Former U.S. Chief of Staff and Secretary of State Colin Powell, the first African-American in the post, died Monday at the age of 84 of complications from Covid-19.
Retired General Powell was completely vaccinated against Covid-19, his family said. Powell had been treated for blood cancer and had a weakened immune system.
U.S. President Joe Biden, referring to the deceased, described him as a racist barrier who believed in “America’s promise.”
“Colin embodied the highest ideals of both the soldier and the diplomat,” said Biden, who ordered Powell to lower national flags to federal government properties in honor of Powell. “He was faithful to the strength and security of our nation above all else.”
Powell, as chief of staff, achieved a US military victory in the 1991 Gulf War. He was then so popular and respected that he was seen as a potential strong candidate for the US presidency.
Powell eventually decided not to run in the US presidential election. Although Powell was a member of the Republican Party, he supported the candidacy of Democrat Barack Obama in the U.S. presidential election and 2008 and 2012, Hillary Clinton’s candidacy in 2016, and Joe Biden’s candidacy in 2020.
Powell’s memory was honored by all the living presidents of the United States, except for Donald Trump, who had a public dispute with him.
Obama called Powell a “model patriot,” and George W. Bush a “family man and friend.”
Powell’s memory was also honored by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and former Prime Minister Tony Blair, and other foreign politicians.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said Powell was among the “greatest leaders we’ve ever seen,” and Secretary of State Anthony Blinken remembered Powell modernizing the State Department.
Powell was unable to accept his speech in February 2003 at the UN Security Council, in which he spoke about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. After the US invasion of Iraq, it turned out that there were no such weapons in Iraq.