In a recent speech, Hans Blix told his weapons inspectors exactly how to act in Iraq: Be driving and dynamic, but not angry and aggressive. Show some flexibility but don't be pushed around.
He could have been describing himself.
The 74-year-old Swede is charged with telling the world whether Iraq has biological and chemical weapons and is complying with U.N. inspections. His report may not halt the United States' plans for war with Iraq, but it will likely make or break international support for it.
He comes to the job with years of experience but mixed reviews. "Extremely prudent, careful and courageous," says U.S. diplomat Richard Gardner, an old friend. "Totally incompetent," says Per Ahlmark, Sweden's former deputy prime minister.
But for the U.N. Security Council, Blix was the right person at a difficult time.
In January 2000, he became the compromise candidate for chief U.N. weapons inspector after Washington's pick — another Swede — was rejected by a badly divided council.