The Powell doctrine

“That’s not really a number I’m terribly interested in.”

General Colin Powell, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, on being asked his assessment of Iraqi military and civilian casualties, April 1991.

Let’s not forget that Powell, far from being a moderate, as many claimed during his time in the Bush administration, is in fact a man, in the words of Normon Solomon and Robert Parry, who has “learned that a military bureaucrat succeeds best by sidestepping controversy and keeping quiet when superiors screw up.” Examples include his role in the army’s cover-up of the infamous My Lai massacre, his involvement in Reagan-era war games such as the Iran/Contra affair and the covert U.S. policy in the 1980s to supply Saddam Hussein with military equipment.

UPDATE: John Pilger, December 2003:

“During the 1991 Gulf war, BBC audiences were told incessantly about “surgical strikes” so precise that war had become almost a bloodless science. [Journalist] David Dimbleby asked the US ambassador: “Isn’t it in fact true that America, by dint of the very accuracy of the weapons we’ve seen, is the only potential world policeman?”

“Dimbleby, like his news colleagues, had been conned; most of the weapons had missed their military targets and killed civilians.

“In 1991, according to the Guardian, the BBC told its broadcasters to be “circumspect” about pictures of civilian death and injury. This may explain why the BBC offered us only glimpses of the horrific truth – that the Americans were systematically targeting civilian infrastructure and conducting a one-sided slaughter. Shortly before Christmas 1991, the Medical Education Trust in London estimated that more than 200,000 Iraqi men, women and children had died in the “surgical” assault and its immediate aftermath.”

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

Site by Common