Saturday, January 08, 2005
Secretary Condi Rice v Advisor Condi Rice
Fred Kaplan had written, a while back, that Condi, to be independent, has to choose some one other than John Bolton as her deputy. WaPo now reports that US Trade Representative Robert Zoellick is being tapped for that post. This will be the second time the neo-cons fail to get their candidate into an important post in Foggy Bottom. Earlier, Danielle Pletka, of the neo-con think tank American Enterprise Institute (AEI) had been tipped to be the assistant secretary in charge of the Near East - which would have put her on top of policies regarding a vast swath of the Muslim world - from Morocco to Iran, and Israel. That position has, to my knowledge, not been filled, with Rice resisting pressure to take in Pletka.
Now, this does not mean that Condi is going to be the new Powell. No. Condi has not been known for any strong ideological position. In fact, she was a specialist on Soviet Union, putting her squarely in the Kissingerite Realist camp. But in the last term, she apparently sided with the neo-cons more than with the realist Powell.
To understand this peculiar behavior, one must understand that the primary factor that commands Rice is loyalty to the President. Since Bush sided mostly with the neo-cons, she did so too. This is not to suggest she has no brains on her own (this insinuation has been made by more than a few liberals). But that is how she defined her role as a staff member in the White House.
However, in her new role as the Secretary, she is expected to give advice to the President, and, to an extent, shape the policy with her advice (while the ultimate decisions rest with the President himself). This shift in responsibilities might translate into changes in her position on crucial issues. Turf wars? Well... I doubt it.
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