World: Colin Powell: A trailblazing legacy, blotted by Iraq war

Colin Powell, first Black secretary of state, dies from COVID-19 complications

  Colin Powell, first Black secretary of state, dies from COVID-19 complications Former Secretary of State Colin Powell has died of complications from COVID-19, his family said in Facebook post.Powell, 84, was born in New York City and joined the Army after graduating from the City University of New York. He died Monday at Walter Reed National Medical Center. His family said he was fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

WASHINGTON (AP) — A child of working-class Jamaican immigrants in the Bronx, Colin Powell rose from neighborhood store clerk to warehouse floor-mopper to the highest echelons of the U.S. government. It was a trailblazing American dream journey that won him international acclaim and trust.

FILE - U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell speaks during a news conference at the United Nations headquarters Friday, Sept. 26, 2003. Powell, former Joint Chiefs chairman and secretary of state, has died from COVID-19 complications. In an announcement on social media Monday, Oct. 18, 2021 the family said Powell had been fully vaccinated. He was 84. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell speaks during a news conference at the United Nations headquarters Friday, Sept. 26, 2003. Powell, former Joint Chiefs chairman and secretary of state, has died from COVID-19 complications. In an announcement on social media Monday, Oct. 18, 2021 the family said Powell had been fully vaccinated. He was 84. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) FILE - Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, left, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Colin Powell, huddle prior to testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Thursday, Feb. 21, 1991 on Capitol Hill in Washington. Powell, former Joint Chiefs chairman and secretary of state, has died from COVID-19 complications. In an announcement on social media Monday, Oct. 18, 2021 the family said Powell had been fully vaccinated. He was 84. (AP Photo/John Duricka, file) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, left, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Colin Powell, huddle prior to testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Thursday, Feb. 21, 1991 on Capitol Hill in Washington. Powell, former Joint Chiefs chairman and secretary of state, has died from COVID-19 complications. In an announcement on social media Monday, Oct. 18, 2021 the family said Powell had been fully vaccinated. He was 84. (AP Photo/John Duricka, file)

It was that credibility he put on the line in 2003 when, appearing before the United Nations as secretary of state, he made the case for war against Iraq. When it turned out that the intelligence he cited was faulty and the Iraq War became a bloody, chaotic nightmare, Powell’s stellar reputation was damaged.

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  The Republican Party no longer has room for a Colin Powell Republican When Colin Powell announced that he would not run for president in 1996, he also made a promise. © Brooks Kraft/Corbis/getty Images Secretary of State Colin Powell stands with President George W. Bush.

Still, it wasn’t destroyed. After leaving government, he became an elder statesman on the global stage and the founder of an organization aimed at helping young disadvantaged Americans. Republicans wanted him to run for president. After becoming disillusioned with his party, he ended up endorsing the last three Democratic presidential candidates, who welcomed his support.

For many Iraqis and others, Powell will forever be associated with that 2003 speech and the bloodshed that followed. But with Powell's death Monday at age 84 of COVID-19 complications, Republicans and Democrats remembered him as a historic figure, a groundbreaking soldier-turned-statesman, the first Black secretary of state and first Black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

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  'One of the greatest Americans': Colin Powell blazed trails for Blacks, left lasting legacy Colin Powel broke new ground as the first Black national security advisor, chairman of joint chiefs of staff and secretary of state.Powell, 84, died Monday from complications of COVID-19, according to a statement from his family.

FILE - President George Bush loans his glasses to first lady Barbara Bush as she pins a Medal of Freedom on Gen. Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, during a White House ceremony, July 3, 1991. Powell, former Joint Chiefs chairman and secretary of state, has died from COVID-19 complications. In an announcement on social media Monday, Oct. 18, 2021 the family said Powell had been fully vaccinated. He was 84. (AP Photo/Doug Mills) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - President George Bush loans his glasses to first lady Barbara Bush as she pins a Medal of Freedom on Gen. Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, during a White House ceremony, July 3, 1991. Powell, former Joint Chiefs chairman and secretary of state, has died from COVID-19 complications. In an announcement on social media Monday, Oct. 18, 2021 the family said Powell had been fully vaccinated. He was 84. (AP Photo/Doug Mills)

Powell rejected comparisons between himself and previous icons like George Marshall, the World War II general who became America’s top diplomat. But he embraced a local-kid-does-good narrative that reflected his humble roots.

He was fond of recalling his youth in the Bronx, working first as a clerk in a neighborhood store and then as a sweeper in the massive Pepsi-Cola plant directly across the East River from the United Nations headquarters, a job he frequently referred to in meetings at the United Nations. A geology student at City College of New York, Powell made clear that he found his calling in the Reserve Officer Training Corps or ROTC, which would initiate his 35-year career in the Army.

Opinion: Colin Powell was a lot of 'firsts.' In this way, he was also the last

  Opinion: Colin Powell was a lot of 'firsts.' In this way, he was also the last Colin Powell was more than the most famous Black soldier, general and statesman in American history, writes historian Peniel Joseph. His death also marks the passing from the public arena of a model of Black Republican politics that the US may never see again.Gen. Colin Powell's death from complications of Covid-19 represents more than the loss of a great American; it also marks the passing from the public arena of a model of Black Republican politics that the United States may never see again.

FILE - In this Nov. 30, 2006 file photo, former Secretary of State Colin Powell looks on during a ceremony for the Alexis de Tocqueville prize, a French literary award, in Tocqueville, east of Cherbourg, western France. Powell, former Joint Chiefs chairman and secretary of state, has died from COVID-19 complications. In an announcement on social media Monday, the family said Powell had been fully vaccinated. He was 84. (AP Photo/Vincent Michel) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this Nov. 30, 2006 file photo, former Secretary of State Colin Powell looks on during a ceremony for the Alexis de Tocqueville prize, a French literary award, in Tocqueville, east of Cherbourg, western France. Powell, former Joint Chiefs chairman and secretary of state, has died from COVID-19 complications. In an announcement on social media Monday, the family said Powell had been fully vaccinated. He was 84. (AP Photo/Vincent Michel)

Powell served two tours in Vietnam and rose through the ranks with various stints in Cold War-era Europe before President Ronald Reagan tapped him as his national security adviser. President George H.W. Bush then appointed him chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, where he oversaw the ouster of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq from Kuwait in 1991.

FILE - Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, right, and Gen. Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speak to members of the 354th Tactical Fighter Wing from Myrtle Beach, S.C. at their air base in Saudi Arabia Friday, Dec. 12, 1990. Powell, former Joint Chiefs chairman and secretary of state, has died from COVID-19 complications. In an announcement on social media Monday, Oct. 18, 2021 the family said Powell had been fully vaccinated. He was 84. (AP Photo/Bob Daugherty, file) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, right, and Gen. Colin Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speak to members of the 354th Tactical Fighter Wing from Myrtle Beach, S.C. at their air base in Saudi Arabia Friday, Dec. 12, 1990. Powell, former Joint Chiefs chairman and secretary of state, has died from COVID-19 complications. In an announcement on social media Monday, Oct. 18, 2021 the family said Powell had been fully vaccinated. He was 84. (AP Photo/Bob Daugherty, file)

It was then that the “Powell Doctrine” emerged; it was a strategy for the use of American military power that relied on the deployment of overwhelming force and a clear and defined exit strategy from conflict.

Colin Powell: A trailblazing legacy, blotted by Iraq war

  Colin Powell: A trailblazing legacy, blotted by Iraq war WASHINGTON (AP) — A child of working-class Jamaican immigrants in the Bronx, Colin Powell rose from neighborhood store clerk to warehouse floor-mopper to the highest echelons of the U.S. government. It was a trailblazing American dream journey that won him international acclaim and trust. It was that credibility he put on the line in 2003 when, appearing before the United Nations as secretary of state, he made the case for war against Iraq. When it turned out that the intelligence he cited was faulty and the Iraq War became a bloody, chaotic nightmare, Powell’s stellar reputation was damaged. Still, it wasn’t destroyed.

Powell held the Joint Chiefs of Staff position into the Clinton administration, where he recalled arguments with Cabinet members over military intervention in the Balkans, which Powell believed was unwise.

“I thought I would have an aneurysm,” Powell wrote in a memoir about a White House incident in which then-U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine Albright asked what good the armed forces are if they were never used. Powell ended up succeeding Albright as secretary of state in 2001.

And while his military career had taken him from the minefields of Vietnam to West Germany’s strategic Fulda Gap, it was his role as secretary of state in wartime that almost did him in.

Powell was the first of President George W. Bush’s Cabinet members to publicly blame Osama bin Laden for the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and the first of Bush’s top national security aides to visit Pakistan, just a month later, to make clear to the Pakistanis that they must join the U.S.-led coalition or be labelled an enemy.

Amid significant security concerns in the aftermath of 9/11, Powell flew to Islamabad, his plane blacked-out as it went into a corkscrew landing to avoid potential rocket strikes, to tell then-Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf that his support in the operation to avenge the attacks was non-negotiable. It worked, at least in the short-term.

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Powell was personally skeptical of the 2003 Iraq invasion and cautioned against the war privately. But he dutifully presented the administration’s case for invasion not only in diplomatic meetings with his counterparts but also in the now-infamous speech before the U.N. Security Council in February 2003.

FILE - In this Feb. 5, 2003 file photo, Secretary of State Colin Powell holds up a vial he said could contain anthrax as he presents evidence of Iraq's alleged weapons programs to the United Nations Security Council. Powell, former Joint Chiefs chairman and secretary of state, has died from COVID-19 complications. In an announcement on social media Monday, the family said Powell had been fully vaccinated. He was 84.  (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this Feb. 5, 2003 file photo, Secretary of State Colin Powell holds up a vial he said could contain anthrax as he presents evidence of Iraq's alleged weapons programs to the United Nations Security Council. Powell, former Joint Chiefs chairman and secretary of state, has died from COVID-19 complications. In an announcement on social media Monday, the family said Powell had been fully vaccinated. He was 84. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola, File)

Confronted with widespread doubts about the accuracy of the American and British assessment of Saddam’s capabilities and intentions, many compared the stakes of Powell’s speech to be similar to those of former United Nations Ambassador Adlai Stevenson’s electrifying 1962 presentation to the council about the Soviet Union’s placement of missiles in Cuba.

FILE - In this May 21, 2001, file photo, Secretary of State Colin Powell talks with reporters during a news conference at the Department of State in Washington. Powell, former Joint Chiefs chairman and secretary of state, has died from COVID-19 complications. In an announcement on social media Monday, the family said Powell had been fully vaccinated. He was 84.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this May 21, 2001, file photo, Secretary of State Colin Powell talks with reporters during a news conference at the Department of State in Washington. Powell, former Joint Chiefs chairman and secretary of state, has died from COVID-19 complications. In an announcement on social media Monday, the family said Powell had been fully vaccinated. He was 84. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

In Powell’s speech — which he would later call a “blot” on his record — he brandished a vial that he said could have contained anthrax that intelligence agencies insisted Saddam was producing in mass quantities.

Trump calls Colin Powell a 'classic RINO' who 'made big mistakes' in Iraq: 'But anyway, may he rest in peace!'

  Trump calls Colin Powell a 'classic RINO' who 'made big mistakes' in Iraq: 'But anyway, may he rest in peace!' Trump also went after Powell over his central role in promoting the US invasion of Iraq in 2003 while serving in the Bush administration. Trump has repeatedly and falsely claimed that he was "totally" opposed to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. "Wonderful to see Colin Powell, who made big mistakes on Iraq and famously, so-called weapons of mass destruction, be treated in death so beautifully by the Fake News Media. Hope that happens to me someday," Trump said. "He was a classic RINO, if even that, always being the first to attack other Republicans.

“Less than a teaspoon of dry anthrax, a little bit — about this amount,” he told the council, waving the vial. “This is just about the amount of a teaspoon. Less than a teaspoonful of dry anthrax in an envelope shut down the United States Senate in the fall of 2001.”

FILE - U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell points to a reporter during a news conference outside of the United Nations Security Council Chambers, Friday, March 7, 2003. Colin Powell, former Joint Chiefs chairman and secretary of state, has died from COVID-19 complications. In an announcement on social media Monday, Oct. 18, 2021 the family said Powell had been fully vaccinated. (AP Photo/Ed Betz, file) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell points to a reporter during a news conference outside of the United Nations Security Council Chambers, Friday, March 7, 2003. Colin Powell, former Joint Chiefs chairman and secretary of state, has died from COVID-19 complications. In an announcement on social media Monday, Oct. 18, 2021 the family said Powell had been fully vaccinated. (AP Photo/Ed Betz, file)

Some, including several critics of the Bush administration, believed Powell had hit the mark, but unlike Stevenson 41 years earlier, whatever convincing he accomplished was quickly erased.

No anthrax or, in fact, any weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq after the end of the war, which led to a protracted U.S. military occupation of the country that many believe resulted in a broader destabilization of the Middle East, including the rise of the Islamic State, that persists to this day.

While he will always be associated with the Iraq War, Powell was not an unaccomplished diplomat. He oversaw the resolution of the Bush administration's first foreign policy crisis, China's force down of a Navy spy plane and the detention of its crew, and self-deprecatingly referred to successes in resolving a spat with Moscow over a Russian ban on U.S. chicken imports and an armed dispute between Morocco and Spain over a small Mediterranean island.

Powell was also critical in engineering an end to a standoff between Israel then Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat who had been blockaded in his Ramallah headquarters by Israeli troops during the second “intifada" or Palestinian uprising. And he was the first senior U.S. official to visit Afghanistan after the Taliban were ousted, flying into Kabul on a military plane in Jan. 2002, to meet with then-President Hamid Karzai.

Black immigrant communities debate the complex legacy of Colin Powell with compliments and criticism

  Black immigrant communities debate the complex legacy of Colin Powell with compliments and criticism Colin Powell was the highest ranking Black and Caribbean-American politician in DC for many years. Their communities debate his complex legacy today.Powell, born and raised in the South Bronx, New York, died at Walter Reed National Military Hospital last week at the age of 84 from complications of COVID-19.

Nonetheless, Powell’s biggest legacy at the State Department may be bureaucratic rather than diplomatic. A natural tinkerer who loved to collect and repair old Volvos and was a fan of the then-new Chrysler PT Cruiser, Powell pushed to bring the department’s antiquated computer and communications systems into the age of email and interoperability.

He fought budget battles to increase diplomatic spending and hiring and also led a successful drive to prevent the newly established Department of Homeland Security from entirely taking over the process of issuing visas, something that had been recommended in the wake of 9/11.

Unlike his predecessors and several successors as secretary of state, Powell was not enamored of foreign travel and spent less time overseas than almost any of America’s top diplomats since the dawn of the jet age, an aversion perhaps exacerbated by his unsuccessful behind-the-scenes attempts in Washington to blunt his Bush administration colleagues’ push for war with Iraq.

Personable and often approachable, Powell sought to assure his new employees that he would not be a burden on them in some of his first remarks to the diplomatic corps.

“I will be around to see you in due course,” he told his first town hall meeting. “I am an easy visitor. We are going to try to make it very easy for me to visit. Just to save a lot of cable traffic, I have no food preferences, no drink preferences. A cheeseburger will be fine. I like Holiday Inns, I have no illusions.”

Black immigrant communities debate the complex legacy of Colin Powell with compliments and criticism .
Colin Powell was the highest ranking Black and Caribbean-American politician in DC for many years. Their communities debate his complex legacy today.Powell, born and raised in the South Bronx, New York, died at Walter Reed National Military Hospital last week at the age of 84 from complications of COVID-19.

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