Colin Powell’s UN Speech, Eleven Years Later

photo of Colin Powell at the UN
Colin Powell Gives His Infamous UN Speech, Feb 5, 2003

This post was written exactly a year ago, and although ten years is admittedly a more-notable anniversary than eleven, it’s still important to remember that Colin Powell’s atrocious speech before the UN was eleven years ago today. That might not seem like much, but when our country screws up as badly as it did when we decided to go to war in Iraq, figuring out what went wrong and who was responsible for it is critical to making sure we don’t make the same mistakes again.

It is also important as a memorial, because hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and 4,489 Americans lost their lives needlessly in that war, a war which was entered into in large part because Colin Powell lent the credibility of the State Department and his own considerable personal authority and credibility to the effort with this one, ignominious speech before the UN. Wavering Democrats, already afraid to buck the President on a matter of national security, fell in line after seeing Powell’s performance, and the die became well and truly cast after that.

Here’s the devastating run-down of what Powell knew at the time he gave the speech, along with what he suspected or wondered or feared in private, all set against what he actually told the assembled diplomats of the UN (and the world), eleven years ago today. Read it all. Then don’t let it happen again.