POWELL’S LEGACY….Does it really make any difference that Colin Powell is leaving the State Department? After all, the combination of the Rumsfeld/Cheney axis and his own loss of public credibility after the UN speech marginalized him so much that he wasn’t doing anyone much good by the time he finally resigned.

Maybe so. But Juan Cole argues that Powell did make a difference after all:

Insiders in Washington have told me enough stories about Powell victories behind the scenes that I am not sure the marginalization argument is decisive. Powell had an alliance with UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, and the two of them could sometimes derail the wilder plans of the Department of Defense. Blair, and probably Powell, convinced Bush to fight al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan before going on to an Iraq war. Imagine how dangerous the situation would be if the US were bogged down in Iraq as it is now, but Bin Laden’s 40 training camps were still going full steam!

Likewise, I have it on good authority that Powell and Blair derailed a Department of Defense plan to install Ahmad Chalabi as a soft dictator in Iraq within 6 months of the fall of Saddam. Jay Garner had been given this charge, and Powell was able to get Paul Bremer in, instead, with a charge to keep the country out of Chalabi’s corrupt hands.

If this is true, it’s no wonder that Blair seems a little nervous these days. What’s he going to do now that there are no adults left for him to team up with?

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