OPINION

Losing a crucial link

Colin Powell is history for the US government, having already submitted his long-anticipated resignation, and will now take his place in history next to William Jennings Bryan and Cyrus Vance, his two predecessors who resigned after disagreeing with Wilson and Carter… Many believe that Powell’s resignation represents the disappearance from the international stage of the last «civilized» figure in the Bush administration, a man with whom many top European leaders felt that they could find common ground. Others, however, maintain that Powell ended his otherwise exceptional career on a note of failure. He was unable to dissuade Bush from sending troops into Iraq but eventually conceded, tarnishing his image in the eyes of the United Nations. The best thing that can be said about Powell is that he raised objections; the worst thing is that he did not do enough to make his objections heard. The real picture must be somewhere in between the two. Indeed, after joining the State Department, he found himself torn between his military discipline and his aversion to the US unilateralism he was obliged to put into practice… Powell’s replacement by Condoleezza Rice will not change the essence of US foreign policy. But it will mean Europe loses the link that Powell represented to the pre-September 11 era, when international treaties had weight, and that it must try to re-establish channels of communication with Washington…