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The Tragedy of the Good Soldier

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Here is from the New York Times, discussing a new book about Colin Powell:

The book is among the latest accounts of the divisions in the administration as it hurtled toward war and stumbled through its aftermath. The Powell biography provides further detail on his early misgivings about the war and the size of the force assembled to fight it, doubts that have been reported in several other books, including those by Ms. DeYoung's colleague at The Post, Bob Woodward.

Despite his doubts, however, Mr. Powell never threatened to resign or go public with his complaints, according to these accounts, because such acts would betray the ethic of the loyal soldier he felt he was.

How noble to be a "good soldier," but how limited is the vision through that moral portal. A basically good man is witness to perfidy and to blunders but --given his socialization into the morality of the army, a morality that is based on the values of obedience and loyalty-- Colin Powell decides that what the Good requires of him is that he not resign to help his country realize the dangers the Bushites were leading us into, nor go forward and speak directly to the American people, so that he could help lead them to a clearer vision of what these liars were misrepresenting to us.

No, he thought he owed loyalty to his commanders, as a good soldier would.

These are the limits --and this is the tragedy-- of the Good Soldier. A tragedy for Powell, with his reputation stained by (among other things) his presentation to the United Nations before the Iraq war. But more important, a tragedy for the United States and even the world.
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Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. His new book -- written to have an impact on the central political battle of our time -- is (more...)
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