Saturday, November 09, 2002

The indispensable man. Today's New York Times has a fascinating inside look at how Secretary of State Colin Powell, starting in August, managed to steer President Bush away from gung-ho, let's-invade-Iraq-now advisers such as Vice-President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and toward a multilateral approach to disarming Saddam Hussein. The result was yesterday's stunning 15-0 vote on the part of the UN Security Council to back tough new weapons inspections in Iraq --- a vote that carries with it the implicit threat to topple Saddam's regime if he continues to resist international efforts to remove his weapons of mass destruction.

Bush deserves enormous credit for taking the approach advocted by Powell rather than launching the unilateral war he seemed to be on the verge of declaring these past several months. But it also cements Powell's reputation as the one indispensable member of Bush's foreign-policy team. Just last week, I picked up an old issue of Time magazine in a doctor's office in which sources to Powell said he would definitely leave at the end of Bush's first term. That's a truly scary prospect.

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