Colin Powell Meninggal Dunia Akibat Komplikasi Covid-19

WASHINGTON (AFP): Colin Powell, seorang pahlawan perang AS dan setiausaha negara Hitam pertama yang melihat warisannya tercemar ketika dia membuat kes perang di Iraq pada tahun 2003, telah meninggal dunia akibat komplikasi Covid-19. Dia berusia 84 tahun.

“Kami kehilangan suami, ayah, datuk, dan orang Amerika yang hebat dan penyayang,” kata keluarga itu dalam satu kenyataan yang disiarkan di media sosial pada hari Isnin (18 Okt).

Jeneral empat bintang yang bersara dan bekas ketua Ketua Kakitangan Bersama yang bertugas empat presiden menjadikan reputasinya sebagai orang terhormat yang jauh dari kerancakan politik – aset di koridor kekuasaan.

Selepas Perang Teluk 1991, dia sangat dihormati sehingga dia disebut-sebut sebagai presiden Amerika Syarikat yang akan datang, tetapi akhirnya dia tidak pernah mencalonkan diri untuk Gedung Putih.

“Jeneral Powell adalah pahlawan Amerika, contoh Amerika, dan kisah Amerika yang hebat,” kata George W. Bush ketika dia mengumumkan pencalonan Powell, anak pendatang Jamaica yang menjadi setiausaha negara presiden Republik pada tahun 2000.

“Dari segi pertuturan, integritasnya yang menjulang tinggi, rasa hormatnya yang mendalam terhadap demokrasi kita, dan rasa tugas dan kehormatan askarnya, Colin Powell menunjukkan … sifat-sifat yang akan menjadikannya wakil yang hebat dari semua orang di negara ini.”

Tetapi dia merasa sukar untuk menunaikan pidatonya yang terkenal pada Februari 2003 kepada Majlis Keselamatan PBB mengenai dakwaan adanya senjata pemusnah besar-besaran di Iraq – bukti yang kemudian terbukti palsu.

“Ini masalah … dan akan selalu menjadi sebahagian daripada rekod saya. Ia menyakitkan. Ia menyakitkan sekarang,” kata Powell dalam wawancara tahun 2005 dengan ABC News.

– ‘True soldier statesman’ –

Tributes nevertheless poured in from Congress, where Democratic Senator Mark Warner praised Powell as “a patriot and a public servant,” while House Republican Peter Meijer described him as a rarity in the modern age: “a true soldier statesman.”

The family statement said Powell had been fully vaccinated.

Born April 5, 1937 in Harlem, Powell’s “American Journey” – the title of his autobiography – started in New York, where he grew up and earned a degree in geology.

He also participated in the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) in college, and upon his graduation in June 1958, he received a commission as a second lieutenant in the US Army, and was posted in what was then West Germany.

Powell completed two tours of duty in Vietnam – in 1962-63 as one of John F Kennedy’s thousands of military advisors, and again in 1968-69 to investigate the My Lai massacre.

He earned a Purple Heart, but also faced questions about the tone of his report into the hundreds of deaths at My Lai, which to some seemed to dismiss any claims of wrongdoing.

Back in Washington, he quickly rose through the ranks to the pinnacle of the national security establishment, serving Ronald Reagan as national security advisor, and both George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton as chairman of the Joint Chiefs from 1989 to 1993.

Powell freely admitted his liberal social views made him a strange bedfellow for many Republicans, though the party was often happy to hold him up as an example of its inclusivity.

But since 2008, he has endorsed Democrats for the presidency, twice backing Barack Obama, and then Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden.

Powell earned a number of civilian honours, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom – twice from Bush Senior and Clinton.

He married his wife Alma in 1962. They had three children: Michael, Linda and Annemarie. – AFP

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