Shuttle without diplomacy: the Irrelevancy of Condi Rice
Sidney Blumenthal makes another penetrating observation in Salon:
...Bush’s rhetoric about “democracy” underlines his studied error in ignoring the lessons of nation building deeply ingrained in the experience of the U.S. Foreign Service and U.S. military in Bosnia and Kosovo. From the start, in the 2000 campaign, Bush disdained “nation building” as Bill Clinton’s project. During and after the Iraq invasion, his ideological preconceptions and hostility to the State Department precluded him from adopting its successes.
In Bosnia and Kosovo, full sovereignty was not granted through an election—to this day—which would have turned over the country to one of the three contending religio-ethnic groups and fomented opposition insurgencies. Instead, the U.S. led in organizing a broad range of international partners and institutions in creating a structure of stability that is a basis for gradual democratic development. By contrast, the election Bush promoted in Iraq was political grandstanding in the name of “democracy” that incited the exclusion of Sunnis and aggravated civil warfare. Almost everything in place in Bosnia and Kosovo is absent in Iraq. The former is an example of U.S. leadership, the latter a case study in amateurish blundering. Moreover, Bush has turned “democracy” into a synonym for failure.
The State Department has been completely sidelined in the making of Bush’s latest and last policy on Iraq. Its experience in the Balkans remains thoroughly ignored. And Rice does nothing to call it to Bush’s attention, for that would require her to point out his shortcomings. The State Department founders like a ghost ship. Rice meanders back and forth to and from the Middle East, the shuttle without the diplomacy.
After twice rejecting the job of deputy secretary of state, John Negroponte, the director of national intelligence, was implored to accept it. In exchanging a Cabinet post for a sub-Cabinet one, a position of policymaking for an administrative post, Negroponte excited rumors that he would only have decided to make the switch if he believed that Rice would eventually leave and he would ascend to her job. But, once again, the logic of that Washington gossip is merely rational. Rice the irrelevancy remains Bush’s indispensable devotee.