Colin Powell’s Gory Heritage in the Middle East

In 2003, Colin Powell, former United States secretary of state under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2005, offered false information as he presented his case for the invasion of Iraq to the UN that year. He promoted false intelligence while making the case for the invasion of Iraq that led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians.

Colin Powell recently died at the age of 84 from complications from Covid-19. For many Iraqis, he was the face of the US invasion which caused an estimated 200,000 deaths, unleashing nearly two decades of domestic chaos and precipitating turmoil throughout the region.

If Powell’s reality included non-existent Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and other threats, what does “reality” even mean in the end? At the moment, at least, it means that the US political-media establishment is tripping over itself to eulogise at length a single human who died after helping to cause the deaths of literally hundreds of thousands of human beings across the globe – who have themselves not been deemed worthy of more than a scant mention in any mainstream Powell tribute.

Powell’s 2003 presentation to the UN security council laying out US evidence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, which turned out not to exist. His speech marked a decisive moment in undermining US credibility on the world stage – all the more because of the then secretary of state’s repeated insistence that his claims were based on hard intelligence.

“My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources,” he said in the now infamous 5 February 2003 briefing. “These are not assertions. What we’re giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence.”

To drive home the point, Powell played a recording of an intercepted conversation between Iraq army officers about a UN weapons inspection and displayed illustrations of the alleged WMD equipment to press home the urgency of the threat. But the description of the recorded conversation had been embellished to make it seem more incriminating, and the illustrations had sprung from the imaginations of Iraqi defectors telling the Bush administration what they wanted to hear. Two years later, out of government, Powell described the speech as “a blot” on his career.

Powell was a four-star army general whose career began in Vietnam and later spanned several Republican administrations, even toying with a presidential run in 1995 before deciding against it. A tendency towards careerism what admirers chalked up as “being a good soldier” was an attribute that would serve him well during his ascent up the US national security bureaucracy. By the time he retired from the military, he was arguably the most respected and celebrated American in uniform. At that time, he received his second Presidential Medal of Freedom, this time from President Clinton.

Several reports indicate that, Powell’s experiences as a young soldier fighting in the Vietnam War led him to develop what became known as the “Powell Doctrine”, a view by the general that if the United States had to intervene in a foreign conflict, it should deploy overwhelming force with mass troop deployment to crush its adversary based on clear political objectives. This idea would be the guiding force for Powell as he rose through the ranks of the US military and later the American government and helped lead the country through various conflicts and operations in the Middle East.

Unfortunately, Congress never investigated Powell’s use of the intelligence he was given, so we don’t know many of the specifics. Even so, what did reach the public record in other ways is extremely damning. While the corporate media has never taken a close look at this record, we can go through Powell’s presentation line by line to demonstrate the chasm between what he knew and what he told the world. As you’ll see, there’s quite a lot to say about it.

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