The Best-Laid Plans

Chatting on a shaded veranda at one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces, the American general spoke with disarming candor. It was mid-May in the dictator's hometown of Tikrit, already a month after the regime's fall, but no one could say when or how genuine peace would be established.

Diplomatic Diary: Giving Peace A Chance

The way the president greeted the first reports of a Palestinian ceasefire, you could be forgiven for wondering what all the fuss was about. Standing beside the leaders of the European Union inside the gilded East Room of the White House, Bush poured scorn on the whole story.

The Next Flashpoint

After three nights of protests in Tehran, the plainclothed militia decided to send a message to the students on the other side of the barricades. "First they tear-gassed the building, then they came in swinging their batons," says a gaunt-faced student who was in the Shahid Hemat dormitory on the night of Friday, June 13.

Firefight Over Iran

After three nights of protests in Tehran, the plainclothes militia decided to send a message to the students on the other side of the barricades. "First they tear-gassed the building, then they came in swinging their batons," says a gaunt-faced student who was in the Shahid Hemat dormitory on the night of Friday, June 13.

Diplomatic Diary: Stymied By Iran

For an administration that likes to think of itself as straight-talking, there is something less than Texan about the way it handles Iran. One minute it's all apocalyptic and axis of evil.

Diplomatic Diary: Rerouting The Roadmap

It's one thing to be committed to the dream of peace in the Middle East. It's something altogether different commit yourself to overcoming the biggest single roadblock on the Roadmap to a Palestinian state: security.Security (or the lack of it) is one of those rare things on which everyone agrees in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

(Over)Selling The World On War

George Tenet, the director of Central Intelligence, was frustrated. For four days and nights last winter, some of the most astute intelligence analysts in the U.S. government sat around Tenet's conference-room table in his wood-paneled office in Langley, Va., trying to prove that Saddam Hussein posed an imminent threat to America.

Diplomatic Diary: The 9-11 Effect

Let's face it: terrorism works. It works in the short run, blowing up the Middle East road map along with dozens of Israeli citizens. And it works in the long run, bringing the terrorists closer to their political goals.What we've witnessed in the space of one brief, bloody week is yet another display of how effective terrorists can be.

Diplomatic Diary: Whatever Happened To Mideast Stability?

Let's rewind the tape a few months. As the Bush administration geared up for war in Iraq, many senior officials spoke glowingly about what victory in Baghdad would mean for the Middle East peace process. "If there were a change of regime in Iraq, would it help us in the peace process?" Paul Wolfowitz, deputy Defense Secretary, asked rhetorically a year ago. "You bet it would."So now that Saddam is out, what has happened to the peace process?

Diplomatic Diary: Lessons For The Future

Maybe it's too soon to tell whether or not Colin Powell's latest visit there made any difference. Or maybe it's the same old hollow words, the same old empty gestures that have made the Middle East so frustrating for so long.

The Chinese Puzzle

The most important VIP to visit Beijing last week arrived in a military uniform without fanfare or journalists in tow. Less than 48 hours before critical negotiations between the United States, North Korea and China got underway, the No. 2 man in Pyongyang's communist hierarchy, Vice Marshall Cho Myong Rok, met quietly with Chinese President Hu Jintao to ask for military assurances should the United States attack his country.

Nuclear Chicken

What are they smoking?" asked one exasperated State Department official after last week's abrupt and abrasive talks with North Korea. "Which alternative universe do they inhabit?" He wasn't talking about the eccentric North Koreans and their nuclear brinkmanship.

Diplomatic Diary: Lessons Of War

Will the real Syria please stand up? Depending on whom you believe, the Syrian Arab Republic is a repressive state that harbors Saddam Hussein's weapons, maintains its own arsenal of chemical and biological weapons and supports international terrorist groups.

Syria: The Road To Damascus

The call went out from the mosques of Lebanon's Bekaa Valley as the Iraq war began: the time had come to defend Islam. And Zein Ali Othman answered. The unemployed 38-year-old veteran of the Lebanese Army, along with three others, was able, he said, to travel into Syria and across the country without stopping for the usual formalities.

North Korea: Should We Talk, Kim?

Two perplexing outbursts from the North Korean government last week have Bush administration officials in a bitter debate about how to handle a possible three-way nuclear-arms talk with Chinese officials in Beijing this week.

Second Guessing

The search is on for krypton 85. At this moment American EP3 spy planes are probably sniffing for trace elements of that radioactive particle floating in the atmosphere near the North Korean shore.

Diplomatic Diary: Dealing With The Nuclear North

To the outside world, the eternal struggle over American foreign policy may seem perplexing. But for those at the heart of it all, every punctuation mark in every policy paper represents part of a much bigger challenge: how to exert American power in the world.

Looking For A Leader Amid The Ashes

Nobody blinked when Tommy Franks, the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, told President Bush's senior advisers that he would be flying free Iraqis into southern Iraq at the start of this month.

Diplomatic Diary: Target Syria?

Throughout the long buildup to war in Iraq last year, the Bush administration insisted it was sorely misunderstood. While the Arab world and much of Europe accused the United States of warmongering, the administration clung to another mantra.

Iraq: Who's Going To Lead The New Government?

In the heavyweight prizefight over Iraq's future, the winner of round one seems to be Secretary of State Colin Powell. For months the Bush administration has been deeply split over how to move from a U.S. military occupation to a new government run by Iraqis.

Moving On

It sounded like they were an old married couple who had just undergone a successful counseling session. "Expressions such as mending fences and defusing tensions have been used in the run up to today's meeting," said Lord Robertson, the NATO secretary-general who met with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell in Brussels today."'Continued' and 'cooperation' are much better words.

Diplomatic Diary: Powell On Tour

After all the rancor of the run-up to war in Iraq, this might just be the time for the world's major powers to reach out to one another. Yes, the prospect of the world's foreign ministers hugging one another at the United Nations may seem a distant dream.

Diplomatic Diary: Remember Diplomacy?

You'd think the diplomacy had come to an end once the war began. After all, as Winston Churchill once quipped, it's a choice between talking and fighting: "To jaw-jaw is better than to war-war." Yet as the war in Iraq shifts from a first week of euphoric reporting to a second week of heavy fighting, the diplomacy shows every sign of sparking back to life.Tony Blair, the British prime minister, arrives at Camp David later this week for a hastily-arranged session with the president.

Washington: Powell In The Bunker

Beyond his ornate waiting rooms, and behind his vast outer office, there's a small, intimate study where Colin Powell retreats from the public posturing of international politics.

Diplomatic Diary: A New World Order?

Sometimes the glare of the moment is so sharp that it's hard to see two steps ahead. Yet President Bush's address to the world on Monday went far beyond the blinding flash of war.

Diplomatic Diary: Lining Up The Votes

With a broad grin, the French foreign minister walked out of the Security Council chamber looking like he owned the place. Indeed, Dominique de Villepin seemed so cocksure of victory last week that he left the debate over Iraq's future before the crucial wavering nations--especially the three African countries--had said their piece.Either the French are playing a perfectly-pitched game of psychological warfare, or they know they can easily defeat the second United Nations resolution against...

North Korea: Crossing The Line

The Bush Administration refuses to call it "a red line," but that's the message it's sending to North Korea as the Stalinist state inches closer to reviving its nuclear site at Yongbyon.


DiplomacyBest Friends Forever?Russia has become the focus of the Bush administration's hard-knuckle diplomacy inside the U.N. Security Council, according to senior State Department officials.

Diplomatic Diary: The Price Of Friendship

If it was hard to put a price on Turkey's cooperation in the coming war in Iraq, how do you put a price on Tony Blair's cooperation with George W. Bush?That is the cold calculation facing the White House as it enters the diplomatic endgame surrounding Saddam Hussein's regime.