Powell: Partisanship perhaps worst in 40 years
August 26th, 2012
01:53 PM ET

Powell: Partisanship perhaps worst in 40 years

Divisive partisanship in Washington is perhaps the worst it has been in four decades, former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell told Fareed Zakaria on Global Public Square on Sunday.

“We expect people to come and argue and fight and have different beliefs. That’s what the system is all about. We expect the party out of power to oppose the party in power.  That's part of our system,” Powell said. “But at the same time, you have to do it on the basis of comity.”

“And you have to do it on the basis of mutual respect. I may disagree with you, but I’m not out to destroy you. We’ve got to find a way. And yes, I think what I’m seeing now in the last few years is perhaps the worst I've seen in the 40 years I've been hanging around Washington.”

Powell’s comments came in a wide ranging interview taped recently in London and broadcast this weekend. Powell, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also discussed Mitt Romney’s recent trip to Europe, Iran’s nuclear program and the continuing violence in Syria.

“I think there’s a civil war that’s taking place, and I think anybody who thought that President Assad would simply say, ‘oh, gee, I'm going to stand down,’ I don't think had a good understanding of what Syria was like or what the Alawite clan is like,” he told Zakaria.

Asked whether the U.S. should get more deeply involved in Syria, Powell argued that it’s important first to define exactly what “getting involved” actually means, including over the question of no-fly zones.

“A no-fly zone means you have to have constant caps over the area to make sure nobody’s flying. You need radar to detect them,” he said. “It’s something that’s doable, but it’s not a simple matter.”

“But if it doesn’t work, then what do you do? Do you take it up to the next level? Well, let’s put a few forward air controllers on the ground. And so my only suggestion is if you are thinking of military – use of military forces to help get rid of al-Assad – think it through carefully, and don’t just grab slogans and run with it.”

Powell wouldn’t be drawn on whether he would repeat his 2008 endorsement of Barack Obama, saying only that he wanted to see the “whole picture” before reaching a decision. But he did weigh in with his take on Obama’s foreign policy performance so far.

“I think he’s done rather well, in fact. I mean, we are out of Iraq, which is a timetable that President Bush had established, and I think we are slowly turning over in Afghanistan in a sensible way,” Powell said. “Sooner or later, the two countries, the two peoples – the Afghanistan population and the Iraqi population – have to take responsibility for their own destiny and their own future. So I think he's handled that well. He hasn’t gotten us in any new conflicts.”

“I think he has been vicious on terrorists with drone attacks, getting rid of Bin Laden, and things like that. I think he’s protected the country rather well,” Powell added.

Topics: GPS Show

soundoff (55 Responses)
  1. Nancy Cossitt

    Remind me, please, how to find the segment from the August 26th GPS that addresses the opportunities for improvement cited by China toward the USA – the bit about more privately owned firearms, most incarcerated, underemployed minorities, cutting educational funds, etc. Thank you.

    August 26, 2012 at 3:15 pm | Reply
    • Ena Wason

      Nancy Cossitt, I, too want to find the segment form the August 26th GPS that addresses the opportunities for improvement cited by China toward the USA – the bit about more privately owned firearms, most incarcerated, underemployed minorities, cutting educational funds, etc. If you do find this segment, please email me at ena1@comcast.com
      Thank you.

      August 26, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Reply
    • Malcolm

      An interesting question you pose in view of the argument about what are human rights? In the US you have the right to read the Chinese report, but if you have no internet, you can't access it, and if you can't read, as many poor Americans and immigrants without a decent education can't, you can't read it anyway. Zakaria was totally off base with his dismissive rejection of the Chinese report's findings: Access to education, free healthcare, the right not to be shot by a raving maniac, or not to be incarcerated because you're black or poor, or not to be executed, are not just 'social policy' they ARE human rights, it's just a different way of interpreting it, but just as important to living freely and enjoying life without fear of your liberties of your life being taken from you. There's no use having a right to do something, like 'pursue happiness' when you have no chance to exercise that right, or you're gunned down in a cinema and your life taken from you!

      Zakaria's sneering dismissal of China's report was a typical instance of American's self-congratulatory, supercilious sense of superiority that only Americans know true liberty and freedom whne they see it, while everyone else lives in different degrees of slavery and ignorance. It proves once again there's nothing more American than a naturalised immigrant trying to prove himself more American than the Ivy League elitists he aspires to be accepted by.

      August 27, 2012 at 9:24 am | Reply
  2. P Handal

    I used to watch Fareed Zakaria regularly every Sunday. After the plagarism bit, count me out.

    August 26, 2012 at 3:29 pm | Reply
    • Sean B.

      One slip-up from Fareed isn't enough to warrant a boycott. It's an unusual situation and poorly explained by himself/Time/CNN- but he has given so much intellectual weight to the fickle media that he's not something to be thrown away in a reactionary manner.

      August 26, 2012 at 9:31 pm | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      It's a pity, Handal, you're gonna miss a whole lot! Read the international press and you will see why!

      August 27, 2012 at 3:26 am | Reply
    • Bungalowlove

      Your loss.

      August 27, 2012 at 11:36 am | Reply
  3. Penny villa

    Washington, republicans and democrats, Rommney and obahama have brought shame to America, neather party loves America or the American people, they just want power at any price and the American people be damned. We need real change dump both parties, we need to take our country back from these vipers.

    August 26, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Reply
    • James Davidson

      I agree Penny, and Im not voting in protest. If we the people don't vote surely the nation will wake up.

      August 26, 2012 at 8:12 pm | Reply
      • Jeremy

        No, what will happen if you don't vote will be that the loonies will have much more likelihood to sway the elections and the only commentary about your silly protest will be "Gee, voter turnout was low this year. Oh, well."

        August 27, 2012 at 1:50 am |
      • j. von hettlingen

        Penny made a point somehow. Very often politicians forget what the real meaning of bi-partisanship means. The party in the opposition is supposed to have the function of checks and balances and keep an eye on the party in the government. But in recent years the party in opposition – the Tea Party – resorts to acrimonious rhetoric, aiming at destroying various persons within the government.

        August 27, 2012 at 3:36 am |
    • Marquise

      I thought that the Tea party was a new grassroot party of disillusioned ex-Republican and libertarians? Ron and Rand Paul are at the Republican convention as we speak. When the Republican party makes a pack to make the President a one-term president at any cost, we know who is gambling with the future of America. It is personal and not just political for the Republicans and they don't care that Americans are suffering. They must win at all cost.

      August 27, 2012 at 8:10 pm | Reply
  4. Bryan Sanders

    I usually agree with Fareed's views, but not today. In his segment on China's view on the U.S. human rights violations, he questioned whether or not the growing income inequality happening across the country is really a human rights issue. The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights Article 23 (1) states, "Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment." Ask some of the counted 8% of the unemployed people, not to mention those who either stopped looking for work or are severely underemployed whether or not they feel their human rights have been violated? The growing income inequality within the United States is in fact a human rights violation when you factor in those unemployed/underemployed individuals. I was stunned to see such a one-sided view by Fareed on air.

    August 26, 2012 at 6:31 pm | Reply
    • Malcolm

      Totally agree, I was also shocked by such a crass, partisan, stars-and-stripes-warped view of that issue from him, I'd expected a bit more balance.

      August 27, 2012 at 9:26 am | Reply
  5. James Davidson

    "We expect the party out of power to oppose the party in power'" Tis statement by Colin Powell is exactly the problem. When each party has this mindset we end up with gridlock, politicians in one party voting to oppose the other whether they believe them to be right or not. The Republicans have sought to destory Pres. Obama, no matter what..This is not grown up democracy. Let's rid our system of opposing parties, as some of the founding fathers suggested, and elect good people, each being independent.

    Fareed, excuse me but your programs are sounding the same. We need different guests with fresh thinking

    August 26, 2012 at 7:35 pm | Reply
  6. Keith Dowling

    I find it interesting that the summary of the article where Colin Powell praises Obama for his handling of Foreing Policy omits his comment that Obama basically continued Bush's policies (paraphrased from the original interview on TV).

    There is a lot of talk about the media not being impartial. I think CNN missed an opportunity to be impartial.

    August 26, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Reply
    • SP

      Couldn't have said it better!

      August 26, 2012 at 10:57 pm | Reply
  7. AmericanPeasant

    I saw this interview on TV. I like how Fareed can get real guests on his show to talk politics when Piers guests are 95% celebrity garbage. CNN needs to do a swap and put Piers on Sundays only (if ever) and give the Key Interviewer spot to Fareed. I still can't believe that Larry King's chair be taken by Piers Morgan, that's complete bull.

    As for Colin Powell, always liked the dude, he'd make a good president, but I'm guessing he doesn't want to be in politics anymore.

    Also Fareed I enjoyed the China story I saw on tv and look forward to that being on here. Lol, the perfect ending, a challenge to China to show our State Department report on their state run news agency if we show their state department report on ours lol. But of course that won't happen because then the commies would have to torture their citizens for reading our stuff.

    August 26, 2012 at 8:01 pm | Reply
  8. 100 % ETHIO

    What do President Obama and Army General Colin Powell have in common?

    Ethnically, they are both different, except the habitual 'Black' word is used to defined them.

    Citizens responsibility, under American Law:- yes this defined them well. They are both Americans. They are still serving their Country, accordingly.
    They both would like to remain as good icons for the future an like generations. Someday, someone will say, there were American leaders from our roots.

    Similarly, the above indicated might solve problems that 'African-American' suffered. Such as, unable or can't draw their Family Trees from its deep roots. ...and they admitted being 'Disconnected' from their roots. Even some Country like Nigeria, refused to accept them, during their difficult times 'O! Africa, hear My voice'. But, now they welcoming them, once the opportunity opened to African-Americans. Back then, only One King in East-Africa took the risks to welcome and save Black Slave Descendants, who were suffered so much by Slavery and Naturally.

    According to some audience, Mr.Powell has been viewed, neither Republican nor Democratic, when it comes to President Obama's Administration judgement.

    August 26, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Reply
    • Peace

      Mr. Powell is the most respected politician of the time. The only time he made a mistake is to be misled by Cheney's "intelligence" on WMD. Yet, after learning the truth, he disengaged himself with the Bush administration and retired.

      August 28, 2012 at 1:50 am | Reply
  9. JAL

    As far as Sec. Powells comments on Iran, I think it is important for both the US and Israel to leave all negotiating to the Arabs. It is impossible to move peace forward in the region without a steadfast partnership between the Arabs and Israel.

    August 26, 2012 at 10:14 pm | Reply
    • jhalldor

      Agree. Keep the US out of the middle east thousand year hatred. We don't need to be there and our policy there has been counterproductive. Trade and Diplomacy not threats and war. Powell made a huge mistake and contributed to our misguided war in Iraq. Let's learn from our mistakes and stay out of Iran and Syria.

      August 27, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Reply
  10. Patrick

    How well or how bad this Partisanship business goes in Washington is truly quite irrelevant. Both parties work for the all powerful M.I.C. in Washington and will do whatever they are told told since the vast majority of their members are on the take!

    August 27, 2012 at 12:02 am | Reply
    • Joseph McCarthy/Quigley/LyndsieGraham/krm1007©™/Joe Collins/J. Foster Dulles/Marine5484/OldManClark

      I am the same guy. I am a useless piece of camel dung. I post anti-American, anti GB, anti-Semite, anti-India, anti-modern anything because I am a good Moslem from Pakistan. I have stolen Patrick’s moniker because I am so ashamed of myself and I post the most stupid comments because I am an imbecile. Mohammed the pedophile has taught me well. When people get angry with me, I claim they are the stupid ones. If I am not careful, my brain will explode because it is so full of hate and puss.

      August 27, 2012 at 7:35 am | Reply
      • Patrick

        Thank you, Phunnie boy. Spoken like a true, hateful, ignorant Tea Partier!

        August 27, 2012 at 8:26 am |
      • taskmaster

        A true description of I slam.

        August 27, 2012 at 10:52 am |
  11. GOP Word Association

    WORD = GOP Association
    Old People = Glob of cells that we don't care about. Let them die.
    Sick People = Glob of cells that we don't care about. Let them die.
    Poor People = Glob of cells that we don't care about. Let them die.
    Female People = Glob of cells that we don't care about. Let them die.
    Non-white People = Glob of cells that we don't care about. Let them die.
    Non-christian People = Glob of cells that we don't care about. Let them die.
    Unemployed People = Glob of cells that we don't care about. Let them die.
    Gay People = Glob of cells that we don't care about. Let them die.
    Glob of cells in a womb = Something we PRETEND to care about just to get votes.

    August 27, 2012 at 9:48 am | Reply
    • taskmaster

      A typical liberal .Nothing on the brain but politics. And everything is the fault of republicans. People like that really remind me of Nazis and muslims. Hitler could not talk on any subject without blaming someone else for the state of affairs in Germany when Germany brought about it's own down fall by starting WW-1 Then Hitler started WW-2 and brought Germany to even worse grief. The liberals will do even worse to America.

      August 27, 2012 at 11:05 am | Reply
      • Hertz Doughnut

        The truth hurts don't it.

        August 28, 2012 at 10:47 am |
  12. Aaron Chaney

    HAMA (SANA) – Authorities Arrest Wanted Fugitives in Hama

    Following an internal investigation, authorities arrested several wanted men in the neighborhoods of al-Sabouniyeh and al-Ulaylat in Hama and confiscated their weapons.

    An official source told SANA that among the confiscated items were 11 7.62 automatic rifles, an Israeli-made sniper rifle, a NATO sniper rifle, 6 explosive devices, 2 Israeli-made bazooka launchers, and 30 mortar rounds.

    Terrorists Assassinate Preacher of al-Imam al-Nawawi Mosque in Front of His Home in Damascus

    A terrorist group assassinated sheikh Hasan Bertawi, preacher of al-Imam al-Nawawi Mosque in Rukneddin neighborhood in Damascus.

    A source at the Ministry of Endowments (Awqaf) said the terrorists were lying in wait for sheikh al-Bertawi before they shot him dead in front of his home in Rukneddin.

    ALEPPO (SANA) – Armed Terrorist Group Burns and Destroys Seven Tankers Loaded with Fuel and Gasoline

    An armed terrorist group attacked 7 tankers loaded with fuel and gasoline near al-Nairab bridge in Aleppo, burning and destroying them.

    A source in Aleppo told SANA the tankers were bound for Aleppo to supply citizens with the resources to meet their basic needs, but terrorists sabotaged the delivery which authorities confirm will be rescheduled via military escort.

    August 27, 2012 at 10:35 am | Reply
  13. Aaron Chaney

    TALKALAKH (SANA) – Terrorists Severely Hit in al-Hosn and Talkalakh

    An armed forces' unit pursued an armed terrorist group that attacked citizens and law-enforcement members near al-Ouja roundabout in al-Hosn town in Homs countryside, killing and injuring its members.

    A SANA correspondent quoted a source in the governorate as saying that authorities in Talkalakh city on Saturday repelled an armed terrorist group which tried to attack law-enforcement members and inflicted huge losses among them.

    IDLEB (SANA) – Authorities Hunt Down Terrorists in Idleb Province

    Competent authorities for the 5th day continued their pursuit of an armed terrorist groups in Ariha, Idleb and surrounding areas, in a qualitative operation geared towards isolating and targeting the mercenaries.

    A source told SANA that authorities tracked the terrorists and engaged them in al-Sina'a neighborhood in Ariha, killing and injuring a number of them while others were arrested.

    The source added that during the operation two cars equipped with Dushka machineguns were destroyed.

    An armed forces unit engaged a terrorist group that attempted to block Harem road in Idleb and seized cars containing food bound for Idleb city as the armed forces eliminated a large number of these terrorists and recovered the stolen goods.

    In villages and the wilderness surrounding Dama area in Idleb, armed forces unit confirm chasing down a terrorist group and killing many of their members.

    August 27, 2012 at 10:36 am | Reply
  14. Aaron Chaney

    DARAYYA (SANA) – Armed Forces Continue Clearing Darayya Area from Terrorists

    Armed forces continue their due dilligence as they cleared the area of Darayya in Damascus countryside, pursuing terrorists and raiding their hideouts.

    These operations resulted in the deaths of a large number of terrorists, the arrests of others, and the confiscation of large amounts of weapons that included RPG launchers, US-made sniper rifles, mortar rounds, homemade rockets and improvised explosive devices, and materials and equipment for making them, in addition to silencers, night-vision goggles and wireless communication devices.

    In addition, engineering units dismantled three explosive devices planted by terrorists in the streets of Darayya.

    August 27, 2012 at 10:38 am | Reply
  15. Idahosa

    What have we gotten from all the politicians so far?

    August 27, 2012 at 10:50 am | Reply
  16. krm1007 ©™

    We now need to focus on India. The American invasion of Afghanistan brought to the forefront the irrelevance of India as a nation. With a population of over 1.2 billion people there was no value that this nation could bring to the table. Their soldiers (ragtag) 1.2 million continue hiding in the trenches scared from Talibans. A few teenage Talibans invaded the country and held it hostage for days on end showing how useless India is. It was embarrasing for the world to observe this humiliation of a nation that was being touted as a regional power.

    We continue to read with interest the thesis presented on CNN that "less is more" in a political context as applied to India. Although Mies Van Der Rohe adopted this in an architectural context, its economic and political connotations are indeed powerful. Empowering subjugated minorities in India by splitting it into smaller states would trigger uber economic demand for western nations who have given so much financial and technology aid to India with no return to show for the investment. I concur with this approach and with an economic background find the premise to be on solid footing. Central Asian States (CAS) are a case in point on this successful approach. We need to understand that India has an unmanageable large population mired in poverty and we are spinning our wheels trying to feed it. It is also too big of a geographical unit to govern. Again, we saw how a few teenage talibans were able to invade it with a few BB guns. And that says a lot... in a negative way not only for a large unmanageable country like India but also for USA which is trying to prop it up against China. Besides, Americans cannot afford to look like losers in the midst of a terror war which has lasted for over ten years now.

    August 27, 2012 at 11:46 am | Reply
    • Sandy

      Your aganda being????

      September 5, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Reply
  17. Chuk

    Mr Powell, please sit down with war-mongers like Senator McCain and explain to them that the US shouldn't throw themselves into every conflicts and potential conflicts around the world, even if they can.

    August 27, 2012 at 12:19 pm | Reply
  18. Chaotician

    There is two incompatible, opposing world views... and they can not be reconciled! One, the Repugnant view is predicated on power and the belief that power should be unlimited and not controlled except by greater individual power! Power whether through force, God, wealth, position is the only goal of life and the use of power for domination is the "natural" order of mankind! Hence the priests and the 1% of the 1%, the Generals and the Oligrachs, the politicians and the judges by Repugnant cants are right and best "leaders" and the rightful recipients of the fruits of the lesser men without power. Slavery is the right of the powerful and the powerless rightly serve their masters! I have no desire or willingness to live in that Repugnant land and oppose in every way possible every Repugnant and their corruption of the human spirit!

    August 28, 2012 at 10:41 am | Reply
  19. mikrik13

    Why isn't this man president? He would be one of the greats.

    August 28, 2012 at 11:36 am | Reply
  20. joe anon 1

    another deleted comment

    August 28, 2012 at 12:57 pm | Reply
  21. joe anon 1

    my mistake. comment not deleted

    August 28, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Reply
  22. orion7x

    This is the only one in the GOP I have any respect for. He does not have mean deceitful motives.

    August 28, 2012 at 4:40 pm | Reply
  23. muggie2

    Colin Powell has respect around the world. Yes, he supported the invasion of Iraq based on what are now known as inaccurate intelligence briefings. Other than that, he did a good job. Is he perfect? No. But he's honest, and that counts for a lot. I just wish that CNN didn't take some of his words and quote them out of context, or, in this case, simply omit the ones which would have given his quote a different spin to the one they have presented.

    August 28, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Reply
  24. Keith Carlisle

    He lost my respect when he was a shill for the Bush invasion of Iraq–and he may have his self-respect, too. It's very unfortunate, as he once was one of the few Republicans I respected and admired.

    August 30, 2012 at 3:25 am | Reply
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