ANA SANTOS / THE EAGLE
Now that his secretary of state days are over, retired Gen. Colin Powell lives just like any other American.
He drives to work everyday — in his silver Corvette.
He eats New York hot dogs — given to him for free by thankful food cart vendors.
He even gets TSA pat-downs, too — and very thorough ones at that, he said.
Powell said of all the things he misses most about his former position as Secretary of State is the private airplane, red carpet included.
“It was so cool,” Powell said to a packed audience in Bender Arena Wednesday night.
Sponsored by the Kennedy Political Union, Powell’s April 6 speech — one part comedy act, one part leadership advice — ran the gamut from the social media to nuclear weapons to his military career.
Powell said his grandchildren are trying to push him toward social media, but Twitter jargon confuses him.
“I don’t want to be a tweet!” Powell lamented to his grandson. He also discovered to his surprise that someone’s already created a Facebook profile with his name.
“It’s OK, Pop, you already have friends,” his grandkids reassured him.
Powell said new social media has reshaped the globe, but added that the ability to choose from such a wide range of sources can actually lead to narrower viewpoints.
“With so much information available to us all, there is a tendency to focus only on that slice of the information system that reaffirms your own views,” Powell said.
Powell said he watches international media like Al-Jazeera and the BBC to get more in-depth reporting than what the U.S. news offers.
“I need that kind of information,” Powell said. “Unfortunately you turn on these so-called ‘news shows’ and they’re nothing but commentators commenting on commentators.”
He also said PBS should not be cut and that he’s a fan of WAMU, which the audience responded to in hearty applause.
Students later asked Powell in how many countries overseas we should invest our money and troops, including Libya and Côte d’Ivoire.
He said before the U.S. enters a country, it should examine whether our national interests are at risk.
“I don’t think the American people would support a president who managed to get into each and every one of these situations,” Powell said. “Nor do we have the capacity to do so.”
Powell said he believes a diplomatic solution will be found to the Iranian nuclear problem, adding that the country using such weapons would be like committing suicide.
“I know nuclear weapons and what I know is that they can’t be used,” Powell said.
He added it would also be foolish for North Korea to use their nuclear weapons.
The U.S. is still No. 1 in the world, Powell said, but other countries are starting to rise as well.
“We cannot be terrified by some clown hiding in a cave in Pakistan,” he said. “We’re Americans, we’re not afraid.”