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US: Foreign Policy

Recent postings have dealt with the contrasting international attitudes of Colin Powell and Bush/Rice. Bienvenido Macario has sent an article from USA TODAY which suggests that a strange double act is going on. Both Colin Powell and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld are pleasant individuals to whom the public takes an immediate liking, but behind them are two tough, even nasty individuals, Richard Armitage and Paul Wolfowitz. It is someone like the diplomatic game in which the two sides fight it out in private and then hold a press conference in which they stress their harmonious relations. However, I believe that Powell and Rumsfeld are totally sincere in what they say.

Here are extracts from the article: " Richard Armitage looks -- and often talks -- more like a barroom bouncer than the nation's second-ranking diplomat. But in his role as Secretary of State Colin Powell's deputy, the barrel-chested Vietnam veteran, who can still bench-press nearly 400 pounds at age 56, has been doing much of the diplomatic heavy lifting since Sept. 11. The day after the terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, colleagues say he read the riot act in most undiplomatic language to the head of Pakistan's intelligence service during a dramatic meeting that has become a legend inside the State Department.

Armitage's blunt style has rankled some in the diplomatic community accustomed to more decorous behavior. He jokes that some refer to him as ''the No. 2 goddamn diplomat.'' But his influence as both deputy secretary and Powell's best friend of more than 20 years has made him a formidable player in the Bush administration's inner circle. Armitage runs the day-to-day operations of the department, and he takes part in key meetings with the other foreign policy deputies, including Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Stephen Hadley, deputy national security adviser. Their meetings often shape presidential decisions. If there were any doubts about Armitage's clout, his supporters say they were dispelled early on when he emerged as a crisis manager who helped engineer the release of the crew of the U.S. surveillance plane forced to land in China last April. Powell had been skeptical about the wisdom of carrying the war against terrorism to countries such as Iraq. In a rare interview, Armitage defended the president's use of the term ''evil'' in his Jan. 29 State of the Union address to refer to Iraq, Iran and North Korea".

The practical question is: Which policy will prevail, the hardline or the softline? Powell seems isolated, so the hardliners will prevail unless and until their policies come up against the realities to which Powell is more attuned.

Ronald Hilton - 2/18/02