THE former American secretary of state Colin Powell has revealed that he spent 2½ hours vainly trying to persuade President George W Bush not to invade Iraq and believes today’s conflict cannot be resolved by US forces. [...]
He added: “It is not a civil war that can be put down or solved by the armed forces of the United States.” All the military could do, Powell suggested, was put “a heavier lid on this pot of boiling sectarian stew”.
The signs are that the views of Powell and other critics of the war are finally being heard in the Pentagon, if not yet in the White House. ... Gates believes American troop withdrawals are essential to building a cross-party consensus for retaining a presence in Iraq after Bush’s term in office expires. [...]
[His troop level] figures are similar to those floated by aides to Hillary Clinton, the frontrunner for the Democratic presidential nomination, although she has been upping the rhetoric against remaining in Iraq in an effort to capture the support of party activists. [...]
The former secretary of state has twice met Barack Obama, the Democratic candidate, to advise him on foreign policy. Despite his antiwar stance, Obama supports a phased withdrawal that could leave a “significantly reduced force” in Iraq for “an extended period”. [...]
Powell believes that a reduction in US forces will have to be accompanied by talks with Syria and Iran. “You have to talk to the people you dislike most in this dangerous world.”
He's right about that. People talk to Bush, don't they?
The general and former joint chiefs of staff added: “Shi’ites will ultimately prevail because they are 60% of the population and their militias can be pretty violent. They will prevail also because they are determined not to be ruled again by the Sunnis.
“The Sunnis are struggling for power and survival and it’s going to be resolved by a test of arms. It’s going to be very ugly.”
Yeah, because right now it's all so neat and pretty.