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Colin Powell should be remembered for promoting honesty, civility and patriotism above divisive politics

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By Trudy Rubin

As soon as I learned that former Secretary of State Colin Powell had died Oct. 18, my mind flashed back to his infamous U.N. speech on Feb. 5, 2003, in which Powell pressed for a war to disarm Iraq. I can't forget my unease as I watched him ― on TV in northern Iraq, where I was awaiting the start of the Iraq war.

I was stunned. It was already widely known that Saddam Hussein had no nuclear weapons ― despite Bush administration claims. Rumors were rife that defectors were feeding fake information to U.S. sources about bio-weapons. Moreover, it was clear on the ground in Iraq that U.S. troops would face a broken nation on the brink of ethnic and religious civil war, even if the invasion went well.

Powell himself presciently tried to warn President George W. Bush in 2002 that an invasion would saddle the United States with huge Iraq burdens, coining what became known as the Pottery Barn rule: "If you break it, you own it."

Still, despite his skepticism, this soldier-statesman somehow was conned by bad intelligence briefs and inserted them into a U.N. address that he later admitted would "blot" his record forever. Indeed, that speech figures prominently in all the obituaries about Powell's passing from COVID-19 complications (amidst a battle against cancer that had weakened his system against both the disease and the vaccine).


© The Korea Times

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