Powell plans to step down early
Known for his commentary on international relations and US politics, Rupert Cornwell also contributes obituaries and occasionally even a column for the sports pages. With The Independent since its launch in 1986, he was the paper's first Moscow correspondent - covering the collapse of the Soviet Union – during which time he won two British Press Awards. Previously a foreign correspondent for the Financial Times and Reuters, he has also been a diplomatic correspondent, leader writer and columnist, and has served as Washington bureau editor. In 1983 he published God's Banker, about Roberto Calvi, the Italian banker found hanging from Blackfriars Bridge.
Thursday 11 February 1993
The latest uncertainty over the future of America's most popular and politically powerful soldier was kindled by a front-page article in the New York Times. It quoted 'associates' of Gen Powell as saying that he was so exasperated by Mr Clinton's insistence on homosexuals in the military and on further deep defence cuts that he wanted to retire before his term officially expires on 30 September.
Yesterday Gen Powell did the round of the television talk shows to insist that this was not so and to proclaim his loyalty to the new administration. Neither he nor the Pentagon was 'in a blue funk'or even disgruntled at the President's plans for the military.
Gen Powell said he had a 'fine relationship' with Mr Clinton and Les Aspin, the new Defense Secretary. He had first expressed his desire for early retirement to Mr Aspin's Republican predecessor, Dick Cheney.
But his unhappiness with the slant of Mr Clinton's policies is an open secret. Later this week he is due to make public Pentagon plans for eliminating waste and duplication in the armed forces which fall far short of the new President's goals. Once again yesterday he acknowledged his 'reservations' about the entry of homosexuals into the military.
Most intriguing of all are the subsequent plans of Gen Powell, mentioned last year as a possible Secretary of State in the Clinton administration. At present he is a career soldier, unaffiliated to either party. 'At the moment,' he declared, 'I harbour no political ambitions.' But then, 40 or 50 years ago, General Dwight Eisenhower was saying much the same.
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