The resignation of US Secretary of State Colin Powell is no surprise considering that he struggled to bring moderation into a war cabinet full of hawks. Though not sudden, the timing of his resignation is earlier than many expected.
Speculation circulated throughout Washington that Powell would stay during such a critical time in Washington's policy developments. The elections in Afghanistan, continuing conflict in Iraq, and the sudden death of Yasser Arafat were certainly reasons to extend his tenure. Apparently, President Bush did not ask or order demand that Powell stay in office longer and as a result, Powell saw no reason to delay his departure. Most of Powell's inner circle, including Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, will leave with Powell.
Who will fulfill the position, and with what kind of team, has no become important. The State Department is often being at odds with Republican governments because of its institutional and ideological background, yet it embraced Powell.
Though from a military background, Powell, was a natural diplomat and considered war cautiously. He even has a doctrine called as his own name. Resignations among the upper ranks of the intelligence bureaucracies followed the appointment of Porter Gross as director of the CIA.
Bush has just charged National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice with the duty to amend and subdue the State Department bureaucracy, which has acted like a "rebellious child" over the war in Iraq. Rice is more in tune with the hawks in Bush's cabinet - like Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who has no intention of retiring - than was Powell. The power struggle between the Pentagon and US State Department is now completely in favor of the hawks.
During Bush's first term, the Pentagon, and civilian officials within it - the "neo-cons" - overcame opposition from administrators within the State Department and CIA in the months preceding the war in Iraq thanks to help from Vice President Richard "Dick" Cheney, an influential supporter of the hawks that is close to the President Bush.
With the resignation of Powell, the State Department bureaucracy has lost its protector inside the Bush administration while hawks' have breached the wall of their number one "enemy inside". If the US State Department's relatively international, balanced, and realistic voice is muffled in the system, than the entire world will be affected.