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Colin Powell Interview (page: 9 / 9)
Former Secretary of State, United States of America
Desert Storm must have been a great feeling of victory for you. When did it seem to you that we were more or less home free, as it were?
Colin Powell: Once we really started the second phase of the build-up, I never had any doubt about the outcome. It was clear that we would be successful, and be successful more rapidly and with fewer casualties than all of the so-called experts on television and in the press were saying.
My two concerns were: I didn't know how rapidly we could bring it to a conclusion, and I wasn't sure what the casualty level would be, because I didn't know whether they would use chemicals, or whether we would have some bad luck someplace along the line. My two greatest concerns were the length of the war, and the number of casualties.
I'm very happy that the war ended quickly. The casualty level was much lower than even I thought, and I had about the lowest estimate of everybody and, of course, much, much lower than all of the experts who like to appear on television with great regularity.
Norm, I'm sure, gets the same thing.
We did something unique, in addition to doing well in Desert Storm. And we have to remember, we did win. Notwithstanding all the second guessing, the Iraqi army is not in Kuwait, although I'm sure some book will come out claiming it is still in Kuwait, but it isn't.
It was so successful it gave us the opportunity to reach back and get our Vietnam buddies and bring them into it. And in the parades, and in all the celebrations last year, we made a particular point to include our Vietnam buddies, because the leaders of Desert Shield and Storm were all Vietnam veterans. That was a great joy. I'm very happy that that conflict ended quickly, and with very few casualties. But for those parents who did lose children, the casualty level was too high.
There's a quote by Thucydides that you appreciate very much: "Of all manifestations of power, restraint impresses men most."
Colin Powell: One of the great strengths of America, and the reason we are held in such high regard throughout the world, is that people trust our power, and they trust the way in which we use our power. The more powerful you are, the more people want to trust you with that power. They would hate to not trust you with that power.
In 1996, there you were speaking to the Republican National Convention, what was that like for you?
Colin Powell: It was a pretty exciting moment, pretty challenging moment. I had made it clear that I wasn't interested in a political career, but I wanted to be active in the discussion and debate of issues in the country. People came to me, asking me my opinion on various issues. I identified myself as a Republican who was very conservative fiscally and with matters of foreign policy and national defense, but who was quite moderate to liberal on a number of the social issues of the day. So I was going into a convention where I was received as a popular former general, but I was also going into a convention that collectively was far more conservative politically than I was.
What I had to do was to create and deliver a speech that talked to the aspirations of all Americans. That told people why I was a Republican, but also told them what my strong views were on some of these social issues that I have differences of opinion on with respect to the party platform. It was a speech that took me a lot of time to craft and put together. I'd never stood before a political convention in my life, and never stood before an audience like that before. Once I had it set in my own mind, I just went out there and delivered it. And it went pretty well.
Thank you very much, General. It's been an honor talking to you.
You're very welcome.
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This page last revised on May 15, 2012 14:45 EDT
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