Powell never the dove admirers imagined

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He was always considered a moderate in a administration full of neo-imperialist hawks. Yet Colin Powell might not have been as pigeonholed as his fans imagined him to be.

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Mr. Powell, the “good soldier” who rose from humble beginnings to become America’s top military man and first black secretary of state, left President George W. Bush’s administration with a legacy that will be forever tarnished by his role in the buildup . War in Iraq.

Paul Henbaker, Canada’s former ambassador to the United Nations, said, “I think Iraq will go down in history as one of the worst chapters in American history and those associated with it will be judged by history, and that includes Powell.” Is.”


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Mr. Henbaker said he vividly remembers Mr. Powell’s dramatic appearance before the UN Security Council in February 2003, when he presented the US case for action against Saddam Hussein. Armed with satellite photographs of secret military installations and audio intercepts from Iraqi officials, Mr. Powell used his reputation to help convince the world that Iraq was an imminent threat because of its weapons of mass destruction, which have yet to be implemented. I haven’t come.

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“He put his credibility at stake on behalf of the administration,” Mr. Henbaker said in an interview from Waterloo, Ont., where he now directs Laurier. [University]Center for Global Relations, Governance and Policy. “He told himself about weapons of mass destruction and its association with terrorism, which many of us at the time believed to be wrong and proved to be spectacularly wrong. He did himself a great deal of harm.”

Yet Mr. Powell was also seen as a moderate, internationalist influence in an administration that was bent on going it alone.

“as worrisome” [as]The situation was in Iraq, without him the situation would be worse,” Mr. Henbaker continued. “I think he probably felt he was having a constructive and moderate influence on policy and that he was not there, which could have been Completely missing.”

James Mann, author of Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies and author of a book about Mr. Powell and Mr. Bush’s war cabinet, said the secretary of state had been sidelined from the day he took office in early 2001. .

Referring to the vice president and defense secretary, he said, “He was an outsider in the sense that he didn’t really have an influence on foreign policy in the administration. Cheney and Rumsfeld were.” “Before the administration came to power, it actually lost the first important battle to Iraq.”

Mr. Mann said Mr. Powell’s reputation as a dove, a moderate reluctant to go to war in Iraq who pressured Mr. Bush to try the UN route, does not give the full story.

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Mr. Mann said, “This man has been a very flamboyant man during his career … Only in the perspective of this administration he was seen as a pigeon.” He said that after becoming chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the top US military post, in 1989, Mr. Powell played a major role in the invasion of Panama – at the time, the most significant use of US forces since Vietnam. .

Born in New York in 1937 to Jamaican immigrant parents, Mr. Powell joined the military and served two tours in Vietnam before reaching the rank of general at the age of 42. In the 1980s he was appointed to a position under the then Defense Secretary Casper Weinberger. He eventually became the National Security Adviser and then the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It was in this role that Mr. Powell played a key role in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. He also became known as the author of the Powell Doctrine, which opposed US military involvement in conflicts where the objectives were unclear and argued that when military action is required, the United States should use heavy force. And there should always be an exit strategy.

As Secretary of Defense, Mr. Rumsfeld believed that in an era of American technological superiority, the doctrine was out of date, with an emphasis on light military force was sufficient. After a quick victory in Iraq that many believe has turned into a quagmire, Mr. Powell’s views are beginning to gain some currency. Yet while the doctrine may be rehabilitated, his role for the war in 2003 will always be to haunt him.

According to a report at the time, an apparently stressed out Mr. Powell was reminded that Mr. Bush still goes to sleep at 10 a.m. every night and sleeps like a baby.

“I sleep like a baby too,” replied Mr. Powell. “Every two hours, I wake up screaming.”

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