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Friend Says Powell Uneasy With Bush Ideologues

Secretary of State Colin Powell (search) feels uneasy about being the house pragmatist in an administration dominated by ideologues, a close friend says.

"This is, in many ways, the most ideological administration Powell's ever had to work for," says Harlan Ullman (search). "Not only is it very ideological, but they have a vision. And I think Powell is inherently uncomfortable with grand visions like that. ... There's an ideological core to Bush, and I think it's hard for Powell to penetrate that."

The quote is from the upcoming issue of Gentleman's Quarterly magazine. Reached by telephone in Bermuda on Tuesday, Ullman confirmed he had made the comment.

He said that he and Powell are in frequent contact and that Powell authorized him to cooperate with the magazine. Powell was once a student of Ullman's at the National War College (search).

Ullman, now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies (search), also confirmed a quote in the magazine on Powell's thoughts about his Feb. 5, 2003, appearance before the U.N. Security Council. That presentation was designed to convince the world that Saddam Hussein's Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.

"The trade-off was 'Go to the U.N., go to Congress, slow this thing down; it's not going to be regime change, it's going to be weapons of mass destruction.' And for that, Powell stayed a loyal member of the administration," Ullman said.

Two months after Powell's address, the U.S.-led coalition went to war against Iraq. No weapons of mass destruction (search) have turned up.

As for the military action against Iraq, Powell has said it was authorized by U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441 (search), approved in November 2002.

The article also has the following comment about Powell attributed to his chief of staff, Larry Wilkerson:

"He's tired, mentally and physically. And if the president were to ask him to stay on — if the president is re-elected and the president were to ask him to stay on, he might for a transitional period, but I don't think he'd want to do another four years."

Powell's position is that he serves at the pleasure of the president.

Calls to the State Department's public affairs bureau to obtain comment were unsuccessful.