Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell died on Monday after complications from COVID-19, his family said in a statement. He was 84 and fully vaccinated.
Powell had been treated at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, his family added.
Powell is well known around the world as the top general who oversaw the U.S. military operations in the 1991 Persian Gulf War as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was the first Black chairman of the Joint Chiefs.
Later on, when he was Secretary of State under former President George W. Bush, his popularity fell over the U.S. invasion of Iraq when it was discovered that the United States went to war on a lie that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
Powell, who was born in New York to Jamaican immigrants rose rapidly through the Army before he became the youngest and first Black chairman of the Joint Chiefs.
The Washington Post noted that “his climb was helped by a string of jobs as military assistant to high-level government officials and a stint as national security adviser to President Ronald Reagan,” adding that “charming, articulate and skilled at managing, he had a knack for exuding authority while also putting others at ease.”
The newspaper added, “As the Pentagon’s top officer, he played a prominent role in restoring a sense of pride to the nation’s post-Vietnam military and began the reshaping of American forces after the end of the Cold War. His famous prescription for the use of force, dubbed by journalists the Powell Doctrine, called for applying military might only with overwhelming and decisive troop strength, a clear objective and popular support. His selection by President George W. Bush in late 2000 to be secretary of state transformed Gen. Powell from soldier to statesman and made him the first Black person to lead the State Department. But his four years as secretary proved his most difficult assignment.
“A pragmatist and a strong believer in international alliances, Gen. Powell often found himself the odd man out in an administration dominated by neoconservative ideologues who were dubious about the usefulness of the United Nations and NATO and all too ready to employ U.S. military power. Other than his well-known reservations about military intervention, Gen. Powell, as he often acknowledged, was not given to grand principles. He saw himself primarily as a problem-solver and expert manager.”