January 26, 2005

Poor Prognostications Watch

I'm a big fan of Laura Rozen's excellent War and Piece blog (and we even share the same site designer!). But her Beltway prognostications, over the past election seasion, have, er, been pretty 'out of touch' (to use a phrase she likes). We were ominously warned by Laura that Danielle Pletka might (gulp) run Middle East policy at State. But, and as B.D. predicted, David Welch (the current US Ambassador to Egypt) is set to get the job. Laura strongly suggested that John Bolton was going to get Deputy Secretary of State (or even National Security Advisor, that is, if Wolfy didn't get it first!). But Bolton didn't get DepSec, Zoellick did. As for NSA--that's Steve Hadley, not Wolfowitz, of course. And too, lest we forget, Laura wasn't above intimating Doug Feith would be staying on through Bush's second term. He's not. Now, however, Laura's speculating that Lewis 'Scooter' Libby is perhaps to replace Doug Feith (he won't).

It's always like this with Laura, isn't it? The neo-cons are coming! Really! Run for the exits! But no judicious observer can now deny that the neo-con ascendancy, especially strong just after 9/11, is in abeyance. We are witnessing a Thermidor, of sorts, and the new fulcrum of foreign policy power in this new Administration will be Condi's State Department--which will be mostly realist in practice (if more idealist in tone than during Powell's stewardship). No, Zeollick isn't some uber-realist who doesn't give a damn about democratization--but he's not of the chest-beaty school that thinks we can afford new adventures in Syria and Iran right now (though U.S.-Syrian relations are going through a quite prickly patch just now and Iran, perennially, remains A Big Deal).

I know a lot of this is kinda inside baseball and may not interest too many non-Beltway types. But it matters, as individuals set policy direction, and it bears repeating that evil Straussians haven't taken over the apparatus of government--hoodwinking a bovine Bush in the process. That's the story Laura's been selling for a while now--but it's just not how the narrative is playing out.

Posted by Gregory at January 26, 2005 06:09 AM | TrackBack (5)

Sorry, BD. I looked at Laura's blog. She considers an invasion of Iran a strong possibility. I don't. Too much of the "neocon" stuff goin' round in her blog for my taste.

Be Seeing You,


Posted by: Section9 at January 27, 2005 01:04 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

An alternative explanation is that Laura Rozen is so powerful that she singlehandedly was able to defeat all of those potentially disastrous moves via the power of the pen.

Whatever the case, I'm glad you have been mostly right about the direction of appointments so far. Some folks see the hidden hand of Jimmah Baker at work ...

(FYI: you may be right about Rumsfeld, too. But you may also be wrong. I've given up handicapping these guys)

Posted by: praktike at January 27, 2005 03:28 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

"[E]vil Straussians haven't taken over the apparatus of government....it's just not how the narrative is playing out."

Without addressing the claim about Rozen's std. story, I think you dropped the words "from now on" from the end of the second sentence. The above looks like a pretty good summary of policy to date. A coherent description of foreign policy to date ... that's a fair sight better than anything I've seen offerred by Bush backers.

Posted by: SomeCallMeTim at January 27, 2005 03:34 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Given the way you nailed that whole Osama-is-dead thing, I'd have thought that this is the kind of post you would avoid.

Posted by: Swopa at January 27, 2005 04:00 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Ah, but evil Straussians did take over a critical apparatus of gov't to get us into Iraq for the foreseeable future. In light of that sordid history perhaps we can forgive Laura for being a bit gun shy. As for Bush getting hoodwinked, I still believe that's as decent an explanation as any...

Posted by: fnook at January 27, 2005 04:31 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

So things could be worse. But the fact remains that the guy who discussed in detail what forms of humane and degrading treatment--waterboarding? sleep deprivation? sexual humiliation?--should be ordered up has been has been elevated by the party of torture (that's your party, not mine--but YOU WON) to the highest office of justice in the United States. And the fact remains that the cabinet officer to whom the troops who carried out the orders report remains in office. And the fact remains the President does not repudiate torture because he believes in its necessity. And that he remains an unabashed apologist for a policy that has astonishingly resulted in making the lives of the citizens of large parts of Baghdad more miserably Hobbesian than they were under Saddam. And that the people of Europe despise this American president as they have no other in 214 years. And that the woman become our chief diplomat sat at the President's right hand as all these disasters piled up.
What's to be pleased about what we have to look forward to? How could any rescue crew deal with this strategic tsunami?

Posted by: Outraged at January 27, 2005 05:02 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Outraged, you're seeing things just a little too clearly. Have a drink. Yes, I know it's early, but still.

---Anderson, chair of Incipient Alcoholics for Kerry

Posted by: Anderson at January 27, 2005 05:35 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'm with Anderson. Still waiting for the invitation to Feith's going away party.

Posted by: Laura at January 27, 2005 05:47 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Enough with the damn dog-food spam already!

Posted by: Silent E at January 28, 2005 02:20 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

From Google Blog:

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Preventing comment spam
If you're a blogger (or a blog reader), you're painfully familiar with people who try to raise their own websites' search engine rankings by submitting linked blog comments like "Visit my discount pharmaceuticals site." This is called comment spam, we don't like it either, and we've been testing a new tag that blocks it. From now on, when Google sees the attribute (rel="nofollow") on hyperlinks, those links won't get any credit when we rank websites in our search results. This isn't a negative vote for the site where the comment was posted; it's just a way to make sure that spammers get no benefit from abusing public areas like blog comments, trackbacks, and referrer lists.

Posted by: Silent E at January 28, 2005 02:25 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

We ought to bear in mind the likelihood that the State Department's loss of control over foreign policy in Bush's first term wasn't due only to Colin Powell's inadequacies as a bureaucratic infighter.

True, against Donald Rumsfeld he was out of his depth in that regard. But State as an institution has been struggling for years under weak Secretaries, underfunding, and Congressional earmarks restricting any Secretary's ability to direct how the department's budget ought to be spent. A 2001 commission co-chaired by Warren Rudman and Bob Kerrey described the State Department as "crippled," and that was before 9/11 so dramatically raised the military's profile in foreign policy.

Furthermore nothing about Ms. Rice suggests she is likely to push President Bush in directions he does not already want to go. The dynamic of their relationship appears to be the other way around -- she tries to determine what he wants, and then tries to make policy out of that. That Rumsfeld's Pentagon was so influential during the first term is due as much as anything to the fact that Rumsfeld and his associates had a policy agenda; Bush himself, a novice in foreign policy before 9/11, did not.

I suppose this could change with Rice in charge of an entire department, especially since she will have a Deputy Secretary with a record of getting things done (in the trade area) while swimming against the current of White House opinion. And I'd like to think it will change. All substantive considerations aside, it isn't healthy to have foreign policy dominated by the Defense Department as it has been for the last three-plus years.

But against that possibility we have to consider State's institutional weakness as well as the nature of Rice's relationship with Bush.

Posted by: Zathras at January 28, 2005 05:01 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

re: Straussian neocons not a part of Bush second term.

As noted in comment above, they've already impacted policy in a huge way.

They are melting away because their Likudnik connections are becoming a liability; witness Feith "retiring" while his department and underlings are investigation for passing classified info. to Isreal.

The whole Zionist gang is about to be exposed so Bush is attempting to pre-emptively reduce the fall-out.

Nothing to celebrate - or gloat over in G.D.'s case - because, again, their impact is already in our policy and because they are being replaced by overt fascists like Gonzalez, etc.

Posted by: avedis at January 28, 2005 06:17 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink
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