A comeback for Colin Powell?

Military analysis.
Sept. 4 2003 6:29 PM

General Agreement

Does the U.N. U-turn signal a comeback for Colin Powell?

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Perhaps there will be other conflicts, in other theaters. Will Powell extend his coalition with the chiefs to, say, the nuclear talks with North Korea? Though Bush finally agreed with the State Department position to attend these talks, the hard-liners at the Pentagon still seem to be in control. Earlier this week, Wang Yi, China's vice foreign minister, said the Americans were "the main obstacle" to progress at the talks. Keep in mind that, on this issue, China is very much on the U.S. side and, to everyone's surprise, has hammered the North Korean delegates on the need to dismantle their nuclear-weapons program. However, Yi said, the Americans were refusing to negotiate, and North Korea can't be expected to give up its nukes—the only resource it has—for nothing. It is well-known that certain State Department officials agree with this position and want the administration to take a more flexible stance. And, because they have concluded that a pre-emptive strike on North Korea would be too risky (and an invasion too hard), some of the brass, however reluctantly, agree, too.

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And so it seems there's a fight on over the direction of U.S. foreign policy, over the legacy of the Bush administration, over—as G.W. Bush might see it—the president's soul. Stay tuned.