Powell, Colin Luther
In 1989, Powell was promoted to four-star general, becoming the first African American to hold that rank, and was named chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He had an important role in planning the American invasion of Panama in late 1989, and prior to the
Persian Gulf War
(1991) he played a crucial role in planning and coordinating the victory of U.S. and allied forces. He declined to run for the U.S. presidency in 1995, despite widespread encouragement to do so, and in 1997 became chairman of America's Promise–the Alliance for Youth, a charitable organization formed to help needy and at-risk U.S. children. Powell was appointed secretary of state by President George W.
in 2001. He advocated the so-called Powell doctrine—that U.S. military power only be used in overwhelming strength to achieve well-defined strategic national interests—while promoting
a uniquely American internationalism,
and he also showed a particular interest in African affairs. As secretary of state, however, his influence on foreign policy issues was not as great as that of National Security Adviser Condoleeza
(who succeeded him in 2005), Vice President Dick Cheney, and others. Powell was subsequently publicly critical of a number of administration policies, such as the Guantánamo military prison.
See his autobiography (1995, with J. E. Persico) biography by K. DeYoung (2006) J. Mann, Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush's War Cabinet (2004).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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