Exactly what is Powell trying to salvage at this point? Certainly his reputation as the ultimate company man is cast in stone, and it's not as if he's ever cultivated a political career. Could this be a cynical attempt to set the stage for a 2008 showdown between the military men, against Wesley Clark? Anything's possible, but this is really just Powell's usual M.O. Anytime he's had something critical to say, it's been either through subordinates, or after he's out of his appointed office -- or in this case, both.
The main single event that convinced many people who initially supported the invasion of Iraq (including, reluctantly, myself) was Powell testifying about the absolute certitude he had that the Iraqis were up to something, and we had to act, and soon. It didn't mean anything coming from the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld Axis Of Lying Shitbirds, but Powell gave the argument credibility for a lot of serious people. Considering Powell got his start on the way up by helping coverup the My Lai massacre, the fact that he had as much credibility as he did says something, mainly that Americans are forgetful.
Let's just say that Powell's credibility is more or less in the crapper at this point, and one way to resurrect it would be to consider that if he has something to say, he oughta fucking come out and say it like a man. This sotto voce bullshit don't play, not at this level.
As the history of great powers takes place, every juncture is a critical one, so saying that we're at a critical juncture in our history would be an obscene Friedmanesque cliché. But the stakes haven't been this high since the height of the Cold War and mutually assured destruction -- and maybe not even then.
The USA is about to undergo a very serious tectonic shift in all phases -- economically, militarily, culturally, politically. We are about to be deposed as the big dogs, and it will not be a painless process. How we decide to play with others is going to be huge in determining just how soft our landing will be.
Putting an asshole like John Bolton at the UN will make the landing much like that of Wile E. Coyote and his trusty anvil. Bolton is not just an asshole, he's an incompetent, dangerous asshole. Powell knows all this. His first loyalty is not to the diplomatic corps, nor to this malignant tumor of an administration, nor even to what's left of the Republican Party.
Powell's primary loyalty is supposed to be to the citizens of the United States of America, and as such, if he has something to say about the corrupt, inept menace that's eating away this country from the inside, he needs to fucking stand up and say so. Time is running out, and while history forgives principled subordination of partisan rhetoric, it does not forgive weaselly pussies.
This is an opportunity for Powell to come clean once and for all, and shed light on the political mycosis of this rotten gang. He shouldn't keep squandering it by having his assistants and buffers relay his phone calls to the media.