Tribute to Colin Powell: a problem-solver and a pathbreaker
Tashkent, Uzbekistan (UzDaily.com) -- Yesterday we heard the news about the death of Colin Powell. Reportedly, he died due to complications from Covid-19.
Who was Colin Powell and how we will remember him? He was, first of all, a four-star general, national security adviser, later the nation’s chief diplomat.
In this regard, Powell was one of those who shaped US national security and diplomacy. He was also one of the “pathbreakers” in many terms being the first African-American to hold the office of Secretary of State.
Surely, Powell was part of President George W. Bush’s team who advanced notorious White House arguments for invading Iraq in his UN speech in 2003. It was him who stated that Baghdad had weapons of mass destruction. But the personality of Powell was multifaceted – more than being just part of the Bush team.
Even in terms of military operations, he urged to identify clear political objectives before any military moves, gain public support and use decisive and overwhelming force to defeat enemy forces. He was one of the rare people of his age who clearly understood that the country’s great ambitions needed to be tempered by reality. All this was embodied into what we call the “Powell Doctrine”.
Qualified as a classic American success story, Powell’s military service was complemented by his outstanding career of public service which inspired a generation of young people.
He was perceived as a moderate statesman. As the country’s diplomat number one, he was in charge of building international support for the administration’s strategies. He demonstrated leadership in addressing such international challenges, as HIV/AIDs, resolving a crisis with China. By all this, he also brought morale to a generation of professional diplomats of his term.
As we discuss Powell’s legacy, we are also reminded of his “rules of leadership” that have guided many soldiers, diplomats and aspiring students. His rules suggest that your mission can be done; be careful with what you choose and don’t let someone else make your choice. His vision of leadership also urged to “remain calm and be kind”, sticking to “perpetual optimism” as a force multiplier.
George W. Bush’s said: “Many presidents relied on General Powell’s counsel and experience. He was such a favorite of presidents that he earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom – twice. He was highly respected at home and abroad”.
Many years after his retirement, Powell talked about himself in an interview with The New York Times as follows: “Powell is a problem-solver. He was taught as a soldier to solve problems. So, he has views, but he’s not an ideologue. He has passion, but he’s not a fanatic. He’s first and foremost a problem-solver”.
Of course, it’s hard to talk in linear terms about legacies of historical figures. Colin Powell’s contemporaries may suggest that he “created many problems”. But at the same time, others would admit, that he was indeed “a problem-solver”, without whom those decades of his service would have been even more complicated.
We, here in Tashkent, acknowledge the remarkable contribution of Powell to development of Uzbek-American relations in crucial times of history. It’s under him that the both countries signed the Declaration on the Strategic Partnership and Cooperation Framework, which played an important role in the history of bilateral relations. The Uzbek Foreign Ministry has expressed condolences on the passing of Colin Powell.
DSc., political analyst