Colin Powell, the former secretary of state under President George W. Bush, appears to have had a change of heart about his change of heart on the Iraq war.
Powell, whose appearance at the UN in 2003 to sell the US’s Iraq invasion to a skeptical global public is now the stuff of history books, famously decried his former bosses in 2006, saying that the Bush administration’s policies made the United States less safe.
But in a speech in Fort Worth, Texas, on Monday, Powell praised the former president’s foreign policy, saying that “we are safer than we were before 9/11 because of President Bush,” according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Perhaps the setting had something to do with it: Powell was speaking at President Bush’s inaugural “motivational” speech. Bush has signed on to be a lecturer at a series of motivational speeches.
But Powell’s change of heart seems to have come earlier than Monday night. In June, Powell told CNN’s Larry King that both the Bush and Obama administrations have “done a lot over the last eight years … to go after the enemy.”
Powell, in that instance, was defending the Obama administration against allegations by former Vice President Dick Cheney that Obama has made the United States less safe. But his claim that the Bush administration also made the US safer surprised some observers, who note that he had said the opposite three years earlier.
In 2006, Powell told CBS’s Face the Nation that the Bush administration’s prosecution of the war on terror and its invasion of Iraq had made the United States less safe.
“I think we are a little less safe, in the sense that we don’t have the same force structure available for other problems,” Powell said. “I think we have been somewhat constrained in our ability to influence events elsewhere.”
Powell also publicly regretted making the 2003 sales pitch for the Iraq invasion to the UN, in which he detailed an Iraqi weapons of mass destruction program that turned out not to exist. Powell said his UN presentation was a permanent “blot” on his record.
But on Monday, Powell struck a very different note, sounding much more like a member of the Bush administration than he had even as a member of the Bush administration.
“We must never be afraid of some clown hiding in a cave,” the Washington Post quoted him as saying.