My memory of Colin Powell feels personal, even though we were 6,000 miles apart at the time. I was in Baghdad, covering the invasion of Iraq for the BBC. Powell was giving the speech of his life at the UN Security Council, accompanied by Powerpoint, trying to convince the world that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.
I had just come from a press conference with senior Iraqi officials, who denied there were any WMDs in the country. They were shifty, oleaginous, terrified of Saddam. It wasn’t hard to believe they were lying and that dignified, decent Colin Powell, was right. ‘If Powell says so,’ I thought, ‘it’s probably true.’ As Powell himself wrote later, it was a moment that echoed Adlai Stevenson’s speech to the UN in 1962, which demonstrated that the Soviets were putting missiles on Cuba, despite their denials.