Intelligence work turned veteran to political science

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Anger. Disappointment. Betrayal.

There are a lot of words Matt Powell uses to describe how he felt when investigating the roots of the war in Iraq.

The Army veteran never went to Iraq but performed military intelligence work in the Middle East during his service from 1996 through 2000.

“I thought (the war) was just and it was right,” Powell said. “I lived with tunnel vision for a long time.”

He began studying political science at Augusta State University in 2002. The foreign policy classes, combined with reading the works of Leo Tolstoy, Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., changed his perspective.

A look back at the history of the Middle East and the various nations that conquered the area – from the Romans to the Russians – was also educational.

“Every empire has to fall sometime,” Powell said.

He has considered going back into the intelligence community but now feels he cannot morally participate in a profession that could take a human life.

Instead, he wants to be a teacher and encourage students to broaden their world view.

If he had a message to give future generations of Americans, it would be this: “I’m sorry. Seek the truth for yourself ... because history tends to gloss over the details.”


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