Colin Powell, who died Monday of COVID-19 complications, served Democratic and Republican presidents in war and peace. Veteran of Vietnam War, Powell rose to four-star general rank and became the first Black Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1989. In that role he oversaw the U.S. invasion of Panama and later the U.S. invasion of Kuwait to oust the Iraqi army in 1991.
Mr. Powell was the first American official to publicly lay the blame for the 9/11 terrorist attacks on Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda network and made a lightning trip to Pakistan in October, 2001 to demand that then-Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf cooperate with the United States in going after the Afghanistan-based group, which also had a presence in Pakistan, where bin Laden was later killed.
His legacy was marred by his appearance before the U.N. Security Council in 2003, as secretary-of-state and his argument for U.S. military action against Iraq. According to him, he had incorrectly claimed that Saddam Hussein secretly stored weapons of mass destruction. He told the international body that Iraq’s claim it didn’t have such weapons was “a web” of lies.
As the first Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, Powell led a State Department skeptical of Saddam’s convictions by intelligence and military communities that he had or was creating weapons of mass destruction. Despite his reservations, he made the case for the administration that Saddam was a significant regional and global threat during a speech to U.N. Security Council.
That speech, replete with his display of a vial of what he said could have been a biological weapon, was later derided as a low-point in Mr. Powell’s career, although he had removed some elements that he deemed to have been based on poor intelligence assessments.
Mr. Bush stated Monday that Mr. Powell’s passing was deeply saddened by the loss of his wife, Laura Bush.
” He was “a great public servant” who is widely respected both at home and overseas, Mr. Bush stated. Colin was loved by his family and was an excellent friend. Laura and I offer our condolences to Alma and their family as they reflect on the passing of an extraordinary man .”
Mr. Powell, who rose from poverty in his childhood New York City neighborhood to become America’s first diplomat. He wrote that “Mine” is his story as a “black kid with no promise coming from a poor immigrant family who was brought up in the South Bronx.” In “My American Journey .”
“, he described how he came to know the ROTC at City College. He wrote that he liked the first uniform he wore.
He joined the Army and in 1962 he was one of more than 16,000 “advisers” sent to South Vietnam by President John F. Kennedy. After a series of promotions, he was assigned as the military assistant to Caspar Weinberger (his unofficial sponsor). Later, he was commander of the Army 5th Corps in Germany. He also served as national security advisor to President Ronald Reagan Mr. Powell’s U.N. appearances as secretary-of-state, which included his speech on Iraq, were often followed by fond memories of his childhood in New York City, when he was the son of Jamaican immigrants. He got his first job at the Pepsi-Cola bottling facility across the East River. headquarters.
A fan of calypso, Powell was criticised by Harry Belafonte who compared Powell to a “house servant” for his support of the invasion of Iraq. Mr. Powell declined to get into a public spat with Mr. Belafonte, but made it known that he was not a fan and much preferred the Trinidadian calypso star the “Mighty Sparrow.”
Mr. Powell maintained, in a 2012 interview with The Associated Press, that on balance, U.S. succeeded in Iraq.
” “I believe we had many successes.” Mr. Powell stated. “Iraq’s terrible dictator is gone.”
In an announcement on social media, Mr. Powell’s family said he had been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
“Our family has lost a wonderful and loving husband and father, grandfather, and great American,” they said. He was admitted to Walter Reed National Medical Center, Bethesda.
This story was published by The Associated Press.