Who does Condoleezza scare? Not Putin. Not Sharon. Not
Musharraf. Not Mubarak. Not Koizumi. Not Kim Jong-il. Not Castro.
Not Chavez. Not Kofi Annan.
What then is the good of her? On her watch, Putin has muscled
into the Middle East, Chalabi has made a comeback in Iraq, Mugabe
has "won" an election, the Saudis have jibbed on the oil price,
world depression has neared. Chavez has defied her. Italy, the
Netherlands and Poland have left, or are leaving Iraq.
And yet the legend is being printed. Her nervy self-important
high-school graduation fustian has been heard out, her stupidity in
South America praised, her failure to stave off a new Cold War with
The fact that she is black, female and beautiful, a sort of
Foggy Bottom Cinderella, has concealed from the world a larger
truth. This is that George Bush and his confederates no longer have
much power. Their threats to Iran ring hollow. No nation but
Australia would join a war on Syria or North Korea. No South
American nation would join a war on Cuba. They can't get their
chosen crazed bully into the UN. They can't persuade two Florida
doctors to not kill Terri Schiavo. And even Donald Rumsfeld has
said of Iraq: "It's not about winning."
Power is a curious thing. It exists only if it's not used. When
America used its power and bombed, bunker-busted and killed 150,000
Iraqis and pulled down a statue, but still couldn't guarantee a
safe street, a day's electricity or a justly administered prison,
it showed itself so impotent as to be a kind of big, bellowing,
And though it isn't headlines yet, this impotence is the new
reality. Bush's popularity is the lowest it has been. The John
Bolton appointment and the looming oil-price depression on top of
his record half-trillion-dollar deficit will show him to be the
most economically incompetent US leader since Hoover.
And his friendship with Condoleezza won't do her much good at
all. Colin Powell, who had run and won a war and had been wounded
in battle, had clout, charisma, visible conscience and shrewdness.
She has none of these things. She poses as Bush's Million Dollar
Baby, but she can't throw a punch.
It may be years before this is realised. But the fact is that
Condoleezza's tenure has coincided with, or caused, the end for a
while of American power.
You see if I am right.
Bob Ellis is an author and commentator.
© 2005 The Age Company Ltd.