Thursday, October 25, 2007

Condi on the Ropes?: Essay From the Black Commentator by Carl Bloice

Condoleeza Rice On The Ropes

Condoleezza Rice is being set up. The neo-conservatives that surrounded her in the Bush Administration when the Iraq war was plotted and launched are regrouping, distancing themselves from the White House and mobilizing against the “peace process” the Secretary of State is ostensibly promoting in the Middle East. The speed and intensity of the effort to doom Rice’s mission has been startling. It is as if a communiqué had gone out from neocon propaganda central, setting the tone and phraseology to be deployed to make the effort - and Rice herself - look bad.

“Used Hawks Flock to Giuliani's Team,” read the headline on an Oct.14, story in Newsweek, detailing how some of the biggest names in neocoservativedom are being recruited as foreign affairs advisors to Presidential candidate Rudi Giuliani. Prominent among them is Daniel Pipes, who has advocated for the racial profiling of Muslim Americans and, according to the magazine, has advocated "razing [Palestinian] villages from which attacks are launched."

Pipes now says that when it comes to the Arab-Israeli conflict, he has “objected to nearly every aspect of the current administration's policy in this theater, condemning Bush's landmark June 2002 speech for rewarding terrorism, rejecting his embrace of a Palestinian state, and warning, after his reelection in 2004, of "potentially the most severe crisis ever in US-Israel relations. I have predicted the forthcoming Annapolis round of negotiations will fail and worry about the damage they will inflict. "

Former New York City mayor Giuliani is clearly taking his new advisors' advice to heart. He’s come out against the creation of a Palestinian state, a key element in the process Rice has said the Administration hopes will be realized at a U.S.- sponsored conference in Annapolis, Md. next month. “We don’t need to create another terrorist state,” Giuliani recently told an audience.

“Right now, though, it is the peace process that is making headlines,” said Newsweek. “Just this week, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was in the region, conducting her longest and most intense negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians,” it went on. “Rice declared during her visit that the administration is committed to the idea of the two-state solution.” However, Walter Stern, a Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) board member, praised the Republican Presidential candidates appearing at a recent RJC forum for distancing themselves from the proposed Annapolis conference. “It has taken a bad turn with Condi Rice,” Stern told Newsweek. “Bush is sturdy, but the administration delegated [the peace process] to the State Department. I hope this is only a temporary delegation.”

Giuliani’s attack on Palestinian statehood came Oct. 16. The next day, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, carried an article headlined: “Announcing Annapolis was a mistake,” by its chief U.S. correspondent Shmuel Rosner. It contained this astonishing statement:

“Whoever promised to hold the meeting in the fall will be forced to accept one of three possibilities, or perhaps a combination thereof: a postponement or cancellation, which will be interpreted as a failure; convening a meeting that is not ready, which means failure; and giving in to external pressures, which will lead to failure. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made a mistake, and also tripped up President George W. Bush, when she dragged him into accepting this timetable.”

Rosner accused Rice of having “twisted Israel's arm” on two previous occasions.

“Bush already made it clear in the speech announcing the conference that this is Rice's playing field,” wrote Rosner. “He does not share the messianic enthusiasm she brings to the Palestinian arena. He is sufficiently clear-eyed to see that chief among those who are calling on him to intervene, to apply pressure, are his opponents and those who wish him ill. Bush's friends, aside from Rice, are telling him that this is not the appropriate time or place for action. And nevertheless, Rice insists that Bush strongly supports her moves. Maybe she knows something that others don't see yet.”

Rosner lives in Washington and we can only suppose that he knows something the rest of us don’t – yet. One thing of which he is sure, however: “Even in the current administration, there are already some who are counting Annapolis as a mistake…”

The Israeli rightwing and the U.S. rightwing neoconservatives oppose Israel relinquishing the occupied territories and the realization of Palestinian statehood. Clearly, the aim here is to sabotage the Administration’s diplomatic effort in the Middle East, shield the President from criticism arising from its failure and hang Rice out to dry.

“Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is not particularly interested in quarrelling with Rice, but nor does he have a vital need to maintain excellent relations with her,” wrote Rosner. “This is true as long as he is convinced that Bush does not intend to change his policy. “It is no coincidence that Olmert sent Shas leader Eli Yishai and Defense Minister Ehud Barak to the meetings with Rice.

These two, who represent the left and right wings of his coalition, differ on many issues, but are united in their suspicion of Rice's initiative. Both came to Washington this week in order to strengthen the opinion that was already prevalent here: The Annapolis meeting has a very slight chance of fulfilling Rice's ambitions. “

Then, in the ultimate putdown, he observed, “Nothing in Rice's career has prepared her for this Middle Eastern bazaar. It is hard to see how she will emerge from it with a valid achievement in hand.”

But, hey, it gets worse.

The personal attacks on Rice have been going on for quite a while, intensifying especially after the neocons fell somewhat out of favor at the White House and began to put distance between themselves and Administration's foreign policies. Last Year, Richard Perle, the “Prince of Darkness,” who played such a pivotal role in maneuvering the U.S. into the Iraq quagmire, called Rice “just incompetent on most foreign policy issues.”

"Condoleezza Rice has moved from the White House to Foggy Bottom, a mere mile or so away," Perle wrote in a June article in the Washington Post. "What matters is not that she is further removed from the Oval Office; Rice's influence on the president is undiminished. It is, rather, that she is now in the midst of — and increasingly represents — a diplomatic establishment that is driven to accommodate its allies even when (or, it seems, especially when) such allies counsel the appeasement of our adversaries."

Perle's article, which was widely distributed in conservative circles, is said to have reflected the views of many in the Administration, especially residual Administration neocons such as former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton (now at the conservative American Enterprise Institute), Deputy National Security Advisor Elliot Abrams and various aides to Vice President Dick Cheney.

According to the conservative magazine Raw Story, “conservatives,” including Perle, Newt Gingrich, and leading current and former members of the Pentagon and National Security Council, have urged the president reassign Rice to some other position.

It’s hard to feel very much sympathy for Rice. For years now she has trod across the planet in her Jimmy Choos, laying down imperial ultimatums to foreign governments, left and right. Surely, some observers caught the irony of her dishing out a democracy lecture to Russian President Vladimir Putin who has one of the highest domestic polling approval ratings of any world leader at a time when her boss at the White House has one of the lowest.

Rice’s oversight of the Ethiopian invasion and occupation of Somalia has resulted in great suffering by Somalis and created a tinderbox that threatens a wide regional war. Her late night phone plotting with Pakistani President Musharraf to bring back former Prime Minister Benizar Bhutto and ice out her rival former Prime Minister Nawaz has created an explosive situation – literally. The shady nuclear deal the Administration has tried to foist off on India appears to have fallen apart. All in all, the Rice State Department hasn’t registered much success. Furthermore, in or out of office, she played a leading role in bringing on the Iraq war and for that, history will not absolve her.

Still and all, the attacks on the country’s highest placed African American women seem tawdry, coming as they do from such disreputable quarters, from arrogant men who have played such a horrible role in bringing death and destruction to so many in Iraq and Afghanistan and have further tarnished the country’s image throughout the world. Editorial Board member Carl Bloice is a writer in San Francisco, a member of the National Coordinating Committee of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism and formerly worked for a healthcare union. Click here to contact Mr. Bloice.

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