November 20, 2004

Politburo Watching

OK, so not to get carried away--but it's all about this job right now.

Fred Kaplan:

If Rice is to be an active top diplomat, as opposed to an errand girl, she will want her own deputy, someone she knows and trusts, someone who's clearly working for her. With Bolton, she'd have to assume he was always talking, operating, maybe even sniping behind her back.

Ultimately, Rice's test is Bush's decision. The president is the one who will settle whether she can pick her own No. 2—or whether Cheney and Rumsfeld can hang on to their agent. Bush, in short, has to choose between his closest advisers. If Bolton goes no higher than his current post, it may mean Rice will be allowed some latitude in her work. If Bolton advances to deputy, she may wish she'd gone back to Stanford after all.

A tad exaggerated; but a pretty accurate analysis all told. Anyway, I'm pretty certain Bolton will not the get No. 2 job. (BTW, I'm not a Bolton-hater or anything--but do go here to read about some of my reservations about him.)

Laura Rozen, over to you. I'll bet you more than just a couple lattes (dinner at the restaurant of your choice!) that a) Bolton doesn't get DepSec and b) Pletka doesn't get Asst Sec for Near Eastern Affairs.

Laura: probably wrong about Bolton; in all likelihood wrong about Pletka. So whose operating under "IAEA standards of proofs" these days? An overwrought, hyper-AEI-phobic War & Piece, or yours truly over here at B.D.?

Oh, read this too:

Many Europeans, including Mr. Sandschneider, argue that it is far too early to make firm predictions about the kind of secretary of state Ms. Rice will be, though her nomination has been interpreted in two interrelated ways.

One is that she is being rewarded for her loyalty to a president who is not highly regarded in Europe, and that she will strengthen further the hard-line views of people like Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and the neoconservative group that is viewed by many people in countries like France and Germany as intellectually imperious and highly ideological.

"A lot of attention is being paid to who her deputy secretary of state will be," said François Heisbourg, director of the Foundation for Strategic Research in Paris. "If it's John Bolton," he continued, referring to John R. Bolton, the under secretary of state for arms control and international security who is widely viewed in Europe as a conservative ideologue, "then a lot of people will assume that the next four years will be even worse than the last four years."

The other interpretation is that Ms. Rice is more pragmatic than ideological, and, with her sophisticated understanding of international affairs, particularly of Russia and Germany, will prove to be both close to President Bush and sympathetic to, or at least, cognizant of, European views. Among her books, some have noted here, is a highly regarded study of German reunification.

Speaking of Germany, there are more rapprochment maneuverings in the air of late.

Posted by Gregory at November 20, 2004 06:31 PM

Well, while you're watching for who gets to stand next to Condi on the reviewing stand at the May Day parade, I thought I might provide this little nugget from tomorrow's "Newsweek" article on Condi:

So the answer is to launch a counterdiplomatic offensive. One sign that Bush was taking diplomacy seriously was the rebuff that Rice delivered last week to John Bolton, a fierce hard-liner and libertarian (he's often misidentified as a neocon) who bears an almost ideological hostility to multilateral talks. The under secretary of State is the leading arms-control official in the administration, but Bolton's unwillingness to compromise has earned him numerous enemies abroad, including even close allies like Britain. Bolton's conservative allies have campaigned aggressively to land him the deputy secretary's job being vacated by Powell's friend and ally, Richard Armitage. But a White House official said that Rice, who was out for minor surgery last week, has decided little about her future staff other than that "John Bolton would not be her deputy." Bolton, who may yet be appointed to some other senior post in the administration, has refused to comment on his future.

Methinks that Condi, having her man placed at Bush's side at the NSC table, isn't about to tolerate having one of Cheney's people down the hall in her building.

This also tells me that Condi's tenure will also be much more about problem-solving than the ideological struggle. Her task will be to make the world more receptive to Bush's understanding of the global struggle. That can be done, but the United States has to be seen by others as part of the solution to the problem, not part of the problem. Indeed, as Condi herself once said, "diplomacy is the art of the hard."

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thanks for the hat-tip section 9.

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