Cabinet shakeup

Secretary of State Colin Powell is stepping down. MSNBC says likely successors include U.N. ambassador and former Senator John Danforth, and national security advisor Condoleezza Rice. Changes are also coming at the agriculture, energy and education departments.

This really drives home the enormity of the election. Had Kerry won, a completely different cabinet, with a completely different view of America's place in the world, would be preparing to take office. There was some speculation that George Soros might have been named secretary of state, reflecting a sharp move toward a more accommodating, less threatening U.S. stance.

We can safely assume that Soros isn't on Bush's short list of candidates to replace Powell. If anything, it appears that Bush's next cabinet will be more hawkish than the first. But unless the U.S. is directly provoked, I think it's highly unlikely that Bush will embark on any major new military campaigns during his second term. Iraq, North Korea and Syria seem unlikely targets. My guess is that the focus remains on Iraq.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.