Colin Powell says it was always his intention to serve one term as secretary of state, but the Washington Post reports today, citing one government official "with personal knowledge of the situation," that Powell had "second thoughts" and wrote up a list of conditions for staying for a second term. These conditions included greater engagement with Iran and a harder line against Ariel Sharon.
In the end, Powell "was not asked to stay." Instead, the president seems more than content to have his close friend and adviser Condoleezza Rice move into Powell's job.
According to the Post, "Republican officials said the selection of Rice reflects Bush's determination to take personal control of the government in a second term, especially departments and agencies that he felt had undermined him in the first four years. Powell's departure is also a victory for conservatives, removing the administration's most forceful advocate for negotiations and multilateral engagement on such issues as Middle East peace and curbing nuclear activities in Iran and North Korea."
"...Foreign policy experts predicted that Powell's resignation, and Rice's ascension, could result in a more coherent message from the Bush administration. Kenneth Adelman, a conservative foreign policy specialist, worked with Powell during the Reagan administration. 'Powell is a wonderful, wonderful person,' he said. 'The sad part about this episode in this Bush administration is fundamentally he and the president disagreed on central issues on national security and foreign policy.'"
"Rice, by contrast, 'certainly shares Bush's views and has learned better than anyone what Bush's views are,' Adelman said. 'You are not going to have that split in a second term.'"