Colin Powell, former general and secretary of state, dead at 84
The 84-year-old served in numerous Republican administrations, helping to shape American foreign policy for decades.
“General Colin L Powell, former US Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, passed away this morning due to complications from Covid 19,” the Powell family wrote in a statement on Facebook.
“We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American,” they added.
The family said that Gen Powell was fully vaccinated.
He served in combat during the Vietnam War and later became the first Black national security adviser in the administration of President Ronald Reagan. When Mr Reagan’s Vice President George HW Bush took over, Gen Powell became the youngest and first African American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Gen Powell would later say that pushing faulty intelligence at the United Nations to advocate for the Iraq War as George W Bush’s Secretary of State was a “blot” on his record.
NYC Mayor: Powell embodied 'the greatness of New York City’
Speaking about Gen Powell following his death on Monday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the former secretary of state was “an example of the greatness of New York City”.
Gen Powell was raised in Harlem and the Bronx by his parents, who were Jamaican immigrants. He later attended The City College of New York in Harlem.
“We’re particularly going to miss him because he showed the world what New York City is all about – that anyone here, anyone and everyone has the opportunity to be great and that we foster it, we respect it, we believe in each New Yorker. We’re going to miss him a lot and he made us very, very proud,” Mr de Blasio said.
Blinken: Powell ‘gave the State Department the very best of his leadership'
Secretary of State Antony Blinken lauded Gen Powell in a speech on Monday following his death.
“He gave the State Department the very best of his leadership,” Mr Blinken said. “His experience, his patriotism. He gave us his decency, and the State Department loved him for it.”
“He treated people the way he expected them to treat each other, and he made sure that they knew he would always have their back,” the secretary added. “The result was that his people would walk through walls for him.”
“Secretary Powell was simply and completely a leader, and he knew how to build a strong and united team,” Mr Blinken said, adding that he “trusted the career workforce here. He empowered them. He made sure that the desk officer, who knew a particular country or issue most deeply, was the one who got to brief him or the president”.
“He told his staff that they didn’t need to worry about getting him fancy lunches— hamburgers and hot dogs were just fine. When he hopped onto the elevator, he would pull others on with him. He didn’t bother with formalities and he wasn’t overly concerned with hierarchy either. He wanted to hear from everyone.
“He walked around the building, dropping into offices unannounced, asking what people needed, making sure they knew he was counting on them.”
Mitch McConnell: ‘America has lost a trailblazing leader’
Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has said that “America has lost a trailblazing leader” following the death of Secretary Powell.
“It is hard to imagine a more quintessentially American story: A son of Jamaican immigrants who learned Yiddish from his boyhood neighbours in the Bronx becomes a four-star General in the United States Army and serves four presidential administrations, including as National Security Advisor, the youngest-ever Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the first Black Secretary of State,” Mr McConnell said in a statement.
“As a young officer, General Powell rendered brave and distinguished service on the front lines,” he added. “As a senior leader, he helped four presidents protect our nation, represent us on the world stage, and chart our course through uncertain and turbulent times that included the dawn of a new century and the beginning of our global war on terrorists who will not leave America alone even if we leave them alone. Today we remember and honour a man who truly dedicated his entire life to serving his country.”
Former CIA officer and current Democratic representative praises Powell’s ‘leadership and commitment'
Democratic Virginia Representative and former CIA officer Abigail Spanberger wrote on Twitter that she’s “grateful” for Secretary Powell’s “leadership and commitment to our nation,” adding that he “lived a life of extraordinary public service”.
How Colin Powell convinced Joe Biden to back the Iraq War
Colin Powell had one of the most distinguished careers of any military official. But the former Secretary of State, who died on Monday, will perhaps be best remembered for testifying before the United Nations Security Council about Iraq having weapons of mass destruction, which overwhelmingly convinced many Americans and elected officials about invading the nation.
One of those elected officials was Joe Biden. At that point in February of 2003, Mr Biden was the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The October before, Mr Biden voted, along with 76 other Senators, to authorise the use of military force in Iraq.
At the time, Mr Powell, then Secretary of State, had the most credibility of any Bush administration official. A retired four-star US Army General who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during the Persian Gulf War in 1991, he was also the first Black secretary of state, and was often considered a potential Republican candidate for president.
Biden called Powell’s testimony ‘a powerful and irrefutable case’
Mike Pence: Powell was a ‘true American Patriot'
Former Vice President Mike Pence has said that Gen Powell was a “true American Patriot”.
“Colin Powell was a true American Patriot who served our Nation with distinction in uniform, as a four-star general, National Security Advisor, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and as [the] 65th Secretary of State. Karen and I are praying for his wife, Alma, and the entire Powell family,” Mr Pence wrote on Twitter.
Fox News anchor deletes tweet stating that Powell’s death ‘raises new concerns about how effective vaccines are'
Fox News anchor John Roberts deleted a tweet in which he said that Gen Powell’s death raised questions about the efficacy of vaccines.
“The fact that Colin Powell died from a breakthrough COVID infection raises new concerns about how effective vaccines are long-term,” Mr Roberts wrote in the now-removed post.
Mr Roberts later added: “I deleted my tweet about the tragic death of Colin Powell because many people interpreted it as anti-vax. It was not. I was excited to get vaccinated, hoping it would help speed a return to ‘normal life’. I also did a PSA on Fox encouraging vaccination for those able.”
“As we all know, the FDA is now recommending boosters for certain people, and I personally know a number of people who have had breakthrough infections – some of them, quite troubling. Yes, Powell had myeloma, but I was still stunned to hear of his passing from Covid,” he wrote on Twitter.
Myeloma is a kind of blood cancer that makes it harder to fight infections.
“We live in the same town, and we would occasionally run into each [other] at the local sandwich shop. His death is a loss for our community and our country. I plan to get a booster as soon as possible,” Mr Roberts added.
Tony Blair: Powell was ‘a towering figure in American military and political leadership'
Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has issued a statement lauding Gen Powell as a man who “inspired loyalty and respect”.
“Colin was a towering figure in American military and political leadership over many years, someone of immense capability and integrity, a hugely likeable and warm personality and a great companion, with a lovely and self-deprecating sense of humour,” Mr Blair said.
“He was wonderful to work with, he inspired loyalty and respect and was one of those leaders who always treated those under them with kindness and concern,” he added. “His life stands as a testament not only to dedicated public service but also a strong belief in willingness to work across partisan division in the interests of his country. I am so sorry to hear the news of his death. He still had so much to give. My thoughts and prayers are Alma and all his large and loving extended family.”
Former President Jimmy Carter: Powell’s ‘courage and integrity will be an inspiration for generations to come’
Former President Jimmy Carter, 97, has issued a statement praising Colin Powell following his death, specifically mentioning the work they did together to solve international conflicts.
“Rosalynn and I join so many around the world in mourning the loss of General Colin Powell. A true patriot and public servant, we were honoured to work beside him to strengthen communities in the United States, help resolve conflict in Haiti, and observe elections in Jamaica,” Mr Carter said. “His courage and integrity will be an inspiration for generations to come. We will keep his family in our prayers during this difficult time.”
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: Powell was ‘an American icon'
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said in a statement following the death of Gen Powell that he was “an American icon whose career in public service will always be celebrated and remembered”.
“But to me he was simply my friend Colin,” she added. “Although we grew up in different contexts, we bonded over our family’s immigrant stories, our deep love of America, and our belief in the importance of public service.
“He was a wise and principled man, a loyal friend, and one of the kindest people I have ever met.
“I am a better person for having known him, and America is a better place because of him. He never forgot that he was a soldier.”
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