Thursday, April 10, 2008

Colin Powell On The Olympics, Iraq, Iran, Race And 2008

Diane Sawyer interviewed Colin Powell on "Good Morning America" and discussed the Olympics, Iraq, and Iran, race and the 2008 election.

Presidential Election

Powell insists he hasn't yet decided whom he'll back in the 2008 presidential election:

"I'm looking at all three candidates," Powell said in an exclusive interview with Diane Sawyer for Thursday's "Good Morning America" on ABC. "I know them all very, very well. I consider myself a friend of each and every one of them. And I have not decided who I will vote for yet."

Rejects Olympic Boycott

Powell rejects a boycott of the opening ceremonies of the Olympics in China:
"That's a judgment the president will have to make. I would not boycott the opening ceremony," Powell told Sawyer.
Powell insists that a boycott will not accomplish its objective:
"We always are aware and have been aware of Chinese human rights problems. And I think if you start to take this kind of action, it doesn't really serve the purpose of human rights," Powell told "Good Morning America."

"What is accomplished by boycotting the opening ceremony?" Powell asked rhetorically. "I don't think that makes the situation any better. It probably makes the situation a little more difficult for the Chinese because they will pull back even more."

Powell encouraged China to begin a dialogue with the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet.

"I think we ought (to) recognize that these protests are legitimate, recognize that the Chinese ought to move forward and start having a dialogue with the Dalai Lama, and not just say, 'We're not going to talk to you.' (The) Dalai Lama has indicated flexibility. And I think that's what the Chinese should do," he said. "But I don't think that these kinds of actions, such as boycotting an opening ceremony, or even perhaps thinking twice about sending your team to the Olympics, has the desired effect."

"I very much supported in 2001, when I was secretary of state, that we give the Olympics to the Chinese because I thought it would put them under a spotlight. And they have responded to that spotlight," he said. "But they haven't with respect to Tibet. And these demonstrations show the Chinese leadership that the world is watching this."


Powell expressed concern about the burden Iraq puts on the country's military:
"I'll tell you what they're all going to face -- whichever one of them becomes president on Jan. 21 of 2009 -- they will face a military force, a United States military force, that cannot sustain, continue to sustain, 140,000 people deployed in Iraq, and the 20 (to) 25,000 people we have deployed in Afghanistan, and our other deployments," Powell said.

[. . .]

"I think it's time to begin an orderly process of withdrawing our troops, start rebuilding our military and focusing on the challenges posed by Afghanistan," Clinton said during a Senate Armed Services hearing on Tuesday.


Powell, as a soldier, says while military options are always on the table, Iran would be a very tough target.


Powell condemned controversial remarks by Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama's pastor of 20 years, as "deplorable" but complimented Obama for his speech on race:
"Rev. Wright is also somebody who has made enormous contributions in his community and has turned a lot of lives around," Powell said, "And so, I have to put that in context with these very offensive comments that he made, which I reject out of hand."

[. . .]

"I think that Sen. Obama handled the issue well . . . he didn't look the other way. He didn't wait for the, for the, you know, for the storm to go over. He went on television, and I thought, gave a very, very thoughtful, direct speech. And he didn't abandon the minister who brought him closer to his faith," Powell told Sawyer.

You can watch the interview in the following video.

Powell was impressive in his ability to weave answers around tough questions and not offend any of the potential powers to be. Very diplomatic and thoughtful.

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