Colin Powell has died, and the hagiographic obituaries are upon us.
The New York Times hails him as a “pathbreaker”: the United States’ first Black nationwide safety adviser, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, and secretary of state.
The remainder of the US mainstream media have taken an analogous line, erupting in attribute American self-adulation at the concept a once-discriminated-against Black man was capable of make it up to now in life.
CNN proudly quotes Powell’s phrases at his 2001 Senate affirmation listening to for secretary of state, which he claimed “shows to the world that: Follow our model, and over a period of time from our beginning, if you believe in the values that espouse [sic], you can see things as miraculous as me sitting before you to receive your approval”.
After all, there may be just about nothing as miraculously post-racial as a man who was born in Harlem – and who as a youthful US military officer was prohibited from coming into sure eating places and motels within the nation he was serving – occurring to orchestrate the obliteration of numerous brown individuals overseas, to not point out of us of different colors.
MSNBC took the hagiography a step additional by showcasing an evaluation from Richard Haass, president of the US Council on Foreign Relations, in line with which Powell was “one of the most intellectually honest people I ever met”.
It is anybody’s guess, after all, how the time period “honest” may apply to the particular person whose 76-minute lie in entrance of the United Nations Security Council in 2003 straight set the stage for the George W Bush administration’s pulverisation of Iraq – which didn’t forestall MSNBC from titling its posthumous Powell phase: “Richard Haass: Colin Powell was grounded in reality”.
If Powell’s actuality included non-existent Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and different threats, what does “reality” even imply in the long run?
At the second, a minimum of, it implies that the US political-media institution is tripping over itself to eulogise at size a single human who died after serving to to trigger the deaths of actually a whole lot of hundreds of human beings throughout the globe – who’ve themselves not been deemed worthy of greater than a scant point out in any mainstream Powell tribute.
The Washington Post, for instance, manages to squeeze in a reference to “more than 100,000 Iraqi deaths” on account of the “US-led war and occupation” – a determine that, along with being an obscene underestimate, seems solely after the clearly extra necessary “thousands of American deaths” in Iraq.
So a lot for Powell’s prediction that his 2003 UN speech would “earn a prominent paragraph in my obituary” – or that backing the Iraq warfare was a “blot” on his file.
Unbeknownst to Powell, maybe, the Iraq lies weren’t the one “blot” on his file, a minimum of objectively talking.
As chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff underneath George HW Bush, Powell oversaw Operation Desert Storm in 1991 – or what former University of Texas journalism professor Robert Jensen has known as the “massacre we call the Gulf War”.
Writing within the Los Angeles Times in May of 2000 – nearly three years earlier than the blot to beat all blots – Jensen noticed that the bloodbath in query had to this point been “one of the most concentrated attacks on an entire society in modern warfare”, comprising focused in addition to indiscriminate bombing of civilians.
In each circumstances, Jensen emphasised, the bombing constituted “war crimes under the Geneva Conventions”.
In 1989, too, Powell presided over all method of bomb-based devastation within the Central American nation of Panama, the place an untold variety of primarily impoverished Panamanian civilians had been slaughtered by the US army because it carried out “Operation Just Cause” towards longtime US ally and CIA asset Manuel Noriega.
This operation, which served as a take a look at run for the Gulf War, was – shock, shock – predicated on a fabricated and sensational narrative, which solely acquired higher when the US military triumphantly introduced that it had found a stash of cocaine in a home Noriega was identified to go to.
Never thoughts that the “cocaine” was subsequently revealed to be tamales wrapped in banana leaves.
Anyway, it was all apparently in a day’s work of “intellectual honesty” and “grounding in reality”.
Over the course of his decades-long service on behalf of the US empire, Powell was additionally not directly linked to such noble US endeavours because the notorious My Lai bloodbath in Vietnam and the Iran-Contra scandal.
In her Powell obituary for Jacobin journal – titled “Colin Powell, Politely Anguished War Criminal, Dead at 84” – Liza Featherstone recollects that the person was “so popular” that folks in each US political events had “begged him to run for president for decades”.
But even in his lesser posts, he nonetheless did a swell job of rallying and sustaining bipartisan assist for imperial killing – and placing as “polite” a face as attainable on it.
Speaking on CNN’s State of the Union programme final 12 months, by the way, Powell criticised then-US President Donald Trump as being somebody who “lies about things, and he gets away with it because people will not hold him accountable”.
But if the present hagiographic outpouring is any indication, accountability in US politics could be nothing in need of miraculous.
The views expressed on this article are the creator’s personal and don’t essentially mirror Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.