Information icon.svg At All things in moderation, we are currently voting on restrictions on the use of LLMs (chatbots) in RationalWiki. Reminder: you need to have at least 75 edits and to have been registered for at least three months to be eligible to vote.

Colin Powell

From RationalWiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Powell's war face.
God, guns, and freedom
U.S. Politics
Icon politics USA.svg
Starting arguments over Thanksgiving dinner
Persons of interest
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.
—Powell's plan for fighting Saddam Hussein's army during the Gulf War.

Colin Luther Powell (1937-2021) was a Four Star General of the United States Army and the first African-American to serve as the Secretary of State.[1] Powell in particular served under Bush and was responsible for selling the now infamous lie that "Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction" to the UN prior to the catastrophe that was the Iraq War. He also served as Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff under George H. W. Bush during the Gulf War.[1]

As a general[edit]

During his tenure as head of the Joint Chief of Staff, Powell had to deal with over 24 different crises, including the 1989 Invasion of PanamaWikipedia to overthrow the Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega,Wikipedia and Operation Desert StormWikipedia during the aforementioned 1991 Gulf War. Powell was known for his reluctance to use military power as a weapon of first resort, instead preferring to utilize diplomacy instead. This had earned Powell the epithet "Reluctant Warrior," as Powell's military stratagem revolved around maximizing success while minimizing casualties.[2]

Iraq War[edit]

Powell waves around a model anthrax vial before the UN in 2003. Iraq had no anthrax.
My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we’re giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.
—Secretary Powell before the UN, 2003.[3]
I wonder how we’ll all feel if we put half a million troops in Iraq and march from one end of the country to the other and find nothing.
—Secretary Powell in private, as quoted by his chief of staff.[3]

Powell was Secretary of State while Bush was POTUS, and hence was suckered into invading a country that had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11 in the first place. Powell initially opposed deposing Saddam,[4] but he ultimately acquiesced to Shrub's demands. Powell was tasked with presenting the case for invading Iraq to the UN General Assembly, and he dutifully went ahead.

His 2003 speech to the UN is now as infamous as it was farcical. During his presentation he stated that he believed "without a doubt Saddam is conducting biological weapons programs", citing anonymous "Iraqi defectors" as his sources.[5] In an amusing twist, though, it turned out that Powell's "source" was a plagiarized paper from an unaccredited Iraqi-American graduate student.[6] That's not the end of the absurdity. In one section of the presentation, he mentioned Iraqi-based terrorist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's name 21 times in an attempt to establish him as the link between Iraq and Al-Qaeda.[7] The first problem was that Zarqawi was a nobody who had met with Bin Laden maybe once ever and was considered a piss-poor recruiter by his superiors.[7] The second problem was that Powell's speech turned Zarqawi into a fucking celebrity and greatly improved his ability to build Al-Qaeda's ground presence in the country, especially after the invasion.[7] He also used the memory of the 2001 anthrax attacks to stir up fear over what Iraq could do with a similar weapon and that perhaps Iraq had even been responsible. The problem? Shortly after the attacks, the FBI hired microbiologist Paul Keim to investigate, and he proved that Iraq was not responsible.[8] The Bush administration ignored this finding, and anthrax became an issue in Powell's speech years later. The rest of Powell's speech was filled with omissions, mis-translations from Arabic, and faulty intelligence.[3]

Powell later resigned from the position of Secretary of State, however even after resigning he continued to support the war in Iraq. Although clarifying that he opposed the decision to go to war in the first place, he still stood by Bush's fateful and awful decision.[9]

On the plus side...[edit]

See the main article on this topic: Stopped clock
  • In September 2004, Powell described the Darfur genocide in Sudan as "genocide", thus becoming the first cabinet member to apply the term "genocide" to events in an ongoing conflict.
  • Shortly prior to his resignation, he allegedly referred to several neo-cons in the Bush administration (including Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz) as "fucking crazies", during a phone conversation with Jack Straw.[10]
  • Despite not being personally in favour of abortion, he was ultimately pro-choice.[11]
  • Remarkably for a Republican military man, Powell displayed some tentative support for gun control, favouring extensive background checks, and questioning the easy availability of firearm magazines.[12]
  • He supported the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell, despite earlier being all for it back in 1994.[13] By 2012, he had come out (pun totally not intended) in favour of legalising same-sex marriage.[14]
  • Powell was a staunch supporter of affirmative action, believing it necessary to bring about fair representation in the private sector and educational venues.[15]
  • Right from the get-go, he was a frequent and vocal critic of Donald Trump.[16] So much so that Trump actively gloated following Powell's death.[17] Then again, would you really expect anything else?
  • Following the 2021 capitol riot, he finally did what he should have done years ago, and left the Republican Party.[18]


Colin Powell died in October 18, 2021 due to complications caused by COVID-19 despite having been fully vaccinated, as his multiple myelomaWikipedia cancer left him severely immunocompromised.[19] Almost immediately, a plethora of anti-vaxxers, far-right morons, and all-around spineless bastards (including Fox News hosts John Roberts, Will Cain, and of course Tucker Carlson) tried to use his death as a platform to rant about the inefficiency of vaccines.[20][21]

See also[edit]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Secretary of State Colin Powell from the George W. Bush White House Archives.
  2. "The Reluctant Warrior" — The Guardian
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Lie After Lie: What Colin Powell Knew About Iraq 15 Years Ago And What He Told The U.N. The Intercept.
  5. Sec. Powell's remarks to the UN Assembly"
  6. "UK accused of lifting dossier from grad student" — CNN
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Colin Powell: U.N. Speech “Was a Great Intelligence Failure”. PBS.
  8. Did the Anthrax Attacks Kick-Start the Iraq War? WIRED.
  9. "Conversation with Colin Powell" (PDF). Aspen Ideas Festival. July 2007. Retrieved February 22, 2008. 
  10. Martin Bright, Colin Powell in four-letter neo-con 'crazies' row, the (September 12, 2004).
  11. Colin Powell on Abortion,
  12. Sabrina Siddiqui, Colin Powell Shows Support For Gun Control Measures, Including Assault Weapons Ban, (January 1, 2013).
  13. Trudy Ring, Colin Powell Dies; Supporter, Then Critic of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell', (October 18, 2021).
  14. Laura E. Davis, Colin Powell Expresses Support for Gay Marriage, (May 24, 2012).
  15. Josh Kraushaar, Powell still supportive of affirmative action, (July 5, 2009).
  16. Tom Winter, Andrea Mitchell and Cassandra Vinograd, Colin Powell Slammed Trump as 'National Disgrace,' Called Clinton 'Greedy,' in Hacked Emails, (September 14, 2016).
  17. Chris Cillizza, Donald Trump (yet again) proves there's no bottom, (October 20, 2021).
  18. Azi Paybaragh, Colin Powell says he ‘can no longer call himself a Republican.’, (January 11, 2021).
  19. Former Secretary of State, Colin Powell, dead at 84 due to complications from COVID
  20. Caleb Ecarma, Colin Powell’s Death Has Officially Been Hijacked by Anti-vaxxers, (October 18, 2021).
  21. Ja'han Jones, Anti-vaxxers try — and fail – to make Colin Powell their smoking gun, (October 20, 2021).