Describes Challenges and Opportunities in Marshall Visitor Address
Globalization, the war in Iraq and US foreign policy were
among numerous topics covered by General Colin L. Powell,
the 21st George C. Marshall Visitor, in an April 6th address
at International House.
Powell, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and
US Secretary of State from 2001-05, told I. House residents
that their world will face challenges far different from those
faced by his generation.
Recalling the threat posed by the Axis powers in World War
II and the specter of a nuclear confrontation during the 50-year
Cold War with the Soviet Union during his lifetime, Powell
said the situation today is much different.
“In my judgment, it is not the world that was on the
edge of annihilation,” he said. “All those ‘isms’
that we used to concern ourselves with – Fascism, Communism,
Colonialism – are now things of the past.”
The two biggest challenges currently facing the United States
are the ongoing situation in Iraq and the Middle East Peace
process, Powell said.
“We have to help the Iraqis achieve the peace that
they want and the democracy they want,” he said. The
rise of sectarian violence in the country has produced “a
moment of extreme danger” in Iraq, but Powell said the
situation there is “not something we can walk away from.”
Powell acknowledged mistakes in war planning by the Bush
administration, saying “I don’t think we had enough
troops on the ground, and we didn’t have the right political
structure in which to deal with the immediate aftermath”
of the fall of Baghdad.
The next biggest US foreign policy challenge lies in the
Middle East, where a permanent peace has eluded previous administrations.
“If I had one wish in all of my foreign policy dreams,
it would be for a Palestinian state living side by side in
peace with the State of Israel.”
In the context of globalization, Powell said that global
leaders who wanted to make their countries a functioning part
of the world “need to be moving in the direction of
rule of law, good governance, and using the wealth of their
nation to capture commoditization and use it to the good of
“Globalization and the absence of a successful competing
ideology will move more and more nations in this direction,”
On US relations with Europe, Powell noted that disputes are
inevitable, but said the ties that bind the NATO allies are
based on common values: “Democracy, belief in the individual
rights of men and women, and market economies.”
Affable and relaxed, Powell charmed the audience with anecdotes
from his long career, and, noting he had turned 69 the day
before, the ups and downs of aging and grandparenthood.
Honorary Trustee David Rockefeller, who chaired the I. House
Executive Committee when the Board was led by George Marshall,
compared Powell favorably to the Nobel Prize-winning statesman
in his introduction and called the general a “role model
and an inspiration.”
Powell praised the work of International House.
“Never has it been more important for us to have this
kind of exchange,” he said.
“I congratulate International House for having lived
consistently with this approach to international relations,
and for having done it so successfully.”
“I’m so glad that there are young people such
as you coming along, and I’m so glad there are places
such as International House that will help you as you prepare
yourselves for a future of opportunities and challenges,”
Among the 300-plus guests for the mid-afternoon talk were
Honorary Trustees Daisy M. Soros ’51 and former Chairman
John C. Whitehead, as well as numerous trustees, alumni and