Thursday, December 28, 2006

Criticism of Condoleezza Rice Growing

The policy blunders of the Bush Administration are many and the consequences of those blunders continue to compound the failures, making Bush's last two years difficult unless he makes serious changes. To turn things around will not only require making policies changes, it will require a good foreign policy team fully capable of negotiations and implementing a real foreign policy. Bush does not have such a team.

The president's national security adviser Stephen Hadley is more a right wing policy wonk than a serious implementer of rational national security policy; in other words, he's largely ineffectual. Condoleezza Rice was not an effective national security adviser and has been disappointing as secretary of state. And John Bolton's abrasive style as our UN ambassador did not gain us much. If Bush does not beef up his foreign policy team and if he continues to believe that our problems can largely be solved with military force and more photo ops, we are in for a long two years. Diplomacy and political solutions are the best route to mitigate his strategic errors in Iraq.

Of course, some argue that we've been seeing Cheney's foreign policy and that he's still in charge (along with his mysterious foreign policy/national security team), but, however great his influence happens to be, his dark vision and empire nonsense over the last six years are a disaster and if he really is in charge, it is unlikely that he will change. Bush, however, is the president. Bush has the ultimate responsibility, not Cheney. Changes can take place if Bush so chooses to make them. Being president is not exclusively a public relations job though Bush has often behaved as such during the last six years. I wouldn't mind Congress finding a way to remind President Bush of that fact.

Here's an article on Yahoo by David Millikin who reviews Condi Rice's first two years (hat tip to The Huffington Post):
The violence in Iraq, and the Bush administration's refusal to bring rivals Syria and Iran into efforts to stabilize the country, are widely blamed for the broader failure of US policy in the Middle East -- where Lebanon teeters on the brink of civil war and Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts languish.

Elsewhere, Rice's globe-trotting -- 37 overseas trips totalling nearly 500,000 miles (800,000 kilometers) -- has yielded little concrete success, with her few diplomatic victories clouded by poor or no follow-up.

(snip)

US foreign policy experts said Rice must shoulder much of the blame for the lackluster diplomacy.

"Great secretaries of state have compelling views of the world and/or are effective negotiators -- Secretary Rice has so far demonstrated neither," said Aaron Miller, who advised six secretaries of state before joining the Woodrow Wilson Center think tank in Washington.

Even staunch supporters acknowledge that Rice, weighed down by the failed policy in Iraq, has little that is positive to show for her work so far.

"I don't know that there have been concrete advances" under Rice's diplomacy, said Joshua Muravchik of the conservative American Enterprise Institute, though he nevertheless went on to give her "high grades" for faithfully implementing Bush's policy agenda.

Hmmm. Muravchick can't think of any accomplishments but gives Rice high grades for implementing Bush's strategic blunders? Of course, the American Enterprise Institute have fired people for talking rationally about the shortcomings of the Bush Administration.

In the real universe, here's where we're at: if Bush begins to understand that his public relations games aren't working anymore and that his talk of 'surge' is wasting everyone's time, and if he decides that he cannot continue on the same disastrous course he's been pursuing for over three years, and if, in the process of evaluating how to get back to a real foreign policy, he decides to keep Condi Rice, he at the very least needs to bring in some big name help for her foreign policy team. Yeah, I know, that's a lot of ifs. So here's the question: can our nation afford two more years of incompetence and foreign policy drift? We may soon know the answer.

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