Hillary Gets Squeezed in Foreign Policy Power Play

Secretary of State was the consolation prize, but Hillary Clinton was still delighted to get it. Her problem now is that the Obama administration is populated with big players—and some big egos—who are stealing away her turf bit by bit. Hillary may think her worldwide fame will give her leverage, but there's a two-word rebuttal: Colin Powell. Here's a rundown of who may steal Hillary's thunder—and her headlines.

Jim Jones The retired Marine general is reasserting the National Security Council's role in Washington as coordinator of all foreign-policy and national-security issues—and expanding it to include environmental and economic issues. Hillary will have a seat at the table, but not at the head of it.

Tim Geithner Since the Asian financial crisis, Treasury has taken the lead on China. And with Geithner in charge of Obama's financial plan and the markets hanging on his every word (he speaks Chinese, by the way), Hillary won't have much room to reassert State.

George Mitchell He'll work on the Israeli-Palestinian problem full time and report to Hillary—but if there's a deal, Mitchell will get most of the credit, just as he did when he negotiated peace in Northern Ireland in the '90s. Still, Hillary may not mind putting Mitchell out front here: a hard-line Israel led by Bibi Netanyahu looks likely, so no one expects much progress on peace.

Dennis Ross The longtime Mideast negotiator is widely expected to be Hillary's top adviser on one of Obama's most pressing headaches, Iran. She'll share the credit for whatever diplomatic progress is made, but Ross is renowned as a master of these issues, and whatever approach the administration follows will most likely be his handiwork.

Richard Holbrooke This heavy hitter gets the world's top trouble spots: Pakistan and Afghanistan. He's in charge of all U.S. policy here across many agencies—plus State—though technically he reports to Obama through Hillary. (He's also angling for Iran.) Still, this ace insider is smart enough to defer to his pal Hillary; he likely would've been her secretary of state.