P.J. O’Rourke – Colin Powell Interview

P. J. O’Rourke has A Conversation With Colin Powell in the current issue of The Atlantic Online. It is rather amusing yet enlightening. A typical exchange:

P. J. O’ROURKE: Back in Lebanon in 1984, I was held at gunpoint by this Hezbollah kid, just a maniac, you know, at one of those checkpoints, screaming at me about America, great Satan, et cetera.

SECRETARY POWELL: Then he wanted a green card?

P. J. O’ROURKE: At the end of this rant, that’s exactly what he said: “As soon as I get my green card, I am going to Dearborn, Michigan to study dental school.” And he saw no disconnect.

SECRETARY POWELL: He’s there now. He’s not going back to Beirut.

P. J. O’ROURKE: He hated America so much and wanted nothing more than to be an American.

SECRETARY POWELL: They respect us and they resent us. But they want what we have.

While this observation is hardly novel, it is worth repeating now and again.

FILED UNDER: US Politics, World Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Dave Schuler says:

    Want what we have or want what we want? Either way it’s one of the reasons the conflict between radical Islam and the West as represented by the U. S. has come to a head. Traditional Muslim societies perhaps less Muslim than pre-Muslim tribalism can’t survive contact with the West.

  2. zkippy says:

    Er, does anyone else find it vaguely unsettling that Colin Powell is confusing Clausewitz with Mark Twain? I hope the sarcasm was just lost in the translation …