Every war produces its share of figures who exert great influence over large events. Some names are easily known in advance, others seemingly emerge out of nowhere. A look at some of those likely to cast large shadows:
PRESIDENT BUSH: The last time America went to war with Iraq, George W. Bush was running a baseball team in Texas and his father was commander in chief. Now, the son who came to power with little experience or interest in foreign policy is virtually consumed with his two-pronged campaign against Iraq and the worldwide terrorist threat. Bush, 57, has been unswerving in his us-against-him stance toward Saddam Hussein, pronouncing himself "sick and tired" of Saddam's deceptions and dismissing calls for more weapons inspections as "a rerun of a bad movie." Undeterred by opposition from many world leaders, Bush said war was the last resort, but "the risk of doing nothing is even a worse option, as far as I'm concerned." With his presidency transformed by the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks of 2001, Bush has "gone from one extreme to the other," said Lawrence Korb, assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration.
DONALD RUMSFELD: Rumsfeld, 70, is making his second tour of duty as secretary of defense, back in the Pentagon after nearly a quarter-century in corporate America. In 1975, Rumsfeld was the nation's youngest defense secretary at age 43, taking office in the Ford administration just months after Saigon fell to the Communists. This time, as the nation's oldest defense secretary, he has presided over the U.S. military campaign to oust al-Qaida terrorists and the Taliban regime from Afghanistan and been intensely involved in crafting the war plan for Iraq. By all accounts, "Rummy," as he's known, is a hands-on civilian manager of the military, unafraid to ruffle feathers — or generals or entire nations, for that matter. In January, for example, Rumsfeld caused an international stir when he referred to Germany and France as "old Europe," and said each was a problem with regard to forming a united front against Iraq. He keeps a list in his desk of all the things that could go wrong in the war.
TOMMY FRANKS: The four-star general who ran the war in Afghanistan and now has Iraq as his priority is known as a straight-talking Texan, a demanding boss, and a "soldier's general." During the 1991 Gulf War, Franks was an assistant division commander with the First Cavalry as it marched into the heart of Saddam's Republican Guard fortifications after a series of feints along the border. Now, as head of the military's Central Command, Franks has jurisdiction over 25 nations stretching from the Horn of Africa into Central Asia. Franks, 57, started his military career with combat in Vietnam, where he earned three Purple Hearts, and also served in Germany and Korea, among other places. Retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, a ground commander in the Gulf War, said Franks is "one of the most combat-hardened, take-care-of-his-soldiers kind of guys imaginable." At 6-foot-3, he is an imposing figure in his desert "cammies," but friends describe him as affable and engaging, a cigar-smoking country music lover who breaks the tension of his high-stress job with a practical joke now and then.
RICHARD MYERS: As chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Myers projects a decidedly lower profile than his Gulf War predecessor, Colin Powell. But insiders say Myers, 61, nonetheless maintains considerable influence. Myers, a four-star general who began his military career as a fighter pilot, has a wide-ranging background that includes stints as head of the U.S. Space Command, commander of U.S. forces in Japan and commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific. With all the demands of his job, he still manages to escape his Pentagon office at 10 a.m. daily to get a cup of coffee at the Starbucks down the hall. He rides a Harley-Davidson, plays the saxophone and has two Old English sheepdogs.
COLIN POWELL: At the beginning of the latest showdown with Iraq, the secretary of state was the man pestering the Bush administration to give U.N. weapons inspections one more chance. At the end, Powell was the man pestering the United Nations to pull the plug on inspections. Powell, 65, still is the moderate in an administration of hard-liners. But when diplomacy failed, he argued to the world the case for force. Still, Powell somewhat wistfully confessed, "I would prefer to be on the side of peace." Powell became a wartime celebrity during the Gulf War as chairman of the Joint Chiefs. He famously forecast how U.S. action against the Iraqi army would unfold: "First we are going to cut it off, and then we are going to kill it." His stature and polish generated talk that he would be an ideal 1996 presidential candidate, but Powell demurred, saying it was "a calling that I do not yet hear."
JAY M. GARNER: When allied troops ended their three-month occupation of northern Iraq after the Gulf War, Garner was the last man out after the U.S. flag was lowered. As allied commander of the postwar effort to aid Kurdish Iraqi refugees in 1991, Garner helped resettle and protect tens of thousands. Now retired from the military, Garner, 64, heads a Pentagon office created to ensure that relief and reconstruction work could get under way almost as soon as U.S. troops liberate sections of Iraq. Garner "is banging on all the agencies of the U.S. government" to line up the people needed for initial assistance, Defense Undersecretary Douglas Feith said last month. "His main role is fitting the pieces together." In the short term, Garner would act as civil administrator of Iraq if Saddam's government is overthrown, reporting to Franks.
TONY BLAIR: The British prime minister stood steadfastly beside the United States in the leadup to war, by his own admission "risking everything politically on this issue." Blair, 49, has sent tens of thousands of British troops to the Gulf despite mounting public opposition. As leader of the centrist "New Labor" Party, Blair took office in 1997 determined to restore Britain's standing on the world stage. "We are a leader of nations or nothing," he declared then. Blair has been notably calm in the face of a firestorm of protest. He argues that leaving Saddam in place would be taking the easy way out. "That is why I do not shrink from military action should that indeed be necessary," he said last month. A successful outcome to war would empower Blair both at home and abroad, allowing him to prod Bush into re-energizing the Middle East peace process, said the Brookings Institution's Ivo Daalder. But "if the war goes badly," says Daalder, "I don't think he'll be in power anymore."
JACQUES CHIRAC: The French president led the opposition to war with Iraq and along the way elevated France's profile as an international force to be reckoned with. In an increasingly bitter standoff with the United States, Chirac, 70, argued "there is no cause for war." On Friday, he threatened to veto any U.N. resolution allowing the United States and Britain to run Iraq after the war. Chirac's opposition to the war bolstered his popularity at home, but he had his difficulties as well. He offended some central and eastern European governments by chiding them for supporting the United States on Iraq and telling them to "keep quiet." Chirac insisted he had no animosity toward America, where he once worked as a soda jerk, attended summer school and hitchhiked cross-country. Still, it was unknown how Chirac would patch damaged U.S.-French relations and what role the French might play in reconstructing a postwar Iraq, where it has substantial economic interests.
SADDAM HUSSEIN: The Iraqi president, 65, was defiant in the leadup to war, declaring that "we are not going to succumb, neither to the United States nor to any other power." He went so far as to deny his country had lost the 1991 Gulf War, unquestionably a crushing battlefield defeat. Saddam, the son of a peasant from the desert Tikrit area, assumed the presidency in 1979, 11 years after the underground Baath Party took power in a coup that Saddam had helped organize. His rule was denounced by Powell as a "despotic, dictatorial regime that has abused its own people, committed torture, and would commit that torture on a greater scale with weapons of mass destruction." Saddam's elaborate security apparatus was crucial to his ability to maintain power. Andrew Krepinevich, executive director of the private Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, described Saddam as "a person who has beaten the odds for the better part of his life," pointing to his ability to stay in power through devastating wars and a range of attempted assassinations and coups.
SADDAM'S SUCCESSOR: Those who try to look past Saddam wonder who would lead Iraq once the liberators go home. Judith Kipper, director of the Middle East Forum at the Council on Foreign Relations, said that while there are plenty of smart, educated Iraqis who could provide leadership, there is no one obvious choice. "I keep asking who's going to go on Iraqi TV after the U.S. conquers Iraq and announce in Arabic that you're safe, you can come out now," she said. One prominent opposition figure, Ahmad Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi National Congress, has returned from exile to Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq. But he is a controversial figure within the fragmented opposition. "One of the Iraqis is going to be important — the next Hamid Karzai," says Daalder, referring to the ruler of postwar Afghanistan. "We don't know yet who it's going to be. I can guarantee you it will not be Chalabi."