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Colin Powell

Off-topic comments moved from Colin Powell's talk.

  • Jan 24 2013: I simply cannot believe the positive comments here. You do know who Colin Powell is right?

    This is the man who told the American public and the world that Iraq had all manor of weapons of mass destruction and all kinds of mobile production facilities for the same. He words are clear and public record.

    He was one of the promoters and architects of the Gulf war.

    He then went on to prosecute a war built on the falsehoods he supported and championed leaving a million dead that were killed based on a lie. Thousands in his own country were killed and hundreds of thousands disabled based on this same lie.

    Worst, he has never once said in a clear voice "I was wrong, I told you things that weren't true. It was my fault. Sorry."

    The notion that anyone would want any of their children to turn out like this guy is breathtaking to me. The world does not need any more people like this.
    • Jan 24 2013: I echo.
    • Jan 24 2013: I like to judge TED talks based on the ideas presented, not on the merits of the person presenting them. I'm sure you could find some kind of dirt (or skeletons in the closet) for all the presenters on this site if you tried, and for someone with the credentials of Mr. Powell it becomes much easier, sure. But this is a forum for discussing ideas, there are lots of other forums out there for discussing the rest.
      • Jan 24 2013: His ideas have a larger contextual framework. This framework is the routinized, hierarchical, centrally planned, "go along to get along", creativity stifling systems like the military, virtually all companies and much of education.

        If anything should be clear in this world, it is that these sorts of systems are failing us miserably. Yes, we have developed remarkable technologies and a logistically complex society, but socially, morally and spiritually we are still the blunt force trauma producing cavemen we've always been. Thugs with smart phones. Brutes with overnight delivery. Killers by remote control.

        It is time for education to move past breeding better sheep. It is time for the next generation to learn the word "no" as a response when he or those of his ilk bark an order. It is time the world children learned to flip off the would be masters and laugh at the tyrannically inclined.
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      Jan 25 2013: I didn't enjoy the talk, but I think you're making an ad hominem attack. His military background doesn't make his claims in this talk false, and they can be judged on their merits. Also, despite finding this an unconvincing talk, I hope that TED continues to feature talks from people who put forward views that I disagree with, or find unconvincing. I'd much rather have my beliefs challenged than confirmed.
      • Jan 25 2013: You cannot take the context and the personality out of any idea.

        I am not rejecting the person directly. However, any discussion of his thoughts need to take in the context that when he had the power to give orders and to shape policy that his actions lead to one of the greatest tragedies in modern history.

        I reject the notion that education should be about creating order. I reject the thesis that teaching children to obey orders is paramount. I reject the assertion that shame is an important tool. He has been for much of his professional life a bully. His educational ideas confirm this.

        Perhaps this is your cup of tea. Then by all means, indulge yourself in the writings and words of those like minded. Although I would caution you to look past the words to the fruits that these men have produced.

        You will find their harvest to be thin and bitter and fertilized with the blood of others.
        • Feb 3 2013: I agree with everything you've said except two lines.
          "I reject the notion that education should be about creating order."
          Education without order is a paradox. By definition education must have a teacher and a student, which is order. On the other end of the scale, the great Universities and Colleges that are pivotal to furthering ourselves as a society would not be possible without very complex systems of order.
          "I reject the thesis that teaching children to obey orders is paramount"
          While I agree knowing when to disobey is almost as important, learning to obey their teachers and parents is more important for kids to learn in the first place. Kids need to feel safe and secure in order to learn and thrive and the best way to do this is by providing an authority figure they can depend on to lead them forward.
  • Jan 27 2013: Colin Powell has zero credibility to deliver this message. He seems to want all of the children to become automatons willing to salute and then blindly obey his orders. He had an army of kids just like this at his command once. He killed thousands and wounded hundreds of thousands of them based on the pack lies he told.

    One of the first rules of deciphering political lies is whenever anything is "for the children", you are either going to have your pocket picked or your liberties confiscated, or both.

    He wants obedient workers and cannon fodder. And maybe to rebuild his tarnished image.
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      Jan 27 2013: Re: "He seems to want all of the children to become automatons willing to salute and then blindly obey his orders." He never says that, so it only "seems" that way to some that have a political view of him or the military in general.
      He plainly says, "Always be looking for that which you do well and that which you love doing, and when you find those two things together — man, you got it.”

      Let's address the issue of why students are under performing in this country
      • Jan 27 2013: If you want, okay:
        No need for discussion; this is how people learn. Here is a school model with Developmental psychology in mind:
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          Jan 27 2013: Isn't it fair to say that all schooling incorporates developmental psychology into its core?
      • Jan 28 2013: No. It isn't fair to stereotype schools as inherently incorporating developmental psychology into their teaching methods. You asked to address the situation of students in your country, assuming that is the U.S.: The basis of education in the United States is reiteration and ability to follow orders, because it fits the "ideal business model," where if it works, it creates obedient unskilled workers. In an age where machines do most of the easy work, this system is silly; this system was silly when it was designed, because it doesn't work, it has only the appearance of functionality. I am now going to procede to throw popular evidence at you until you understand or come forward with apt evidence to suggest all of Developmental Psychology is wrong.
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          Jan 28 2013: Re: It isn't fair to stereotype schools as inherently incorporating developmental psychology into their teaching methods.

          The Wiki link you provided states, "He (Piaget) would try to get them to see contradictions in their explanations. He also developed stages of development. His approach can be seen in how the curriculum is sequenced in schools, and in the pedagogy of preschool centers across the United States."
    • Jan 28 2013: In what way is developing self discipline inconsistent with creativity? Free thinkers with the discipline to convert their thoughts into actions, and the understanding of the power structures with which they need to work (or defeat) are the ones who change the world.

      I am a mother and a teacher, and have raised my children to be both disciplined and creative, to understand they need to honor the rules and the requests of those who have power over them (mainly their teachers and parents at this point), but that they are allowed to challenge and break rules when merited by the circumstances as long as they do not complain about the consequences. My kids appear to be very happy, creative and well adjusted and they are definitely not drones or cannon fodder.

      Every person who has worked extensively with children understands that thy are happier and function much better when they have structure in their lives. You should read up on decision fatigue, you may gain a better understanding of the psychological basis for being conscientious about setting appropriate structures for children so that they are free of the worry of making more decisions than they are prepared to make. You may not like Powell or the style with which he attempts to make his point, but he is correct about the fact that discipline will set you free in the end.
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    Feb 9 2013: The comments on this thread are amazing, astounding and amusing, depending on one's personal beliefs and agendas, going everywhere from the presenter being a hero, to a war criminal, and many things in between. Regardless of individual perceptions of the presenter and his career, the ONLY thing he advocates in this talk, is that kids need structure. As he clearly suggests, structure can mean anything from standing at attention, to a "child in a mothers arms".

    Actually, his suggestion to stand at attention simply reminds me of this talk by Amy Cuddy about posture, which, in my perception, is a valid concept.


    Powell's message is simply that kids have a good start...have a supportive network, be part of a family, respect, and he also reinforces that this is only "part of the answer". A valuable part of his message, is that kids start imprinting from the time they are babies, and we need to be aware of that fact to encourage and support strong members of our community.

    "Structure" can mean a foundation of love.....respect, compassion, empathy, kindness. Let's start right here on this thread....right now.....by letting go of personal agendas and beliefs, and really looking at the message without criticizing or defending the presenter!
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    • Feb 10 2013: Bravo.
    • Feb 11 2013: Great thought! Let's all go along with what general Powell is saying together and sing his praises in unison. After all, he is an authority figure and we all need to respect everything that our leaders say and do. We need to get behind his innovative new ideas because the most important thing is what heroic leaders like the good general say.

      This country needs more people that think right and act right. This country does not need that old thinking of the past where many people had different ideas that were not officially approved to be correct.

      Let's start right here at TED and be a model of what can be accomplished when great leaders and right thinking people work together for the good of the nation!

      Love to all,

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        Feb 11 2013: Hi Ana,
        I don't agree with respecting everything someone says, whether s/he is an authority figure or not. I totally agree that we, as individuals, need to think and act in a way that is beneficial. The idea of children having a structure is not new, and, as I said in my previous comment, "structure can mean a foundation of love, respect, compassion, empathy and kindness". I agree with you...."let's start right here at TED and be a model of what can be accomplished..."
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        • Feb 11 2013: Colin Powell is a national hero having saved the United States from the dictator Saddam Hussein and the weapons of mass destruction he was planning on using against the United States and the invasion he was planning.

          The people of the United States owe their very lives to this great man, so I am surprised that you do not think that this is important.

          Powell is championing the brilliant idea that the same educational systems that are used so successfully in the military be extended more broadly to other education, particularly young children. He proposes to do this by bringing structure and discipline to education.

          It is very important that we look at the tremendous success that the military has in building right thinking, quick acting, obedient soldiers out of a wide variety of recruits, many of whom come to the military with a wide variety of educational backgrounds and personal philosophies. The military, using the model that General Powell proposes, turns these various people in a very short time into a well oiled machine capable of executing orders on command, no matter what they are and no matter the circumstances.

          This order is exactly what this country needs. This is what our children need. We have seen the disaster that permissive education has wrought. We need well thought out set of ideals, philosophy, duty and curriculum taught to all children in a structured environment where each and every child will learn the same approved material in the same way. This new age of properly educated children will grow from birth to be orderly, right thinking, right behaving, right believing, productive members of a structured society that is centrally designed for the good of all.

          I think that this talk is more than just the wisdom of a truly great man. It is a wake up call to all of us on how we can give the next generation a well designed and structured life. I call on the entire TED community to support giving our children the gift of obedience!
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        Feb 11 2013: Ana,
        With all due respect, Colin Powell is a person who did a TED talk about kids needing structure. I do not agree that the structure of the military is the best thing for all kids.

        I did not say his career has no importance. That is not the topic of this discussion. I agree with you that this talk is a wake up call. I do not agree that "obedience" is the only thing we need to teach children for them to be creative, productive members of our world.
        • Feb 11 2013: Colleen, of course the career of General Powell is important. This is the foundation on which his credibility is based. TED is not YouTube. TED does not permit just anybody to walk in off the street and post whatever video they like. No, TED selects talks based on the credibility of the speakers, the novelty of the ideas, the correctness of their thinking and how well the speakers ideas fit in with TED's larger philosophy and agenda. For example, TED would never post a discussion saying that global warming was a myth. TED has rightly determined that global warming is a topic that only has a single correct view.

          So the fact that Colin Powell is a national hero for having stopped the WMD menace that defined Iraq and simultaneously bringing hope and freedom and prosperity to Iraq is vitally important for the credibility and weight of the ideas he presented. Can we not agree that having Powell make this presentation himself is different from some Joe Blow talking as a parent in front of a local school board? Would anyone take Joe Blow as seriously as General Powell even if their words were exactly the same? Of course not. His credibility comes from his history.

          Powell is talking about bringing the wonderful structure the military uses to achieve the goal of a singleness of purpose and obedience. Powell remarked at "how much you could do with them" once soldiers came to obey their orders without thought or question. Powell also talked about kids standing at attention with military bearing when he spoke with them. He talked about his success using the military command "at ease" with 7 year olds. He talked about putting teenagers into ranks, cutting their hair and having them all look alike and how beneficial this was for order and obedience. He talked about "yes sir, no sir and no excuse sir" and how wrong thinking is removed by structure.

          This is exactly what we need for our children: stand up, sit straight, walk tall, obey and think right.
        • Feb 22 2013: Colleen, I think Ana is having a little fun at your expense..... Seems very tongue in cheek..
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        Feb 11 2013: Ana,
        You are absolutely right....TED is not YouTube. I am quite familier with TED Ana, I've been here for several years:>) I have expressed my ideas about the topic, (Kids need structure), and I believe I understand your position. I do not agree with your interpretation of "structure".
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        Feb 22 2013: LOL....yes, based on Ana's comments, AFTER this interaction Michael, I think you are right!!! I don't perceive it to be at my expense, however. I prefer to be clear, rather than fool around with "tongue in cheek" in an on-line forum discussion:>)
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      Feb 12 2013: Thank you for clarifying it. Well done!
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        Feb 12 2013: Thanks Drew! Folks don't seem to "get" that this talk and comment thread is not about Powell, his career, whether he's a good guy or bad guy. The topic is: "Kids need structure"! Comments that stay on topic are interesting. Reading people's perception and judgment about the presenter.....not so interesting AND off topic!
        • Feb 13 2013: Hum... I'd like to discuss Powell's career with you. Joking ;) But you say that the topic of this speech is : Kids need structure. I strongly disagree with this narrowed view of the speech. Of course they need structure, everything need structure to grow, even plants. You say that structure ''can mean a foundation of love.....respect, compassion, empathy, kindness''. This is true. Although he mentions some of this features when he talks about a loving mom that take care of her children, this is not the kind of structure he described in school or in the army.

          He explicitly says that when they get them (in the army) they put them in ranks, make them all wear the same clothes, cut all their hair off so that they all looked alike, so they can obey instructions and know the consequences of not obeying instructions and force them to answer only by three possible answers. The result : after 18 weeks they do exactly as they’re told, and starts to love and respect the man that controlled their life for the last 4 months. Sounds like a brainwash to me. This is clearly not the kind of structure that would bring things like imagination, creativity, innovation, skepticism, critical thinking, which are the basis of our modern societies and, tell me if I’m mistaken, one of the goal of TED.

          I understand that this speech might raise question about kid's structure in general, but it is clearly not the goal of this speech. The topic is not within the title of the speech but within the speech. He tries to empower the blind confidence in USA's institution and encourage the submission of the kids, as early as possible, to their parents and the peoples within those institutions. Of course they need structure ! But not one that give them no space to make mistakes.
        • Feb 13 2013: I'd like to add, even though it gives no more credits to my point of view, that I am really impressed with the number of good non-emotional, rational comments that you put throughout TED (I couldn't help myself but to look at some of your other comments on other topics :s). Thanks for being so active ! Quite refreshing ;)
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        Feb 13 2013: Thank you for your kind words Pascal:>)

        I believe the reason TED is deleting comments, is because they are heated debates about the presenter, rather than comments about the topic..."Kids need Structure", and I think you know that:>)

        I LOVE your statement...."everything need structure to grow, even plants." I totally agree with the idea that everything and everyone needs an environment that is conducive to growth.

        I am aware of the "structure" the presenter advocates, and I do not agree with all of it, which is why I focus on the aspects of his presentation that I DO agree with....a parent loving his/her child, parents modeling respect, compassion, empathy and kindness.

        I do not agree with putting them in ranks, wearing the same clothes, cutting off their hair, obeying instructions no matter what, making them do exactly as they are told, etc. I believe the psychology behind this method, is to break them down emotionally, so they can be "programmed" in a certain way. Yes....sounds like brainwash to me too. I agree with you that it is not the kind of structure that encourages imagination, creativity, innovation, skepticism and critical thinking. I believe it is more benificial to encourage and teach children to think and feel for themselves.

        I suggest that one reason kids may end up liking the drill sargent who is cruel and abusive, is because it may be more attention then they've gotten in their dysfunctional families and communities.

        I do NOT, in any way, encourage teaching kids submission or blind obedience. In fact, this idea is one factor behind the sexual abuse of children by the catholic church. I live in an area where there have been many trials....all ending in favor of the victims. I am aware of some of the testimony, where men, now in their 50s and 60s, testified that as little children, they KNEW it was wrong. They had, however, been taught by parents, to OBEY the priest.....do whatever he wanted them to do because he was the authority.
        • Feb 13 2013: It seems to me that you have taken several positions in this forum. On one hand you have reprimanded several posters for considering the context in which Powell made his remarks and the actual examples of military tactics he used, while in the post immediately above, you take a position exactly opposite of that and disagree with virtually every point Powell made.

          Powell is not presenting some Rorschach bit of free poetic verse with the title "Structure" and some vague meaning into which the listener can project their own concept of structure. The talk is not about structure in general. The talk is about a particular kind of structure (military-like) with a particular set of goals (obedience and acting on cue).

          Powell is being crystal clear up to and including using himself and his life as an example. The man himself is a product of the exact system he is clearly proposing. He was breed in that system, his entire career was in that system. He rose in rank within that system, eventually coming to be the central figure in that system. He lead a war using that system in which every single person who fought, helped, worked, was injured or died came out of the precise system he is proposing for general education. What this system is known to produce is key to evaluating it.

          Having been educated in a Catholic school myself, I can attest to exactly the criticism you made. The type of educational structure Powell is proposing is a bad idea precisely because that are a myriad of examples of the downside to central programming of a population by an elite few. This system leads to people who cannot think for themselves, children who are powerless against abuse, crowds who do as a group what they would never do alone and soldiers that kill on command, but against their own morals and their own better judgment.

          This system is inherently dysfunctional and breeds abuse, cruelty and immorality. We must look at history and context when we evaluate any idea.
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        Feb 13 2013: Paola,

        My positions, as I have clearly expressed them:

        1) People have complained that their comments are being removed by TED, so I encourage staying on topic, rather than heatedly, disrespectfully commenting about the presenter. No intent to "reprimanded" anyone....simply suggesting that if they don't want comments deleted by TED, they stay on topic.

        2) The topic is "Kids need structure", and I agree that children need structure.

        3) I do not agree that kids need military structure..."(obedience and acting on cue)", as you have clarified.

        4) Also have been educated in catholic school myself, and totally agree with you that the "structure", as proposed is not good because it "programs" a person, and leads to people who cannot think for themselves, children who are powerless against abuse.

        5) I totally agree....we must look at "context", and review all information to evaluate any idea....which is what I have been doing and saying:>) Just because I do not rant and rave with very long comments, doesn't mean I am not exploring all aspects of the issue:>)

        Hope this is more clear for you?
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    Jan 28 2013: A highly disciplined military demand blind obedience to authority, demonstration of that ability is required for ascendency in the military. Colin Powell ascended to the highest rank available because he internalized this trait better than most of his peers.
    The crushing that Powell took as a result of obeying his boss in declaring certainty,at the UN, that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction,when he knew the issue was still vigorously being debated,sent him into depression. I had hoped that when Powell returned he would have realized what went wrong.Unfortunately, I see no evidence in this speech that Powell now see that blind obedience can be devastating when the authority you are obeying does not have your best interest at heart.
    • Jan 28 2013: Great point.
      When I soul-searched after 9/11/2001, I came up with one thing that has stuck in my mind; a definition for evil: "An action taken based on an unquestioned belief."
      "Love of money" falls into this category because we rarely question what it represents or where it really comes from. Any act that disinforms should count doubly so, because it leads good people to do evil things by preventing them from knowing what they are doing.
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        Jan 28 2013: "Love of money"
        Young people instinctively look for the cohesion that allow them to become functional members of the society.
        Common belief system is the thread that hold the society/tribe/clan/country/together.
        Close examination of our belief reveals it to be lacking.
        We have become virtually paralyzed by the unquestioned belief that most of our problems stem from us not having enough money:We have workers looking for work,we have work that needs doing,but we don't have any money,so the work cant be done.We will collectively take care of the workers as long as they don't work,We acknowledge that our young people are falling behind in education,but we cant educate them because we don't have any money and knowledge cost money.
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          Jan 28 2013: You have clear eyes Shawki Shawki.

          We all watched Powel enter the USA drama, and here we thought we saw a good man. And we did, however good teh man was, the office he undertook could never be good.
          You will know that when someone sells one's time .. a "job" .. one becomes a non-person, one becomes an "officer". At that point, the measure of the man is how well he becomes this "officer".
          If money is paid for office, the man becomes a psychopath. An office is not designed to have a heart.
          All people should know this - it is true in law if you care to check.
          I ask everyone - who/what do you work for?
          If the answer is "money" then all your work is dedicated to make money great while you become less and less. If the answer is me, my family, my community, my passion, my love .. then one has "work" and one remains a human.
        • Jan 28 2013: Doug Rushkoff's book "Life, Inc." shows us that our culture has turned everyone into a corporation: making decisions by adding or subtracting numbers on a spreadsheet.
          The "value" of anything in this culture is based on price (belief in the Invisible Hand), not usefulness. Prices are kept high on commodities by making them scarce; by accumulating resources and keeping them away from those who need them or could make use of them to build common (community) futures or put those resources back into nature, thus becoming part of their children's future.
          When it comes to children or adults, what gives them true confidence and value is their ability to directly contribute to their own needs, and to know they have the resources and skills to do so. Everything about current American culture is purposely designed to separate them from their own future, and to use debt to enslave them to money. I find it surprising that we have allowed this to happen to the general population even after we saw it happen to farmers over many decades (extracting the value from land by increasing debts and demands until the individual farmer is no longer a viable option).
          I apologize for my cynicism. The Invisible Hand is my White Whale (sigh).
        • Jan 30 2013: More money. Sure. Let's just print more of it. Yup, the problem in education is not enough money.

          It just couldn't be that the culture of failure, irresponsibility and lawlessness needs to be revised.

          Heck, that would mean that people would have to reproduce responsibly, it would mean that parents, particularly fathers, would have to take care of their kids and it would mean that people would actually have to work for a living.

          Gosh, we'd have to judge and then condemn those that were parasites on the system. We can't have that. We need everyone to feel like victims and continue to vote for stealing other peoples money and work.
        • Jan 31 2013: I was thinking about what you said, Shawki. "Young people instinctively look for the cohesion that allow them to become functional members of the society."
          In the context of the rural Midwest schools I'm more familiar with, that means that they work to become functional members of the group that is their has-been high school football star parents and their disappointed cheerleader/cosmetician wives. Academic-oriented teachers and the 'education' system groom the best and brightest to leave town for urban and suburban lifestyles, but nobody encourages the best and brightest to become the best and brightest parents, farmers, plumbers, and truck drivers.
        • Jan 31 2013: Mark, I agree with your cynicism on this. Mostly because the problem isn't money or the intentional psychology assumption which throws blame at people for being "irresponsible". The real problem is that people are no longer considered valuable by themselves or their 'leaders' except as fodder for the money-based system. Each child is tested and categorized as to whether they are going to contribute to the well-trodden path of production toward someone else's profit, and if they don't see a good chance that they will share in those profits, they resign themselves to a life of mindless roboticism or rebellion and incarceration/wage slavery. We look at immigrants AND ours neighbors as people who are going to compete with us for a few morsels of handouts from the gods of capitalism, rather than looking at each other as potentially useful hands and brains that can carve a future out of raw earth and living wilderness. It is a systemic, cultural problem, not one of specific amounts of money (the statistics may give jobs to academia, but political decisions aren't made based on those statistics: they are made based on bribery from the flow of money). Will more discipline help people think of themselves as connected and valuable? Perhaps, but over the long term there needs to be structure based on real living needs and the skills and resources to meet those needs locally and cooperatively, rather than setting up false competition among children for the metered dispensation of necessities by corporations OR government.
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          Feb 14 2013: Ah, Damon. Much better! :) I hope you see now that you have a much stronger argument because it is supported by reference material. Expect a counterargument within the next few days.
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          Feb 15 2013: Wow. You provided quite a few sources here Damon. Good job.

          HOWEVER, I have some concerns about where you are getting your information from. You have 11 sources that you have provided and I have taken the time to analyze each of the sources you have given me. I always find it a good idea to honor whatever information people give me. Are you aware, that of the 11 sources you gave me, 8 are DOT COM websites? I not sure if you aware that DOT COM, more often than not, indicates a "commercial entity". And "commercial entities", like most businesses, have their own SPECIAL INTERESTS. I find it interesting, that you suggest you're against the "propaganda and fluff the corporate media has perpetuated", yet, you yourself arguably site sources that could arguably be considered (though on perhaps a smaller scale) "propaganda and fluff the [commercial] media" portrays.

          And I would like to stop there, BUT,

          before I do, I want to point out, that of all the sources you site, none of them are what could arguably be "considered" one of the BEST SOURCES for learning about who you claim the "REAL" Colin Powell is. So that you'll have it next time, I'm going to send you a link.

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          Feb 15 2013: Damon,

          What makes this argument arguably all the more entertaining, IS, all THIS, is coming from a "FREE THINKER, pesky artist type" that you claim to be trying to protect.
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      Feb 15 2013: Damon,

      Are you sure, YOU aren't the one trying to "cram" information "down" everyone else's "throats"?
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          Feb 16 2013: Where within what I said (and please don't attempt to put words in my mouth, because that's what it appears you are trying to do) did I say that I (personally) didn't like dot com websites? FYI, one of my favorite websites on ALL the internet is a dot com site. Maybe you've heard of it before?

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        Lejan .

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        Feb 20 2013: This answer refers to your above comment to Damon Ucraiui's link-list, which, as a 3rd level reply can not be commented directly.

        Quote: 'I not sure if you aware that DOT COM, more often than not, indicates a "commercial entity"'

        You are not very familiar with the Internet, are you? You can reserve any free COM domain for about a dollar a month to run just your family website, so what is your connection here as part of your 'analysis'? This domain is free for private use already, just in case you didn't notice...
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    Gail .

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    Feb 20 2013: I no longer respect Colin Powell's opinions. Sad. I once admired him greatly.
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      Feb 15 2013: I don't necessarily agree with everything Colin Powell has ever said and done, BUT, I don't believe HE is as evil as you try to make HIM out as.
      • Feb 18 2013: Colin Powell was the leader in the framing of the military situation in Iraq. He became the de facto spokesman. He presented to the US elected political system, the American people and to the world a compilation of information that was false. The Iraqi people and government were innocent of the charges he leveled. As a result of this, in round numbers, something like a million people died, the majority of which were civilian women and children.

        This happened because the US targeted water and sewage infrastructure for destruction rather than purely military targets and then later imposed sanctions that prevented the repair of these facilities and denied medicine. A very large number of these children died from water borne diseases like amoebic dysentery which is a particularly unpleasant way to die. Additionally, the US under Powell used depleted Uranium projectiles that fragment into a microscopic aerosol because Uranium is pyrophoric (it burns spontaneously in air). This contaminated Iraq with breathable Uranium dust. This condition is essentially permanent in that U238 has a half life of 4.5 billion years. The greatly increased birth defect rate is attributable to this and other military chemical effects.

        I am genuinely curious at where on your person yardstick of good and evil this lies.

        Understanding this is important because Powell seeks to create a military styled system. I believe that the Iraq war is a perfect example of what this system produces and Powell himself a prefect example of the mindset created.
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          Feb 18 2013: Jim,

          Where within this talk, and anywhere else, does Colin Powell say "[he] seeks to create a military styled system"?

          If you can answer my question adequately (and I have reason to doubt that you'll be able to) I might, I repeat might, actually consider responding to the rest of your gobbledygook.
    • Feb 15 2013: While the dialog in your short example is likely simplified, you have hit on exactly the larger point we need to be considering: does this type of education produce the kind of people and the kind of thinking that is conducive to a healthy society?

      Powell himself admits that the information he presented was flawed. Why then did he do it knowing that people were going to be hurt? In his case hundreds of thousands of people. I believe that the answer to this is that he never actually considered that he could think for himself. This is what was said over and over at the Nuremberg trial -"I was only following orders..." Powell is no better 50 years on. His is exactly the same excuse.

      Such an educational system does not produce the kind of free thinking, morally strong and independent people that a thriving free republic demands. Rather, it produces narrow minded, obedient people who lack both compassion and a strong internal morality.
      • Feb 16 2013: Does it? Absolute freedom is chaos. Kids have to be educated to learn that others' thoughts should be respected, and that the world has more than "ME" in it. That there are groups of people relies on rules to run smoothly. That just because you don't like somebody, you don't get to force your way though them. That just because they don't look like you and your parents, doesn't mean that they are completely different from you.

        Those are the kinds of social skills that builds healthy society. Every word that begins with "free" is over used and misunderstood now days. Freedom is only present because there exist a society that enforces it.
        • Feb 16 2013: In rereading what I wrote, I don't see that I took a position for "absolute freedom". Nor did I take a position against respect or rules.

          I am not sure where all your hostility is coming from. I thought we were having a discussion.

          On the contrary, the word "free" is the most important word in the language. The proper use of it is endangered in the world today. It is precisely the reason I disagree with Powell.
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          Feb 16 2013: "To be free, one must be chained."
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          Feb 16 2013: Jim,

          Could you please explain to me what you mean by "the proper use" of the word "free"? I am not quite sure I understand what you mean by that.
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        Feb 16 2013: Jim,

        What do you mean by "this type of education". What "type of education" are you talking about? If you could please, clarify.
        • Feb 17 2013: Education can be categorized as primarily for the benefit of the individual, or for another (person or institution). In the individual case to teach a useful skill, develop a natural talent or broaden understanding. Learning to sew, play the piano or develop critical thinking are examples of these. Education can also be to primarily benefit another. Learning that "Muslims are terrorists" is beneficial not so much to the individual who now believes this, but the primary beneficiary of this education are those institutions that benefit from have people believe this. Note that believe this learned "fact" in combination with other learned "facts" can create a situation in which the education is of great benefit to those who seek to use this education, but that this "education" can actually be of negative benefit to the individual so educated.

          Those who flocked to join the military in the US during the cacophony of anti-terrorist sentiment who were subsequently killed in that war are examples.

          By "this type of education" I mean education that produces a benefit primarily for someone other than the individual being educated. I consider virtually all political, military and religious indoctrination to be of this sort. Powell has no desire to produce students who disagree with him and who can parse his deception. He wants pawns that move on command without thought or moral reservation. He said this directly. It just took him more words to do it.
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      • Feb 16 2013: @Jim Smithson: Ah.. well didn't mean to sound hostile, just responding to your last paragraph there. Or maybe that was hostile language to you, either way, my point stand. Freedom is a matter of POV. And you're saying about Freedom of thoughts and all that, again, I'm no expert, but from what you're saying, it seems that you'd prefer children of all ages be free from social discipline, and that that would make them think better..? Because that's the message I'm receiving from you. You also haven't provided an alternative to defer to.

        @Damon Ucraiui: Don't mix the man with the message he carries.
        • Feb 16 2013: This is how the US of A can be truly great? - by expanding the pool of military candidates and make the general population of civilians understand just how valuable this type of training is. Without the masses willing to go along with what the military wants, how can the USA remain the dominant super power and control other countries' resources, public policies and financial systems?

          Free thinkers and those pesky artist types just don't get how important standing at attention, saying 'yes sir' and 'no sir', and following orders from authority is to the wealth of the nation. Colin Powell truly is a glowing example of how this works on people and why we need to cram it down all the children's throats.

          His credentials speak for themselves but anyone who doesn't know his history or questions his credentials can read http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/Politicians/Real_Colin_Powell.html
        • Feb 17 2013: No offense taken.

          I find the reaction to this talk and Powell himself fascinating. I suppose that what I'm about to say will draw the ire of the TED censors again, but I will risk it. TED, please don't delete every comment that challenges your world view.

          My language is not hostile. My language is devoid of the normal deference to authority that has become pandemic in the US.

          Powell clearly has an agenda. He is a man who has learned to use and who has used a very large number of people for his own ends. In fact, he has used hundreds of thousands of people in full measure. He has cost them their lives. This includes not just the people who he wrongly and fraudulently blamed for crimes for which they were innocent, but also his own countrymen.

          Whether you agree or disagree with him politically, it is a historical fact that he helped manipulate both his government and that of several other nations into a war based on erroneous data. Data that he admits was erroneous.

          Being successful at this required that he deceive not only a large number of political figures, but also the populace of an entire nation. This is the most interesting bit for me. Had the population of the United States had a skepticism for authority and had America possessed better critical thinking skills, Powell would never been able to get away with it. However, the American public took his bait hook line and sinker. More incredibly, there are still some here who defend in direct opposition to establish fact. It is almost as if they want to be tricked.

          Since it is clear to me that Powell want to further deteriorate the skill of independent thought with his desire for "obedience", it seems to me that he desires a population even more vulnerable to the next Colin Powell who will seek to deceive the nation again for their own gain. I consider this very dangerous.

          Critical and skeptical thinking and an independent will is a necessary survival skill
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        • Feb 17 2013: Powell clearly has an agenda I disagree with. This agenda is not about giving kids a good start, it is about shaping their thinking so that they are useful, manipulatable and obedient to those in authority.

          Given that I have already seen what he does with his authority and the outcome of what happens to people who are blindly obedient to him or people like him, it is my desire to see that education be made as resistant as possible to the conformity, blind obedience, and moral indecision that he desires.

          What Powell want is not just degrading to children, it is dangerous to them. Without critical thinking skills to ferret out the truth and without the moral backbone to say "no" to those who would use and abuse them, they can become a victim of those who seek to harm them.