From Times Online:
The former American secretary of state Colin Powell has revealed that he spent 2½ hours vainly trying to persuade President George W Bush not to invade Iraq and believes today’s conflict cannot be resolved by US forces.
“I tried to avoid this war,” Powell said at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado. “I took him through the consequences of going into an Arab country and becoming the occupiers.”
Powell has become increasingly outspoken about the level of violence in Iraq, which he believes is in a state of civil war. “The civil war will ultimately be resolved by a test of arms,” he said. “It’s not going to be pretty to watch, but I don’t know any way to avoid it. It is happening now.”
He added: “It is not a civil war that can be put down or solved by the armed forces of the United States.” All the military could do, Powell suggested, was put “a heavier lid on this pot of boiling sectarian stew”.
The signs are that the views of Powell and other critics of the war are finally being heard in the Pentagon, if not yet in the White House. Robert Gates, the defence secretary, is drawing up plans to reduce troop levels in Iraq in anticipation that General David Petraeus, the commander in Iraq, will not be able to deliver an upbeat progress report in September on the American troop surge.