This story first appeared in Common Dreams on Oct. 18, 2021. It is shared here with permission under a Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0) license.
Colin Powell, the former US Secretary of State who helped President George W. Bush, under whom he served to sell the 2003 invasion of Iraq to the United Nations and the American people, has died at the age of 84.
According to the New York Times, “He died of complications from Covid-19, his family said in a statement. He was fully vaccinated and was treated at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, his family said.”
In 2003, Powell, a retired four-star US Army General who also served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs before becoming the nation’s top diplomat under Bush, made the now infamous presentation to the UN Security Council in which he claimed that the Iraqi government of President Saddam Hussein was hiding a secret chemical weapons program from the international community and supporting international terrorists following the 9/11 attacks of 2001.
Powell later claimed that the testimony he gave in 2003 was a “great intelligence failure,” but critics—including his chief of staff at the time, Lawrence Wilkerson—said the speech was significant both for its dishonesty and that Powell’s “gravitas” was a crucial “part of the two-year-long effort by the Bush administration to get Americans on the war wagon.”
“That effort,” Wilkerson wrote in 2018, “led to a war of choice with Iraq—one that resulted in catastrophic losses for the region and the United States-led coalition, and that destabilized the entire Middle East.”
In a 2018 column detailing what the former Secretary of State knew and was saying privately at the same time he was selling the Iraq invasion to the US public, The Intercept‘s John Schwarz wrote that “Powell’s loyalty to Bush extended to being willing to deceive the world: the United Nations, Americans, and the coalition troops about to be sent to kill and die in Iraq. He’s never been held accountable for his actions, and it’s extremely unlikely he ever will be.”