Colin Powell gave his final interview to Bob Woodward in July, a candid discussion that touched on his health issues, foreign policy, and the greatest person Powell has ever known.
Writing in The Washington Post on Monday night, Woodward estimates that he conducted about 50 interviews with Powell, going back to 1989 during the U.S. invasion of Panama. At the start of their phone interview on July 12, Powell, who died early Monday at age 84, quipped, "I've got multiple myeloma cancer, and I've got Parkinson's disease. But otherwise I'm fine." He said he didn't want anyone to "feel sorry for me, for God's sake. ... I haven't lost a day of life fighting these two diseases. I'm in good shape."
The former secretary of state spoke with Woodward at length about foreign policy, and when asked about President Biden's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of August, Powell said it was time to "get it over with. Afghanistan, you're never going to win. Afghans are going to win. They have hundreds willing to fight and die for this country of theirs. That's why I don't have any problem with us getting out of there. We can't go from 100,000 [U.S. troops] down to a few hundred and think that'll prevail."
Powell said he couldn't understand why anyone thought that North Korea or Iran would attack the U.S. "without us destroying them the next morning." North Korea, he continued, "doesn't bother me," and he referred to the country's leader, Kim Jong Un, as "the little jerk" who can "have his parades and what not. He'll never try to attack us because he knows it would be assisted suicide."
Powell had a quick response when Woodward asked him, "Who was the greatest man, woman, or person you have ever known?" "It's Alma Powell," he said. "She was with me the whole time. We've been married 58 years. And she put up with a lot. She took care of the kids when I was, you know, running around. And she was always there for me and she'd tell me, 'That's not a good idea.' She was usually right."