Foggy Bottom Homebody


Colin Powell hates to travel, and is the least traveled secretary of state in 30 years (barely beating out the neutered William Rogers and the drowsy Dean Rusk!). Should this matter? Not if that surviving relic of diplomacy past, George Kennan, is to be believed:

Shortly before he took office, Powell received a letter from the dean of the diplomatic corps, George F. Kennan, a key aide to Powell?s hero, George C. Marshall. Marshall was a Nobel peace laureate and a secretary of state to President Harry S. Truman. In the letter, which Boucher provided, Kennan argued that Powell?s predecessors had ?seriously misused and distorted? the office of secretary of state through their travel.

Kennan said much more of the diplomatic heavy lifting should be done by lower-level officials, especially ambassadors, while the secretary remains in Washington. ?These absences [should] be held to a minimum and not indulged in when suitable alternatives are available,? Kennan wrote. ?The absence of the secretary of state for prolonged periods deprived the president, so long as it endured, of what should have been the latter?s widest, most qualified and most responsible source of advice on foreign policy problems.?

Perhaps, but then again this only proves how much of a perfunctory bureaucrat, as opposed to a new ideas man, Powell really is ? someone content to manage the status quo rather than to change it. He may well emerge as a bureaucratic winner by the end of this administration, thanks to the mismanagement in Iraq, but I?ve said it before and will say it again: There is hardly a single thing that will be worth remembering about Colin Powell?s four year-tenure at Foggy Bottom when he heads home next January, other than the fact that he momentarily let his bureaucratic guard down and made an ultimately fallacious case for war in Iraq before the UN Security Council.


NEXT: Barely Enough Fahrenheit to Boil An Egg

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  1. Warren,

    You’re probably correct. It’s probably just wishful projection on my part; though the Feith-Armitage undersecretary proxy pissing match only came to a head publicly a month and a half back.

  2. “He coulda been sumbody..”

  3. “…he coulda been a contender..”

  4. Actually, Powell has to stay home to keep Rummy and Condy from taking over. Recall in the war runup, every time Powell left town Rummy and Condy would have Bush’s full attention. As a result, Defense (read Chalabi) instead of State controlled the Iraq reconstruction.

    I agree Powell turned whore but somehow he’s still the only one of the bunch I would come close to trusting.

  5. They do have these things called telephones now, Michael.

  6. I wish you people would back off. I had to go through life named after something a doctor checks with a rubber glove.

  7. ?The absence of the secretary of state for prolonged periods deprived the president, so long as it endured, of what should have been the latter?s widest, most qualified and most responsible source of advice on foreign policy problems.?

    Of course, staying home only works if the Secretary has something to say and the President is interested in listening.

  8. Latest reports of a year of disasters as reported by an Iraqi blogger. The complaints of the Iraqis are severe.

    After reading stuff like the above you have to wonder how Americans can support the occupation of Iraq. I blame it on the right wing press which is covering up the Iraq disaster.

  9. BTW the article is called “One Square Kilometer” and it describes the destruction in one square kilometer of Iraq.

  10. Yeah, Powell is one huge disappointment. I mean we knew GWB was dumb as a post, Dick was shilling for corporate welfare, Rummy was a war-mongering zealot, and Asshat a puritan nazi. Colin was suppose to keep these guys in check (Dick and Rummy at least) and keep the Pres. from going over to the dark side. Instead he just grabbed his ankles and squealed like a pig. Thanks for nothing CP

  11. I’ve mentioned it elsewhere in this forum – I 50% believe Powell is sitting on a resignation/”eff you” bombshell, saved for a calculated date close to the election as a parting monkey-wrench lobbed into the administration.

    And he wouldn’t need to travel in such a scenario.

  12. It’s all part of the Powell Doctrine. You don’t go on an overseas trip unless you take a long a staff of 1000, artillery battery, mobile bunker, and stack of treaties big enough to fill a shipping container. Anything less is irresponsible. And since meeting these requirements is so costly, it’s the rare trip that ends up being worthwhile.

  13. keith,
    No way. The time for that would have been before he swallowed the Kool-Aid and rolled over at the UN. He could have spared the country from war, and cemented his reputation as a man of principal. Now all he could do, is testify against the pimp that turned him out.

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