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Former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell

Picture of Secretary of State Colin PowellColin L. Powell became the 65th Secretary of State on January 20, 2001. As he stated at his confirmation hearing, the guiding principle of U.S. foreign policy during his tenure will be that "America stands ready to help any country that wishes to join the democratic world."

Secretary Powell brought extensive experience with him to his office. Before becoming Secretary of State, Colin Powell had served as a key aid to the Secretary of Defense and as National Security Advisor. He also served 35 years in the United States Army, rising to the rank of Four-Star General and serving as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

That experience has served him well, both before and particularly after the events of September 11, 2001, the day of the greatest tragedy on American soil since Pearl Harbor. The Secretary has stood shoulder to shoulder with the President and the other members of the President's cabinet in fighting the war on terrorism. As he has often said, "winning that war is our first priority, and it will remain so for as long as necessary."

Secretary Powell has stressed that fighting the war on terrorism is not just a military but also a diplomatic task, and that the two go hand in hand. As he said in a major address at George Washington University on September 5, 2003, "We do not see the war against terrorism and the nurturing of constructive relationships among the major powers as competing tasks. We conduct the war on terrorism with an eye turned toward great power cooperation. And we seek enhanced great power cooperation with an eye turned toward success in the war on terrorism."

The Secretary has also led the State Department in major efforts to solve regional and civil conflicts - in the Middle East, between Israel and its Arab neighbors; in Sudan, Congo, and Liberia; in the Balkans, in Cyprus, in Haiti, in Northern Ireland and elsewhere. Secretary Powell has been particularly concerned with the peace and security of Afghanistan and Iraq, countries where winning the peace is as important as Coalition battlefield victories.

Secretary Powell has also been devoted to grasping opportunities as well as to confronting the global and regional security challenges of the 21st century. He has been at the forefront of the administration's efforts to advance economic and social development worldwide - in the fight against HIV/AIDs, in the promise of the Millennium Challenge Account, and in pursuing a freer trading and investment climate worldwide. These efforts, too, are not separate from the nation's security agenda. As the Secretary said at Princeton University on February 20, 2004, "we must build a better future even as we deal with the security challenges before us. That is how we'll overcome those challenges, because it's not enough to fight against a negative, like terrorism. We must focus on what inspires us, on what brings the good people of the world together. We've got to fight for the positive -- for liberty, for freedom, for democracy."

Indeed, in testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Secretary Powell affirmed that our main purpose is to extend democracy, prosperity, and freedom to every corner of the world. It is a process that is establishing a balance of power that favors freedom across the globe.

Secretary Powell's Farewell Address
Secretary Powell (Jan. 19):
"You are wonderful individuals. You are wonderful families. You are wonderful patriots who serve your nation as its troops in the far-flung outposts of American diplomacy. You are in the first line of offense of America's foreign policy." [full text]

Secretary Powell and his wife Alma are accompanied by President Bush and Mrs. Bush while the Powells received the John Thompson Legacy of a Dream Award from Georgetown University Secretary Powell and his wife Alma are accompanied by President Bush and the First Lady while the Powells received the John Thompson Legacy of a Dream Award from Georgetown University during the University's "Let Freedom Ring" celebration honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on Monday, January 17, 2005.

Foreign Policy Achievements
Photo of Secretary Powell and Washington Bureau newspaper chiefs. Photo by Christian Science Monitor/Andy NelsonSecretary Powell (Dec. 21): "I'm proud to have been part of an Administration that did get rid of two very bad regimes and [pulled] the world together in the war on terror; proud of what we've done with development assistance, HIV/AIDS, denuclearizing Libya, expansion of NATO, expansion of the European Union; the trade agreements we've entered into; what we did to stop a war in India-Pakistan...." [full text]

The Secretary Resigns
Secretary Powell (Nov. 15)
: "It has been my great honor and privilege to have been once again given the opportunity to serve my nation, and I will always treasure the 4 years that I have spent with President Bush and with the wonderful men and women of the Department of State." [full text]

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