Colin Powell, who shaped U.S. national security, dies at 84

Mr. Powell resisted the use of force against the Bosnian Serbs in 1993. And he supported leaving a weakened Saddam Hussein in place as a bulwark against Iran and Syria. If Mr. Hussein were toppled, Mr. Powell worried, someone worse would take his place.

In his last days as president in 1993, 18 US soldiers were killed in pursuit of a warlord in Mogadishu, Somalia, in an incident that became known as the “Blackhawk Down” after two transport helicopters were shot down. A Senate Armed Services Committee investigation blamed Mr. Powell and Les Aspin, the then Secretary of Defense, for leaving Army Rangers without sufficient protection.

After retiring in October 1993, Powell was reportedly given an advance of $ 6 million to prepare his memoirs. “My American Journey”, written with Joseph E. Persico, was released in September 1995 and was immediately a bestseller.

As he flirted for a presidential bid, huge crowds gathered for his book signings in 1995.

Mr. Powell agonized over the decision. He wrote two speeches in October 1995, one announcing that he would run for the White House, intending to deliver it at City College, and the other saying he would not. Finally, on November 8, 1995, resisting a huge popular drumbeat for his candidacy, he declared that he lacked the motivation and desire to run for the highest office in the country.

But he announced he would register as a Republican (after previously registering as an Independent), and he spoke at the 1996 and 2000 Republican National Conventions. Instead of focusing on the national security or military affairs, however, he spoke of broader domestic policy issues, including minority rights and the welfare of children.

Mr. Powell had learned at the feet of political masters – Cape Weinberger and Frank Carlucci. Mr. Powell was Mr. Carlucci’s military assistant when Mr. Carlucci was the Pentagon’s second-rank official; he held the same post when Mr. Weinberger was secretary of defense. (Mr. Carlucci succeeded Mr. Weinberger as Secretary of Defense under Reagan.)

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