Listen to the audio version of the article
Colin Powell passed away at the age of 84 from complications from Covid-19. The family announced it. Powell, despite being fully vaccinated, had been admitted to the Walter Reed Medical Center military hospital. In forty years of his career at the top of the military, diplomacy and politics of the United States, Powell has left an indelible legacy, one of the most authoritative and respected leaders despite controversy over his leading role in the 2003 Iraq war. He also made history as the first African American to lead the United States’ United States Armed Forces and the first African American to hold the post of Secretary of State in the Republican administration of George W. Bush. He had also been a National Security Advisor.
A moderate Republican
He was considered a moderate and non-ideological republican, a pragmatist compared to the more conservative wing in social politics and aggressive or isolationist in international politics (the neocons before and America First after). In 2008 the first break with the party to support the candidacy for President of the Democrat, and then the first African American in the White House, Barack Obama. He later supported Joe Biden against Donald Trump, criticizing the extremist drift of the American conservative party. Over the years he had been unsuccessfully encouraged to run for the presidency himself.
The Powell Doctrine
In military circles he is remembered for the so-called Powell doctrine, a term coined by the mass media but which refers to an explicit conviction of Powell (which he traces back to his direct experience in the Vietnam conflict): the need, for success, that wars and military operations meet clear criteria, starting with the defense of national security interests, the use of overwhelming force and broad public support.
The controversy over Iraq
However, dramatic controversies have not been lacking in his career: above all the role in promoting Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Iraq in 2003, in the years following the September 11, 2001 Al Qaeda attacks. Considered an effective speaker, in a well-known speech at the United Nations pleaded the cause of the invasion of Iraq by citing the arsenals of mass destruction in the possession of Saddam Hussein, an intelligence report later revealed to be incorrect. Powell himself later considered that speech a “blemish” in his career.
Da Harlem a Foggy Bottom
Colin Luther Powell was the 65th Secretary of State between 2001 and 2005. He previously served as the 16th National Security Advisor, from 1987 to 1989, and 12th (and younger at age 52). ) Chief of Staff at the Pentagon between 1989 and 1993. An ascent from humble origins. Born in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City to immigrant parents from Jamaica (a seamstress mother and an expeditionary father), he graduated from the city’s City College in geology (he then obtained an MBA from George Washington University in 1971 after completing his service. during the Vietnam War). Enlisted in the armed forces, he remained there for 35 years reaching the rank of four-star general.