In a candid interview with his time in office running out, Secretary of State Colin Powell is acknowledging differences with others in the Bush administration and suggesting that the disputes centered on his preference for diplomacy over force to resolve problems.
But Powell steadfastly resisted being designated a dove by a Chilean television interviewer. “I never liked these titles,” he said.
But the secretary then went on to describe his long-held inclination, through several administrations, “of analyzing situations carefully to see if military force is appropriate.”
“If it is appropriate, we should force,” Powell said in the interview he gave to Chile’s TVN on Thursday in Santiago during an economic conference of Pacific nations.
“But if we can avoid the use of military force with diplomacy, through a political action, that is what we should try to do, and that is what President Bush tried to do,” Powell said.
“I have supported him in that effort,” Powell said.
The retired four-star general noted he had been involved in many combat operations in his lifetime.
Announcement of Powell’s resignation Monday and Bush’s naming of his hard-line national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, as the next secretary of state, revived recollections of Powell’s moderate leanings in contrast to such hawks as Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.
‘We have differences’
Powell, in the interview, did not describe any of the disputes. Nor did he say specifically with whom he disagreed. “We have differences,” he said. But Powell then ticked off areas where senior advisers were in accord, such as the expansion of the NATO alliance.
“Within any administration, and I have been in many administrations, there have always been disagreements from time to time,” Powell said. But he declined to link disagreements with other Bush advisers to his departure from the Cabinet.
“I thought that four years serving as secretary of state was long enough time for me,” Powell said. “And the president and I have been discussing it for some time, that it would probably be appropriate and better for us to make a change at the four-year point.”
“That’s all of what it is to it,” Powell said. “If the disagreements were so severe as some people claim, there wouldn’t have been four years.”