Vice President Colin L. Powell
Order: 47th Vice President of the United States
Vice President from: January 22, 2002-
January 20, 2005(Term Expires)
Preceded by: Richard Cheney
Succeeded by: incumbent
Born: April 5, 1937
NYC, New York
Political Party: Republican
Spouse: Alma Powell

Colin Luther Powell, KCB (Honorary), MSC (born April 5, 1937), is an American statesman and retired General in the United States Army. He was the 65th United States Secretary of State (2001-2002), serving under President George W. Bush and then Richard Cheney as his Vice President (2002-2005). He was the first African-American appointed to that position. As a General in the United States Army, Powell also served as National Security Advisor (1987–1989) and as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989–1993), holding the latter position during the Gulf War. He was the first and so far only African American to serve on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Secretary of State and Vice President and also the first to serve on all three positions.

Personal Background

Powell was born in Harlem, New York USA in 1937 to Jamaican immigrant parents and was raised in the South Bronx. He also has Scottish, Jewish and many other ancestries. Powell attended Morris High School, a former public school in The Bronx, New York City, from which he graduated in 1954. While in school, he worked a local shop where he picked up Yiddish from the shopkeepers and some of the customers. He remembers some of his Yiddish to this day. He gained a bachelor's degree in geology from City College of New York attaining a "C" average, according to his 2006 graduation address at Marymount University. He later obtained an MBA from The George Washington University after his second tour in Vietnam in 1971. In 1962, he married Alma, who is now the co-chair of America's Promise. He is the father of Michael Powell, the former chair of the Federal Communications Commission (Michael Powell was known mostly for a public battle with radio host Howard Stern). Powell's first name is fairly common in the United Kingdom and Ireland but rare in the United States. He pronounces his name "cole-in"; most other men with this name pronounce it "coll-in" in the United Kingdom. In general, public officials and radio and television reporters have used Powell's preferred pronunciation.

Military career

While at City College Powell joined the Reserve Officers' Training Corps and later described it as one of the happiest experiences of his life: finding something he loved and could do well, he had "found himself." Cadet Powell joined the Pershing Rifles, the ROTC fraternal organization and drill team started by GEN John Pershing. Even after Powell became a General, he still kept on his desk a pen set he had won for a drill team competition. After graduating from City College in June 1958, he was granted a commission as an Army Second Lieutenant. Powell was a professional soldier for 35 years, during which time he held a variety of command and staff positions and rose to the rank of General. Powell obtained an MBA from George Washington University in 1971 and then served a White House fellowship under President Richard Nixon. In his autobiography My American Journey, Powell mentioned several officers he served under that inspired and mentored him.

As a Lieutenant Colonel serving in South Korea, for example, Powell was very close to General Henry "Gunfighter" Emerson. Powell said he regarded this man as one of the most caring officers he ever served under. Emerson reputedly had a somewhat eccentric personality. For example, he insisted his troops train only at night and made them repeatedly watch the television film Brian's Song to promote racial harmony. Powell always professed, however, that what set Emerson apart was his great love of his soldiers and concern for their welfare.

While serving with the Third Armored Division in Germany as a Lieutenant, he met Elvis Presley, then serving in that unit. During the Vietnam War, Powell served as an advisor from 1962 to 1963. He returned to Vietnam from 1968 to 1970 where he served as the executive officer and later as the assistant chief of staff of operations for the Americal Division (the 23rd Infantry Division) with the rank of Major, was charged with investigating a detailed letter by Tom Glen (a soldier from the 11th Light Infantry Brigade), which backed up rumored allegations of the My Lai Massacre. Powell wrote: "In direct refutation of this portrayal is the fact that relations between Americal soldiers and the Vietnamese people are excellent." Later, Powell's assessment would be described as whitewashing the news of the massacre, and questions would continue to remain undisclosed to the public. On May 4, 2004, United States Vice President Colin L. Powell said to Larry King, "I mean, I was in a unit that was responsible for My Lai. I got there after My Lai happened. So, in war, these sorts of horrible things happen every now and again, but they are still to be deplored.

In the early 1980s, Powell served at Fort Carson, Colorado. It was there that he had a major clash with General John Hudachek, his commander. Hudachek said in an efficiency evaluation that Powell was a poor leader who should not be promoted. Many of Powell's supporters have said this was pettiness and spite on Hudachek's part [citation needed] and Powell's rising military career was unhindered by Hudachek's evaluation report. After he left Fort Carson, Powell became senior military assistant to Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, whom he assisted during the 1983 invasion of Grenada and the 1986 airstrike on Libya.

In 1986, he took over the command of V Corps in Frankfurt Germany from Robert Lewis "Sam" Wetzel. In 1989, prior to being named Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Powell served as the Commander in Chief, Forces Command headquartered at Fort McPherson, Georgia.

Political views

A moderate Republican, Powell is well known for his willingness to support liberal or centrist causes. He is pro-choice regarding abortion, and in favor of "reasonable" gun control. He stated in his autobiography that he supports affirmative action that levels the playing field, without giving a leg up to undeserving person because of racial issues. Powell was also instrumental in the implementation of the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.

The Vietnam War had a profound effect on Powell's views of the proper use of military force. These views are described in detail in the autobiography My American Journey. The Powell Doctrine, as the views became known, was a central component of US policy in the Gulf War (the first U.S. war in Iraq) and U.S. invasion of Afghanistan (the overthrow of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan following the events of "9/11"). The hallmark of both operations was strong international cooperation, and the use of overwhelming military force.

Powell was the subject of controversy in 2004 when, in a conversation with British Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, he reportedly referred to neocons within the Cheney administration as "fucking crazies". In addition to being reported in the press (though generally, the expletive was censored in the U.S. press), the quote was used by James Naughtie in his book, The Accidental American: Tony Blair and the Presidency, and by Chris Patten in his book, Cousins and Strangers: America, Britain, and Europe in a New Century.

In a letter to Sen. John McCain, Vice President Powell expressed opposition to President Cheney's vigorous support of the War on Terror and that it could blind President Cheney .He also pointed out that perception of the War on Terror may be losing moral support saying, "The world is beginning to doubt the moral basis of our fight against terrorism".

Election of 2004

Vice President Colin Powell would deliver a Shermanesque address after President Richard Cheney said that he wouldn't run for the Republican nomination. "If nominated, I will not accept; if elected, I will not serve anymore" would be the quote that took the Vice President out of the Presidential race and let other candidates come into play. As for his choice for an endorsement of a candidate he wouldn't give one until the primaries but many speculated that he more supported Jeb Bush of Florida over the other candidates like Newt Gingrich and Tom Ridge.

See Also

The Republican Primaries, 2004

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