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Ernest Partridge: Open Letter Powell & McCain

An Open Letter to Colin Powell and John McCain

Ernest Partridge, Co-Editor
"The Crisis Papers"
October 25, 2004

The dogmas of the quiet past, are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise -- with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country. Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history. We ... will be remembered in spite of ourselves.... We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth... The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just -- a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless.
- Abraham Lincoln


Rarely in the course of human events, does an opportunity fall upon a single individual to dramatically and favorably alter the course of history.

Each of you stands at that crossroad of history and each of you, in Abraham Lincoln’s words, “hold the power and bear the responsibility.”

Along with millions of our countrymen, I implore you to pause, to reflect, and then to follow the demands of your duty to your country and to its enduring principles: renounce your support of George Bush and his corrupt and incompetent administration, and join us in our determination to cleanse our body politic of greed and deliberate ignorance, and to restore the good name of the United States among the community of nations.

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Either of you, and most certainly both of you together, can, by this act of conscience and authentic loyalty, bring an end to this administration and by so doing, rescue and renew our democracy.

Mr. Secretary: You, more than anyone in or out of public service, know of the international dishonor that the Bush Administration has brought upon the United States. Immediately after the attacks of September 11, 2001, governments and peoples throughout the world were united as they shared our grief and our outrage. “Nous sommes tout Americaines,” declared France’s Le Monde. And candles were lit in front of our embassies abroad.

Today, the world community is equally outraged by the United States’ illegal war against a country that posed no danger to us – a country completely contained by sanctions and UN inspections. In recent international polls the publics of ten of twelve leading industrial countries wanted Kerry to defeat Bush. (The exceptions were Israel and Russia). American diplomats, active and retired, have deplored the Bush foreign policy, and its effects upon our national reputation. 650 foreign affairs scholars and twenty-seven signatories of Diplomats and Military Commanders for Change, have demanded a radical change in American foreign policy. But of course, I need not tell you all this.

And Mr. Secretary, in the dutiful performance of your duties, you disgraced our country and yourself with the mendacious speech before the United Nations Security Council on February 5, 2003, spelling out the alleged justifications for the invasion of Iraq – a speech which you now admit, and subsequent evidence has proven, was false from beginning to end.

Your reputation and that of our country could be partially restored by your immediate resignation and your timely disavowal of support of President Bush’s reelection.

Senator McCain: Many of your friends and admirers are astonished at your continuing support of a man who has condoned and benefited from vicious attacks upon you, your wife, and your daughter. He also condoned false charges impugning the service, the courage, and the patriotism of your personal friend, John Kerry. To your great credit, you have defended Senator Kerry from these slanders. And yet, you continue to support George Bush’s candidacy.

Your endorsement of Bush appears tepid and pro-forma, even though there is abundant reason for you to disavow that endorsement. So why do you continue your support? Loyalty to party? But the Republican party of today no longer embodies and promotes the principles and values of its past.

You, sir, are an authentic patriot and a genuine conservative. As a naval officer and as a Senator, you took an oath to defend the United States and its Constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic. Can you not see that the most serious threat to our Constitution now occupies the White House, as the Bush Administration willfully abrogates treaties, violates the legal rights of our fellow citizens as enumerated in the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments to that Constitution?

“Conservatism,” according to Webster’s dictionary, is “the practice of preserving what is established; disposition to oppose change in established institutions and methods.” How then, can the Bush Administration in any sense be regarded as “Conservative” in fact, regardless of how it chooses to label itself? It violates our established Constitutional civil liberties, promotes policies that invade our private and personal lives, it hides behind a veil of secrecy, it erodes the wall separating church and state, and as you know better than anyone, Senator McCain, it doesn’t hesitate to slander and smear its political enemies and their families, if such behavior advances their political ends. “Conservatism,” as I have come to understand the concept, entails fiscal discipline, adherence to established laws and treaties, a foreign policy that reflects “a decent respect to the opinions of mankind," small government contained by the rule of law and constrained from interference in the private lives and personal consciences of the citizens. Thus it is no surprise that the American Conservative Magazine has withheld support of George Bush in this election.

Secretary Powell and Senator McCain: I daresay that if you were to put labels aside and take candid inventory of your moral and political ideals, of your aspirations for your country, and of your concern for the rights and well-being of your fellow citizens, that you would find yourselves far more in accord with Senator Kerry than with President Bush. After all, the Democratic Party of today has moved significantly to the right, and now occupies the political ground once held by Dwight Eisenhower, Nelson Rockefeller, and Richard Nixon. If so, what remains of your allegiance to the Republican Party but habit, personal associations, and the labels “Republican” and “Democrat.” After all, “what’s in a name”? And how much weight should mere labels bear, when measured against your fundamental moral ideals and political principles?

Gentlemen, like John Kerry, and unlike all of the senior members of the Bush Administration, you have faced combat and you know first-hand the horror and devastation of war. You have been called upon to write letters of condolence to the families of your fallen comrades. Unlike your Commander in Chief, you have seen fit to attend their funerals and acknowledge their sacrifice. You can comprehend the grief of the bereaved families, and the dreadful slaughter of the innocents in Iraq. And you, perhaps more than anyone, can this week help bring an early end to this madness.

Time is short, and within a week the levers of history will be taken from your hands. Act wisely, act decisively, and act promptly.

You will then earn the gratitude of your country and of the world, and your names will endure honorably in the still to be written pages of human history.

Ernest Partridge, Co-Editor
The Crisis Papers


Copyright 2004 by Ernest Partridge

Bio-Tag: Dr. Ernest Partridge is a consultant, writer and lecturer in the field of Environmental Ethics and Public Policy. He publishes the website, "The Online Gadfly" ( and co-edits the progressive website, "The Crisis Papers" (

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