a lot of earthquakes rumbling around it every year, but not a big one for a while.Q. Did you find anything that surprised you?A. I found a lot of faults, splays that offshoot from the Ramapo that go 5 to 10 miles away from the fault. I have looked at the Ramapo Fault in other places too. I have seen splays 5 to 10 miles up into the Hudson Highlands. And you can see them right along the roadsides on 287. There’s been a lot of damage to those rocks, and obviously it was produced by fault activities. All of these faults have earthquake potential.Q. Describe the 1884 earthquake.A. It was in the northern part of the state near the Sloatsburg area. They didn’t have precise ways of describing the location then. There was lots of damage. Chimneys toppled over. But in 1884, it was a farming community, and there were not many people to be injured. Nobody appears to have written an account of the numbers who were injured.Q. What lessons we can learn from previous earthquakes?A. In 1960, the city of Agadir in Morocco had a 6.2 earthquake that killed 12,000 people, a third of the population, and injured a third more. I think it was because the city was unprepared.There had been an earthquake in the area 200 years before. But people discounted the possibility of a recurrence. Here in New Jersey, we should not make the same mistake. We should not forget that we had a 5.4 earthquake 117 years ago. The recurrence interval for an earthquake of that magnitude is every 50 years, and we are overdue. The Agadir was a 6.2, and a 5.4 to a 6.2 isn’t that big a jump.Q. What are the dangers of a quake that size?A. When you’re in a flat area in a wooden house it’s obviously not as dangerous, although it could cut off a gas line that could explode. There’s a real problem with infrastructure that is crumbling, like the bridges with crumbling cement.There’s a real danger we could wind up with our water supplies and electricity cut off if a sizable earthquake goes off. The best thing is to have regular upkeep and keep up new building codes. The new buildings will be O.K. But there is a sense of complacency.MARGO NASH
China’s test of hypersonic vehicle is part of a program to rapidly expand strategic and nuclear systems
Ellen Nakashima5:45 p.m. EDT
Yesterday at 5:45 p.m. EDT
China is in the midst of a rapid expansion of its strategic and nuclear weapons systems, and its progress has alarmed U.S. national security officials.
Most recently, in August, China tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic vehicle that partially orbited the globe before hurtling toward earth. It also has constructed hundreds of new missile silos. And it is building a new generation of strategic ballistic missile submarines.
Tue, October 19, 2021, 3:41 PM
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea said Wednesday that it had test-fired a newly developed ballistic missile from a submarine, in its first such underwater test-launch in two years and one it says will bolster its military’s undersea capabilities.
The test Tuesday was the fifth round of missile launches since September and came as North Korea steps up pressure on Washington and Seoul to abandon what Pyongyang sees as hostile policies such as joint U.S.-South Korea military drills and international sanctions on the North.
North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency said the latest test “will greatly contribute to putting the defense technology of the country on a high level and to enhancing the underwater operational capability of our navy.” It said the new missile has introduced advanced control guidance technologies including flank mobility and gliding skip mobility.
The North’s neighbors said Tuesday that they detected the North’s missile firing and said the weapon landed in the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan. South Korea’s military described the missile as a short-range, submarine-launched ballistic missile and said the launch was made from waters near the eastern port of Sinpo, where North Korea has a major shipyard building submarines.
KCNA said Tuesday’s launch was made from “the same 8.24 Yongung ship,” a submarine that North Korea said it used to conduct its first submarine-launched strategic ballistic missile test in 2016. Photos published by North Korea show a missile rising and spewing bright flames above a cloud of smoke from the sea. One image shows the upper parts of what looks like a submarine on the surface of the sea.
North Korea last performed a SLBM test in October 2019. Foreign experts said the North used a submersible barge, rather than a submarine, for the launch at the time.
Tuesday’s launch was the highest-profile weapons test by North Korea since President Joe Biden took office in January. The Biden administration has repeatedly said it’s open to resuming nuclear diplomacy with North Korea “anywhere and at any time” without preconditions. The North has so far rebuffed such overtures, saying U.S. hostility remains unchanged.
The launch came days before Sung Kim, Biden’s special envoy on North Korea, was to travel to Seoul to discuss with allies the possibility of reviving diplomacy with Pyongyang.
At a meeting in Washington with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts, Kim emphasized U.S. condemnation of the launch, which violates multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions, and urged Pyongyang to refrain from further provocations and “engage in sustained and substantive dialogue,” the State Department said.
The U.N. Security Council scheduled emergency closed consultations on North Korea on Wednesday afternoon at the request of the United States and United Kingdom.
Kim Dong-yub, a professor at Seoul’s University of North Korean Studies, said the North Korean weapon tested Tuesday was likely derived from its land-based, nuclear-capable KN-23 missile whose highly maneuverable and lower-trajectory flight provides it with greater chances of evading missile defense systems.
Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi had said Tuesday that the North Korean missile flew on “an irregular trajectory” while traveling as far as 600 kilometers (360 miles).
“A SLBM is the most intimidating nuclear weapon because we don’t know where it can be fired,” said Moon Keun-sik, a submarine expert who teaches at Kyonggi University in South Korea. “North Korea’s goal is building more powerful SLBMs that can be fired from big submarines like the U.S. does.”
North Korea has been pushing hard for years to acquire the ability to fire nuclear-armed missiles from submarines, the next key piece in an arsenal that includes a variety of weapons including ones with the potential range to reach American soil.
Still, experts say it would take years, large amounts of resources and major technological improvements for the heavily sanctioned nation to build at least several submarines that could travel quietly in seas and reliably execute strikes.
North Korea has an estimated about 70-90 diesel-powered submarines in one of the world’s largest submarine fleets. But they are mostly aging ones capable of launching only torpedoes and mines, not missiles. The vessel North Korea used during the 2016 SLBM test is the North’s only submarine capable of firing a missile, but it has a single launch tube and some experts call it a test platform, rather than an operational weapons system in active service, Moon said.
In 2019, North Korea unveiled a 2,000-ton-class submarine with several missile launch tubes but there has been no official confirmation that it’s been deployed for operational use. North Korea is pushing to build bigger submarines including a nuclear-powered one.
Kim, the analyst, said the new missile tested Tuesday was likely a small-sized weapon displayed during a defense exhibition last week. The professor said North Korea likely plans to load this missile on the submarine it disclosed in 2019 while placing bigger SLBMs on larger submarines under development.
In a report this month on North Korea’s military capabilities, the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency said the North’s pursuit of submarine-launched ballistic missile capabilities along with its steady development of land-based mobile long-range weapons highlight Pyongyang’s intentions to “build a survivable, reliable nuclear delivery capability.”
Some experts say North Korea might continue its weapons tests for a couple of more months until it halts them in consideration of the Winter Olympics slated for February in China, its last major ally and economic pipeline. They say the North may even test-launch long-range missiles directly threatening the U.S. mainland in a breach of a 2018 self-imposed moratorium on such weapons tests to maximize its pressure campaign.
Nuclear negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea have been stalled for more than two years because of disagreements over an easing of crippling U.S.-led sanctions against North Korea in exchange for denuclearization steps by the North.
Associated Press writer Matthew Lee in Washington contributed to this report.
Political tensions are continuing in Iraq, with some of the country’s political blocs and parties contesting the results of the recent general elections, writes Nermeen Al-Mufti in Baghdad
By the time this article is published, the process of receiving appeals against the Iraqi elections results will have ended. Five days afterwards, the Iraqi Board of Commissioners is supposed to have finished considering them.
Emad Jamil, a member of the media office of Iraq’s Independent Higher Electoral Commission (IHEC), said in a press conference that “after the appeals being considered by the IHEC Board of Commissioners over a period of seven days, they will be considered by the judicial authority for a period of 10 days.”
“After the complete consideration of the appeals and approval of the results, the names of the 329 winning candidates will be announced before they are submitted to the Federal Court.”
Despite such arrangements, political tensions are continuing in Iraq after some blocs and political parties rejected the results of the elections and their followers began protests against what they said was fraud, demanding a manual recount of votes cast at polling stations across Iraq.
The tensions began within hours of the preliminary results being announced on 11 October, showing that the Sadrist Bloc had won 73 seats in parliament. To calm the tensions, the IHEC announced that six per cent of polling stations had experienced technical problems, and their votes would be counted manually.
During this period, the blocs and political parties that had rejected the results met and announced a coordinating framework for a number of large blocs whose presence in the new parliament has become almost marginal in the light of the election results. They include the State Forces Alliance, led by former prime minister Haider Abbadi, the Al-Nasr bloc, and Ammar Al-Hakim’s National Wisdom Movement that only won four seats in the elections.
In the 2018 elections, Abbadi’s bloc had 42 seats in parliament, while Hakim’s had 29. The Al-Fateh bloc led by Hadi Al-Amiri won 17 seats in this year’s elections, while in 2018 it had 48. The State of Law Bloc of former prime minister Nuri al-Maliki has also joined the framework, though it won 37 seats more than in 2018 when it had 25.
The chair of the Board of Commissioners announced the completion of the process of checking the results on 16 October, saying that 3,681 polling stations had had their votes counted manually. He said the results were preliminary and could be appealed.
Shortly afterwards, the coordination framework published a statement saying that “we had hoped that the IHEC would correct the major violations it committed during and after counting the votes and announcing the results. In the wake of its insistence on holding to the contested results, we announce our complete rejection of these results and hold the Commission fully responsible for the failure of the electoral process and its mismanagement, which will negatively affect the democratic path and societal harmony in Iraq.”
Sadrist bloc leader Muqtada Al-Sadr stated his acceptance of the results, giving a victory speech on 11 October in which he mentioned the outlines of a coming Sadrist cabinet as long as his bloc has the highest number of seats.
Al-Sadr tweeted on 16 October that he would seek to establish a national alliance, neither sectarian nor ethnic, under the heading of reform. This was intended to “match the aspirations of the Iraqi people to form a functioning government,” he said.
Far from the political tensions, Hassan Ali, 18, who had voted for the first time in Baghdad, told Al-Ahram Weekly that he had voted for an independent candidate whom his father knew. The candidate had won the seat, and Ali said he hoped independent parliamentarians would manage to change the power-sharing policy that in his view had led to uncontrollable corruption in Iraq.
There are 40 new independent MPs, the oldest being Mohamed Annouz, a retired legal adviser whose photographs swept Facebook showing him alone without bodyguards or assistance and putting up electoral posters in the city of Najaf.
Annouz, who was an active supporter of the October 2019 protests, was quoted as saying that “the first step that we, the independent winners, should begin working on is to unite our efforts and understanding to form a group capable of challenging the corrupt and the murderers and restoring the rights of citizens.”
The Imtidad list led by Alaa Al-Rikabi representing the October 2019 protesters saw Al-Rikabi himself and other candidates who were among the protesters in the city of Nassiriyah winning nine seats in Nassiriyah, Karbala and Kut.
A female winner from the list in Nassiriyah, Nisan Al-Salihi, was the first among the new female MPs, with 22,827 votes. She was quoted as saying that the “Imtidad movement arises from the protesters. We are opposed to any politicisation of the protests or the exploitation of our martyrs in an electoral campaign. Our aspiration is to express the ideas of young people.”
Awatef Turkey Rasheed, a female independent candidate from Basra who did not win, told the Weekly that the results were not fair. “The political environment in Iraq has encountered many difficulties, sectarian conflicts, imbalances of power and corruption. The resulting reaction of the people, especially the new generation of young people, has been protesting since October 2019 calling for human rights, justice and the improvement of political performance.”
“The protests’ outcomes have included a change of the government, a change in the elections law and early elections, and a change in the IHEC commissioners. It was expected that the winning candidates would mostly be independent and secular candidates. However, the results were shocking to many people,” she said.
“The Electoral Commission in Basra informed me that my votes had reached 4,000 before the closing of 68 counting centres. One day later, I was shocked to hear the number announced in the media was only 1,378. The number became 1,578 when the IHEC announced new numbers. I still have doubts about these numbers since I have large numbers of voters, family and relatives and close friends, that voted for me. Yet, numbers from the centres only showed two to four voters at each.”
The results of the elections, which witnessed a participation rate of only 41 per cent, have revealed radical changes in the map of the dominant political parties in Iraq, clearly showing a desire among Iraqi voters for a change of faces.
Around 220 MPs were elected for the first time. There are 97 female MPs, 57 elected and the rest within the 25 per cent women quota. The voters also punished many well-known politicians in the elections, among them Salim Al-Jubouri, a former speaker of parliament.
However, the scene is not clear yet in Baghdad. If there are changes in the newly elected parliament, it still seems likely that the leading posts will stay as if planned according to the power-sharing policy in place in the country, with the president being a Kurd, the speaker of the parliament a Sunni, and the prime minister a Shia.
There may not be problems in nominating the president and speaker, but problems have emerged with the results among the Shia on who will be the new prime minister. Iraq’s voters, who in these elections have insisted on bringing about change, are hoping that the new prime minister will take real steps towards reforms.
JERUSALEM (AP) — Palestinians clashed with Israeli police at a popular gathering place just outside Jerusalem’s Old City as thousands celebrated a Muslim holiday, a repeat of violence earlier this year that eventually led to the 11-day Gaza war in May.
Israeli police said Palestinians hurled rocks at police and public buses near the Damascus Gate leading into the Old City. They said 22 suspects were arrested.
Earlier, thousands of Palestinians had marched along the Old City walls and paused at the gate, where a scout band played the Palestinian national anthem. They continued to the Al-Aqsa mosque, where tens of thousands prayed in honor of the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday.
Palestinians say Israeli police moved to restrict the annual gathering in and around Damascus Gate in what they saw as a provocation.
An Associated Press photographer said a few dozen youths began shouting at police and throwing water bottles, after which police fired stun grenades. The Palestinian Red Crescent emergency service said it treated 17 people who were wounded, including 10 who were taken to a hospital.
Palestinians clashed with Israeli police on a nightly basis during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in April and May over a decision to place police barricades at Damascus Gate, a popular holiday gathering spot for Palestinians families.
The clashes continued even after the barricades were removed and eventually spread to the nearby Al-Aqsa mosque compound, a flashpoint site sacred to Muslims and Jews. The violence, along with efforts by settlers to evict dozens of Palestinian families from their homes, eventually ignited the fourth war between Israel and the militant Hamas group ruling Gaza.
The Old City is in east Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the 1967 war and annexed in a move not recognized internationally. Israel considers the entire city its capital, while the Palestinians want east Jerusalem to be the capital of their future state.
The Al-Aqsa mosque compound is the third holiest site in Islam and the holiest for Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount because it was the location of the Jewish temples in antiquity.
Over the last two weeks, sporadic fights have broken out at Damascus Gate between Palestinians and Israelis, and between Palestinians and the police.
By Daniel Roth and Claire Jungman, opinion contributorsOctober 19, 2021 – 07:00 AM EDT
The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Hill
For all the sanctions on Iran, Tehran has secured willing customers for its crucial oil and gas exports in the world’s leading authoritarian and communist regimes: Venezuela and China. Caracas has taken a creative route, first paying gold for oil and then bartering its own heavy crude for Iranian gas condensates. Beijing, by contrast, pays cash straight up — $280 billion in 2019, followed by a deal worth $400 billion this year. Naturally, this illicit trade weakens efforts to compel Iran to moderate its destructive behavior and end its pursuit of nuclear weapons, potentially harming U.S. interests and national security.
Yet Iran’s success in courting Venezuela and China does not mean that U.S. sanctions have failed. Sanctions have forced the regime to trade with a few like-minded authoritarian regimes. And crucially, sanctions have forced Iran to go to extraordinary lengths to conceal its illicit shipping commerce: satellite tracking deceptions, doctoring of records, flag- and name-switching, physical camouflage, and a host of other maritime violations.
With a better understanding of the shipping subterfuge, the U.S. and its allies can make the whole rogue enterprise prohibitively costly for all parties, plugging enforcement gaps and truly squeezing Tehran.
For instance, FELICITY was the first Iranian-flagged vessel to load Venezuelan crude, according to TankerTrackers.com. It reportedly journeyed to Venezuela’s Jose Anchorage using subversive and illegal techniques, including a shutdown of its tracking beacon. Before arriving in Venezuela, FELICITY was last seen via its satellite transponder 13 months prior in Taizhou Anchorage in China, according to Marine Traffic — meaning that the vessel sailed all the way to Venezuela with its transponder off. Disabling the transponder is a favored tactic to obscure the movement of goods, but it’s also a dangerous violation of International Maritime Organization safety rules. FELICITY even turned to more rudimentary methods to hide its activities — undergoing a fresh paint job in Venezuela.
Vessels moving Iranian oil carry falsified records that attest to their cargo originating in countries such as Oman, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Iraq and Malaysia. By engaging in ship-to-ship (STS) transfers of oil from Iranian-flagged vessels to tankers owned by non-Iranian firms, Iran can obscure the origin of the oil and gas, as well as the trade itself for its customers. STS transfers are often preceded by vessels “spoofing” their location to fake their position, sometimes by thousands of nautical miles, creating yet another dangerous situation.
Smaller and under-resourced nations are routinely duped into the illicit trade by foreign-flagged rogue vessels, such as those included in Iran’s “Ghost Armada,” our organization, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), has found. These national flagging authorities are often unable to adequately patrol the activities of their flag-bearers, and so are targeted in order to fulfill ship registration requirements. Ships that are part of the Ghost Armada repeatedly switch flags, change names and alter their physical markings.
When advocacy groups such as ours notify maritime authorities of illicit activities of registered vessels, we find that most are eager to comply with U.S. sanctions. Some even have come to rely uponnongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to serve as their eyes and ears. Through our work, dozens of vessels have been stripped of their flags, making it more difficult to continue their subterfuge.
The whole gamut of shipping deceptions perpetrated by commercial facilitators and their enablers must be made far more costly — prohibitively so. As a first step, we recommend the Treasury Department broaden the scope of sanctions-triggering activities that constitute “significant support” to Iran’s shipping sector. The U.S. should punish bunkering specialists, port authorities, importing agents, management firms, charterers, operators, marine insurers, classification societies and all other “maritime services providers” involved with Iran. The Treasury also should expand and delineate the range of sanctionable maritime services and work to identify and target any Venezuelan or Chinese firms complicit in smuggling.
Sanctions have slowed the flow of foreign capital and reduced Iran’s trading partners to the worst-of-the-worst. But U.S. sanctions are only as robust as the enforcement mechanisms that come with them. Iran and its dubious allies are perpetuating a vicious cycle that undermines global compliance and further allows the Iranian regime to continue its destructive and malign behavior. A sharper focus on the specific methods and their perpetrators is needed to cut off Iran’s oil spigot.
Daniel Roth is the research director and Claire Jungman is the chief of staff of United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), a nonprofit, nonpartisan policy organization based in New York that was formed in 2008 to combat the threats posed by the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The former US secretary of state was instrumental in paving the way for the invasion of Iraq on spurious intelligence in his infamous speech at the UN in 2003.
Former US secretary of state Colin Powell, who paved the way for the 2003 Iraq War under President George W Bush, died today at the age of 84 from complications from Covid-19.
Born in Harlem of Jamaican heritage, Powell was the nation’s first Black national security adviser, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and secretary of state.
A fixture in American politics for decades, he was a four-star army general whose career began in Vietnam and later spanned several Republican administrations, even toying with a presidential run in 1995 before deciding against it.
A tendency towards careerism – what admirers chalked up as “being a good soldier” – was an attribute that would serve him well during his ascent up the US national security bureaucracy.
In Vietnam, Powell was part of the army division that ended up being responsible for the My Lai massacre. While he talked about it in his best-selling memoir, “My American Journey,” he absolved himself by recounting he was unaware of the scale of the institutional coverup.
Never one to buck the system, Powell was the consummate inside man; someone who thought whatever compromises he made were worth it because it would offer him a chance to do the right thing.
Whether that meant participating in Ronald Regan’s Iran-Contra operation, or being an architect behind the invasion of Panama in 1989 and the Persian Gulf war in 1991 under George H W Bush, the ostensibly prudent Powell was, at the end of the day, a yes man.
And there was no better example of that on display than his role in justifying the war in Iraq.
Believed to be a moderating influence in the Bush administration and skeptical of the idea of overthrowing Saddam Hussein, Powell still went out to make the case. Because he was held in such high esteem by members of both parties, the fact that he so forcefully made the case solidified bipartisan support for the war.
Coupled with his infamous UN speech on Iraq harbouring Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), the image of Powell holding up a vial of an alleged chemical agent is iconic from that era (along with artistic renderings of what the alleged biological labs would look like), was a display of propaganda the self-advertised moderate found hard to scrub from his legacy.US Secretary of State Colin Powell holds up a vial that he said could contain anthrax as he presents evidence of Iraq’s alleged weapons programs to the United Nations Security Council, Feb. 5, 2003. (Ray Stubblebine / Reuters)
The ‘grand game of Powellian deception’
On February 5, 2003, Powell gave testimony to the UN Security Council in which he claimed that the Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s government was hiding a secret chemical weapons program from the international community and supporting terrorism following the 9/11 attacks in 2001.
His address was an effort to provide delegates “with additional information…about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction as well as Iraq’s involvement in terrorism, which is also the subject of resolution 1411 and other earlier resolutions.”
The proof? “My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we’re giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid evidence.”
Did Iraq revive their nuclear weapons program? “There is no doubt in my mind,” he concluded.
Privately, however, he displayed less certainty. “I wonder how we’ll all feel if we put half a million troops in Iraq and march from one end of the country to the other and find nothing,” he told his chief of staff Larry Wilkerson at the time.
It was all part of a “grand game of Powellian deception,” wrote Binoy Kampmark in Counterpunch.
One of the clues Powell furnished was drawn from an intercepted conversation about UN inspections between Iraqi army officers that he turned on its head: “Clean out all of the areas…Make sure there is nothing there.” None of which was in the intercept.
As Jon Schwarz wrote in The Intercept: “Powell took evidence of the Iraqis doing what they were supposed to do – i.e., searching their gigantic ammunition dumps to make sure they weren’t accidently holding onto banned chemical weapons – and doctored it to make it look as if Iraq were hiding banned weapons.”
“Clearly Powell’s loyalty to Bush extended to being willing to deceive the world: the United Nations, Americans, and the coalition troops about to be sent to kill and die in Iraq,” Schwarz said.
“He’s never been held accountable for his actions, and it’s extremely unlikely he ever will be.”
Despite the eventual hand wringing by acknowledging how the UN speech was a “blot” on his record and a “great intelligence failure,” Powell displayed no sincere remorse over the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and thousands of US soldiers. He remained insistent the war was a just one
Wilkerson said Powell’s UN testimony was significant for both its dishonesty and that Powell’s “gravitas” was a crucial “part of the two-year-long effort by the Bush administration to get Americans on the war wagon.”
“That effort led to a war of choice with Iraq, one that resulted in catastrophic losses for the region and the United States-led coalition, and that destabilized the entire Middle East,” wrote Wilkerson in 2018.
Nor was the UN speech the first example of Powell’s acquiescence. Reports revealedhow timid he was in speaking against the Bush administration’s imprisonment and torture policy, despite knowing the legal risks, in another instance where Powell seemed to put career before principles.
Despite falling out with the administration and leaving at the end of Bush’s first term, Powell continued to be held in high regard as a statesman within Beltway circles. His credibility with the American public, however, had been sacrificed at the altar of Iraq.
Following the Bush era, Powell endorsed President Barack Obama in 2008 and voted for the Democratic ticket ever since. He was an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump and the direction the Republican party took under Trump’s presidency.
While publicly walking back some of his blunders on Iraq, Powell embarked on a path of restoration that ultimately assuaged any greater responsibility.
“Iraq was not his debacle but that of others,” argued Kampmark. “He has spent years cultivating his apologias, showing up his peers as imbeciles and he, a warning filled sage of reason.”
It cannot be denied that Powell left an indelible mark on the history of US foreign policy. He, along with Dick Cheney, were two of the chief designers behind the strategic legacies of the Regan and Bush Sr eras. At the core of the new military doctrine was that the US should avoid the kind of protracted engagement that could become politically costly, as it did in Vietnam.
But for someone who established what came to be known as the ‘Powell Doctrine’ – don’t get into a war you don’t know how to get out of – it is somewhat tragically ironic that Powell failed to heed that lesson himself in 2003.