Powell warns Hussein

The Boston Globe

CRAWFORD, Texas – Accepting his nomination for secretary of state at an emotional ceremony, Colin Powell on Saturday raised the possibility of directly confronting Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and asserted his vision of a “uniquely American internationalism” that would promote democracy worldwide.

Powell laid out a spectrum of foreign policy goals, saying he shared President-elect George W. Bush’s interest in working with American allies to stabilize critical regions around the globe. But in his first official appearance as a Cabinet nominee, Powell issued a pointed warning to Hussein, whose forces he helped drive from Kuwait during the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

“Saddam Hussein is sitting on a failed regime that is not going to be around in a few years’ time,” said the retired Army general. Of the sanctions imposed after the Gulf War, he said, “I think it is possible to re-energize those sanctions, and to continue to contain him, and then confront him should that become necessary again.”

If confirmed by the Senate, Powell will become the highest-ranking black Cabinet member in history. In a personal and gracious speech that touched on subjects as varied as public service and education, Powell said he wanted his achievement in becoming the first black secretary of state to “give inspiration to young African-Americans coming along.”

Bush grew visibly emotional after introducing Powell as “an American hero.” As he turned the podium to shake Powell’s hand, Bush’s eyes welled up with tears.

Powell, 63, who was raised by immigrant parents in a poor South Bronx neighborhood of New York, rose to prominence during his 35-year Army career to become an adviser to three presidents. Best known for his command of the US invasion that expelled Iraqi forces from Kuwait, Powell, a Republican, has spent the past three years as head of America’s Promise, a nonprofit youth group.

Bush is expected to name another black, Condoleezza Rice, as national security adviser as early as toSday.

In tapping Powell and Rice, a Russia specialist who worked for former president George Bush, as the first members of his Cabinet, Bush hopes to quickly allay concerns about his own lack of foreign policy experience. Both respected within their circles, they also bring instant diversity to the Bush administration – a goal that has become central to the president-elect’s need to unite the country after the divisive election battle.

Powell also said Bush has reached a decision on one of his more difficult posts: secretary of defense. Although Bush quickly settled on Powell and Rice, the third top national security job remained open until recently, in part because Vice President-elect Dick Cheney and Powell reportedly disagreed over who should fill it.

Powell declined to name the candidate, saying only, “It’s been resolved.”

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