November 21, 2004

B.D's Condi-Rama Continues

A telling little snippet from a 'Week in Review' Dave Sanger piece in today's NYT:

A lot has happened since, not least a terror attack on American soil that profoundly changed the President's world view, and with it Ms. Rice's.

Note the assumption undergirding this breezy assertion. 9/11 changed Bush's world view--and so inexorably (and dutifully) Condi followed suit. Permit me to throw out a perhaps radical notion. What if, just maybe, 9/11 changed Condi too--independent of whatever impact it had on Bush? Might it be possible, Mr. Sanger? (That's a rhetorical question).

But over at the New York Times, of course, she is but a "servant" of Bush's. If so, she will be quite a powerful one. This earlier post linking to a Newsweek piece explains how Condi might well prove to be one of our most powerful Secretary of State's since Henry Kissinger. This may or may not be how things play out. But Condi's a big girl--and portraying her as a mindless servant of Bush's is insulting in the extreme (if woefully predictable--as it fits the latest MSM meme that Bush is solely casting about for a mindless kitchen cabinet stock-full of hyper-servile loyalists).

Look, B.D. has had some beefs with Condeleeza Rice in the past. Mostly, as regular readers know, a good dose of dissatisfaction re: the flawed interagency process. Mark Danner, for whom I have nothing but the utmost respect (based on his riveting and important NYRB series on the former Yugoslavia), appears to think she should have never gotten promoted because of her shortcomings at the NSC:

This job falls, by statute and custom, to the national security adviser. And it is directly to that office that "the major interagency coordination problems between State and Defense and the striking ineffectiveness of the National Security Council" can be traced, in the words of Anthony Cordesman. Mr. Cordesman, a nonpartisan military analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, is one of many professionals who trace the disasters in Iraq back to failure to resolve conflicts between major government departments, as well as to debilitating "ideological efforts to shape the nation-building effort and personnel deployed to Iraq."

After Condoleezza Rice's elevation as Mr. Powell's successor, so much of the commentary seemed focused on her "closeness" to the president that it might have seemed the height of indiscretion to point out that she has been something of a disaster in her present job - a fact widely acknowledged among foreign policy professionals.

"(S)omething of a disaster"? That's pretty harsh. Remember, the trench warfare between Rumsfeld and Powell was particularly brutal--much more than the normal institutional tensions between State and the Pentagon. So, no, Condi's stewardship of the NSC wasn't a bravura performance. But a "disaster"? That's quite an aggressive verdict. And, whatever happened to the notion of a honeymoon? Let's at least give her a shot, OK...?

Posted by Gregory at November 21, 2004 05:35 PM
Comments

Powell never took on the bureaucrats in State who thought THEY made policy. ("Not stupid elected officials and their appointees!")

And THAT was the real problem, NOT "interagency coordination problems"

Condi will taKe on State's bureacracy. Like Goss is.
And she will win. Because she is tenacious, and she has the full backing of W.

Powell was playing his own game - and bided the mischief of his underlings - much like the brass in the Pentagon who Rummy has been taking on.

The "shake-up/shake-out" of the Pentagon and the CIA and of State will be one of the most important legacioes of the Bush Years.

Posted by: reliapundit at November 21, 2004 11:05 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

A couple of names have popped up. Condi's been dining with Nicholas Burns and has been talking to Philip Zelikow. Nobody's mentioned Bolton in days.

Posted by: section9 at November 22, 2004 02:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

FWIW, it looks like, de minimis another year of Rumsfeld:

http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/news/nation/10224226.htm

Posted by: praktike at November 22, 2004 03:37 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Even the liberal Telegraph ...

Vice-president Dick Cheney and his fellow hardliner, John Bolton, an under-secretary of state to Mr Powell, are both understood to have lobbied Mr Bush to replace him.

They wanted to make Iran's alleged nuclear bomb aspirations and support for Islamic terror groups the foreign policy priority for the new administration and believed that Mr Powell would back away from a confrontational approach.

The two are frustrated that Britain, France and Germany are still seeking a diplomatic deal with Teheran rather than backing an immediate UN Security Council resolution condemning Iran and threatening sanctions. [...]

Prominent neo-conservatives in Washington make no secret of their desire for regime change in Teheran, although few believe that a full-scale military operation is a viable strategy.

Instead, the emphasis is on establishing economic sanctions as a means to squeeze the ruling mullahs. There is also the option that the US may tacitly back Israeli air strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2004/11/21/wpow21.xml&sSheet=/news/2004/11/21/ixnewstop.html

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