Bush reappoints Powell as head of Joint Chiefs

May 24, 1991|By Knight-Ridder News Service

WASHINGTON -- President Bush said yesterday that he was appointing Gen. Colin L. Powell to a second two-year term as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, dismissing speculation that he was unhappy with his top military adviser, who initially advocated a go-slow policy in the Persian Gulf.

Mr. Bush's reappointment of General Powell, while not surprising, also underscored the president's intention to keep Vice President Dan Quayle on the ticket in 1992.

The new term would begin Oct. 1 and is subject to Senate confirmation. General Powell, 54, a four-star Army general and decorated Vietnam veteran, had been widely viewed as a possible vice presidential candidate if Mr. Bush decided to dump Mr. Quayle.

In announcing the reappointment in the Rose Garden, Mr. Bush declared flatly of General Powell, "Look, he has done a fantastic job."

The highest-ranking black officer in U.S. military history, General Powell said his new term would be "full of many challenges."

He vowed that the new military, although leaner, would be equally effective.

A new book published two weeks ago said that General Powell had repeatedly argued for "containment" of Iraq by economic and military pressures, not war. "The Commanders," by Bob Woodward, said that General Powell made his recommendation in a personal meeting with the president but that Mr. Bush replied, "I don't think there's time politically for that strategy," which General Powell said could take a year or two.

Asked yesterday about his war reservations, General Powell refused to comment. But Mr. Bush stepped in to praise the general while hinting that General Powell's candid advice was at odds with Mr. Bush's plan to go to war if the Iraqis didn't pull out of Kuwait. "I just want to be on the record as saying that he spoke his mind, he did it openly, and then, when we had to get together in meetings and figure the next step, he was a constructive force all the way along the line," Mr. Bush said.

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