Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell, who was the first Black American to hold the position, has died aged 84 due to complications following his Covid-19 diagnosis.
According to CNN, a statement from the Powell family has said that, ‘General Colin L. Powell, former U.S. Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, passed away this morning due to complications from Covid-19, noting he was fully vaccinated.
CNN elaborated further, saying that, ‘Powell was a distinguished and trailblazing professional soldier whose career took him from combat duty in Vietnam to becoming the first Black national security adviser during the end of Ronald Reagan's presidency and the youngest and first African American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush.
His national popularity soared in the aftermath of the US-led coalition victory during the Gulf War, and for a time in the mid-90s, he was considered a leading contender to become the first Black President of the United States.
However, his reputation would be forever stained when, as George W. Bush’s first secretary of state, he pushed faulty intelligence before the United Nations to advocate for the Iraq War, which he would later call a “blot” on his record’.
Bush said in a statement Monday that Powell was “a great public servant” who was ‘such a favourite of Presidents that he earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom -- twice. He was highly respected at home and abroad. And most important, Colin was a family man and a friend.”
‘Though Powell never mounted a White House bid, when he was sworn in as Bush's secretary of state in 2001, he became the highest-ranking Black public official to date in the country, standing fourth in the presidential line of succession’
Further, the CNN said, ‘later in his public life, Powell would grow disillusioned with the Republican Party's rightward lurch and would use his political capital to help elect Democrats to the White House, most notably Barack Obama, the first Black president whom Powell endorsed in the final weeks of the 2008 campaign.
The announcement was seen as a significant boost for Obama's candidacy due to Powell's widespread popular appeal and stature as one of the most prominent and successful Black Americans in public life’.
Powell is survived by his wife, Alma Vivian (Johnson) Powell, whom he married in 1962, as well as three children. It is not clear if Powell had received a booster dose of the vaccine. Covid-19 vaccines are a highly effective tool in preventing severe disease and death, but no vaccine is 100% effective.
In summary, the legacy of Colin Powell that will forever strain his time as US Secretary of State and in public life, was his role in presenting the case for the invasion of Iraq to the UN Security Council.
The illegal invasion of Iraq, which the United States mounted in March 2003, led to the death of hundreds of thousands of innocent people. This will continue to be the central event that haunts the legacy of not just Colin Powell, but other senior members of the Bush Administration including former Vice President Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, who himself has recently passed away.
It is worth noting that towards the latter stages of his public life, Powell became increasingly disillusioned with the shift of the Republican Party towards the right. Thus, he supported several Democratic candidates for the US presidency, including Barack Obama, who went on to become the first Black US president, and Joe Biden, the current US president.