Powell dies, but shadow, misery of Iraq War will linger on
Published: Oct 19, 2021 07:46 PM
In this file photo taken on February 5, 2003, then-US secretary of state Colin Powell holds up a vial of what was later found to be washing powder as evidence of

In this file photo taken on February 5, 2003, then-US secretary of state Colin Powell holds up a vial of what was later found to be washing powder as evidence of "weapons of mass destruction" being developed in Iraq as he addresses the United Nations Security Council. Powell died from complications from COVID-19, his family said on Monday. He was 84. Photo: VCG

Colin Powell, the first black US secretary of state and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, died on Monday at the age of 84. Although he died of COVID-19 complications, people seemed not interested in the cause of his death. Instead, the well-known picture in which Powell holds up a vial of "washing powder" has triggered a new round of heated discussions across the world.

In 2003, during a presentation to the UN Security Council, Powell laid out US version of the "evidence" that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction, which later turned out to be nonexistent. Even in the US, this presentation was controversial. Many wonder why the US resorted to such an inferior means to try to persuade the UN to back its military action against Iraq.

After the Cold War, the US was overconfident, and its strategic circle believed the country could do whatever it wanted. Even without Powell's UN speech, the US would find something else as an excuse to invade Iraq, as former US president George W. Bush had made up his mind to wage an invasion on Iraq anyway.

Powell, who had served as a life-long professional soldier, was highly obedient to his superiors. Powell's speech at the UN was just for the execution of Bush's grand strategy. Yet there is no doubt that Powell's UN speech did have a severe impact on his reputation. Iraqis still blame him for his role in the Iraq War. AP reported on Monday that word of Powell's death dredged up feelings of anger in Iraq toward him, one of the several Bush administration officials who should be held accountable for the Iraq War and the ensuing decades of death, chaos and violence in Iraq.

Powell later expressed his regret, describing it as a "blot" on his record that "was painful then" and "painful now," according to NBC News. Powell wrote in his autobiography My American Journey, "The event will earn me a prominent paragraph in my obituary." Powell was right in saying so. "But he found it hard to live down his infamous February 2003 speech to the United Nations Security Council about the alleged existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq - the evidence he presented was later proven to be false," the AFP commented when reporting his death.

It has also become an indelible stain on the US, a great blow to the country's international image and credibility. Such an impact has continued to this day.

Even though Powell's UN speech has resulted in a great negative impact on the US, the country has never reflected on itself. Instead, the US continues to be arrogant, domineering and belligerent and keeps promoting lies resembling the "washing powder" by other means.

"Engaging in the 'black propaganda' has been the US' old tricks for seeking geopolitical gains. To win its allies' support and attack its competitors or adversaries, the US has always attempted to confuse them by spreading fake news, and to contain them by fabricating lies," Lü Xiang, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times. "It is believed that the 'washing powder' was merely one such case, and the majority of them have not been exposed yet. Washington is still attempting to confuse the public."

"The US is aware that the consequences of waging a war against any country would be severe and the price would be way too high," Lü said. "Now, Washington tends to deal with its rivals and competitors by economic and political means." 

Washington views Beijing as its top rival, and to implement its strategy of containing China, the US has rapidly ramped up its attempts to slander China. The instrument that the US planted on Iraq was "washing powder," while on China, it is all kinds of wild lies, ranging from human rights to origins tracing of the COVID-19.

Washington has recently been sparing no effort to spread lies about Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region to mislead the global public, so that it can gang up with more countries to counter China. Such US practices will bring more instability and uncertainty to the world. The international community should be vigilant of the US. The world would soon find out that the US lies about China are actually more vials of "washing powder."