Voices from the Arab press: Colin Powell, military man and politician


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Alrai, Kuwait, October 22

General Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State during President George W. Bush’s first term, died last week. Powell was the architect behind the US military campaign in Iraq, which resulted in the overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s regime some 18 years ago.

If it weren’t for Iraq, Colin Powell would have gone gloriously in the history books as an admired national security adviser, presidential chief of staff, and African-American secretary of state. In fact, there were even those who suggested that his experience, mandate, and credentials might have paved his way to the Oval Office instead of Barack Obama. Had it not been for Iraq, Powell would have been the success story of a black man of Jamaican descent who was able, thanks to the American military establishment, to advance through the ranks to the highest levels of power.

Powell had extensive military experience that made him extremely wary of any US military intervention in any region of the world. He served in Vietnam, where he did well and saved three of his military comrades from death after his helicopter crashed. But it quickly became clear that while Powell’s military credentials were very impressive, his political credentials were lacking. In the absence of a political mind that understands the Middle East well, Colin Powell was only an insignificant player in the Bush Jr. administration, which was ruled by the neocons. At the head of these were Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, the undersecretary of defense.

Following the crime of invading Kuwait on August 2, 1990, the Bush Senior administration made the decision to reject the fait accompli that Saddam Hussein had tried to impose. The US Army, led by Colin Powell, took over the mission. Six months later, Kuwait was liberated. Above all, this was because the decision makers sitting in the Oval Office had a good understanding of the geostrategic landscape of the region. Specifically, this was the trio that included President George HW Bush, Secretary of State James Baker, and National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft.

But Colin Powell himself, after his political transformation, was not at the level of a military leader who achieved great success in facing Iraq in Kuwait. It became clear during the Bush Jr. era, who lacked political wisdom, that the success of the military does not necessarily translate into political success. Colin Powell failed the Iraq test in light of the decision by Bush Jr. and those around him to launch a military campaign to remove Saddam Hussein from power. Yes, it was important to get rid of Saddam Hussein, who had made all the mistakes that could be made since taking over the presidency in the summer of 1979, but most important of all was knowing what to do in the post. regime period.

Colin Powell’s problem is that he didn’t play the role he was supposed to play as secretary of state. Rather than resign and declare a clear position against a US invasion of Iraq, he turned to the United Nations to testify about Iraq’s alleged possession of biological and chemical weapons, in preparation for a major military campaign in Iraq. That was a big lie. Powell immediately regretted the move. But it was too late. Powell’s biography is a testament to the fact that great generals don’t necessarily make great politicians. You don’t run into people like General de Gaulle or Dwight Eisenhower every day.

Colin Powell had the courage to criticize his mistakes in hindsight. He admitted that he had been the victim of a lack of political sanity in Washington during the Bush Jr. era and that he should have acted differently at the time. His acknowledgment and acknowledgment of his mistakes did not obviously change the course of history, but it did reveal his desire to be an honest man before he became a statesman or a politician. – Khairallah Khairallah


Al-Ittihad, United Arab Emirates, October 23

At present, Israel is emerging from a state of military and strategic ambiguity to a state of publicity and clarity. After many decades in which it refused to acknowledge its possession of nuclear weapons, the Israeli government is taking a more open approach aimed at deterring its enemies. This is perhaps clearer in Israel’s decision to host the world’s most advanced international air training, Blue Flag, at its Ovda Air Force Base, with the participation of seven different countries.

The objective of the exercise is to strengthen strategic cooperation among participating countries, develop experience in integrating fifth-generation combat aircraft into their operations, and practice participation in multiple theaters of operations. Israel, in the face of changes in the Middle East, the conclusion of peace accords with the Gulf states and the absence of real regional risks with the exception of the Iranian threat, is strategically realigning itself.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid met with Bahrain’s King Hamid bin Issa al-Khalifa at the royal palace in Manama on September 30, 2021 (credit: SHLOMI AMSALEM / GPO)

For years, Israel refused to participate in collective security agreements. But things have changed. For years, Israel allowed the establishment of a US military base on its territories and even accepted its inclusion in the US Central Command along with the Arab countries. The Israeli security establishment appears to have subscribed to the view that the way to deal with its enemies is through regional associations. Israel is in the process of revising its national security doctrine with the support of the United States and friendly countries in the Mediterranean, the Gulf and beyond. This effort is likely to continue to accelerate in the coming years.


Asharq Al-Awsat, London, October 22

Former US President Donald Trump announced the launch of his own social media app called “TRUTH,” stating that he will challenge major social media companies, such as Facebook and Twitter, which suspended their accounts following the riots on June 6. January at the Capitol.

Trump’s timing is perfect. Existing social media giants like Facebook and Twitter are coming under heavy attack due to executive bias and consolidation of their power. Legislators around the world want to decentralize this power and open the market to competition.

Additionally, pent-up anger among Trump supporters over his defeat in the recent election continues to grow strongly. Many of them believe not only that the election was stolen from Trump, but also that social media companies helped cover up the theft. President Trump commented on this move saying, “I am excited to send my first data on the Truth app soon … the app was built to give everyone a voice.”

According to various reports, a beta version of Truth will open to a shortlist of guests in November, followed by a nationwide rollout in Q1 2022. The new network also plans to introduce a video-on-demand subscription service, offering entertainment shows, news and podcasts. It is still too early to determine if the company will succeed in winning over companies like Facebook and Twitter, but the time is sure to be right, and the new Trump app has every chance of gaining a huge following. – Meshary Al-Dhaidy

Translated by Asaf Zilberfarb.


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