Validity of the Powell Doctrine

Whoever breaks something must pay for it. You cannot invade a country and then forget about it, after having destroyed it.

War as the lesser evil. The use of force as a last resort. There is no point in such a waste of energy, resources and even human lives, without clear political objectives. No pointless moves. Even fewer if you cannot explain the reason for them or share the reasons with the majority of people. Whoever breaks something must pay for it. You cannot enter a foreign country and then forget about it, after having destroyed it.

Although it has been apparently been forgotten over the last 20 years, this is old and obvious knowledge, a part of military wisdom that helped win World War II, passed on from generals like George Marshall or Dwight D. Eisenhower. Or in the first Iraq War, where Gen. Colin Powell forged what is known as the “Powell Doctrine.”

A world power must think twice before embarking on an adventure, but when it does, as George H. W. Bush did, it must spare no resources to ensure victory, it must know what to do afterward, and know how the war will end once it is won. It is the opposite of what George W. Bush, misled by Donald Rumsfeld, did in 2003 in the second Iraq War, where there was as small an army as possible, where services were contracted out and one saw the perverse idea of providing benefits to American companies.

Common sense and pragmatism. Humility and respect for life. The U.S. Army at the service of democracy and commanded by a civil power. With an exact and moderate idea of what the correct proportions of diplomacy and force in international relations were. The utmost attention to international law and rights. Multilateralist and therefore wary of the waging the infamous preventive war.

This kind of leader is rare and only found in a few countries. Powell was the first Black American to hold three critical positions: chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, national security advisor and secretary of state. He could have been the first Black Republican presidential candidate and then the first Black president in 1996 if he had decided to run for the White House. He is remembered for his 2003 speech before the U.N. defending the allegation that Iraq had developed weapons of mass destruction, justifying an invasion. George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Rumsfeld conspired to place this task on the shoulders of the most respected and decent person among them, and the only one everyone could trust. Powell deceived the public because he had been deceived. But he acted from discipline, as expected of a military man; he was loyal to the president and did not betray his country.

When things went from bad to worse, he did what he could to control the situation. He even went so far as to abandon the Republican Party and endorse Barack Obama and later, Joe Biden. Now that he is gone at 84, the Powell Doctrine, in all its military, civil and moral aspects, still holds true.

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