Monday, September 03, 2007

Condi Rice blotted her career with MidEast blunders, acc to analyst's new book

Bush's closest confidante is confident but not competent.

A new assessment of Condoleezza Rice's career , written by a tagalong Washington Post journalist, Glenn Kessler, gives her a definite thumbs down as Secretary of State. Feisty Rice's inadequacies, which were under the spotlight during last summer's Lebanon war, may have been the turning point which hastened the slide of American influence in this critical region of the Middle East. Rice's quixotic hectoring did not go down well with the Israeli foreign minister Amir Peretz or with the beleaguered Lebanese. In fact, when she was not personally briefed, but left to learn about the IDF's deadly blunder at Qana through outside channels, Rice was angered and chagrined, but characteristically did not show it.

In her two years as secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice has had limited success in her efforts to fix the US diplomatic setbacks she helped create during President George W. Bush's first term, says a new book on the chief US diplomat.

As Bush's national security advisor during his first term, Rice was at the center of decisions that she has struggled to mend since becoming secretary of state in January 2005, journalist Glenn Kessler writes in "The Confidante."

"She was one of the weakest national security advisors in US history. Her inexperience and her mistakes in that job have shaped the world and colored the choices she must handle as secretary of state," writes Kessler, who covers US diplomacy for The Washington Post.

"The invasion of Iraq, the missed opportunity with Iran, the breach in relations with Europe, the Arab anger at a perceived bias against the Palestinians -- all of these problems were the direct result of decisions she helped make in the White House," he writes.

"Now, as secretary of state, she tried mightily -- and with limited success -- to unravel the Gordian knots she tied in in George W. Bush's first term."

Rice, the first black woman to hold the top US diplomat job, was a Bush administration star when she became secretary of state.

But her star has since faded and she now has a mere 18 months left -- Bush's second and final four-year term ends in January 2009 -- to improve the legacy she will leave for the history books.

"As President Bush's confidante for more than seven years, Rice has failed to provide him with a coherent foreign policy vision," writes Kessler in the book to be released this week in the United States.

In two years, Rice has faced several setbacks.

The foreign policy failures under Rice's watch include the Israel-Hezbollah war in Lebanon in mid-2006, which "may have marked an ominous turning point -- the decline of American power in the region," Kessler writes.

The author also points to North Korea's nuclear tests in October 2006, which he says the Bush administration could have avoided, and the long stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Rice has also never been personally engaged in efforts to end the humanitarian tragedy in Sudan's war-torn region of Darfur, Kessler writes.

One of her few bright spots is the US nuclear deal with India, which was negotiated soon after she took the job and still needs to be finalized.

For his book, Kessler, who often travels with Rice on her trips around the world, interviewed Rice several State Department officials, giving him new insight into negotiations between Rice and foreign leaders as as well as her private talks with Bush.

The secretary of state is very secretive about her personal life, but Kessler was able to catch a glimpse of the non-official Rice, learning about how she helped a friend in a financial pinch.

"I think I tried to be relatively balanced," Kessler told AFP. "I tried to be very clear minded."

Kessler is not yet ready to write off Rice, who plans to remain on the job until the end of the Bush presidency, as a failure.

"It is too early to make that kind of judgment," Kessler said. "At the moment though, it does not look very good."

1 comment:

Nikol said...

Good point. And what do you think of, for example, Shoher's attitude like here ?