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Monday, October 18, 2021

Colin Powell - the face of US in Iraq war is no more !!

          The man became an instant hero as he made  his presentation making the case for war with Iraq at the United Nations on February 5, 2003.

He  noted that Iraq harbored a terrorist network headed by al-Qaeda operative Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (in a small region controlled by Ansar al-Islam). He also claimed that Iraqis visited Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan and provided training to al-Qaeda members.  As much criticism as Powell received for this — he’s called it “painful” and something that will “always be a part of my record” — it hasn’t been close to what’s justified. The man who  was secretary of state under President George W. Bush, was much more than just horribly mistaken: He fabricated “evidence” and ignored repeated warnings that what he was saying was false.

Unfortunately, Congress never investigated his use of the intelligence he was given, so public did not  know many of the specifics. Even so, what did reach the public record in other ways is extremely damning.  My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we’re giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.  

Colin Powell, the son of Jamaican immigrants who became a US war hero and the first Black secretary of state but saw his legacy tarnished when he made the case for war in Iraq in 2003, died today of Covid-19 complications. He was 84. The retired four-star general and former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who served four presidents made his reputation as a man of honor distant from the political fray -- an asset in the corridors of power.

"General Powell is an American hero, an American example, and a great American story," George W. Bush said as he announced Powell's nomination as secretary of state in 2000.  In December 1989, Bush ordered Gen Colin Powell, then chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, to launch Operation Just Cause, sending 26,000 invasion troops into Panama in a rehearsal of the Powell “doctrine of overwhelming force” that was next employed two years later in the first Gulf war. "In directness of speech, his towering integrity, his deep respect for our democracy, and his soldier's sense of duty and honor, Colin Powell demonstrates ... qualities that will make him a great representative of all the people of this country."  His infamous February 2003 speech to the United Nations Security Council about the alleged existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq -- the evidence he presented was later proven to be false and remained a blot.

Born April 5, 1937 in Harlem, Powell's "American Journey" -- the title of his autobiography -- started in New York, where he grew up and earned a degree in geology.  Along with earning his degree Powell graduated college in 1958 as a second lieutenant in the US Army.  That led to a 35-year career in the Army, including leading the Joint Chiefs of Staff under George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.  While stationed at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, Powell met his wife Alma Johnson. They married in 1962 and went on to have two daughters and a son.

Powell's overseas service began in Vietnam that same year, where he was sent by John F. Kennedy to train South Vietnamese forces.   He was injured soon after in 1963 when he stepped on a booby trapped stake while on patrol, earning a Purple Heart award. Powell went back to Vietnam in 1968 for a second tour, where he famously escaped a helicopter crash and returned to the burning wreckage multiple times to rescue his fellow soldiers. 'With complete disregard for his own safety and while injured himself, Major Powell returned several times to the smoldering aircraft which was in danger of bursting into flames,' his subsequent Soldier's Medal commendation read. 

Upon his return Powell worked toward a Masters of Business Administration at George Washington University.  From there Powell embarked on a career in government service when he earned a prestigious White House Fellowship under the Nixon administration in 1972. Ronald Reagan appointed him his national security adviser in 1987.    His Army service culminated in George H.W. Bush naming Powell as the first black person to serve as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1989, where he was confirmed unanimously.

Powell's first big test came soon after he took office when the Gulf War began in 1990. As the nation's highest-ranking military adviser he guided US forces through Operation Desert Storm. The US's successful Middle East campaign had then received rare public praise for the government's handling of a conflict and earned Powell a parade in his hometown of New York.  He stayed on the job for most of Bill Clinton's first year in office but clashed with Clinton officials on a number of social and strategic military fronts.

For many Americans, he was the public face of the 1991 Gulf War against Iraq. Powell was initially lukewarm about going into the country, but his reputation soared in the aftermath of the blitzkrieg that ejected Saddam Hussein's forces from Kuwait. For a while, he even considered a run for the presidency.

Colin Powell, the first black Secretary of State who formulated foreign policy under several presidents, died Monday morning at the age of 84 of complications from COVID.   

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

18th Oct 2021. 

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