The United States and allies can not resolve the current sectarian violence in Iraq, former Secretary of State Colin Powell said today during a lecture in Minneapolis.
"Only the Iraqi people can resolve this," Powell said.
U.S. troops have to stay in Iraq for "some time," he said. "But there is a limit to the patience of the American people."
Powell was the featured speaker at this year's distinguished Carlson Lecture at the University of Minnesota.
In Iraq, "staying the course isn't good enough because a course has to have an end," Powell said.
More than any other event of this era, the war will define the Bush presidency and Powell's own tenure as Secretary of State, Powell said.
In the U.S. today, a challenge the war poses is a question of whether an essential "bond of trust that must exist within a nation...has been shaken," he said. The extent of the damage to trust will be measured in the November elections, he said.
Powell's lecture was part of a series endowed by the Curtis L. Carlson. It has featured two former presidents, Nobel laureates and such foreign dignitaries as the queen of Sweden and the Dalai Lama.
Powells lecture was free and open to the public, but reservations were required, and all 4,800 tickets were taken several days in advance.
Powell, a four-star general who also served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, resigned as Secretary of State in November, 2004. Recently he has offered rare public criticism of the Bush administrations CIA terrorist interrogation program.
He also said in a broadcast interview this year that he had advised Bush before the Iraq war to send more troops to the country, but the administration did not follow this warning.
Powell did not allow any recording devices, and he did not accept spontaneous questions from the audience or reporters. But he did answer written questions that had been submitted by students at the Hubert H. Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.
After the lecture, Powell was scheduled to visit the faith-based organization Urban Ventures Leadership Foundation in south Minneapolis and to tour the construction site for a youth center that will bear his name. The Colin Powell Youth Leadership Center and Cristo Rey Jesuit High School is scheduled to open in fall 2007.