Colin Powell: Wikis


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 Colin Luther Powell

In office
January 20, 2001 – January 26, 2005
President George W. Bush
Deputy Richard Armitage
Preceded by Madeleine Albright
Succeeded by Condoleezza Rice

In office
October 1, 1989 – September 30, 1993
President George H. W. Bush
Bill Clinton
Deputy Robert T. Herres (1989)
David E. Jeremiah (1989-1993)
Preceded by William J. Crowe
Succeeded by David E. Jeremiah

In office
November 23, 1987 – January 20, 1989
President Ronald Reagan
Deputy John Negroponte
Preceded by Frank Carlucci
Succeeded by Brent Scowcroft

Born April 5, 1937 (1937-04-05) (age 72)
New York City, New York
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Alma Vivian Johnson Powell
Alma mater City College of New York (B.S.)
George Washington University (M.B.A.)
Profession Soldier
Religion Episcopalian
Military service
Allegiance United States United States of America
Service/branch United States Army
Years of service 1958-1993
Rank US-O10 insignia.svg General
Unit 3rd US Armored Division SSI.png 3rd Armored Division
Americal patch.svg 23rd Infantry Division
Commands V Corps
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
U.S. Army Forces Command
Battles/wars Vietnam War
Invasion of Panama
Gulf War
Awards Defense Distinguished Service ribbon.svg Defense DSM (4)
Distinguished Service Medal ribbon.svg Army DSM (2)
US Defense Superior Service Medal ribbon.svg Defense Superior Service Medal

Legion of Merit ribbon.svg Legion of Merit (2)
Soldier's Medal ribbon.svg Soldier's Medal
Bronze Star ribbon.svg Bronze Star
Purple Heart BAR.svgPurple Heart

Colin Luther Powell (pronounced /ˈkoʊlɨn/; born April 5, 1937) is an American statesman and a retired four-star general in the United States Army. He was the 65th United States Secretary of State (2001–2005), serving under President George W. Bush. He was the first African American appointed to that position.[1][2][3][4] During his military career, Powell also served as National Security Advisor (1987–1989), as Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Army Forces Command (1989) and as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989–1993), holding the latter position during the Gulf War. He was the first, and so far the only, African American to serve on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.


Early life

Colin Luther Powell was born on April 5, 1937[5] in Harlem, a neighborhood in the New York City borough of Manhattan, to Jamaican immigrant parents Maud Arial (née McKoy) and Luther Theophilus Powell. He also has Scottish ancestry.[6][7] Powell was raised in the South Bronx and attended Morris High School, a former public school in the Bronx, from which he graduated in 1954. While at school, he worked at a local baby furniture store where he picked up Yiddish from the shopkeepers and some of the customers.[8] He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in geology from the City College of New York in 1958, attaining a C average, according to his 2006 graduation address at Marymount University. He later earned a Master of Business Administration degree from The George Washington University, after his second tour in Vietnam in 1971.

Despite his parents' pronunciation of his name as /ˈkɑlɪn/, Powell has pronounced his name /ˈkoʊlɪn/ since childhood, after the heroic World War II flyer Colin P. Kelly Jr.[9] Public officials and radio and television reporters have used Powell's preferred pronunciation.

Military career

Powell joined the Reserve Officers' Training Corps at City College and later described it as one of the happiest experiences of his life; discovering something he loved and could do well, he felt he had "found himself." Cadet Powell joined the Pershing Rifles, the ROTC fraternal organization and drill team begun by General John Pershing. Even after he had become a General, Powell kept on his desk a pen set he had won for a drill team competition. Graduating from City College, he received a commission as an Army second lieutenant.[10] He was a professional soldier for 35 years, holding a variety of command and staff positions and rising to the rank of General.[11]

Powell was a captain during the Vietnam War, serving as a South Vietnamese Army adviser from 1962 to 1963. While on patrol in a Viet Cong-held area, he was wounded by stepping on a punji stake.[12] He returned to Vietnam as a major in 1968, serving in the Americal Division (23rd Infantry Division), then as assistant chief of staff of operations for the Americal Division. He was charged with investigating a detailed letter by Tom Glen (a soldier from the 11th Light Infantry Brigade), which backed up rumored allegations of the My Lai Massacre. Powell wrote: "In direct refutation of this portrayal is the fact that relations between American soldiers and the Vietnamese people are excellent." Later, Powell's assessment would be described as whitewashing the news of the massacre, and questions would continue to remain undisclosed to the public. In May 2004 Powell said to Larry King, "I mean, I was in a unit that was responsible for My Lai. I got there after My Lai happened. So, in war, these sorts of horrible things happen every now and again, but they are still to be deplored." [13]

Powell served a White House fellowship, a highly selective and prestigious position, under President Richard Nixon from 1972 to 1973.

In his autobiography, My American Journey, Powell named several officers he served under that inspired and mentored him. As a lieutenant colonel serving in South Korea, Powell was very close to General Henry "Gunfighter" Emerson. Powell said he regarded Emerson as one of the most caring officers he ever met. Emerson was reputedly eccentric; he insisted his troops train only at night and made them repeatedly watch the television film Brian's Song to promote racial harmony. Powell always professed, however, that what set Emerson apart, was his great love of his soldiers and concern for their welfare.

In the early 1980s, Powell served at Fort Carson, Colorado. After he left Fort Carson, Powell became senior military assistant to Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, whom he assisted during the 1983 invasion of Grenada and the 1986 airstrike on Libya.

In 1986, he took over the command of V Corps in Frankfurt, Germany, from Robert Lewis "Sam" Wetzel. Following the Iran Contra scandal, Powell became Ronald Reagan's National Security Advisor, serving from 1987 to 1989. In April 1989, Powell was promoted to General and briefly served as the Commander in Chief, Forces Command, headquartered at Fort McPherson, Georgia. Later that year, President George H.W. Bush selected him as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.[[1]]

Dates of ranks

Insignia Rank Date
US-O10 insignia.svg GEN 1989
US-O9 insignia.svg LTG 1986
US-O8 insignia.svg MG 1983
US-O7 insignia.svg BG 1979
US-O6 insignia.svg COL 1976
US-O5 insignia.svg LTC 1970
US-O4 insignia.svg MAJ 1966
US-O3 insignia.svg CPT 1962
US-OF1A.svg 1LT 1959
US-OF1B.svg 2LT 1958

Awards and decorations


Military medals and ribbons

Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Defense Distinguished Service Medal (with 3 Oak Leaf Clusters)
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Distinguished Service Medal, Army (with Oak Leaf Cluster)
US Defense Superior Service Medal ribbon.svg Defense Superior Service Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Legion of Merit (with Oak Leaf Cluster)
Soldier's Medal ribbon.svg Soldier's Medal
Bronze Star ribbon.svg Bronze Star
Purple Heart BAR.svg Purple Heart
Air Medal ribbon.svg Air Medal
Joint Service Commendation ribbon.svg Joint Service Commendation Medal
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Bronze oak leaf cluster
Army Commendation Medal (with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters)
PresFree.gif Presidential Medal of Freedom (order of precedence, if worn)
Prescitmed.gif Presidential Citizens Medal (order of precedence, if worn)
Bronze star
National Defense Service Medal (with 1 Bronze Service Star)
Silver star
Vietnam Service Medal (with 1 Silver Service Star)
Army Service Ribbon.svg Army Service Ribbon
Army Overseas Service Ribbon.svg Army Overseas Service Ribbon (with numeral 3)

Foreign decorations

National Security Advisor

President Ronald Reagan and National Security Advisor Powell in 1988

At the age of 49, Powell became Ronald Reagan's National Security Advisor, serving from 1987 to 1989 while retaining his Army commission as a lieutenant general. After his tenure with the National Security Council, Powell was promoted to a full general under President George H.W. Bush and briefly served as Commander-in-Chief (CINC) of the Army's Forces Command (FORSCOM), overseeing all Army, Army Reserve, and National Guard units in the Continental U.S., Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

Official Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff portrait

His last military assignment, from October 1, 1989 to September 30, 1993, was as the 12th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest military position in the Department of Defense. At age 52, he became the youngest officer, and first Afro-Caribbean American, to serve in this position. In 1989, he joined Dwight D. Eisenhower and Alexander Haig as the third general since World War II to reach four-star rank without ever being a divisional commander.[16] During this time, he oversaw 28 crises, including the invasion of Panama in 1989 to remove General Manuel Noriega from power and Operation Desert Storm in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. During these events, Powell earned his nickname, "the reluctant warrior." He rarely advocated military intervention as the first solution to an international crisis, and instead usually prescribed diplomacy and containment.

In his autobiography, Powell said he is haunted by the nightmare of the Vietnam War and felt that the leadership was very ineffective. Powell served a tour in Vietnam as a military adviser, and was mildly injured when he stepped on a bamboo "punji stick." The large infection made it difficult for him to walk, and caused his foot to swell for a short time, shortening his first tour. It was also during his Vietnam service, his second tour, that Powell was decorated for bravery. He single-handedly rescued several men from a burning helicopter, one of them being Maj. Gen. Charles Gettys, the commander of the Americal Division.

General Colin Powell, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, waves from his motorcade during the Persian Gulf War Welcome Home Parade in New York City.

Additionally, Powell has been critical of other instances of U.S. foreign policy in the past, such as its support for the 1973 Chilean coup d'état. From two separate interviews in 2003, Powell stated in one about the 1973 event "I can't justify or explain the actions and decisions that were made at that time. It was a different time. There was a great deal of concern about communism in this part of the world. Communism was a threat to the democracies in this part of the world. It was a threat to the United States."[17] In another interview, however, he also simply stated "With respect to your earlier comment about Chile in the 1970s and what happened with Mr. Allende, it is not a part of American history that we're proud of."[18]

As a military strategist, Powell has advocated an approach to military conflicts that maximizes the potential for success and minimizes casualties. A component of this approach is the use of overwhelming force, which he applied to Operation Desert Storm in 1991. His approach has been dubbed the "Powell Doctrine."

Potential candidate

Powell's experience in military matters made him a very popular figure with both American political parties. Many Democrats admired his moderate stance on military matters, while many Republicans saw him as a great asset associated with the successes of past Republican administrations. Put forth as a potential Democratic Vice Presidential nominee in the 1992 U.S. Presidential Election[19] or even potentially replacing Vice President Dan Quayle as the Republican Vice Presidential nominee,[20] Powell eventually declared himself a Republican and began to campaign for Republican candidates in 1995.[citation needed] He was touted as a possible opponent of Bill Clinton in the 1996 U.S. Presidential Election, possibly capitalizing on a split conservative vote in Iowa[21] and even leading New Hampshire polls for the GOP nomination,[22] but Powell declined, citing a lack of passion for politics.[23] Powell defeated Clinton 50-38 in a hypothetical match-up proposed to voters in the exit polls conducted on Election Day.[24] Despite not standing in the race, Powell won the New Hampshire Vice-Presidential primary on write-in votes.[25]

In 1997 Powell founded America's Promise with the objective of helping children from all socioeconomic sectors. Powell often wears the organization's logo in the form of a red wagon pin on his lapel.[citation needed]

In the 2000 U.S. Presidential Election Powell campaigned for Senator John McCain and later Texas Governor George W. Bush after the latter secured the Republican nomination.[citation needed] Bush eventually won, and Powell was appointed Secretary of State.

Secretary of State

Powell, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld listen to President George W. Bush speak.

As Secretary of State in the Bush administration, Powell was perceived as moderate. Powell was unanimously voted in by the United States Senate. Over the course of his tenure he traveled less than any other U.S. Secretary of State in 30 years.

On September 11, 2001, Powell was in Lima, Peru, meeting with President Alejandro Toledo and US Ambassador John Hamilton, and attending the special session of the OAS General Assembly that subsequently adopted the Inter-American Democratic Charter. After the terrorist attacks, Powell's job became of critical importance in managing America's relationships with foreign countries in order to secure a stable coalition in the War on Terrorism.

Powell came under fire for his role in building the case for the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. In a press statement on February 24, 2001 he had said that sanctions against Iraq had prevented the development of any weapons of mass destruction by Saddam Hussein. As was the case in the days leading up to the Persian Gulf War, Powell was initially opposed to a forcible overthrow of Hussein, preferring to continue a policy of containment. However, Powell eventually agreed to go along with the Bush administration's determination to remove Hussein. He had often clashed with others in the administration, who were reportedly planning an Iraq invasion even before the September 11 attacks, an insight supported by testimony by former terrorism czar Richard Clarke in front of the 9/11 Commission. The main concession Powell wanted before he would offer his full support for the Iraq War was the involvement of the international community in the invasion, as opposed to a unilateral approach. He was also successful in persuading Bush to take the case of Iraq to the United Nations, and in moderating other initiatives. Powell was placed at the forefront of this diplomatic campaign.

Computer-generated image of an alleged mobile production facility for biological weapons, presented by Powell at the UN Security Council. On May 27, 2003, US and UK experts examined the trailers and declared they had nothing to do with biological weapons.[26]

Powell's chief role was to garner international support for a multi-national coalition to mount the invasion. To this end, Powell addressed a plenary session of the United Nations Security Council on February 5, 2003 to argue in favor of military action. Citing numerous anonymous Iraqi defectors, Powell asserted that "there can be no doubt that Saddam Hussein has biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce more, many more."[27] Powell also stated that there was "no doubt in my mind" that Hussein was working to obtain key components to produce nuclear weapons.[27]

Most observers praised Powell's oratorical skills. However, Britain's Channel 4 News reported soon afterwards that a UK intelligence dossier that Powell had referred to as a "fine paper" during his presentation had been based on old material and plagiarized an essay by American graduate student Ibrahim al-Marashi.[28][29] A 2004 report by the Iraq Survey Group concluded that the evidence that Powell offered to support the allegation that the Iraqi government possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) was inaccurate.

A Senate report on intelligence failures would later detail the intense debate that went on behind the scenes on what to include in Powell's speech. State Department analysts had found dozens of factual problems in drafts of the speech. Some of the claims were taken out, but others were left in, such as claims based on the yellowcake forgery.[30] The administration came under fire for having acted on faulty intelligence. Reports have indicated that Powell himself was skeptical of the evidence presented to him.[citation needed] Powell later recounted how Vice President Dick Cheney had joked with him before he gave the speech, telling him, "You've got high poll ratings; you can afford to lose a few points." Powell's longtime aide-de-camp, Colonel Lawrence B. Wilkerson, later characterized Cheney's view of Powell's mission as to "go up there and sell it, and we'll have moved forward a peg or two. Fall on your damn sword and kill yourself, and I'll be happy, too."[31]

In September 2005, Powell was asked about the speech during an interview with Barbara Walters and responded that it was a "blot" on his record. He went on to say, "It will always be a part of my record. It was painful. It's painful now."[32]

Wilkerson said that he participated in a hoax on the American people in preparing Powell's erroneous testimony before the United Nations Security Council.[33]

Because Powell was seen as more moderate than most figures in the administration, he was spared many of the attacks that have been leveled at more controversial advocates of the invasion, such as Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz. At times, infighting among the Powell-led State Department, the Rumsfeld-led Defense Department, and Cheney's office had the effect of polarizing the administration on crucial issues, such as what actions to take regarding Iran and North Korea.

Secretary Powell with NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer.

After Saddam Hussein had been deposed, Powell's new role was to once again establish a working international coalition, this time to assist in the rebuilding of post-war Iraq. On September 13, 2004, Powell testified before the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee,[34] acknowledging that the sources who provided much of the information in his February 2003 UN presentation were "wrong" and that it was "unlikely" that any stockpiles of WMDs would be found. Claiming that he was unaware that some intelligence officials questioned the information prior to his presentation, Powell pushed for reform in the intelligence community, including the creation of a national intelligence director who would assure that "what one person knew, everyone else knew."

Colin Powell holding a model vial of anthrax while giving a presentation to the United Nations Security Council

Powell announced his resignation as Secretary of State on November 15, 2004. According to the Washington Post, he had been asked to resign by the president's chief of staff, Andrew Card.[31] Powell announced that he would stay on until the end of Bush's first term or until his replacement's confirmation by Congress. The following day, Bush nominated National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice as Powell's successor. News of Powell's leaving the Administration spurred mixed reactions from politicians around the world — some upset at the loss of a statesman seen as a moderating factor within the Bush administration, but others hoping for Powell's successor to wield more influence within the cabinet.

In mid-November, Powell stated that he had seen new evidence suggesting that Iran was adapting missiles for a nuclear delivery system.[35] The accusation came at the same time as the settlement of an agreement between Iran, the IAEA, and the European Union.

On December 31, 2004, Powell rang in the New Year by throwing the ball in Times Square with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, ushering in the year 2005. He appeared on the networks that were broadcasting New Year's Eve specials and talked about this honor, as well as being a native of New York City.[36]

Life after diplomatic service

After retiring from the role of Secretary of State, Powell returned to private life. In April 2005, he was privately telephoned by Republican senators Lincoln Chafee and Chuck Hagel,[37] at which time Powell expressed reservations and mixed reviews about the nomination of John R. Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations, but refrained from advising the senators to oppose Bolton (Powell had clashed with Bolton during Bush's first term).[38] The decision was viewed as potentially dealing significant damage to Bolton's chances of confirmation. Bolton was put into the position via a recess appointment because of the strong opposition in the Senate.

Powell with United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

On April 28, 2005, an opinion piece in the The Guardian by Sidney Blumenthal (a former top aide to President Bill Clinton) claimed that Powell was in fact "conducting a campaign" against Bolton because of the acrimonious battles they had had while working together, which among other things had resulted in Powell cutting Bolton out of talks with Iran and Libya after complaints about Bolton's involvement from the British. Blumenthal added that "The foreign relations committee has discovered that Bolton made a highly unusual request and gained access to 10 intercepts by the National Security Agency. Staff members on the committee believe that Bolton was probably spying on Powell, his senior advisors and other officials reporting to him on diplomatic initiatives that Bolton opposed."[39]

In July 2005, Powell joined Kleiner, Perkins, Caufield & Byers, a well-known Silicon Valley venture capital firm, with the title of "strategic limited partner."

In September 2005, Powell criticized the response to Hurricane Katrina.[40] Powell said that thousands of people were not properly protected, but because they were poor rather than because they were black.

On January 5, 2006, he participated in a meeting at the White House of former Secretaries of Defense and State to discuss United States foreign policy with Bush administration officials. In September 2006, Powell sided with more moderate Senate Republicans in supporting more rights for detainees and opposing President Bush's terrorism bill. He backed Senators John Warner, John McCain and Lindsey Graham in their statement that U.S. military and intelligence personnel in future wars will suffer for abuses committed in 2006 by the U.S. in the name of fighting terrorism. Powell stated that "The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of [America's] fight against terrorism."[41]

Also in 2006, Powell began appearing as a speaker at a series of motivational events called Get Motivated, along with former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. In his speeches for the tour, he openly criticized the Bush Administration on a number of issues. Powell has been the recipient of mild criticism for his role with Get Motivated which has been called a "get-rich-quick-without-much-effort, feel-good schemology."[42]

Most recently he joined the Board of Directors of Steve Case's new company Revolution Health. Powell also serves on the Council on Foreign Relations Board of directors.[43]

Powell, in honor of Martin Luther King Day, dropped the ceremonial first puck at a New York Islanders hockey game at Nassau Coliseum on January 21, 2008. On November 11, 2008, Powell again dropped the puck in recognition of Military Appreciation Day and Veterans Day.[44][45]

Recently, Powell has encouraged young people to continue to use new technologies to their advantage in the future. In a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies to a room of young professionals, he said, "That’s your generation…a generation that is hard-wired digital, a generation that understands the power of the information revolution and how it is transforming the world. A generation that you represent, and you’re coming together to share; to debate; to decide; to connect with each other."[46] At this event, he encouraged the next generation to involve themselves politically on the upcoming Next America Project, which uses online debate to provide policy recommendations for the upcoming administration.

In 2008, Powell served as a spokesperson for National Mentoring Month, a campaign held each January to recruit volunteer mentors for at-risk youth.[47]

Soon after Barack Obama's 2008 election, Powell began being mentioned as a possible cabinet member.[48]

Political views

A moderate Republican, Powell is well known for his willingness to support liberal or centrist causes.[49] He is pro-choice regarding abortion, and in favor of "reasonable" gun control.[49] He stated in his autobiography that he supports affirmative action that levels the playing field, without giving a leg up to undeserving persons because of racial issues. Powell was also instrumental in the 1993 implementation of the military's don't ask, don't tell policy,[49] though he later supported its repeal as proposed by Robert Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen in January 2010, saying "circumstances had changed".[50]

The Vietnam War had a profound effect on Powell's views of the proper use of military force. These views are described in detail in the autobiography My American Journey. The Powell Doctrine, as the views became known, was a central component of US policy in the Gulf War (the first U.S. war in Iraq) and U.S. invasion of Afghanistan (the overthrow of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks). The hallmark of both operations was strong international cooperation, and the use of overwhelming military force.

Powell was the subject of controversy in 2004 when, in a conversation with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, he reportedly referred to neoconservatives within the Bush administration as "fucking crazies."[51] In addition to being reported in the press (though generally, the expletive was censored in the U.S. press), the quote was used by James Naughtie in his book, The Accidental American: Tony Blair and the Presidency, and by Chris Patten in his book, Cousins and Strangers: America, Britain, and Europe in a New Century.

In a letter to Sen. John McCain, General Powell expressed opposition to President Bush's push for military tribunals of those formerly and currently classified as enemy combatants. Specifically, he expressed concern of Bush's plan to "amend the interpretation of Article III of the Geneva Conventions." He also pointed out that perception of the War on Terror may be losing moral support saying, "The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism."[52]

View of the U.S. war in Iraq

In an interview in July 2007, Powell revealed that he had spent two and a half hours trying to persuade Bush not to invade Iraq, but that he did not prevail. At the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado[53] Powell stated, "I tried to avoid this war. I took him [Bush] through the consequences of going into an Arab country and becoming the occupiers."[54]

Powell went on to say that he believed Iraq was in a state of civil war. "The civil war will ultimately be resolved by a test of arms. It's not going to be pretty to watch, but I don't know any way to avoid it. It is happening now." He further noted, "It is not a civil war that can be put down or solved by the armed forces of the United States," and suggested that all the U.S. military could do was put "a heavier lid on this pot of boiling sectarian stew."[55]

Role in presidential election of 2008

Powell donated the maximum amount to John McCain's campaign in the summer of 2007[56] and in early 2008, his name was listed as a possible running mate for Republican nominee McCain's bid during the 2008 U.S. presidential election.[57] However, on October 19, 2008, Powell announced his endorsement of Barack Obama during a Meet the Press interview, citing "his ability to inspire, because of the inclusive nature of his campaign, because he is reaching out all across America, because of who he is and his rhetorical abilities," in addition to his "style and substance." He additionally referred to Obama as a "transformational figure."[58][59] Powell further questioned McCain's judgment in appointing Sarah Palin as the vice presidential candidate, stating that despite the fact that she is admired, "now that we have had a chance to watch her for some seven weeks, I don't believe she's ready to be president of the United States, which is the job of the vice president." He pointed out how he thought Obama's choice for vice-president, Joe Biden, was ready to be president. He also added that he was "troubled" by the "false intimations that Obama was Muslim." Powell stated that "[Obama] is a Christian — he's always been a Christian... But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no, that's not America." Powell then referenced Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, a Muslim American soldier in the U.S. Army who served and died in the Iraq War. He later stated, "Over the last seven weeks, the approach of the Republican Party has become narrower and narrower [...] I look at these kind of approaches to the campaign, and they trouble me."[58][59] Powell concluded his Sunday morning talk show comments, "It isn't easy for me to disappoint Sen. McCain in the way that I have this morning, and I regret that [...] I think we need a transformational figure. I think we need a president who is a generational change and that's why I'm supporting Barack Obama, not out of any lack of respect or admiration for Sen. John McCain."[60] Later in a December 12, 2008 CNN interview with Fareed Zakaria, Powell reiterated his belief that during the last few months of the campaign, Palin pushed the Republican party further to the right and had a polarizing impact on it.[61]

Personal life

Powell married Alma Johnson on August 25, 1962. Their son, Michael Powell, was the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from 2001 to 2005. As a hobby, Powell restores old Volvo and Saab cars.[62][63]

Civilian awards and honors

Powell's civilian awards include two Presidential Medals of Freedom, the President's Citizens Medal, the Congressional Gold Medal, the Secretary of State Distinguished Service Medal, the Secretary of Energy Distinguished Service Medal, and the Ronald Reagan Freedom Award. Several schools and other institutions have been named in his honor and he holds honorary degrees from universities and colleges across the country.

  • In 1991, Powell was inducted into the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans,[64] which "honors the achievements of outstanding individuals in U.S. society who have succeeded in spite of adversity and of encouraging young people to pursue their dreams through higher education."

See also


  1. ^ The first African American secretary of state, Colin Powell, The African American Registry
  2. ^ Biographies - Colin Powell: United States Secretary of State, African American History Month, US Department of Defense
  3. ^ Colin Powell, Britannica Online Encyclopedia
  4. ^ Profile: Colin Powell, BBC News
  5. ^ Reitwiesner, William Addams. "Ancestry of Colin Powell". Retrieved 2008-10-20. 
  6. ^ Branigan, Tania (May 12, 2004). "Colin Powell claims Scottish coat of arms". The Guardian. 
  7. ^ "Colin Powell's Scottish Ancestry". Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter 9 (20). May 17, 2004. 
  8. ^ Daly, Michael (August 2, 2000). "Powell's Old Nabe Boss a Big Backer". New York Daily News. Retrieved October 19, 2008. "Powell explained that he had joined ROTC. He became an officer after graduation, leaving Sickser's with a smattering of Yiddish..." 
  9. ^ "Major Player: Gen. Colin L. Powell (Ret.)". Washington Post. 2000. 
  10. ^ "Secretary of State Colin L. Powell (biography)". The White House. 2003-04-29. Retrieved 2007-02-03. 
  11. ^ "Colin (Luther) Powell Biography (1937 - )". The Biography Channel. A&E Television Networks. Retrieved 2007-05-31. 
  12. ^ Kearny, Cresson H. (1996). Jungle Snafus...And Remedies. Cave Junction, OR: Oregon Institute of Science & Medicine. p. 179. ISBN 9781884067105. OCLC 41447083. 
  13. ^ "Interview on CNN's Larry King Live". New York, New York: U.S. Department of State. May 4, 2004. Retrieved 2007-02-03. 
  14. ^ "Remarks With Bulgarian President Georgi Purvanov At Award Ceremony for the Stara Planina First Order Medal". Presidential Palace, Coat of Arms Hall, Sofia, Bulgaria: U.S. Department of State. December 7, 2004. 
  15. ^ "Parvanov-Powell". President of the Republic of Bulgaria. 2004-12-07. "President Georgi Parvanov awarded US Secretary of State Colin Powell with the highest Bulgarian order "Stara Planina" for his extraordinary services to the advancement of Bulgarian-American relations and in connection with the 100th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Bulgaria and the United States." 
  16. ^ "The 14 Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff". American Forces Press Service. Joint History Office, U.S. Department of Defense. August 10, 1999. Retrieved April 24, 2008. 
  17. ^ Remarks at the 2003 Groundhog Job Shadow Day Program, Secretary Colin L. Powell, Remarks and question and answer session with students, Washington, DC, January 31, 2003, excerpt on 1973 Chile coup, Federation of American Scientists
  18. ^ Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, Interview On Black Entertainment Television's Youth Town Hall, February 20, 2003, excerpt on 1973 U.S. covert action in Chile, Federation of American Scientists
  19. ^ Schram, Martin (January 21, 1995). "Don't Count Out Colin Powell". The Seattle Times. Retrieved October 24, 2008. 
  20. ^ Van Dyk, Ted (September 6, 1990). "Will Powell Run With Bush in '92?". The New York Times. Retrieved October 24, 2008. 
  21. ^ Apple, R.W. (October 28, 1995). "Life in Iowa May Not Have Changed, But the Political Turf Is Another Story". The New York Times. Retrieved October 20, 2008. 
  22. ^ Berke, Richard L. (October 19, 1995). "New Hampshire Poll Finds Powell With an Edge". The New York Times. Retrieved October 19, 2008. 
  23. ^ Clines, Francis X. (November 9, 1995). "The Powell Decision: The Announcement". The New York Times. Retrieved October 19, 2008. 
  24. ^ Plissner, Martin (February 7, 2007). "Ready for Obama Already". The New York Times. Retrieved October 19, 2008. 
  25. ^
  26. ^ Warrick, Joby (April 12, 2006). "Lacking Biolabs, Trailers Carried Case for War; Administration Pushed Notion of Banned Iraqi Weapons Despite Evidence to Contrary". Washington Post: p. A01. 
  27. ^ a b Powell, Secretary Colin L. (February 5, 2003). "Remarks to the United Nations Security Council". New York City: U.S. Department of State. Retrieved February 3, 2007. 
  28. ^ Lawless, Jill (February 7, 2003). "U.S. Scholar Uncredited in Iraq Report". The Associated Press. Retrieved 2009-06-26. 
  29. ^ "UK accused of lifting dossier text". February 7, 2003. 
  30. ^ Miller, Greg (July 15, 2004). "Flaws Cited in Powell's U.N. Speech on Iraq". Los Angeles Times (reprinted by Retrieved February 3, 2007. 
  31. ^ a b DeYoung, Karen (October 1, 2006). "Falling on His Sword: Colin Powell's most significant moment turned out to be his lowest". Washington Post. Retrieved February 3, 2007. 
  32. ^ "Colin Powell on Iraq, Race, and Hurricane Relief". 20/20 (ABC News). September 8, 2005. Retrieved February 3, 2007. 
  33. ^ Brancaccio, David (February 3, 2006). "Iraq Pre-War Intelligence". NOW (PBS). Retrieved February 3, 2007. 
  34. ^ Pincus, Walter (February 14, 2004). "Support for Intelligence Plan". Washington Post. Retrieved February 3, 2007. 
  35. ^ Sciolino, Elaine (November 18, 2004). "Exiles Add to Claims on Iran Nuclear Arms". New York Times. Retrieved February 8, 2007. 
  36. ^ Anderson, Cooper (December 31, 2004). "Transcripts: New Year's Eve Special". CNN. Retrieved February 3, 2007. 
  37. ^ VandeHei, Jim and Robin Wright (April 22, 2005). "Powell Playing Quiet Role in Bolton Battle". Washington Post. 
  38. ^ Borger, Julian (April 23, 2005). "Powell's remarks harm Bolton's chances of UN job". The Guardian.,12271,1468438,00.html. Retrieved February 3, 2007. 
  39. ^ Blumenthal, Sidney (April 28, 2005). "The good soldier's revenge". The Guardian.,3604,1471879,00.html. Retrieved February 3, 2007. 
  40. ^ "Powell criticises storm response". BBC News. September 9, 2005. 
  41. ^ "Senators defy Bush on tribunals". BBC News. September 15, 2006. Retrieved February 3, 2007. 
  42. ^ Wilken, Dennis (September 7, 2008). "Down the Rabbit Hole". American Satellite Magazine. Retrieved 2008-10-10. 
  43. ^ "Board of Directors". Council on Foreign Relations. Retrieved 2007-12-06. 
  44. ^
  45. ^
  46. ^ Powell, General Colin L, USA (Ret.) (July 8, 2008). "Keynote Address — A New Vision for America's Future: Young Leaders Shaping an International Agenda". CSIS Launch of Next America. Center for Strategic and International Studies.,com_csis_events/task,view/id,1721/. Retrieved October 20, 2008. 
  47. ^ "Who Mentored Colin Powell?". President and Fellows of Harvard College. 2008. 
  48. ^
  49. ^ a b c Colin Powell's biography from 'On The Issues'.
  50. ^ DeYoung, Karen (2010-02-03). "Colin Powell shifts stance on 'don't ask, don't tell' policy". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-02-03. 
  51. ^ Blumenthal, Sidney (November 18, 2004). "Colin and the crazies". The Guardian.,12271,1353796,00.html. Retrieved February 3, 2007. 
  52. ^ Barrett, Ted and Andrea Koppel (2006-09-15). "GOP split as Senate panel bucks Bush on terror tribunals". CNN. Retrieved February 3, 2007. 
  53. ^ See Official website: Aspen Ideas Festival
  54. ^ "Conversation with Colin Powell" (PDF). Aspen Ideas Festival. July 2007. Retrieved 2008-02-22. 
  55. ^ Baxter, Sarah (July 8, 2007). "Powell tried to talk Bush out of war.". The Sunday Times (UK). Retrieved 2008-02-22. 
  56. ^ Henry, Ed (August 9, 2007). "Powell donates to McCain". CNN. Retrieved August 9, 2007. 
  57. ^ Holland, Steve (March 5, 2008). "McCain now has to pick a vice presidential nominee". Boston Globe. Retrieved April 14, 2008. 
  58. ^ a b "Powell endorses Obama for president; Republican ex-Secretary of State calls Democrat ‘transformational figure’". Meet the Press (MSNBC and NBC News). October 19, 2008. Retrieved October 19, 2008. 
  59. ^ a b "Meet the Press' transcript for October 19, 2008". MSNBC. 2008-10-19. Retrieved 2008-10-19. 
  60. ^ Colin Powell endorses Barack Obama for president
  61. ^ Powell on Rush Limbaugh
  62. ^ Powell, Colin. Interview with Larry King. Interview transcript. Larry King Live. CNN. October 17, 2005. Retrieved on June 14, 2009.
  63. ^ Powell, Colin. Interview with P. J. O'Rourke. A Conversation with Colin Powell. The Atlantic. August 2, 2004. Retrieved on June 14, 2009.
  64. ^ "Colin L. Powell". The Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans. undated. Retrieved 2007-02-03. 
  65. ^ "The Ronald Reagan Freedom Award". Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Library. ]
  66. ^ Powell, Colin (July 4, 2002). "2002 Liberty Medal Acceptance Speech". Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: National Constitution Center. 
  67. ^ "Gen. Colin Powell". 
  68. ^ Asante, Molefi Kete (2002). 100 Greatest African Americans: A Biographical Encyclopedia. Amherst, New York. Prometheus Books. ISBN 1-57392-963-8.
  69. ^

Further reading


External links

Legal offices
Preceded by
Frank Carlucci
United States National Security Advisor
Succeeded by
Brent Scowcroft
Political offices
Preceded by
Madeleine Albright
United States Secretary of State
Served under: George W. Bush

January 20, 2001 - January 26, 2005
Succeeded by
Condoleezza Rice
Military offices
Preceded by
William J. Crowe
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
Succeeded by
David E. Jeremiah
Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Mikhail Gorbachev
Recipient of The Ronald Reagan Freedom Award
Succeeded by
Yitzhak Rabin


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Colin Powell

Colin Luther Powell (born 1937-04-05) was the 65th United States Secretary of State, serving from 2001-01-20 to 2004-11-12. At the time, he was the highest ranking African American government official in the history of the United States.


  • There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work and learning from failure.


  • "Over the years, the United States has sent many of its fine young men and women into great peril to fight for freedom beyond our borders. The only amount of land we have ever asked for in return is enough to bury those that did not return."
    • In answer to the Archbishop of Canterbury's statement that the United States was engaged in "Empire Buidling"
  • "Of all manifestations of power, restraint impresses men most."
    • Epigram from Thucydides kept in the office of General Colin Powell when he was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
  • "Our strategy in going after this army is very simple. First we are going to cut it off, and then we are going to kill it."
    • Remark made as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announcing the U.S. gulf war plan against Saddam Hussein’s army. Pentagon press briefing on 1991-1-23.
  • "There can be no doubt that Saddam Hussein has biological weapons and the capability to rapidly produce more, many more."
    • Remarks to the United Nations Security Council on 2003-02-05. [1]
  • In September 2005, Powell was asked about the Security Council speech during an interview with Barbara Walters and responded that it was a "blot" on his record. He went on to say, "it will always be a part of my record. It was painful. It's painful now." [2]
  • "The sanctions exist -- not for the purpose of hurting the Iraqi people, but for the purpose of keeping in check Saddam Hussein's ambitions toward developing weapons of mass destruction ... And frankly they have worked. He has not developed any significant capability with respect to weapons of mass destruction. He is unable to project conventional power against his neighbors. So in effect, our policies have strengthened the security of the neighbors of Iraq ... "
    • press remarks with Foreign Minister of Egypt Amre Moussa, Ittihadiya Palace, Cairo, 2001-02-24[3]
  • "You break it, you own it."
    • Secretary of State Colin Powell was quoted in Plan of Attack, a book in which he was a key source, as cautioning President Bush before the war that he would “own” Iraq, 2004-10-17 [4].
Colin Powell
  • "We want to see both sides not take unilateral action that would prejudice an eventual outcome, a reunification that all parties are seeking."
    • Powell to CNN International during a three-nation trip to Asia, 2004-10-27 [5].
  • "There is only one China. Taiwan is not independent. It does not enjoy sovereignty as a nation, and that remains our policy, our firm policy."
    • Powell to Phoenix TV according to a State Department transcript, 2004-10-27 [6].
  • "This may sound a little improper, but when the Vice President and I are alone it's Colin and Dick."
  • "I'm sleeping like a baby, too. Every two hours, I wake up, screaming." (Upon hearing that President Bush was "sleeping like a baby" on the eve of war with Iraq.) [7]
  • "That's not really a number I'm terribly interested in."
    • Response to his estimated number of Iraqis killed during US invasion
  • "The healthiest competition occurs when average people win by putting in above-average effort."
  • "The policies — determining who would be drafted and who would be deferred, who would serve and who would escape, who would die and who would live — were an antidemocratic disgrace...I am angry that so many of the sons of the powerful and well placed...managed to wangle slots in reserve and National Guard units. Of the many tragedies of Vietnam, this raw class discrimination strikes me as the most damaging to the ideal that all Americans are created equal and owe equal allegiance to their country."
    • "My American Journey", Colin Powell's autobiography
Colin Powell
  • "Many of my generation, the career captains, majors, and lieutenant colonels seasoned in that war [Vietnam], vowed that when our turn came to call the shots, we would not quietly acquiesce in halfhearted warfare for half-baked reasons that the American people could not understand."
    • "My American Journey", Colin Powell's autobiography
  • "Leadership is the art of accomplishing more than the science of management says is possible."
    • "The Powell Principles", (McGraw-Hill 2003)
  • "Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off."
    • "The Powell Principles", (McGraw-Hill 2003)
  • "If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude."
    • "The Powell Principles", (McGraw-Hill 2003)
    • Echoing Aristotle's "Excellence then is not an act, but a habit."
  • "Every organization should tolerate rebels who tell the emperor he has no clothes."
    • "The Powell Principles", (McGraw-Hill 2003)
  • “Capital is a coward. It flees from corruption and bad policies, conflict and unpredictability. It shuns ignorance, disease and illiteracy. Capital goes where it is welcomed and where investors can be confident of a return on the resources they have put at risk. It goes to countries where women can work, children can read, and entrepreneurs can dream.”
    • Quoted by Ambassador Cameron R. Hume in a speech on U.S. Government Initiatives in South Africa at the American Chamber of Commerce, Johannesburg, South Africa September 18, 2002. [8]
  • "The First Amendment exists to ensure that freedom of speech and expression applies not just to that with which we agree or disagree, but also that which we find outrageous."
    • Letter sent to Sen. Patrick Leahy [9]
  • "We also have to say to our Israeli friends that you have to do more to deal with the humanitarian conditions of the Palestinian people and you have to understand that a Palestinian state must be a real state, not a phony state that´s diced into a thousand different pieces."
  • "Well the correct answer is, he's not a Muslim, he's a Christian. He has always been a Christian. But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no, that's not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, "He's a Muslim and he might be associated with terrorists." This is not the way we should be doing it in America."
    • Interview with Tom Brokaw following various allegations that then-presidential candidate Barack Obama was secretly Muslim. [18]

Simple English

General Colin L. Powell
File:Colin Powell official Secretary of State

In office
January 20, 2001 – January 26, 2005
President George W. Bush
Deputy Richard Armitage
Preceded by Madeleine Albright
Succeeded by Condoleezza Rice

12th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
In office
October 1, 1989 – September 30, 1993
President George H. W. Bush
Bill Clinton
Deputy Robert T. Herres (1989)
David E. Jeremiah (1989-1993)
Preceded by William J. Crowe
Succeeded by David E. Jeremiah

In office
1987 – 1989
President Ronald Reagan
Deputy John Negroponte
Preceded by Frank Carlucci
Succeeded by Brent Scowcroft

Born April 5, 1937 (1937-04-05) (age 73)
New York City, New York, U.S.A.
Political party Republican
Spouse Alma Vivian Johnson Powell
Alma mater City College of New York
George Washington University
Profession Soldier
Religion Episcopalian
Military service
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch Army
Years of service 1958-1993
Rank General
Unit 3rd Armored Division
Americal Division
Commands Forces Command
Battles/wars Vietnam War
Invasion of Panama
Gulf War

Colin Luther Powell, KCB (Honorary), MSC, (born April 5, 1937) is a retired General in the United States Army. He was the 65th United States Secretary of State (2001-2005), serving under President George W. Bush. He was the first African American appointed to that position.[1][2][3][4] As a General in the United States Army, Powell also served as National Security Advisor (1987–1989) and as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989–1993), holding the latter position during the Gulf War. He was the first and, so far, the only African American to serve on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

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  1. The first African American secretary of state, Colin Powell, The AfroAmerican Registry
  2. Biographies - Colin Powell: United States Secretary of State, African American History Month, US Department of Defense
  3. Colin Powell, Britannica Online Encyclopedia
  4. Profile: Colin Powell, BBC News
[[Category:United States National Security jj

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