Colin Powell, exsecretario de estado de EE. UU., muere en 84 of Covid complications

Colin Powell, el exsecretario de Estado de EE. UU. que jugó un papel fundamental al intentar justificar la 2003 invasión de irak, ha muerto por complicaciones de Covid-19 de edad 84, fue anunciado el lunes.

Powell, a retired four-star general who served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the early 1990s, had been treated for Covid at Walter Reed national medical center in Bethesda, Maryland where he died. He was fully vaccinated against coronavirus but had a compromised immune system having been treated for blood cancer.

Announcing his death, his family said they had lost a “remarkable and loving husband, padre, grandfather and a great American”.

Powell was America’s first Black secretary of state, serving in that role under George W Bush from 2001 a 2005. He rose to the heights of military and diplomatic service from relatively disadvantaged beginnings, having been born in New York City to Jamaican parents and raised in the South Bronx where he was educated through public schools before he entered the army via a college officer training program.

He rose to occupy the top military position in the US government as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff between 1989 y 1993. In that role he presided over military crises including the invasion of Panama in 1989 and the first Gulf war in 1990-91.

But it was in the build-up to the contentious invasion of Iraq in 2003 that Powell became a household name. He was the face of the Bush administration’s aggressive attempt to get the world community to back the invasion, based on false claims of Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction.

En febrero 2003, as secretary of state, Powell appeared before the UN security council and made categoric claims that the then Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had biological weapons and was developing nuclear weapons. He said his intelligence was based in part on accounts of unidentified Iraqi defectors.

The invasion went ahead without UN authorisation. The following year the CIA’s own Iraq Study Group released a report that concluded that Hussein had destroyed the last of the country’s weapons of mass destruction a decade previously.

Powell stepped down as secretary of state in November 2004, following Bush’s re-election. He later insisted to reporters that he had tried to warn Bush of the consequences of invading Iraq, but had supported the president when the decision to proceed was taken.

In a statement on Monday, Bush called Powell “a great public servant, He was such a favorite of presidents that he earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom – twice. He was highly respected at home and abroad.”

Dick Cheney, Bush’s vice-president who was a leading hawk on Iraq, did not specifically refer to the 2003 invasion in a statement on Monday. En lugar de, he said that working with Powell during the first Gulf war had shown him “Powell’s dedication to the United States and his commitment to the brave and selfless men and women who serve our country in uniform. Colin was a trailblazer and role model for so many.”

Tony Blair, who as British prime minister also backed the Iraq invasion, called Powell a “towering figure in American military and political leadership over many years. He inspired loyalty and respect … his life stands as a testament not only to dedicated public service but also a strong belief in willingness to work across partisan division in the interests of his country.”

After his time in government Powell remained a hugely influential commentator on US politics and public life. Over the years he grew increasingly distanced from his own Republican party, disillusioned by its rightward drift.

En 2008, despite party rivalries, él endorsed Barack Obama for president. When Donald Trump launched his bid for the White House, Powell became one of his leading critics.

He voted against Trump in both 2016 y 2020 and was scathing about leading Republicans who remained silent or actively embraced Trump’s lies. His excoriating criticism of Trump continued until months before he died – in January he said he was so disgusted by the insurrection of Trump supporters at the US Capitol that he no longer considered himself to be a Republican.

Powell, a prostate cancer survivor, estaba undergoing treatment for multiple myeloma when he contracted Covid-19.

Multiple myeloma is a cancer of plasma cells, the very cells that create antibodies to viruses such as Covid.

This type of blood cancer makes it extremely hard to fight infections, and it also makes patients less likely to respond to vaccines. Patients are at risk of severe Covid even when fully vaccinated because of the immune-suppressing effects of both the disease itself and its treatments.

En 2019, Powell habló about the pressing need for a cure for multiple myeloma, “an uncommon and incurable disease”.

Freshman progressive Democratic New York congressman Jamaal Bowman crossed the proverbial aisle to pay tribute on Twitter to his Black Republican elder, posting: “As a Black man just trying to figure out the world, Colin Powell was an inspiration. He was from NYC, went to City College, and rose to the highest ranks of our nation. Sending love, strength and prayer to the family and friends of Secretary Powell. Rest in power, Sir.”

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