WASHINGTON (AP) — World figures are reacting to the death of Colin Powell, a Vietnam War veteran who rose to the rank of four-star general and became the first Black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and then secretary of state. Powell died Monday of COVID-19 complications at age 84.
“Colin embodied the highest ideals of both warrior and diplomat. He was committed to our nation’s strength and security above all. Having fought in wars, he understood better than anyone that military might alone was not enough to maintain our peace and prosperity. From his front-seat view of history, advising presidents and shaping our nation’s policies, Colin led with his personal commitment to the democratic values that make our country strong.” — President Joe Biden.
“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. And most important, Colin was a family man and a friend.” — Former President George W. Bush, who went to war with Iraq in 2003 and sent Powell, then secretary of state, to the U.N. to make the case for the war on grounds Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
“General Powell helped a generation of young people set their sights higher. He never denied the role that race played in his own life and in our society more broadly. But he also refused to accept that race would limit his dreams, and through his steady and principled leadership, helped pave the way for so many who would follow.” — Former President Barack Obama, a Democrat, who was endorsed by Powell, a Republican, in 2008 and 2012.
“He was a man who loved his country and served her long and well. Working with him during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, I saw first-hand General Powell’s dedication to the United States and his commitment to the brave and selfless men and women who serve our country in uniform.” — Former Bush Vice President Dick Cheney.
“The son of immigrants, he rose to the top levels of military, civilian, and non-governmental service through intelligence, character, and the ability to see the big picture and attend to the smallest details. He lived the promise of America, and spent a lifetime working to help our country, especially our young people, live up to its own ideals and noblest aspirations at home and around the world.” — Former President Bill Clinton and former first lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
“A true patriot and public servant, we were honored to work beside him to strengthen communities in the United States, help resolve conflict in Haiti, and observe elections in Jamaica. His courage and integrity will be an inspiration for generations to come.” — Former President Jimmy Carter.
“Secretary Colin Powell dedicated his life to defending our nation. As National Security Advisor, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Secretary of State, he was an independent thinker and a barrier breaker who inspired leaders in our military and throughout our nation.” — Vice President Kamala Harris, the first black woman to serve as vice president.
“He gave the State Department the very best of his leadership, his experience, his patriotism. He gave us his decency, and the State Department loved him for it.” — Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
“The world lost one of the greatest leaders that we have ever witnessed. Alma lost a great husband and the family lost a tremendous father and I lost a tremendous personal friend and mentor. … I feel as if I have a hole in my heart.” — Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, the first Black Pentagon chief.
“As a young officer, General Powell rendered brave and distinguished service on the front lines. As a senior leader, he helped four presidents protect our nation, represent us on the world stage, and chart our course through uncertain and turbulent times that included the dawn of a new century and the beginning of our global war on terrorists who will not leave America alone even if we leave them alone.” — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“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.” — Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who joined Bush in the Iraq War.
“Colin Powell spent the entirety of his life in service to his country. He was a trusted colleague and a dear friend through some very challenging times.” — Former Bush national security adviser and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
“General Colin Powell was a patriot: serving our country in uniform, leading at the highest levels of American government and blazing a trail for generations to come. His leadership strengthened America and his life embodied the American Dream.” — House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“Colin Powell lived a life of honor and integrity. A four-star general, the first Black US Secretary of State, and an NAACP Spingarn Medal recipient. He was a good man who inspired many.” — NAACP President Derrick Johnson.
“He was an outstanding soldier and diplomat.” — former Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller, who called Powell, born in the U.S. to Jamaican parents, a “son of Jamaica.”
“In Colin #Powell the United States loses a straight-talking foreign policy official — and we Europeans a trans-Atlantic bridge builder. As a general during the time of (German) reunification he had close ties to our country in particular.” — German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas in a tweet.
“No words seem adequate at this moment. This school is his. He was our leader and our friend. His pride in this place gave all of us strength, and we are heartbroken.” — Andrew Rich, dean of the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership at the City College of New York.