The legacy of Colin Powell through the eyes of a scholar and a general who briefed him

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO/AP) — The country is remembering a man who profoundly influenced American history; Colin Powell died Monday at the age of 84. Lynn Hartsell is a retired two-star general with the Army who lives in Lincoln County, South Dakota. He not only met Powell; he also briefed him.

“I think one time was maybe a 15-minute brief, another one was more like about a half an hour,” Hartsell said. “He was extremely focused, he asked pointed questions, he didn’t spend a lot of time around the edges, he wanted to get to the crux of the matter, he was quick to make decisions once he had the information that he thought he needed to make that decision.”

Hartsell describes Powell as “an outstanding military leader.”

“I think back when Powell was chairman during the Gulf War, the Desert Shield/Desert Storm operation, I can’t help but liken what he did a little bit to what Dwight Eisenhower did as the supreme allied commander in World War II in Europe,” Hartsell said.

Colin Powell and Lynn Hartsell

“As an international relations scholar, what I could say is that he really kind of was the voice of prudence for coming from the military but not super eager to utilize the military,” said SDSU professor Evren Wiltse, who teaches international relations and government at the school.

2003 was a pivotal year for Powell’s legacy.

“His credibility really rallied the international public opinion behind the 2003 Iraq invasion, and then what was the argument he made at the U.N. over 75 minutes that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and then turned out to be after years of fighting, looking, searching, that there wasn’t weapons of mass destruction,” Wiltse said.

“I’m sure he testified and believed exactly what intel was telling him,” Hartsell said.

“He really stood out with his principles and really was strongly endorsed on both sides of the aisle,” Wiltse said.

Powell was the first Black chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as well as the first Black secretary of state. He was a Vietnam War veteran.

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