The brief below on (Late) Colin Powell is excerpted from an obituary by Ken Bredemeier published in the VOA on October 18, 2021.
We have learnt with sadness that General Colin Powell, the first Black U.S. secretary of state and a former chairman of the military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, died Monday October 18, 2021, from complications of COVID-19. He was 84. His family announced his death in a Facebook posting, saying, “We have lost a remarkable and loving husband, father, grandfather and a great American.” Powell had multiple myeloma, a white blood cell cancer that suppresses the body’s immune response. Even if fully vaccinated against COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, immunocompromised people are at greater risk.
Powell was the country’s top diplomat from 2001 to 2005 during the first term of Republican President George W. Bush’s administration. He played a key role in leading the U.S. into its ill-fated invasion of Iraq on the erroneous intelligence that Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein had amassed weapons of mass destruction that posed an imminent threat to world peace. On February 5, 2003, Powell addressed the U.N. Security Council, advancing the case for war sought by President George W. Bush and key officials in his administration, including Vice President Dick Cheney.
By September 2005, however, he acknowledged that his U.N. speech was rife with inaccuracies based on faulty U.S. intelligence. In a television interview, he described his support for the U.S. invasion of Iraq as a “blot” on his record. The U.S. did not discover weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. “It will always be a part of my record,” Powell said. “It was painful. It’s painful now.”
President Joe Biden called Powell “a patriot of unmatched honor and dignity. Colin embodied the highest ideals of both warrior and diplomat,” Biden said. Former U.S. President Barack Obama offered his tribute, as well. “General Colin Powell understood what was best in this country and tried to bring his own life, career and public statements in line with that ideal,” said Obama in a statement Monday, October 18. “Michelle and I will always look to him as an example of what America — and Americans — can and should be.”
Powell was viewed in U.S. political circles as a moderate Republican and pragmatist. He considered running for president in 1996 against Clinton but decided not to, as his wife, Alma, voiced fears for his safety. In 2008, he broke ranks with the Republican Party and endorsed the presidential candidacy of Democrat Barack Obama, who went on to become the first African American elected to the White House.
June 26, 2002: His Highness the Aga Khan and Colin Powell at Smithsonian Folklife Festival
On June 26, 2002, Colin Powell joined Mawlana Hazar Imam, His Highness the Aga Khan, and distinguished government leaders, including Senator Edward Kennedy (d. August 25, 2009) and Senator Sam Brownback, as well as renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma, to light a lamp symbolically inaugurating the weeklong Smithsonian Folklife Festival.
The Festival was produced by the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, and for the first time in its 36 year history dedicated to a single theme: “The Silk Road: Connecting Cultures, Creating Trust.” It featured a living exhibition of the music, crafts, culinary and narrative traditions involved in the cultural interchange between the “East” and the “West.”
Senator Edward Kennedy, in his remarks, expressed deep appreciation of the role played by Mawlana Hazar Imam in the process of education and cultural understanding. “Now more than ever,” said Sen. Kennedy, “his is a voice that needs to heard and understood.” In his speech, Mawlana Hazar Imam said:
“I wanted to share with you some of the reasons why the theme of the Smithsonian Folklife Festival this year is so important. As you know, Central Asia has been an area of considerable concern and instability for the world. Over the past decade, Central Asian countries have come into existence in difficult circumstances. Frontiers have been changed, ethnic groups have been divided, old traditions have been modified by the Soviet presence, and all this has caused considerable difficulty in looking ahead in that part of the world.
“This period of deep change at the national and regional levels has prompted a search for new forces of stability. One that seems particularly important, I think, to the United States and to all of us, is the validation and vigorous promotion of human and cultural pluralism. Historically the Silk Route was a link that interconnected diverse aspects of human society and culture from the Far East to Europe, and did so on the basis of mutual interest. This suggests that for the new countries of Central Asia, the inherent pluralism of their societies can be regarded as an asset rather than a liability. In the wider sense, it can be a means of enlarging the frontiers of global pluralism. This is a goal with which we all can and should associate.”
Date posted: October 18, 2021.
Please read more about the SILK ROAD FESTIVAL AT AKDN.
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