There’s no mistaking now. The president's State of the Union address made clear Tuesday night that the liberation of Iraq, and onset of a new era in the Middle East, is coming soon. At long last.

The news item from the speech was that Colin Powell will present evidence to the U.N. Security Council next week.  But the real news for viewers was the body language of the Commander-in-Chief.

President Bush could not have looked more stalwart when addressing the State of the Union. There’s no messing with this guy. That feeling emanated from the podium.

For eight years, most pundits gushed about Bill Clinton being such a great speaker, especially in this forum. Bush proved that being un-Clinton works just fine -- some of us would say, much better.

There’s not a slick bone in Bush’s body. What he intends, he shows.

And what he showed was leadership to preclude the world's vilest leaders from getting their grimy hands on the most vicious weapons.  Leadership entails connecting with other elected officials, and especially with the American public at large, and then connecting all of us with a mission. That mission, it is now clear, is o defeat terrorists and totalitarian tyrants.

Contrary to Washington groupthink that the secular Saddam Hussein doesn’t do terrorism with a religious nut like Usama bin Laden, the two in fact have been in cahoots for years.

After all, both men are filled with bile against the same enemy -- civilized society -- and are moved in life far more by what they hate in Western civilization than by what they share in Islamic fanaticism.

Besides, those who terrorize their own people -- like all three “axis of evil” states -- seek to terrorize their neighbors, and free people everywhere. They live by terror, within and without.

The highpoint of the president's addres came when Bush mentioned others joining Iraq’s liberation: “We are asking them to join us, and many are doing so.  Yet the course of this nation does not depend on the decisions of others.”

This seeming fling at gross unilateralism is actually the pathway to effective multilateralism.

Other countries take no action unless, and until, the U.S. shows determination.  During the agonizing months when the Bush team fiddled and faddled -- internally, and then in those U.N. shenanigans -- friendlies in Europe and the Middle East treaded water.

None would commit to the cause without knowing we’d act.  Why hang out to dry, taking heat from pacifists and anti-American diehards, before there’s any need?

Without American action in the world, there’s no action.

Hence, now you can expect other big players to mute their gripes or proclaim their backing. Russia will come first, with Turkey and Saudi Arabia to follow right on.  None of this trio can afford to choose Saddam over Bush   or even stay in the sidelines during a big American win in the Middle East.

And expect titillating tidbits from the Powell briefing -- “proof” to those determined to oust Saddam, yet way insufficient to those willing to give Saddam more than the dozen years he’s thus far had to defy the U.N. and world community.

But this is the stuff of footnotes.  The real proof will come within a couple days of Iraq’s liberation.

Then, vast amounts of chemical and biological weapons and a stunning nuke program will be revealed by Iraqis finally free to reveal their whereabouts.

And then, Americans will wipe their brows and sigh: “Whew! That was a close one!” when imagining the sickening prospect of Saddam mangling us, like he has his own people.

Kenneth Adelman is a frequent guest commentator on Fox News, was assistant to U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld from 1975 to 1977 and, under President Ronald Reagan, U.N. ambassador and arms-control director. Mr. Adelman is now co-host of TechCentralStation.com