General Colin Powell, the first Black US secretary of state, has died due to COVID-19 complications. He was 84. Powell rose to fame as the architect of the 1989 invasion of Panama and the Persian Gulf War in 1991. From CNN:
Powell was a distinguished and trailblazing professional soldier whose career took him from combat duty in Vietnam to becoming the first Black national security adviser during the end of Ronald Reagan's presidency and the youngest and first African American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush. His national popularity soared in the aftermath of the US-led coalition victory during the Gulf War, and for a time in the mid-90s, he was considered a leading contender to become the first Black President of the United States. But his reputation would be forever stained when, as George W. Bush's first secretary of state, he pushed faulty intelligence before the United Nations to advocate for the Iraq War, which he would later call a "blot" on his record[…]
Though Powell never mounted a White House bid, when he was sworn in as Bush's secretary of state in 2001, he became the highest-ranking Black public official to date in the country, standing fourth in the presidential line of succession.
From the New York Times:
He returned to public service in 2001 as secretary of state to President George W. Bush, whose father Mr. Powell had served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs a decade earlier.
But in the Bush administration, Mr. Powell was the odd man out, fighting internally with Mr. Cheney, then vice president, and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld for the ear of President Bush and foreign policy dominance.
He left at the end of Mr. Bush's first term under the cloud of an ever-worsening war in Iraq, and growing questions about whether he could have and should have done more to object to it.
He kept a lower profile for the next few years, but with just over two weeks left in the 2008 presidential campaign, Mr. Powell, by then a declared Republican, gave a forceful endorsement to Senator Barack Obama, calling him a "transformational figure."