WASHINGTON - U.S. President George W Bush's nomination of
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice to replace Secretary of State
Colin Powell consolidates the control over U.S. foreign policy of the
coalition of hawks that promoted the war in Iraq, led by Vice President
The promotion of Rice's deputy, Stephen Hadley, to take her place in the
White House also confirms Cheney's pre-eminence in Bush's second term.
A major booster of national missile defence and the development of
''usable'' mini-nuclear weapons, Hadley held a key policy position under
the vice president when Cheney served as Pentagon chief under Bush's
father, from 1989 to 1993.
Growing speculation that another Cheney ally, Undersecretary of State for
Arms Control and International Security John Bolton, will be nominated to
serve as deputy secretary of state under Rice is adding to the impression
that the hawks are on the verge of a clean sweep.
As expected, the State Department's current number two, Richard Armitage,
announced his resignation Tuesday, thus opening another key slot in the
foreign-policy bureaucracy and one on which Bolton and his neo-conservative
and ultra-unilateralist backers have had their eyes for months.
''This is a statement that Bush sees that what he's done in his first term
is the way he wants to go into the second term, if not a bit more so'',
said Jonathan Clarke, a former British analyst based at the libertarian
Cato Institute and co-author of 'America Alone: The Neo-Conservatives and
the Global Order'.
''It's a way of saying, 'If you liked what you saw in the first
administration, you're going to love the second one','' he added in an
Although Rice began her tenure as Bush's national security adviser a
traditional ''realist'', stressing the importance of bolstering U.S.
alliances and of committing U.S. troops overseas only in cases where vital
national interests were threatened, she was careful from the outset to
avoid alienating right-wing forces, particularly Cheney and Defence
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
On key issues, particularly surrounding the lead-up to the Iraq war, the
Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the U.S. posture toward Iran and North
Korea, she more often either aligned herself with or deferred to the hawks,
especially Cheney, than she sided with Powell.
That was an immense frustration to the former head of the Joint Chiefs of
Staff, who had assumed at the beginning that, like himself, she was
committed to the pragmatic multilateralism of Bush's father and their
mutual mentor, former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft.
Thus, Rice ordered an early draft of the administration's December 2002,
National Security Strategy (NSS) that was written by Powell protege and
current president of the Council on Foreign Relations Richard Haass to be
completely rewritten, according to James Mann, author of a highly regarded
study of the Bush war cabinet, 'Rise of the Vulcans'.
''She thought the Bush administration needed something bolder, something
that would represent a more dramatic break with the ideas of the past'',
As rewritten, the NSS marked a comprehensive endorsement of most of the
controversial ideas put forward under Bush, including global U.S. military
dominance, pre-emption against possible enemies, the aggressive promotion
of democracy overseas and the rejection of multilateral mechanisms or
treaties that might constrain the exercise of U.S. power.
But Rice appears to have been picked to run the State Department as much
for her fierce personal loyalty to Bush as for her own foreign-policy views.
Recommended originally by Scowcroft and former Secretary of State George
Shultz to serve as Bush's principal foreign-policy adviser during his 2000
campaign, Rice, who shares a love of football and physical fitness with the
president, hit it off immediately with the future leader.
During the last five years, she has frequently spent weekends at the
presidential retreat at Camp David or at his ranch in Crawford, Texas, with
the Bush family.
The closeness of her relationship with Bush -- something that entirely
eluded Powell, whose unequalled international and popular standing appeared
to evoke some resentment in both the president and vice president -- would
normally be seen as a plus by the foreign service officers who toil at the
State Department, because it ensures that their views will heard in the
According to Mann, that may yet turn out to be the case. ''The White House
saw Powell as an independent force and an independent operator'', he told
IPS, adding that such independence limited his influence.
''Rice, who will be more hawkish, will also now be the spokesman for the
State Department and for diplomacy within the administration, and I can
imagine situations where, once in a while, the same policies that would
have been rejected if they came from Powell might get a better reception at
the White House because they came from Rice."
At the same time, Mann described the posting as ''Bush's way of
establishing his political control over the State Department'', which has
been seen by many of the hawks and their backers in the media as resisting
the president's more aggressive policies. In this view, Rice, like newly
assigned Porter Goss at the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), will act as
an enforcer of Bush's policy ''vision'' in the department and as a reliable
communicator of the president's line to foreign governments.
''She will be a much more forceful advocate (of Bush's policy) to American
allies and partners and less inclined to be a sponge for their
frustrations'', according to Clarke. ''She'll be more inclined to take the
fight to them and not allow the outside world to think that she is somehow
a channel into the foreign-policy-making process to deflect or undermine
the president's policies.''
Many State Department officials expressed serious concerns about Rice's
appointment Tuesday, even as they were recovering from Monday's
announcement by Powell that he was indeed leaving.
Powell, who devoted considerable time and effort to managing the
department, had raised morale significantly from its nadir under his
predecessor, Madeleine Albright, who tended to ignore the career officers
in favour of a small group of political appointees. ''We're so sad to see
him go'', said one veteran contacted by IPS, who noted that Rice's
managerial experience has been far more limited.
Indeed, most analysts assess her experience overseeing the National
Security Council (NSC) staff quite negatively because of her reluctance to
take a position when policies were deadlocked, to ensure all sides were
heard, and to enforce discipline on the various agencies once a policy was
As a result, policy reviews in key areas, such as Iran and North Korea, to
cite two of the most prominent examples, dragged on for months and in some
cases were never completed.
To the great frustration of Powell and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
Director George Tenet, Rice tolerated informal channels of communication
between the mainly neo-conservative appointees around Rumsfeld and Cheney's
office, which is headed by his neo-con chief of staff and national security
adviser, I Lewis 'Scooter' Libby.
Libby, whose own national security staff has been exceptionally large and
aggressive, ''is able to run circles around Condi'', one former NSC staffer
told IPS last year.
Hadley, an attorney by profession, is seen as a hard-line technocrat who
has specialised in nuclear weapons and national missile defence. He has
been a major advocate of pre-emption and the development of ''mini-nukes''
and other new nuclear weapons that could be used for conventional purposes.
Considered particularly discreet -- even self-effacing -- Hadley came under
strong criticism in various reports in the run-up to the war in Iraq,
primarily because of his close working relationship with Libby on promoting
a number of now-discredited efforts to tie ousted Iraqi President Saddam
Hussein to al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and to assert that Hussein was
reconstituting a nuclear-weapons programme.
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