Thursday, August 05, 2004

Colin Powell, PJ O'Rourke, Volvo's, Beatles, Elvis, and our Zero Sum World...

.......Via Beck over at Incite (recently added to ye olde blogroll) comes this fascinating interview with Colin Powell by PJ O'Rourke. PJ is one of my favorite writers, and his attitude definitely makes for an entertaining read.

Colin Powell is also probably one of the most misunderstood people within the current administration I have ever seen. People from either side of the political fence constantly berate him for being either a Bush lackey (if they are Dems) or a soft multilateralist appeaser (if they are Repubs). I think he is one of the greatest things to happen to this country in years. In this interview he highlights the specific problems facing this country and the World, and shows how America has taken on the responsibility of lifting up the undeveloped nations of the world since the other major powers are either unwilling or incapable of doing so.

And of course, this being a PJ O'Rourke interview, he does the whole socio-political thing and then seamlessly jumps to Volvo's, Elvis and the Beatles.

My personal favorites from the interview-

(I asked the Secretary why the defense spending of our closest allies was, proportionately, so much less than our own.)

P. J. O'ROURKE: The powers that are on our side, why aren't they pulling on their oars? I mean, the EU has as big an economy and as big a population as we do.

SECRETARY POWELL: First of all, I do think they're on our side. I think we had a big hiccup on Iraq, and we lost some of them. But that'll swing back. The pendulum will come back our way because we do have more common interests than disagreements: terrorism, the world trading system, so many other things. Now, the reason we have to spend so much more is that there is no German navy preserving peace in the Pacific, there are no British troops standing guard in Korea, there is no need for any of our European Union friends to have the ability to project an army in a week or two from wherever they are to a place like Afghanistan.

P. J. O'ROURKE: But, why not?

SECRETARY POWELL: Because they have never felt that that was their destiny or their obligation. The United States entered into partnerships and believes it has these worldwide obligations. Nobody can move things like we can. They have never invested in it. Now, with the EU up to twenty-five nations, they're looking at whether or not this is where they should be putting their investment. And I think they should. But their domestic constituencies will not permit the kind of spending on defense that our domestic constituency permits. The Germans are dropping their defense spending and reducing the size of their armed forces. Whereas we've held steady for some years, and now Congress is passing laws to increase the size of our army.

The American people have always been more willing to shoulder this burden than our European friends, particularly now when the Cold War is over. There is no Iron Curtain, there is no Soviet Union, and the average European citizen looking around sees some of these out-of-the-way places like Afghanistan and the Balkans and Iraq. They're willing to do a little there, but they're not willing to put up to three or four percent of their GDP into defense spending the way we are."

Powell would probably make a great president, but I have a feeling that after he feels he has done all he can in his current position, he'll want to just go back to running volunteer organizations and banging on Volvo's. I can't blame him, he definitely deserves it.

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