Incite -- (v) 1: give an incentive; 2: provoke or stir up; "incite a riot"; 3: urge on; cause to act
Thursday, August 05, 2004

The CEO of the Sofa meets the Secretary of State
Written by: Beck

P. J. O'Rourke has long been one of my favorite humorists. His eccentric brand of libertarianism strongly tempered with a combination of common sense and hard liquor has always resonated strongly with me. Conversely, I'm not a huge fan of Colin Powell. O'Rourke's interview with Powell in The Atlantic Online, however, shows a side of Powell that I wasn't really aware of. Regardless, the whole interview is definitely worth the read. But since the interview is long and blog readers tend to lean towards short attention spans, I've excerpted some of the choicest morsels for you here.
P. J. O'ROURKE: In terms of non-zero-sum thinking, is our country in the unique historical position of wanting other nations to be as powerful as we are?

Powell looked at me over the top of his glasses.

SECRETARY POWELL: Wanting other nations to be as powerful? No, I wouldn't say that. I think our historical position is we are a superpower that cannot be touched in this generation by anyone in terms of military power, economic power, the strength of our political system and our values system. What we would like to see is a greater understanding of power, of the democratic system, the open market economic system, the rights of men and women to achieve their destiny as God has directed them to do if they are willing to work for it. And we really do not wish to go to war with people. But, by God, we will have the strongest military around. And that's not a bad thing to have. It encourages and champions our friends that are weak and it chills the ambitions of the evil.


The Secretary recounted a "slip of the tongue" that reportedly had been made by one of the delegates to the European Council and the Intergovernmental Conference on a new EU constitution, which had been held the previous week.

SECRETARY POWELL: They were all in a room arguing, you know, saying things like, "Our system is a multipolar world, and how do we deal with the United States?" And one of them said, "The United States has had over three percent economic growth for nine of the past ten years. We have had over three percent economic growth for one of the past ten years. So we had better start looking at what the United States does right as well as criticizing and screaming at them all the time."


P. J. O'ROURKE: Are we getting worry fatigue? Are we so worried about Islamicist terrorism that we're not looking at other things we ought to be worried about?

SECRETARY POWELL: I don't think we are. I don't think the President is. I don't think this Department is. If you were to spend a week with me and saw how much time I spend on economic issues, trade issues ...

P. J. O'ROURKE: I actually meant the public more than you.

SECRETARY POWELL: I think the public is worrying too much about terrorism. It's starting to affect us too much with respect to issues like traveling. I get all kinds of questions from people. Somebody came up to me at church yesterday and asked, "Do you think it's okay for my daughter to go to Singapore?" I said, "I can't think of anywhere on earth she's going to be safer." But they were terrified that their daughter was going to this faraway place and the terrorists were going to get her. I said, "Let her go and enjoy it." And now everybody is running around and saying they're going to be bombing all the shopping centers.


P. J. O'ROURKE: I was wondering whether we should be concerned about issues like, we've got some countries out there that seem to be trying to decouple the idea of economic freedom from personal liberty and political liberty--something we once would have called Fascism.

SECRETARY POWELL: Yes, without naming countries, we're nervous about this trend, but I don't think it works. Because if you are going to be economically successful you can't really constrain your people too much. Your people are the ones who are going to make it happen for you. You have to turn them loose. They may originally start out being robber barons, but so did we.

The society eventually catches up with them and makes something useful. We had robber barons in the last century and we had junk bond dealers and a number of them went to jail. But, man, before they went to jail, did they get something going. The cellular industry, the computer industry--it was junk bond guys who did that in the '80s. We probably wouldn't have advanced as quickly as we did if it had not been for junk bond dealers who went to jail. [ed: this paragraph was by far my favorite]

(Hat tip: Obsidian Wings)

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