Iraq War architect Colin Powell is voting for Hillary Clinton — along with major right-wing hawks

George W. Bush's secretary of state joins Bush Sr. and a long list of war hawks in supporting Hillary Clinton


Ben Norton
October 26, 2016 2:00AM (UTC)

Colin Powell, former secretary of state under President George W. Bush, announced on Tuesday that he will vote for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

Powell made the announcement speaking before the Long Island Association, a business organization. “I am voting for Hillary Clinton,” he said, according to a spokesperson for the association. Powell "went on to praise Mrs. Clinton for her skills as a leader and her experience," The New York Times reported.

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Powell also condemned Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, whose campaign has been widely condemned for its racist and xenophobic tactics.

A Long Island Association member who was present at the event told the Times that Powell "spoke about [Trump's] inexperience, he spoke about the messages that he’s sending out every day to his supporters, which really paints our country in a negative light across the globe with all our allies.”

The former senior Bush administration official joins a long list of right-wing leaders who are support Hillary Clinton.

Former president George H.W. Bush, father of the leader under whom Powell served, has also said he is going to vote for Clinton.

Likewise, former vice president Dick Cheney heaped praise on Clinton in a 2011 Fox News interview. He said the then-secretary of state was “one of the more competent members of the current administration,” adding that “it would be interesting to speculate about how she might perform were she to be president.”

Cheney stopped short of endorsing Clinton and appears to have said little about her in this election. Salon sent Cheney multiple requests for comment but did not receive a reply.

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Clinton also had a warm relationship with Robert Gates, a former secretary of defense in George W. Bush's administration and later for Obama's. Gates admiringly called Clinton a "tough lady" who shared his hawkish politics and “was someone he could do business with,” the Times reported.

Neoconservative war hawks like Robert Kagan, Max Boot and James Kirchick have similarly endorsed Clinton, applauding her foreign policy views.

The New York Times, which has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, acknowledged that she is more hawkish than many Republicans. In a long profile titled "How Hillary Clinton Became a Hawk," the Times noted that her "foreign-policy instincts are bred in the bone," making her "the last true hawk left in the race."

Powell played a leading role in pushing for the U.S. invasion of Iraq, which Clinton staunchly supported as a senator. Although he was initially wary about potential military action in Iraq, Powell became one of the war's most vocal supporters. As secretary of state, Powell attempted to gain international support for an invasion.

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In February 2003, a month before the invasion, Powell spoke before the United Nations Security Council, saying there could be "no doubt" that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had so-called weapons of mass destruction and would produce more. Powell also insisted that al-Qaida and the Iraqi government, which had long been implacable enemies, were working together. Both claims were false.

For years after he left office, Powell continued to defend the disastrous war, which led to the deaths of more than 1 million Iraqis, destabilized the region and fueled the rise of extremist groups like al-Qaida and ISIS.

Powell boasts some of the most prestigious military bona fides. Serving under George H.W. Bush, he played a similarly hawkish role, serving on the National Security Council before the president promoted him to be a four-star general and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, making him the highest-ranking U.S. military officer.

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During the lead-up to the Gulf War in 1990, journalists coined the term the Powell Doctrine to refer to his military strategy, which involved using overwhelming force against enemies.

Wall Street has also thrown its weight behind Clinton, who acknowledged in a private speech recently released by WikiLeaks that she "represented" and "had great relations" with the financial industries.


Ben Norton

Ben Norton is a politics reporter and staff writer at AlterNet. You can find him on Twitter at @BenjaminNorton.

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