Thursday, July 19, 2007

Joseph Wilson's selfless self-promotion

TNR Online: by Michael Currie Schaffer
...However self-interested he may have been, the flames [former Ambassador Joseph] Wilson fanned were more than just a partisan victory for people who thrill at seeing Bush get singed. It's hard to remember now, but when Wilson began his media run, there was little talk about the selling of the war, few questions about official mendacity, and not much of a narrative about the way the administration deals with dissent. Lord knows that most of the establishment types who sneer at Wilson weren't talking about such things. There are plenty of other reasons, some more important than Wilson, why we talk about them now. But not many have resulted from the low-key pose we seem to wish on him....

Just as the denouement of the Plame case was dominating the news earlier this month, another former diplomat revealed that he had felt his own grave doubts about Iraq around the time of Wilson's trip to Niger. This much more celebrated Washington veteran, though, kept his qualms off the record. Thus it was newsworthy when Colin Powell revealed at the Aspen Ideas Festival that he'd counseled President Bush against the conflict. "I tried to avoid this war," Powell said. "I took him through the consequences of going into an Arab country and becoming the occupiers."

Had he not hewed to the behavioral standards of the Washington elite, Powell might have called attention to his dissent back when it counted. He might have resigned in a high-profile huff, taken to the airwaves to play up war's dangers, written a self-aggrandizing tome that made him look like the government's last honest man. ...The sideshow might have penetrated the consciousness of a general public that was even then lining up for Freedom Fries and making death threats to the Dixie Chicks.

But he didn't--and the results, in spilled blood and wasted treasure, diminished national reputation and paralyzed national politics, are still with us. Alas, even Powell's reputation hasn't been saved by his choice. He's one of the few people in the world who might have stopped the Iraq train wreck; instead, he's just an ex-secretary of State who confers decorously with fellow has-beens in Aspen. There's a reason a nobody like Joe Wilson is the one pitching his story to Hollywood: The blowhard, it turns out, is the one who mattered.

Responding to critiques by the Washington Establishment (and not just the conservative portion thereof) of Joe Wilson as a self-promoting blowhard.
Whatever one concludes about Wilson, I think the criticism of our former Secretary of State is warranted; his failure to go public at the time it would have counted has cost his country, Iraq, and the world greatly. It is not the proper role of such persons to follow subserviently the orders of their Commander in Chief. Powell should have resigned on principle, and spelled out that principle to the country and world.

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