Retired U.S. General Colin L. Powell talked of his pride for having served in the United States military, while demonstrators gathered outside Schaller Chapel yesterday to draw attention to the U.S. sanctions against Iraq.
The protesters outside claimed that as the U.S. enters the 21st Century, Powell and his military background represent a dying function of the U.S.
"I'm not ashamed to be a professional soldier - it's a noble profession," Powell said.
Powell was at BVU yesterday to deliver the 11th Annual William W. Siebens American Heritage Lecture Series. Friday also marked the 20th anniversary of Harold Walter Siebens' $18 million gift to BVU.
During Friday afternoon's student session, the first question posed to Powell by BVU junior Libby Rau addressed the protesters' remarks.
"As a professional soldier, your role is to do everything possible to keep the nation out of war," Powell said. "You have to make sure the United States is strong and keep her out of conflict.
"My job was to apply state violence against an enemy - it's a political decision, not a military decision."
He said war that is carried out is not for the purpose of destroying people, but for protecting the United States. During the Gulf War, for example, when the decision was made to go to war, Powell said they decided to do it quickly and decisively.
However, Powell also said he appreciated the protest because it demonstrates the freedoms that exist in the U.S. that allow such debate to go on.
Concerning sanctions against Iraq, Powell said it is the fault of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, who continues to seek weapons of mass destruction.
Read the rest of this story in the 9/23 Pilot Tribune.