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Letter Box


Letters from alumni about Colin Powell

June 27, 2004

I can assure Joseph Paul Formica '86 (Letters, May 12) that none of the money to pay for satirist Al Franken's Feb. 26 Wilson School lecture came from his alumni contributions.

That is, if he can assure me that none of the money to pay for Bush administration official Colin Powell's Feb. 20 Alexander Hall pitch defending the attack on Iraq despite having lied about WMDs came from _my_ alumni contributions. I would hate to think that such PR stumping might be what passes for scholarship these days at my prestigious alma mater.

Glenn Berkey '89
Hong Kong

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April 28, 2004

Re: Colin Powell's "Crystal Tiger Award"

There is something especially sad and disturbing about a political figure who knows a policy is wrong yet supports it out of misplaced loyalty or for personal advantage. Such is Colin Powell. And as Princetonians, we must look closer to home, to the lamentable case of Secretary of State George Shultz '42, perhaps the only high-ranking member of the Reagan administration who had doubts about the legal and constitutional coup d'etat known as Iran-Contra, but who stifled principle for expediency.

Christopher Binns ’69
Dorchester, Mass.

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April 26, 2004

The committee that presented Powell with the award — given on behalf of the undergraduate student body — was composed of four Undergraduate Student Government members acting without recommendations, feedback, or a vote from their peers. Rishi Jaitly ’04, Jacqueline Perlman ’05, Harrison Frist ’06, and Russell Barnes ’07 did not speak for me, nor did they speak for all undergraduates at Princeton.

It may be of some interest that the Daily Princetonian ran an editorial on February 19 in response to the Crystal Tiger Award committee's unilateralism. As quoted from the editorial: "We recognize it's difficult to get someone of Powell's stature to come to campus to accept an award. And having a public rejection would have been very embarrassing to the committee members and damaging to the award's prospects. But it's no excuse for the charade employed to give the award legitimacy by getting Powell as its first recipient."

Kate Swearengen ’04
Princeton University

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April 22, 2004

I was personally appalled by the two letters you displayed in the April 21 issue concerning our Secretary of State's recent presentation at Princeton. We are all entitled to whatever opinions we may have relative to the prosecution of our "War on Terror," but to poisonously impugn Secretary Powell's integrity says little of the two authors' so called "values." Colin Powell is certainly entitled to the Crystal Tiger Award given him by the undergraduates for his outstanding service to this wonderful country of ours. I'm somewhat surprised the authors didn't decide to attack Secretary Rumsfeld as well. From an alumnus fed up with the "elitism" now permeating much of what we all read.

Richard Daily '54
Hilton Head, S.C.

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April 21, 2004

You can tell it’s spring when the anti-Bush loonies crawl out from under their rocks.

I find Phil and Mary’s vicious attacks on a great statesman erroneous and disgusting.

Here’s a challenge, Phil and Mary: Tell PAW one tiny thing you have done for your country.

Here is my resume: Four years in the Army during World War II, Pacific theater; three years working with the CIA in the Middle East; 15 years working to help homeless and abused black kids in New York.

Come on, wimps! Step forth.

Franklin Schaffer ’45
Greenwich, Conn.

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April 19, 2004

Several letters in the April 21 issue, blasted the undergraduates for choosing Colin Powell as the recipient of the Crystal Tiger award. Without wading into the controversy of whether he was a suitable choice or not, I would like to point out that the undergraduates had no role whatsoever in his selection. A select committe of four students decided on Powell without consulting any of us.

Abhinav Agrawal '04
Princeton, N.J.

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March 21, 2004

Colin Powell made a curious case for war in Iraq. It's irrelevant that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction; the important thing is that he had the intent to possess such weapons. How one infers this from the fact that Saddam apparently destroyed all of his weapons after the first Gulf War is left unexplained, but the intriguing part of the speech is this concept of intent.

The Bush administration apparently wants this same standard of intent applied to the American government this November. After all, what accomplishments can the administration point out: abridged civil liberties, a stagnated economy, the deaths of hundreds of American soldiers and thousands of Iraqi civilians? Should we judge the government by the irreparable damage done to America's international relations and its credibility in the eyes of the world, for its failure to deliver the promised peace between Israelis and Palestinians, and for leading the United States into a bloody, year-long guerilla war? Should we believe that the important thing is that the administration *intended* for Iraq to become an enlightened democracy spreading peace, freedom, and justice across the Middle East, and not a breeding ground for terrorists?

Powell spoke of the power of ideas and ideals. The problem is that the current administration lives entirely in the realm of ideals, some alternate reality where unending war, tax cuts for the wealthy, and moon missions add up to a balanced budget. As for the power of ideas, this is pretty ironic. After all, ideas alone led us into war: the idea of an al Qaeda/Saddam link, the idea of WMD. When divorced from facts, reason and reality, ideas are not just powerful, but become dangerous weapons in their own right.

Nicholas R. Longrich ’98
Calgary, Can.

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March 19, 2004

Some Princeton undergraduates, believing that Secretary of State Colin Powell "has improved society and strengthened our values," have presented him the "Crystal Tiger Award" (Notebook, March 10). 

On 5 February 2003, Mr. Powell delivered to the Security Council of the United Nations a speech on putative weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. His remarks were so full of distortions, deceptions, and outright lies that his performance has come to symbolize to the entire world the shameless mendacity of the administration he so obediently represents.  What "values" did Mr. Powell promote that day?

Philip Terrie '70
Port Huron, Mich.

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February 26, 2004

A week or so ago, mid-February, I happened upon a TV broadcast of the 100th celebration of the birth of George Kennan ’25, held apparently in Alexander Hall, presided over by President Tilghman, and featuring a talk by Secretary of State Colin Powell. Rarely have my wife and I heard such a clear exposition of what American foreign policy is, or should be, and the ideals for which we all strive abroad. It was not just "nice talk," couched in vague generalities. It was specific in detail, and the large audience was enthralled. He has a real gift for expressing our ideals, goals and national purpose and character.

Powell received a standing ovation at the end, and the answers he gave to some questions also received long and loud applause. He was given the first Crystal Tiger Award by students when he was through, and said it would be the envy of his Princeton cohorts.

Powell's remarks, I believe, would make all Princetonians proud of the nation in whose service so many stand.

John B. Jessup, '51
St. Michaels, Md.

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February 24, 2004

I was dismayed to learn that Princeton undergraduates chose to honor Secretary of State Colin Powell at the Febraury 20 celebration of George Kennan '25's 100th birthday by awarding Powell the Crystal Tiger for serving as an "agent of progress."

Powell might have merited such a distinction before he lent his credibility to help mask the deceptions used to make the case for war on Iraq. But Powell traduced whatever integrity he had when he stood up before the U.N. last year to act as a mouthpiece for the Bush administration to justify its illegal invasion.

If Powell did not know at the time that the evidence he cited was false, exaggerated and misleading, surely he must know by now. Yet he has failed to repudiate the war or to apologize for allowing himself to be used as a weapon of mass deception.

Shame, shame on Powell. And shame on Princeton.

Mary Gallagher ’78
Maplewood, N.J .

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November 17, 2003

As an alumnus (Class of 1941) I would like to protest in the strongest terms giving ANY university awards to General Powell. Mr. Powell is, indeed, an amiable man but very weak "leader."

Furthermore, he was one of the key figures in the campaign to deceive the American public , the United Nations and the world about the presence or absence of W.M.D. in Iraq. His role has been primarily that of a "Yes Man" rather than as a leader and man of principles.

Charles D. Cook '41 M.D.

Old Lyme, Conn.

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