CNN PEOPLE IN THE NEWS
Profiles of Saddam Hussein, Colin Powell
Aired January 11, 2003 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANNOUNCER: Next on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, he's the Iraqi dictator at the heart of a continuing conflict with the United States.
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MARK BOWDEN, WRITER, "ATLANTIC MONTHLY'S TALES OF THE TYRANT": He sees himself as this figure whose name will be revered hundreds and hundreds of years from now.
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ANNOUNCER: He grew up in the face of poverty and abuse. His rise to political power began at an early age.
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CON COUGHLIN, AUTHOR, "SADDAM, KING OF TERROR": He had conducted his first murder when he was 19 years old.
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ANNOUNCER: He's the master of survival who's ruled by paranoia.
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AMATZIA BARAM, HISTORY DEPARTMENT, UNIVERSITY OF HAIFA: He's very afraid of microbes, bugs. He is a hygiene freak.
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ANNOUNCER: What makes Saddam Hussein tick.
Then, he's taking a new role in the latest showdown with Saddam.
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COLIN POWELL, SECRETARY OF STATE: I believe the international community has an obligation to act.
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ANNOUNCER: A kid who started on the streets of New York and ended up in Washington's inner circles.
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MARILYN BERNS, SISTER: We came from a kind of family that raised you and sort of programmed you for success.
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ANNOUNCER: The story of Vietnam veteran, Gulf War hero, Secretary of State Colin Powell. Their stories now on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
PAUL ZAHN, HOST: Welcome to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS, I'm Paula Zahn. President Bush has made it clear to Saddam Hussein -- disarm or be destroyed. It's an ultimatum that may finally force Iraq's long defiant leader to choose between power and survival. But Saddam Hussein has proven time and again that he has is as resilient as he is cunning. Here's Jonathan Mann.
JONATHAN MANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On the streets of Baghdad his images is everywhere. Iraqis can't escape the gaze of their president. He's ruled the Iraqi people for decades, an extraordinary feat in a country that has been racked by assassinations and coups.
BARAM: The (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of survival is number one. He will eliminate anybody who endangers him. Number two; he will reward you if you serve him absolutely loyally.
MANN: He lives an eccentric and paranoid life.
BOWDEN: And his whereabouts are a shell game. And the only people who really know where he is on a given day or at a given moment are the members of his closest, inner circle.
MANN: Throughout his remarkable rise to power, from his childhood as a peasant villager until today, Saddam has had one dream.
BARAM: His dream is to be the leader of the Arab world.
MANN: His very name means "he who confronts" and he has made a career of surviving confrontation.
SADDAM HUSSEIN, IRAQI PRESIDENT (through translator): The path of blood can only lead to more blood.
MANN: He's faced off against U.S. presidents from the first President Bush...
GEORGE H. W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: His ruthless, systemic rape of a peaceful neighbor...
MANN: ... to his son.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Saddam Hussein is a homicidal dictator who is addicted to weapons of mass destruction.
MANN: As always, Saddam's regime rejects the charges. TARIQ AZIZ, IRAQI DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER (through translator): The things that Washington says are all untrue. Iraq doesn't have any weapons of mass destruction.
MANN: The Bush administration is publicly calling for Saddam's removal, labeling him an evil menace. Who is this man in the crosshairs of the United States? What drives the Iraqi leader? And how has he managed to hold on to power?
Saddam Hussein was born on April 28, 1937, in a rural farming village near Tikrit, north of Baghdad.
BARAM: He was born to a very poor family. In fact, one notch -- only one notch above the very bottom of Iraqi social life -- social economic life.
MANN: Saddam's peasant father either died or left the family around the time Saddam was born.
BARAM: Then his mother remarried. He moved with his mother to a new home in a remote village, name of Uja, little mud hut, mud floor, no land of their own and his stepfather didn't like him at all. His stepfather, in fact, abused him in many ways.
COUGHLIN: Because of the polity of his background, Saddam basically had to fight his way through his childhood and I think this had a very big bearing on the character of Saddam, the adult.
MANN: In his book, "Saddam, King of Terror," Con Coughlin describes how Saddam went to live with a rich uncle at the of 10 and later moved with him to Baghdad. When he just was 17, Saddam got involved in politics.
COUGHLIN: His uncle, Khayr Allah, then introduced him to the Ba'ath Party, which is a very small party in Iraq. It had about 500 people and there was a great deal of political attestation in Iraq at the time. And they -- and the Ba'ath Party needed somebody who was street-wise and had a violent disposition. And Saddam was their man.
He had conducted his first murder when he was 19 years old at the behest of his uncle. His uncle, Khayr Allah, fell out with a communist party official and he ordered Saddam to kill him. And Saddam did this very expertly. He waited for him to come home, and he shot him with a single shot to the back of the head.
MANN: But in October of 1959, an assassination attempt that failed. Twenty-two-year-old Saddam was wounded as he and nine other Ba'ath Party members tried to gun down then-Iraqi prime minister Abdul Kareem Kassem.
BARAM: They arranged two groups on opposite sides of the road. And when the dictator's Jeep is arriving, they are shooting the dictator's Jeep. That's OK, except they shoot at each other as well because on both sides of the road. And Saddam is apparently wounded by one of the bullets shot by one of his friends. COUGHLIN: In a film of Saddam's life that was made by the Iraqi Minister of Information, this is portrayed as a very heroic moment. Saddam was almost mortally wounded. He dug the bullets out of his own leg with his own razor. The reality is -- and I spoke to the doctor who treated him -- is he had a light graze on his leg.
But one of the keys to Saddam's survival is that he's been able to take very ordinary events in his life and embellish them and turn them into legends and this is just one example of that. Immediately after the assassination attempt, Saddam fell into exile in Cairo with the other surviving assassins where they were looked after by President Nasser, who was then in charge of Egypt and he stayed there for three or four years. He enrolled at the university and tried to take a law degree, never completed it.
ANNOUNCER: The storied city of Baghdad, capital of Iraq, has been the scene once more of bloody revolt.
MANN: In 1963, the Ba'ath Party executed a successful coup and Saddam returned home. But the Ba'ath Party was overthrown, and Saddam was jailed. After two years behind bars, the young rebel escaped to continue his political flaunting.
When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS returns, the Iraqi's strongman's rise to power.
BOWDEN: He essentially betrayed many of those people who had relied on him and in fact, many of them were arrested and executed.
ANNOUNCER: Also ahead, he is taking on familiar enemies in Iraq while faces new challenges in North Korea.
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POWELL: There is new concern about war. That concern has been raised by North Korea's actions.
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ANNOUNCER: The story of a reluctant warrior, Secretary of State Colin Powell. That's later on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
ANNOUNCER: We now return to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
MANN (voice-over): By late 1960s, Saddam Hussein was back in Iraq from exile and an active member of Iraq's dissident Ba'ath Party. During this time, he married his cousin, Sujida. They later had two sons and three daughters. In 1968, he helped stage a coup against the country's ruling party that installed his mentor, Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr as Iraq's leader. COUGHLIN: The real importance of Saddam's role in that coup was in establishing the security apparatus that would keep the Ba'ath Party in power.
MANN: At second in command, Saddam began amassing his own support.
BOWDEN: A tyrant like Saddam, he doesn't appear out of nowhere. Saddam accumulated power over a period of 10 to 12 years. And I think that, you know, the way that that happened is, you evidence considerable charm, you evidence an ability to get things done and even very idealistic and ambitious people begin to side with you.
MANN: For most of the 1970s, Saddam was the real power behind the throne. He improved the status of women and he modernized hospitals.
BARAM: He improved the infrastructure everywhere in Iraq -- roads, electricity grids, drinkable water.
MANN: Education became a priority.
BOWDEN: Saddam helped to administer a nationwide literacy program that had really sort of draconian requirements. You were required to learn how to read and if you failed the test, you would be sent to jail for it. It had perhaps not surprisingly, amazingly good results.
MANN: In 1979, General al-Bakr resigned, citing illness, but there were questions surrounding Saddam's takeover.
COUGHLIN: Al-Bakr was in poor health, the country faced the threat posed by the Iranian revolution and Saddam decided to overthrow al-Bakr and step into the bridge.
BOWDEN: When Saddam seized power for himself, he essentially betrayed many of those people who had relied on him.
MANN: It was a chilling public spectacle. With cameras rolling, he told a roomful of top officials that he discovered a conspiracy to overthrow the government. One man confessed to being part of the plot. After he was removed, Saddam brandishing a cigar, systemically named other alleged conspirators. Sixty-six were taken away, 22 were executed. Like one of his heroes, Soviet dictator, Joseph Stalin, Saddam began ruling Iraq with an iron fist.
BOWDEN: He has made a study of Stalin. He maintains a veritable, personal library of books about Joseph Stalin and has really kind of modeled his effort to create this dictatorship of his, on, you know, the moves that Stalin made.
MANN: In 1980, a little more than a year into his rein, he launched an invasion of Iran.
BARAM: He went into Iraq, attacked a neighbor three times his size and the war lasted for eight very long years. MANN: A total of one million men died on both sides before it reached a stalemate. The shaky end was achieved with assistance from the United States.
BOWDEN: The United States provided him with assistance in that war because at the time, there was the hope that Saddam's rule in Iraq was going become more liberal and more tolerant as time went by.
MANN: But Saddam Hussein's sinister side had shown itself. Some Iranian soldiers were the victims of mustard gas and nerve agents, according to the United Nations. And Saddam's military was not afraid to turn chemical weapons on its own citizens. In 1998, the year the war with Iran ended, thousands of Kurdish refugees were killed by chemical agents in Northern Iraq. In the rest of the country, people were suffering.
BARAM: And the economy was in shambles. That was really the end of the charm period and then you started having a lot of suppression and oppression and very weak economic rewards.
MANN: Iraq had financed its war against Iran in part with loans from neighbors, like Kuwait. When Kuwait demanded repayment, Saddam answered with an invasion. Once again, Saddam had attacked a neighboring country, but his occupation of Kuwait would not last long.
GEORGE H. W. BUSH: Today, I am more determined than ever! This aggression will not stand!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can hear the bombs now. They are hitting the center of the city.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The skies over Baghdad have been illuminated. Now, there's a huge fire that we just heard. Whoa! Holy cow!
MANN: It took the United States and coalition forces only six weeks at the beginning of 1991 to drive Saddam's troops from Kuwait. But America and its allies stopped short of removing Saddam Hussein from power. As he had after the Iran/Iraq stalemate, the Iraqi leader claimed victory and celebrated when George Bush lost the 1992 election.
When we return, Saddam's paranoid and eccentric life.
BARAM: He's very afraid of microbes, bugs, anything. He is hygiene freak.
ANNOUNCER: Now back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
MANN (voice-over): It was early 1991, and coalition forces pounded Iraq in what the United States called Operation Desert Storm. Six weeks late, the war ended, but the country was left with a devastated infrastructure and a leader who had made the world his enemy. The economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations began taking a toll.
BOWDEN: The sanctions, which were designed to force him to disarm, have rendered basically it impossible for that country to progress.
MANN: As Saddam butted heads with U.N. inspectors through the '90s; the people of Iraq paid the price. As he shuttles between his ornate presidential palaces, it seems Saddam has something more important on his mind than his people's suffering.
BARAM: When his survival and when his dream are concerned, he will sacrifice Iraqi people without thinking twice.
MANN: For Saddam Hussein, personal survival is a matter of daily concern.
COUGHLIN: Since the 1980s, the security surrounding him has become very, very intense. And he's become more, and more paranoid to the extent today that he trusts no one, not even his own family, not even his own generals and he thinks everybody is out to get him.
MANN: Much like in one of his favorite movies, "The Godfather," Saddam has surrounded himself with only those he trusts.
ABBAS AL JANABI, IRAQI DEFECTOR: The bodyguards of Saddam Hussein are his cousins and they came from the same tribe and specifically from the same branch of Saddam's family.
BARAM: They get from him money, land, homes, cars. He even marries them to the right families. They are like his children in a way. They admire him. They obey him and they are very, very scared of him.
MANN: And they should be. In 1995, at the height of U.N. weapons inspections, Saddam's son-in-law and his brother sought asylum in Jordan. Soon after their departure, inspectors discovered boxes and boxes of documents related to Iraq's weapons of mass destruction in one of their homes.
GEN. HUSSEIN KAMEL HASSAN, SADDAM'S SON-IN-LAW (through translator): We were ordered to hide everything from the beginning. And indeed, a lot of information was hidden and many files were destroyed in nuclear, chemical and biological programs.
MANN: When the controversy quieted six months later, Saddam invited them back to Baghdad with promises of a pardon. They were shot dead three days after their return.
BARAM: He will not hesitate to eliminate anybody who endangers him.
MANN: Loyalty and fear make it very difficult to overthrow Saddam Hussein. BARAM: I would say that you can assassinate him, but it's very, very difficult.
MANN: Making assassination even more difficult are Saddam's efforts to conceal his whereabouts.
AL JANABI: I know, from, you know, some talks inside this inner circle, that in the time of a crisis he will never sleep or than two or three hours and he never stays in a place more than two or three hours.
BOWDEN: Each of his like 20 or more palaces prepares three elaborate meals a day as if Saddam were there and he's moved from place to place sort of like a shell game.
MANN: Saddam is said to be paranoid about his own safety.
BOWDEN: And he has food imported from Europe. The food itself is, of course, carefully tested and radiated to make sure that it doesn't have any poisons or germs.
BARAM: He's very afraid of microbes, bugs, anything. He is hygiene freak.
MANN: Close observers say Saddam is also a rather vain man. He reportedly covers the gray it his hair and mustache with black dye.
BOWDEN: When you talk about Saddam's vanity, it's tied in in part with his insecurity, the fact that he is potentially a victim or a target for assassination or coup d'etat. So he has to project an image of power and youth and vitality all the time.
MANN: Projecting a certain image is also vital to preserving Saddam's legacy. Saddam even commissioned the director of three James Bond films, Terrance Jung, to make a movie about the Iraqi ruler's life story. He also wants to be immortalized in bricks and mortar.
BOWDEN: In reconstruction of the palaces, the bricks are stamped with Saddam's name or a symbol for Saddam because he, you know, sees himself as this figure whose name will be revered, you know, hundreds and hundreds of years from now in Arab culture and in Arab history.
MANN: And to become the leader of the Arab world, Saddam has portrayed himself as a devout disciple of Islam. He's even had people trace his ancestry back to the prophet Muhammed.
BOWDEN: In recent years, he's made efforts to public present himself as a dutiful son of Islam and student of Islam. And as part of his effort to sort of generate this image for himself, he has had a copy of the Koran written out in his own blood.
BARAM: During the last few years, he became a born-again Muslim, so to say, and he's making sure that people will know that he's praying five times a day, and that he is drinking no alcohol. Is it genuine? I don't think so. BOWDEN: Apparently, Saddam likes to have a drink. He likes to have wine with his meals. He's not a heavy drinker. I was told that one of his favorite brands of wine is Matice, which was kind of a chuckle for, you know, the wine lovers out there because it's not a typically high-end kind of wine. In his prior life, he has got a distinctly more modern sort of secular vent.
MANN: A secular vent that includes taking in popular Hollywood movies.
BOWDEN: Movies like "The Day of The Jackal," "The Conversation," "Enemy of The State," you know, these spy thrillers, where a hero is pitted against the macerations of an unscrupulous government.
MANN: Now Saddam Hussein finds himself in a real life conflict pitted against the U.S. government that has called for regime change.
GEORGE W. BUSH: Iraq's weapons of mass destruction are controlled by a murderous tyrant.
MANN: A standoff that puts the defiant dictator at risk of yet another war.
HUSSEIN (through translator): The forces of evil will carry their coffins on their backs to die in disgraceful failure.
MANN: A simmering conflict that challenges the enigmatic leader's addiction to power.
BARAM: He is a big-time gambler. He cannot help himself. He's hooked on it and so, he -- and he is a vision. He wants to be the leader of the Arabs and the leader of the Muslims.
ZAHN: The question of whether Saddam Hussein is concealing weapons of mass destruction could be answered later this month. January 27 is the deadline for the U.N. inspectors' first comprehensive report on Iraq, just one day before President Bush's State of The Union Address.
ANNOUNCER: When PEOPLE IN THE NEWS returns, he is the nation's head diplomat, responding to attacks on his country and on himself.
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POWELL: To use a slave reference, I think, is unfortunate and is a throwback to another time and another place.
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ANNOUNCER: Dealing with dignity. Colin Powell, his story is next.
ZAHN: Welcome back to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. From Iraq to North Korea, from the Middle East to the global war on terror, when President Bush wants to ease tensions or apply pressure, he calls on the very same man a number of American presidents have called on in times of crisis -- Colin Powell. Here's Andrea Koppel.
ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's been two years since Colin Powell was asked to switch hats from America's number one soldier to America's number one diplomat. But even as secretary of state, he's had a hard time escaping the specter of war. Powell has been one of President Bush's pointmen, dealing with one international crisis after another, most recently, the prospect of proliferation of nuclear weapons in North Korea...
POWELL: If there is any concern about a war, that concern has been raised by North Korea's actions, not the actions on the part of the United States or any other member of the international community or any other state in the region.
KOPPEL: ... and the continuing showdown with Saddam Hussein.
POWELL: If Iraq does not cooperate, once again violates a U.N. resolution, then I believe the international community has an obligation to act.
KOPPEL: This is not the first time Powell's stature and experience have helped bolster the Bush administration. As the first member of the new cabinet to be announced...
GEORGE W. BUSH: ... and ask him to become the 65th secretary of state of the United States of America.
KOPPEL: Powell gave instant credibility to the president-elect, the candidate who lost the popular vote and who lacked experience in international affairs.
SEN. JOSEPH BIDEN (D-DE), FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Powell is a man of independent stature. He has built a reputation based on the force of his personality. He has what the military folks call a command presence.
KOPPEL: Though the courtship between Bush and Powell was long, the honeymoon was brief.
JOHANNA MCGEARY, TIME FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: For a time, Colin Powell was finding himself in the position where, in the minds of lots of other people, he wasn't the preeminent voice of American foreign policy. Diplomats abroad would listen to what Colin Powell had to say and then turn around and ask, but what does Vice President Cheney think? What does Defense Secretary Rumsfeld think? What does National Security Adviser Rice think?
KOPPEL: But time and again, Powell has managed to secure and justify his place in the administration on issues ranging form the Middle East to the war on terrorism.
Powell's journey to the corridors of power in Washington began in the tough streets of New York. He was born in 1937 and his parents soon settled in the Bronx, where they managed to keep their kids out of the trouble that tempted so many others.
POWELL: Frankly, it was a very fine upbringing that I received in the South Bronx. We had our problems of drugs and crimes and none of our parents were very, very rich. In fact, they were all quite poor.
KOPPEL: His parents, immigrants from Jamaica, worked in the garment district, his mother, Maude, a seamstress; his father, Luther, a shipping clerk foreman. They had come to New York with a dream, determined their children would have a bright future.
MARILYN BERNS, SISTER: We came from a kind of family that raised you and sort of programmed you for success. You know, the expectations were there that you would go forth and achieve.
KOPPEL: Colin and his sister Marilyn were taught that education was the key to success, but all the way through high school, young Colin was hardly passionate about school.
BERNS: Oh, well I think everybody knows that, you know, his studies were pretty average when he was in school.
KOPPEL: But the melting pot of 1940s New York educated him in other ways.
POWELL: And I learned a great deal about myself on the streets of New York. I grew up with people, went to school with people of all different ethnic origins and backgrounds and religions.
GENE NORMAN, CHILDHOOD FRIEND: The totality of a neighborhood that lets you see the world through many different eyes.
TORRY GRANT, CHILDHOOD FRIEND: He prides himself on his ability to speak Yiddish.
NORMAN: Well, I don't believe a word of that.
GRANT: Well, he says it but we all picked up a little Yiddish. We all picked up a little German, Spanish, Italian.
JOSEPH PERSICO, BIOGRAPHER: Colin Powell had very little sense of being a member of an oppressed minority when he was growing up because, as he put it, he lived among Italians, Jews, Poles, Puerto Ricans. Everybody was a member of a minority.
KOPPEL: Although racism was a fact of life in the '40s and '50s, his parents refused to let their children think of themselves as second-class citizens.
POWELL: My parents kept telling, and the adults in my life kept telling me, don't worry about that. Don't care what people say about you or how they point to you and think you're different. You're not different.
KOPPEL: His parents expected him to go to college and so he did to CCNY, the City College of New York.
POWELL: They let me in with my bad grades and I stayed there for four and a half years, it was a four-year course, with bad grades.
KOPPEL: But despite the bad grades, he found his calling.
When the story of Colin Powell continues, the sorry student discovers a reason to stay in school.
POWELL: And now I'm the favorite son, the most famous person who ever graduated CCNY, and they give me all kinds of honors, and I smile because they were sure anxious to see me go 35 years ago.
KOPPEL (voice-over): After squeaking through high school, the kid from the South Bronx took his "C" average to CCNY, City College of New York. Clearly academics did not excite him, but something else did.
POWELL: I found something that I liked at CCNY. It was ROTC. I liked the discipline and structure of the military. I felt somewhat distinctive wearing a uniform. I hadn't been distinctive in much else.
GRANT: He used to love hiking up and down the block practicing his marching, calling cadence out to himself. He really enjoyed it. So it was without question that Colin was going to be a career man.
KOPPEL: Powell's military career began in 1958, when he received his Bachelor's Degree in Geology and a commission in the United States Army. Colin was now Second Lieutenant Powell.
BERNS: My mother thought, oh this is nice, when he graduated. He'll go in the Army for a few years and he'll come out and get a job.
KOPPEL: Little did she know her son was in it for the long haul.
POWELL: The Army was the way out for me, the way out of the city. It was an opportunity when there weren't many other opportunities for young blacks, even young blacks who had completed college.
KOPPEL: But when Powell reported for training at Fort Benning, Georgia, he ran into an unexpected roadblock, segregation.
PERSICO: Now, the way Colin Powell handled something like this, yes he's exasperated. He's enraged. But he's not going to let it destroy him. As he put it to me best of all, "I was not going to let other people's opinions of me become my opinion of myself."
KOPPEL: The young man, who had been programmed for success since early childhood, would not be discouraged.
PERSICO: He told me once how one of his officers, early in his career, had said, "Lieutenant Powell, you're the best Black lieutenant in the U.S. Army." Powell was not satisfied with that. He didn't want to see this artificial color barrier. He said, "I was determined to become the best lieutenant in the U.S. Army."
KOPPEL: In 1962, the 25-year-old was shipped to Vietnam. Initially excited to serve in combat, he soon became frustrated that decision makers in Washington had not clearly defined the mission and had no plan for getting out.
POWELL: I came away from that experience with a belief that if we're going to send young men and women into harm's way, we should make sure they have a clear purpose that they are fighting for. They understand that purpose. The American people understand it and the American people are supporting them in what they do.
KOPPEL: The United States Powell returned to was very different from the one he had left. Anti-war protests, the Civil Rights Movement, violence was everywhere. The only calm in the storm was on the home front. The newly promoted Captain Powell had married Alma Vivian Johnson in 1963. Over the years, Alma would hold down the fort during her husband's many absences, making sure the growing Powell clan had everything they needed.
PERSICO: Alma Powell accepted that this was the life this man loved and that he had a great deal to give to it, and she accepted her sometimes very difficult role as a mother on her own and also an Army wife who was expected to be charming, tactful, and entertaining. She carried out that role rather beautifully for 35 years, and I think part of his rise is due to the fact that he had a suitable wife.
KOPPEL: With his family in good hands, Colin Powell concentrated on his career. The next big push came in 1972, when Powell's commanding officers ordered him to apply for the White House Fellows Program.
POWELL: The beautiful part about the Army is that they were always -- they were always giving me something that was beyond me. They were always testing me and by being pushed, I grew fast.
KOPPEL: Out of 1,500 applicants, he was accepted, and once again rose to the challenge.
FRANK CARUCCI, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: If you gave him a project, it got done. It got done effectively. It was easy to spot him as a rising talent at that time.
KOPPEL: Then another golden opportunity. Powell was named military assistant to the Secretary of Defense, and was exposed to decision making at the highest levels.
POWELL: At some point in my career, I realized I was doing well enough to become a general.
KOPPEL: So Colin Powell left Washington for an assignment at Fort Carson, Colorado, one that would put him within reach of that once unthinkable goal, but the newly minted general would not stay away from the capitol for long.
CARUCCI: He didn't want to come back, but we had Ronald Reagan call him and he agreed to come back.
KOPPEL: It was an offer he couldn't refuse, Deputy National Security Adviser. He was later promoted to National Security Adviser, a first for an African-American. When George Bush became President, he kept Powell close by, naming him to the highest military rank in the country, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Powell exploded onto the scene in August 1990, when Iraq invaded Kuwait. As Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Powell was initially reluctant to commit U.S. troops, but eventually he became one of the administrations most trusted spokesmen, when the assault on Saddam Hussein's army finally came.
POWELL: Our strategy to go after this army is very, very simple. First, we're going to cut it off and then we're going to kill it.
KOPPEL: When the war was over, Powell had become a national hero. Powell's term extended into the Clinton Administration where he again argued against military action. This time in Bosnia. Even though ethnic cleansing reached gruesome proportions, the mission did not fit the parameters of the Powell Doctrine.
POWELL: I have been characterized as the reluctant warrior. Guilty. But I follow in a long tradition of American generals who have always been reluctant warriors.
KOPPEL: In 1993, Powell retired to write his memoirs with a reported $6 million advance. Published in late '95, the promotional tour was mobbed.
POWELL: I'll take a question.
SAM DONALDSON, CORRESPONDENT: General, is this really the start of a book tour, or the start of a presidential campaign?
POWELL: Today is the beginning of a book tour, Mr. Donaldson, and...
DONALDSON: And tomorrow?
POWELL: And tomorrow, we'll continue to promote the book but at the same time, we'll be traveling around the country meeting many Americans and answering any questions they may wish to put to me.
KOPPEL: With both Democrats and Republicans courting him, Colin Powell weighs his options, next on PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
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ANNOUNCER: We now return to PEOPLE IN THE NEWS.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The latest CNN poll has you right now ahead of both President Clinton and Senator Dole. How does that make you feel?
POWELL: Well, I'm not worrying about the polls or paying attention to polls right now.
KOPPEL: With a runaway best seller, and sky-high ratings in the polls, Colin Powell in late 1995 was at a crossroads.
POWELL: The question I faced was, should I enter politics and seek the Presidency of the United States.
KOPPEL: But it was no secret that Alma Powell, his staunchest supporter for 33 years, did not want him to run. After months of public speculation and weeks of private anguish, he concluded he lacked the passion to run a successful Presidential campaign.
POWELL: The passion and commitment that, despite my every effort, I do not yet have for political life.
KOPPEL: But he now clearly committed to a party, the Republicans. At the 2000 Republican Convention, staged to showcase the party's new inclusive image, Powell blasted the Conservatives on affirmative action.
POWELL: Some in our party miss no opportunity to roundly and loudly condemn affirmative action that helped a few thousand black kids get an education, but you hardly hear a whimper when it's affirmative action for lobbyists who load our federal tax code with preferences for special interest. It doesn't work.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I, Colin Powell...
KOPPEL: Despite his differences with the party's right wing, Powell's credibility with the public made him a natural choice for the new Bush Administration. The State Department staff literally cheered when Powell took command. Expectations were high. But his temperate approach frequently clashed with other members of the President's national security team.
BIDEN: In this administration, the overwhelming part of the foreign policy establishment is very hard right, movement right conservatives.
KOPPEL: Powell advocated caution and coalitions. The prevailing view in the administration was that the victor in the Cold War could impose its will unilaterally. When President Bush said he wanted U.S. troops out of the NATO peacekeeping force in the Balkans, Powell argued for supporting NATO. On negotiations with North Korea to stop developing long-range missiles, Powell said he would pick up where the Clinton administration left off. The White House said no, at least not right away.
POWELL: Because I have pitted others in saying, I got a little too far forward on my skis.
KOPPEL: And on the international treaty to stop global warning, the White House pulled the plug on U.S. support, without consulting Powell.
BIDEN: There seems to be a real distrust among movement conservatives, the right wing of the Republican Party in control of this administration, a real distrust for Powell.
KOPPEL: But his supporters said Powell fights the battles he considers most important, and Powell has ultimately turned many of the policy decisions his way.
RICHARD ARMITAGE, DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE: It seems to me you ought to view Secretary Powell, not as a 100-yard sprinter, but as a marathoner.
KOPPEL: As the lone voice pushing diplomacy, Powell persuaded the president to work with members of the United Nations to disarm Iraq.
GEORGE W. BUSH: I want to thank the Secretary of State, Colin Powell, for his leadership, his good work and his determination over the past two months.
KOPPEL: But Powell has had to fend off attacks from the outside as well as from the inner circle of hawks. As a prominent African- American, in a Republican administration, he is often a target. In October of last year, singer and activist, Harry Belefonte, lashed out at the secretary of state, comparing him to a house slave on a plantation.
HARRY BELEFONTE, SINGER AND ACTIVIST: Whenever somebody was in our tribe, within our group, emerges but has the position of authority and power to make a difference in the way business is done, our expectations run high. Many times those expectations are not fulfilled.
KOPPEL: Powell responded with dignity.
POWELL: If Harry wanted to attack my politics, that was fine. If he wanted to attack a particular position I hold, that was fine. But to use a slave reference, I think, is unfortunate and is a throwback to another time and another place that I wish Harry had thought twice about using.
KOPPEL: On the flip side, Powell is often asked to speak on behalf of African-Americans. Just last December; he was pressured to publicly rebuke Republican Senator Trent Lott after he made comments interpreted as pro-segregation. Powell complied saying he deplored the sentiments behind the statement. With a New Year beginning, the man once dubbed a reluctant warrior is battling to create diplomatic solutions to the conflicts with Iraq and North Korea.
MCGEARY: One of the things that people have always felt about Colin Powell is that he is a man of such great promise that what you want to see is that that promise is used to do great things. And if he has ever had a chance to show that to us, he has a chance to show it to us now.
ZAHN: Secretary of state Colin Powell says his most difficult diplomatic task might come after a war with Iraq, when the U.S. will have the responsibility of stabilizing a country that has been under Saddam's rule for more than two decades. That's it for this edition of PEOPLE IN THE NEWS. Next week, country star, Tim McGraw, and film legend, Robert Redford.
And coming up this week on "AMERICAN MORNING," we'll be talking with Senator Joseph Lieberman as he gets set to make a run for the Democratic Presidential nomination.
I'm Paula Zahn. Thanks so much for joining us. Hope to see you again next week.
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