WASHINGTON — Former Secretary of State Colin Powell on Sunday contrasted the foreign policies espoused by President Donald Trump with those of late former President George H.W. Bush, saying the current withdrawals from international treaties are “terrible mistakes, which we will regret.”
“Now, there are a lot of people now saying, ‘Well, let’s — we got to get out of this treaty, we got to get out of that treaty,'” Powell said. “Bad, terrible mistakes, which we will regret, because they don’t make sense.”
In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union,” Powell, who served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under the 41st president and as secretary of state under his son, former President George W. Bush, gave as one example Trump’s decision in October to withdraw from the decades-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia, citing Moscow’s violations of the treaty and China’s missile arsenal as reasons for the move.
“Well, the Soviets — the Soviets have been cheating on the INF Treaty, so let’s get out of the INF Treaty,” Powell said. “Oh, good, you do that and guess what? The Soviets aren’t cheating anymore, because there is no treaty to cheat. It doesn’t make any sense. But that’s the kind of thing we’re doing.”
“Climate change, so many other areas where we are not demonstrating the kind of inspirational, broad-based leadership that we saw under Bush and (former President Ronald) Reagan,” Powell said.
Powell’s remarks come a day after the United States stood alone among nations at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires in not agreeing to language on the Paris climate agreement, which the Trump administration withdrew from last year.
Powell remembered Bush, who died late Friday at the age of 94, as excelling at foreign policy.
“He knew the world,” Powell said. “He understood so many of the personalities who were working in the world at that point. And he was essentially fully prepared to be a foreign policy president and he was a successful one — a very successful one.”
“But President Bush, you know, he wanted to talk about a new world order, and it was a term he used all the time,” Powell said. “And by that he meant he didn’t mean a world order where somebody dominates.”
“He wanted all the nations of the world to come together and deal with each other in the spirit of humility and the spirit of let’s get the job done,” he said. “And that’s the way he went about his eight years as vice president and his four years as president.”