Empire Building?

At a fairly large conference in England, the Archbishop of Canterbury asked Colin Powell if our [United States and Great Britain] plans for Iraq were just an example of empire building by George Bush.

Powell answered, “Over the years, the United States has sent many of its fine young men and women into great peril to fight for freedom beyond our borders. The only amount of land we have ever asked for in return is enough to bury those that did not return.”

It became very quiet in the room.


I received the above quote in an email. Upon further research, I discovered the following:

  • The large conference in England was the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum on January 26, 2003. You can read the transcript of the session.

  • The person who asked the question was George Carey, the former Archbishop of Canterbury. His part in the quote was a small part of a lengthy question.

  • Powell’s part in the quote is a small part of a lengthy response.

  • The room did not become very quiet. Applause seems to be the reaction.

To quote the Urban Legends Reference Pages, “The spirit of the quote cited above is true, although the context in which it was delivered has been greatly simplified.”

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