How smart does George W. Bush have to be? Remember that debate during the 2000 election? Supporters said he only had to be shrewd enough to run a "CEO presidency"--to appoint strong advisers, lay out a vision and delegate details. Critics argued that governing was more complicated. History shows, they noted, that aides inevitably end up disagreeing, particularly on the most fateful decisions. It's then that a president must rely on his own intelligence and judgment to mediate, to choose and to calculate the fine points of timing, consultation and message once he's made up his mind.
We've arrived at that point in the debate over Iraq. Although they may agree that Saddam Hussein poses a threat, Bush's top foreign-policy advisers are clearly at odds over how to deal with it. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, backed by Vice President Dick Cheney, would like to see the U.S. military take Saddam out, with or without direct provocation or global support. Secretary of State Colin Powell represents a school of moderates who worry about consequences: of sending U.S. troops into battle without a clear exit strategy; of not bringing along our allies and the United Nations, of setting a precedent of "preventative" war that could come back to haunt us. As Evan Thomas and Michael Hirsh explore in our cover package, this isn't just a disagreement about Iraq. It reflects a fundamental dispute over how America should earn the respect of the rest of world: through raw strength, or through restraint and consultation.
So what will Bush decide? Addressing the United Nations this week, he's likely to show where his heart lies. But as he weighs the reservations of allies, generals and even some of his father's most sage foreign-policy aides, what role will his head play?
The anniversary of September 11 may seem an odd time to excerpt a book called "Authentic Happiness." But we felt psychologist Martin E.P. Seligman's message was appropriate this week. While tragedy or good fortune can alter people's lives, he argues, their ultimate sense of well-being depends much more on inner reserves of strength, virtue and self-knowledge. Since 9-11, the example shown by its heroes and the loved ones of its victims has amply proved the point. In this time of remembrance and new beginnings, we should all wish each other the authentic happiness that Seligman says is within our grasp.