Colin Powell Would Have Made Better President Than Others in Recent Decades, Ex-US Envoy Says
06:46 GMT 19.10.2021 (Updated: 07:00 GMT 19.10.2021)
WASHINGTON (Sputnik) - Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, who has died at the age of 84, would have made a far better president of the United States than most, if not all, the presidents who have held the office in the 21st century, former American Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Chas Freeman told Sputnik.
"He would have been a better president than those who have occupied the presidency in recent decades", Freeman, who also served as assistant secretary of defence for international security policy in the Clinton administration, said.
Powell, the first African American to serve both as secretary of state
and chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the head of the US armed forces, led the American military to an overwhelming victory in the first Gulf War against Iraq in 1991. Freeman praised him as a stabilising figure and significant strategist and political planner.
"Colin Powell was a man of steady temperament who was skilled in military thought but able to think beyond it. I first got to know him almost fifty years ago and am greatly saddened by his demise", he continued.
However, in his years as secretary of state under President George W. Bush, Powell was isolated and undermined by more irresponsible and more hawkish figures intriguing around him, Freeman recalled.
"Had [then-Secretary of Defence Donald] Rumsfeld and others in the G.W. Bush administration not managed to cut him largely out of policymaking, we would have had better policies", Freeman commented.
Powell was the victim of White House and Department of Defence super-hawks who sought to manipulate him by feeding him doctored and irresponsible assessments about Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction
which Powell then presented as established facts to the United Nations, Freeman said.
"Had they not abused his credibility by feeding him false information to advocate at the United Nations, our national credibility would be higher than it is", he pointed out.
Yet, Powell possessed the talents and experience to be a great secretary of state that his colleagues did not appreciate, Freeman pointed out.
"Colin Powell had all of the qualities required for a secretary of state. He had a strategic mind. He was a strong manager. He listened well. He was able to articulate policy in terms that less experienced people could understand", he said.
And in an era of increased extremism and polarisation in US politics and policymaking Powell stood out for his common sense, decency, and willingness to engage differing viewpoints on every side rather than abuse or demonise the people who held them, Freeman observed.
"He was a realist, not an ideologue. He had the respect of people of every ideological persuasion", he said.
Powell was close to his wife and did not run for the presidency
because she opposed the idea But his personal reticence and decency cost the United States a wise, good-natured, and admirable leader it very much needed, Freeman said.
"If his wife, Alma, had allowed him to run for the presidency, he might have been president. He would have been a better president than those who have occupied the presidency in recent decades", the retired diplomat concluded.
Powell died on Monday from complications of COVID-19. He had been treated over the past few years for multiple myeloma, a blood cancer that impairs the body's ability to fight infections and to respond well to vaccines.