The Mid-Atlantic Blog

January 16, 2006

Three Cheers For Colin Powell

Not a subject line I thought I'd find myself writing, I must admit, but it's certainly the way I feel having just watched the Paxman Newsnight interview. The whole exercise just demonstrated the problems that we have here. Powell was the epitome of good grace and rationality - recognising errors made, stating his case as he believed it clearly, and emphasising the unanimity of view within the intelligence community as to the Iraq regime. Paxman, however, came across as rather odd, and at one point seemed to make it explicit that he believed that the decision to go to war was based on knowingly false information. Colin Powell didn't like that. Colin Powell used to be in the military. Colin Powell looks quite scary when he doesn't like something you've just said. That makes good TV.

There is a simple problem. On this issue, it's quite clear that the category of "unfortunate, but genuine and understandable error" no longer exists. Nothing other than absolute, metaphysical certainty will now do when assessing intelligence information (at least for a war that the media dislike). We know this, of course, but this is a very very clear demonstration of the phenomenon.

And with the current situation in Iran, that leaves us with a bit of a problem.

Watch the video, but first make sure that you have nothing hard in the room. Otherwise you'll be out at the electrical shop buying a new TV tomorrow morning.

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