Magazine article Newsweek

Exclusive: Behind the Bushies' U.N. Victory

Magazine article Newsweek

Exclusive: Behind the Bushies' U.N. Victory

Article excerpt

Byline: John Barry and Michael Hirsh

As he walked his younger daughter Anne Marie down the aisle for her wedding on Nov. 2, Secretary of State Colin Powell had a double reason to rejoice. Even as the bridal party drove to the church in rural Maryland, Powell was on his secure satphone talking with French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin. With only minutes to go before the wedding convoy drew up, the pair finally agreed on a crucial compromise in the wording of the United States' proposed U.N. Security Council resolution on Iraq. A relieved Powell switched off his phone--and for 20 minutes concentrated on being just the father of the bride. "The phone was only shut down when I started down the aisle," he joked afterward.

A week of haggling still lay ahead. But the outcome--a unanimous 15-0 vote in the Security Council last Friday, with even Russia and Iraq's Arab neighbor Syria agreeing to Washington's tough line--is widely seen as a triumph for Powell. It wasn't just because of his hands-on role (he was calling some of his foreign counterparts so often that he put their numbers on his speed dial). The entire strategy of going through the Security Council was Powell's, one he had to sell back in August to a skeptical President George W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Just a month ago, Powell faced near-certain defeat in the Security Council. The first U.S. draft, a copy of which has been obtained by NEWSWEEK, called for "all necessary means to restore international peace and security." It also permitted any permanent Security Council member (read: the United States) to send its own inspectors, backed by armed forces. "It was the only way to get the Pentagon to sign off on it," said one source. Most Security Council members opposed those demands. The tide turned only when Bush himself intervened in late October, approving a new draft resolution with softer language. …

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