2006: A Pivot for History?: "The secretary general now has a chance to to establish a more positive legacy, and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has passed the word that the administration will work with him on that. U.N. officials have found a warmer welcome in Washington in recent months as they consult on Lebanon and Syria; Iraq; the U.N.'s role in resolving the Iranian nuclear crisis; the threat of an avian flu pandemic; and other issues that the Bush administration had insisted on handling alone.
Annan and Rice are conceivably rare winners in the leadership sweepstakes of 2006. So, oddly, is Angela Merkel, Schroeder's successor in Germany. After besting Schroeder in the destructive test of nerves he launched when voters there deadlocked, Merkel assembled a Cabinet of heavyweights who must work with her or listen to her blame them for provoking new elections if they don't. And she saved December's European Union summit from humiliating stalemate.
Russia's oil revenue and China's continuing economic ascent make Vladimir Putin and Hu Jintao distressingly secure at home this year. But the biggest leadership news, for better or worse, should come out of Iraq, which in this hinge year will overcome or succumb to the centrifugal forces tearing at it. Those pressures have become too intense to be put off another year."