Colin Powell died today at the age of 84 from complications with COVID-19. He had been fully vaccinated. But for some past years, he had been undergoing treatments for a blood cancer known as multiple myeloma, and that resulted in a weak immune system to fight off infection. Apparently, he had a breakthrough COVID-19 infection, though I haven’t seen that reported.
Colin Powell was born to Black, immigrant parents from Jamaica who lived in New York. Mr. Powell arose in the U.S. Army to become the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and he was the first Black man to do so. He then became the U.S. Secretary of State under the George W. Bush administration. Mr. Powell is most known for two things: (1) commanding the U.S. forces in the First Persian Gulf War under the George H. W. Bush administration, and (2) giving an important speech to the UN in which he argued for the invasion of Iraq, which afterwards happened in 2003, on the supposition that Iraq had nuclear weapons, which it did not. Powell had wrestled with making that speech, in which he depended on U.S. intelligence that he was somewhat uncertain about.
Regardless, I think Colin Powell was one of the greatest Americans of my generation. I like what Bradley Graham says about him in his article today in The Washington Post, “Charming, eloquent and skilled at managing, he had a knack for exuding authority while also putting others at ease.” Quite a tribute to a great American who, despite his UN speech, served our nation well at its highest levels.