Colin Powell, Who Shaped U.S. National Security, Dies at 84

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

In his final days as chairman in 1993, 18 Americans troops were killed pursuing a warlord in Mogadishu, Somalia, in an incident that became know as “Blackhawk Down” after two transport helicopters were shot down. A Senate Armed Services Committee inquiry blamed Mr. Powell and Les Aspin, the defense secretary at the time, for leaving Army Rangers without sufficient protection.

After retiring in October 1993, Mr. Powell reportedly received a $6 million advance to write his memoirs. “My American Journey,” written with Joseph E. Persico, was released in September 1995 and was an immediate best seller.

As he flirted for a run for the presidency, huge crowds turned out for his book signings in 1995.

Mr. Powell agonized over the decision. He drafted two speeches in October 1995, one announcing he would run for the White House, with plans to deliver it at City College, and the other saying he would not. Finally, on Nov. 8, 1995, resisting an enormous popular drumbeat for his candidacy, he said he did not have the drive and desire necessary to run for the nation’s highest office.

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 national security or military affairs, however, he spoke on broader domestic policy issues, including the rights of minorities and children’s welfare.

Mr. Powell had learned at the feet of political masters — Cap Weinberger and Frank Carlucci. Mr. Powell was military assistant to Mr. Carlucci when Mr. Carlucci was the Pentagon’s second-ranking official; he served in the same position when Mr. Weinberger was defense secretary. (Mr. Carlucci succeeded Mr. Weinberger as defense secretary under Reagan.)

Source: NYT > U.S. > Politics

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