July 5th, 2009
10:34 AM ET
5 years ago

History will have to make a judgment on Iraq, Powell says


WASHINGTON (CNN) – Former Secretary of State Colin Powell says history will make the ultimate judgment on whether the U.S. war in Iraq was worth its costs – in both taxpayer dollars and American lives.

“A dictator is gone. A despicable regime is gone,” the former Secretary of State under George W. Bush said Sunday in an interview that aired on CNN’s State of the Union. “And the Iraqi people have been given a chance to have a representative form of government, living in peace with its neighbors. We’ll have to see what history's judgment of that will be.”

The retired general also gave his take on recent celebrations in Iraq as a deadline passed for U.S. troops withdrew from the country’s major cities.

“I think we should just pocket this,” Powell told CNN Chief National Correspondent John King about celebrations in the streets that heralded the U.S. pull-back.

“They are happy. They have made it clear from the very beginning that they wanted to be free and independent. And they didn’t want to be an occupied nation, which they were when we were there, and now that is starting to change.

“But this is not yet over. . . . it’s now up to the Iraqis to solidify their representative government system and make sure they have the security forces that can handle all of this.”

“They’re now responsible for their own destiny,” Powell added.

Powell, who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the 1991 Gufl War, also provided an explanation of his view of the term "Powell doctrine" - Which has been referred to as the use of overwhelming military force.

“First of all, you will never find in any Army manual something called ‘the Powell Doctrine.’ It was an invention of a reporter,” Powell said.

“It essentially says have a clear political goal and then apply decisive force, is the term I prefer rather than overwhelming because it doesn’t always have to be huge,” Powell said.

The retired general also said that he’s “glad to have a doctrine named after me.”


Filed under: Colin Powell • Iraq • State of the Union
soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. Larry from RI

    Iraq will always be viewed as a war of choice and history will never change that fact.

    Mr. Powell may like to claim that the ends may someday justify the means but only because it would help hide the stain on his career when he presented the bogus bio-weapons intelligence to the world to justify the invasion in the first place..

    July 5, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
  2. I am ashamed.

    The United States went into a country and bombed, raped, murdered, and pilliaged a whole country and it's people. I can't even imagine why they would want us to leave. COLIN POWELL had as much to do with that bit of history as did George W. Bush. Simply by assuming HIS president was on the up and up with the Bush story about WMD's has he put his name on the history book beside W.

    Being a general in the United States Army he surely knew the workings of military intelligence (and lack thereof). The fact that he went along with the war, knowing in his own mind (hence the early job loss) that it was the wrong thing to do, leaves me wondering what he is up to now. A run for President in 12? Well I guess even he is better then what the republicans now have on the list now...

    July 5, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  3. bimmer

    He is such a duplictious person. He is supporting Iraq war because it happend under his watch.

    July 5, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  4. bimmer

    Histroy will judge that Colin Powel and Obama had taken away jobs from more qualified persons because of affirmative action and society's pressure to elevate people of certain race with limited talent and experience.

    July 5, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  5. bimmer

    Bush will be in Mount Rushmore for his courage to root out Islamic terrorism.

    Obama will be imoeached for going to bed with haters of America– Iran and Syria.

    July 5, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  6. HJA

    Liberals refuse to see the truth July 5th, 2009 12:36 pm ET

    Attn Bush haters……if Iraq and Afghanistan were so bad, WHY HASN'T OBAMA removed all the troops from both countries already? He's had six months to start the removal but hasn't done A THING. Maybe he has information that you are not aware of. Maybe you believed another Obama lie.

    Man, you aren't very bright. After the mess Bush and Cheney made you don't just pull all support. These countries are really screwed up by the former GOP leaders. President Obama is pulling our troops out in an orderly fashion to try and maintain security................Why am I trying to explain this to you? It's way over your head.

    July 5, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  7. Harold, Phoenix,AZ.

    Let us begin to list the countries that need a regime change, we need
    more wars. Our next step will be finding the less fortunate from small
    towns to do the fighting. The third step is mass producing supporting
    our troops car stickers. Accept reality, if the upper classes were involved in the fighting and dying protesters would fill the streets.

    July 5, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  8. Angie in PA

    History will Prove The Iraq War was an idiotic Mistake planned by an Idiot President! the War cost Billions and People died for no Reason because of Bush and his Cowboy Diplomacy stupidty ways WHAT A WASTE OF MONEY AND LIFE SAD SAD SAD!

    July 5, 2009 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  9. Samuel

    Denna--The reason for the saber rattling now from Iran and North Korea is because we have by voting history the most liberal, weak kneed, spineless, America apologizing, occupant of all time in the White House including Jimmy Carter.

    July 5, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
  10. Simmy

    I admire Gen. Powell very much, but on this one, we must part ways....History will only report what has already been solidified. We invaded Iraq unjustly......We were wrong....History can't overturn that verdict......

    July 5, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
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