WASHINGTON – Baring one of Washington's worst-kept secrets, Secretary of State Colin Powell's (search) deputy said he and Powell sometimes went public with their dissenting views to try to influence Bush administration policy.
Richard Armitage (search), who leaves along with Powell at the end of President Bush's first term, described the process as using the "bully pulpit."
"Differences of opinion are something you as a citizen and I as a citizen should value in your government," Armitage said in an interview with National Public Radio's "Morning Edition" on Thursday. "You really want it."
Powell and Armitage, whose friendship was forged decades ago, share foreign policy views that are distinctly more moderate than those of Bush and other key presidential advisers. They also made far more use of media interviews and speeches to promote U.S. foreign policy than their predecessors.
Armitage made clear in the interview that the public appearances had another design, as well — to reflect and register the views of the State Department (search) as well as influence the shaping of policy.
"When Secretary Powell speaks or when Rich Armitage speaks, we're putting out our views. And we will do so respectfully, of course," Armitage said according to a text released Friday by the State Department. "This is what the president paid us for, to bring him our views."
"And, of course, he can agreee with us or not, as he chooses," Armitage said.
Armitage offered no examples of specific areas or issues of disagreement, although his response was to a question that suggested that Powell and he had been at odds with other top administration officials on policies involving North Korea and the Middle East.
Powell is known to have pushed for negotiations with North Korea over its nuclear weapons programs, a strategy Bush adopted after months of review at the beginning of his first term. On the Middle East, Powell sometimes sought more flexibility from Israel, than did the White House, in dealing with the Palestinians.
"You don't want a government that sees everything the same way," Armitage said. "That would be bad — it would lead to bad government, in my view."