Sunday, January 27, 2008

Colin Powell Live from Millett Hall

Colin Powell Live from Millett Hall

Last week (January 22nd), I got to see Colin Powell speak at Miami. The one speaker I had seen previously in this speaker series was Mikhail Gorbachev who’s speech was in Russian and the translation took a lot out of it. Powell though, was interesting and a very good speaker. He mixed in a lot of humor, about retirement, old age and stuff along those lines. He spoke for about an hour and the first half hour was mostly his standard speech-circuit routine about him and what he is doing/did.

Finally, for the last twenty minutes or so he talked about the topic – Democracy. He talked about Russia, China, Japan, and a few other countries and regions more vaguely. He had a great story about Russia, about how he talked with an angry Gorbachev who berated Powell – and the U.S. – for not giving him more support. And then he calmly called Powell out and said, “you liked having us as an enemy, but now you will need a new one!” And Powell admitted that the stability of the U.S.S.R. as an enemy had been the bedrock of his career in the military.

He talked briefly about how Deng Xiaoping was a great leader who modernized his country.

More entertaining was his story about Koizumi – whom he called his favorite world leader – where Powell talked with him and after they were done Powell asked Koizumi if it was true that he loved Elvis. And Koizumi grew very animated and gushed about how much he loved the king. And Powell responded by saying that he had known Elvis in the service, and Koizumi grew even more excited.

Powell also talked briefly about some of the things he did as Secretary of State and certain ongoing crises. He talked about the shock of 9/11, the necessity of Afghanistan, the hardline on Iran, the impetus for the Iraq attack and the steely resolve of North Korea.

He talked about how he thinks we do need to finish what we started and that he has a lot of faith in General Petraeus to make the surge successful. He thinks Guantanamo Bay should close down because he worries about the strength of the Geneva Convention.

I was really liking his speech overall until he ended with this bull shit hot dog story about how this one hot dog vendor recognized him and told him that Powell didn’t have to pay for his hotdog because, “America has already paid me.”

He took six questions –
1) A German student asks about Iraqi intelligence from foreign services and Powell said that everyone believed the intelligence and he thinks they got some stuff right, and a lot wrong, but the consensus was firmly behind the intell they had.
2) this scatchy guy began his question with a “don’t taze me bro” joke which was not funny – and then he asked a clichĂ© question about what Powell thought the greatest issue facing our generation was and Powell answered with some b.s. about getting involved and voting – yawn.
3) Some guy asked this boring five minute question and the crowd started yelling “taze him” and the question basically called Powell out for getting fat off of the lecture circuit and Powell was kind of like, I already said I did that – big deal.
4) Then this other guy asked Powell, the military guy, an economic question about the devaluation of the dollar and china – Colin said that it wasn’t his area of expertise, but he didn’t think the government could do anything. Apparently the guy was a Ron Paul supporter because he asked about the gold standard, which Powell rightfully laughed at.
5) Someone asked what to do about global warming and Colin just said – adopt Gore’s cafĂ© standards. Another yawn.
6) Then someone accused Powell of sanctioning the use of nuclear weapons because Powell okayed depleted uranium bullets – the crowd booed and Colin asked the crowd to let the kid finish his long question and then cut the kid down and said – “those weapons are effective, and science is on my side – they aren’t a radiological risk – I guess we’ll agree to disagree.” It was a strong end to an entertaining speech.

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