I-House Remembers Colin Powell
International House remembers Colin Powell (1937-2021). He was the first African American Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, US Secretary of State, and National Security Advisor to the President. In his honor, we resurface an article that appeared in our 2006 newsletter describing his visit and address to Residents. At this event, he encouraged Residents to seize opportunities to effect change globally and commended I-House for its longstanding commitment to promoting intercultural understanding and cooperation.
From 2006 “The World” Alumni Newsletter
Powell Describes Global Challenges and Opportunities in Marshall Visitor Address
The war on terror, globalization, and US policy in the Middle East were among the topics covered by General Colin L. Powell, the 21st George C. Marshall Visitor, in an April 6 address at International House.
Powell, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and US Secretary of State from 2001-06, told I-House Residents that their world will face challenges far different from those faced by his generation.
Powell discussed the threat posed by the Axis powers in World War II and the specter of a nuclear confrontation during the 50-year Cold War with the Soviet Union during his lifetime. He stated that the two biggest challenges currently facing the United States are the ongoing situation in Iraq and the Middle East Peace process, Powell said.
“We have to help the Iraqis achieve the peace that they want and the democracy that they want,” he said. The rise of sectarian violence in the country has produced “a moment of extreme danger” in Iraq, but Powell said the situation there is “not something we can walk away from.”
Powell acknowledged missteps by the Bush administration, saying “I don’t think we had enough troops on the ground, and we didn’t have the right political structure in which to deal with the immediate aftermath” of the fall of Baghdad.
The next biggest US foreign policy challenge lies in the Middle East, where a permanent peace has eluded previous administrations.
“If I had one wish in all of my foreign policy dreams, it would be for a Palestinian state living side by side in peace with the State of Israel,” the retired general declared.
In the context of globalization, Powell said that global leaders who wanted to make their countries a functioning part of the world “need to be moving in the direction of rule of law, good governance, and using the wealth of their nation to capture commoditization and use it to the good of their people.”
“Globalization and the absence of a successful competing ideology will move more and more nations in this direction,” he predicted.
On US relations with Europe, Powell noted that disputes are inevitable, but said the ties that bind the NATO allies are based on common values: “democracy, belief in the individual rights of men and women, and market economics.”
Affable and relaxed, Powell charmed the audience with anecdotes from his long career and, noting he had turned 69 the day before, the ups and downs of aging and grandparenthood.
Honorary Trustee David Rockefeller, who chaired the I-House Executive Committee when the Board was led by George C. Marshall, compared Powell favorably to the Nobel Prize-winning statesman and called the general “a role model and an inspiration.”
Powell praised the work of International House.
“Never has it been more important for us to have this kind of exchange,” he said.
“I congratulate International House for having lived consistently with this approach to international relations, and for having done it so successfully.”
“I’m so glad there are young people such as you coming along, and I’m so glad there are places such as International House that will help you as you prepare yourselves for a future of opportunity and challenges,” he said.
In addition to David Rockefeller, among the 300-plus guests for the mid-afternoon talk were Honorary Trustee Daisy M. Soros ’51 and former Chairman John C. Whitehead, as well as numerous Trustees, Alumni and Residents.