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Powell: U.S. Was "Too Loud" Over Iraq


Reuters, Germany, Mar. 30, 2005

Photo: Colin Powell making the case, United Nations, February 5, 2003

The United States made errors in presenting its case for war against Iraq, but Saddam Hussein had to be removed, former Secretary of State Colin Powell told a German magazine.

'We were sometimes too loud, too direct, perhaps we made too much noise,' Powell told Stern magazine in an interview released on Wednesday. 'That certainly shocked the Europeans sometimes.'

He said terms like 'Old Europe,' the expression coined by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to describe countries such as France and Germany which opposed the war, had not helped ease European concerns about Washington's policies.

But he said that despite the problems facing U.S. troops in Iraq, it was better that Saddam Hussein was no longer in power.

'Yes, the insurgency is much bigger than we anticipated. But I'm glad that Saddam is in jail,' he said in the German article.

Powell said he had argued for a diplomatic solution against cabinet colleagues such as Vice President Dick Cheney, who did not believe that diplomacy would work.

'The situation with Saddam Hussein had to be resolved, either by taming him or by removing him by military means,' he said. 'I'm sure that the Vice President's view from the very beginning was: we'll never solve this through diplomatic means.'

Powell said he was 'furious and angry' that he had been misinformed about Iraq's stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction when he laid out the case for war before the United Nations Security Council in February, 2003.

'It was information from our security services and from some Europeans, including Germans. Some of this information was wrong. I did not know this at the time,' he told the magazine.

'Hundreds of millions followed it on television. I will always be the one who presented it. I have to live with that.'

But he said he had never considered resigning and rejected suggestions that his relationship with President Bush was a cool one.

'Anyone who says that has no idea. We are friends,' he said.