November 21, 2004

The Thermidor Cometh

So now, in one convulsive move, State has gone from a marginalized agency to a central one. Rice's deputy national-security adviser, Steve Hadley, wasn't even asked to stand when he was named her replacement at her announcement ceremony last week (Bush gave Hadley a smile and a nod as he sat quietly in the front row). Some observers believe that Rice, if she can manage to wrestle the giant bureaucracy down, could prove to be the most powerful secretary of State since Henry Kissinger, who also managed to install a deputy, Brent Scowcroft (later to become Rice's mentor), in the White House spot. There were other signals that Rice's State Department will soon be the new center of gravity in U.S. foreign policy. Rumsfeld's Defense Department, once a powerful player, is bogged down in Iraq and may have lost some standing with the White House (Rice has occasionally expressed irritation at Rumsfeld's abrasive manner). There is also some rethinking of basic premises. In the first term, Bush officials tended to talk about alliances as if they were a barter system: you give us aid and troops, we'll make you a partner. Now some of these officials lament the loss of "a whole atmosphere of cooperation," as one put it. They note that China has been aggressively filling the global leader-ship vacuum they believe was left by Bush's approach and the rampant anti-Americanism that resulted. Beijing has prodded the European Union to consider lifting its arms embargo. It is also integrating its space programs with Europe and cutting commercial deals with Iran. All this has sent tremors through the U.S. defense and intelligence community, which before 9/11 had been largely focused on Beijing as a future threat. 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.

More here.

Eric, why the "gloat"?

Posted by Gregory at November 21, 2004 05:13 PM
Comments

It's the gloat of bitterness.

Posted by: praktike at November 21, 2004 10:03 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Europe won't get the Bushies' attention but China will. Another aspect of Rice's appointment that the atlanticist media elites fail to grasp is the (long-overdue) decisive shift in US security and foreign-policy establishment's focus and resources away from Europe.

If there are compromises or carrots to be offered to the Brits and the Germans, they will be in areas that are of great significance to the Euros and utterly irrelevant to the Chinese. Expect the mirage that is the "peace process" to appear once more, with a presidential envoy and a lot of sound and fury signifying f-all.

The crucial issue IMO is whether ex-sovietologist Rice will step up efforts with India and Russia as regards containing Iran and in future, China. Doubt that any of our MSM jokers will pick up on this until after it happens, tho.

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