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Americans bid farewell to Colin Powell

File image: Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. REUTERS/Larry Downing/Files

File image: Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell. REUTERS/Larry Downing/Files

Published Oct 18, 2021


Former US Secretary of State, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and National Security Adviser Colin Powell has passed away of Covid-19 complications at the age of 84 despite being fully vaccinated.

He will be remembered as breaking barriers as the first African American to hold these positions.

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His legacy is, however, mired in controversy as he played a pivotal role in orchestrating the US invasion not only of Iraq in 2003, but also of Iraq in 1991 and Panama in 1989.

Powell's mantra throughout these invasions was "to use decisive and overwhelming force to defeat enemy forces."

In the first Gulf War Powell's notorious quote in terms of the US strategy against Saddam Hussein's army was, “First, we’re going to cut it off, and then we’re going to kill it.”

Powell had first served President George Bush Senior as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and Staff, and then later he served under his son President George W. Bush as his Secretary of State from 2001.

It was Powell's much publicized speech at the UN in 2003 that attempted to justify and defend the US decision to invade Iraq.

He was roundly criticised for presenting the world with inaccurate information and faulty intelligence on Saddam Hussein's possession of weapons of mass destruction. As the situation on the ground in Iraq descended into unprecedented violence and instability over the ensuing years, Powell was blamed for having put a convincing spin on the US's determination to go to war.

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Despite his critics, Powell remained a very popular figure in American politics and was courted by Republicans and Democrats to make a run for the Presidency.

Powell was an example of the American dream having been born in Harlem, graduated from City College in New York, and then risen through the ranks of the military.

He was decorated for his two tours in Vietnam, and was held in such high esteem he was appointed as National Security Adviser to President Ronald Reagan.

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