Wednesday, November 10, 2004

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Meet the new foreign policy team -- same as the old foreign policy team?

Guy Dinmore and Demetri Sevastopulo report in the Financial Times on what's next for Bush's foreign policy team -- apparently, it's more of the same:

While President George W. Bush is shaking up his domestic policy team, some officials and diplomats believe he would prefer to keep the core members on the national security side into a second term.

Mr Bush is keeping his cards close to his chest. Nonetheless, some in the White House believe he would be content to see at least three key figures stay for the time being: Colin Powell, the secretary of state, Donald Rumsfeld, defence secretary, and Condoleezza Rice, national security adviser.

“The president likes continuity. He is loyal to his staff,” commented one official. He said he believed Mr Bush was waiting for the trio to express their preferences....

Earlier in the year close associates of Mr Powell suggested that he might be willing to stay on for another year to 18 months, contrary to the general belief that for personal reasons and fatigue he would be ready to retire.

Others suggested that Mr Powell had an eye on the history books, that perhaps he would be tempted by the chance of making a contribution to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process to erase what some see as the blot on his diplomatic record: his presentation to the United Nations of the US case for war against Iraq in February last year.

One former administration official said Mr Rumsfeld wanted to stay at the Pentagon until after next summer, which would allow him to appoint a replacement for General Richard Myers, the chairman of the joint chiefs who is scheduled to step down in September.

Another senior administration official said Mr Rumsfeld had indicated that he did not want to resign under a cloud, referring to the current insurgency in Iraq. He also came under intense criticism over the Abu Ghraib prison scandal.

The official said there was “vicious infighting” among neo-conservatives at the Pentagon who were jockeying to obtain positions for their colleagues. Douglas Feith, the controversial undersecretary for policy responsible for postwar planning in Iraq, is not expected to serve another term.

If Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy defence secretary, resigns or moves, one candidate touted as a replacement is Stephen Cambone, undersecretary for intelligence. Mr Cambone has been instrumental in pushing Mr Rumsfeld's goal of transforming the military.

There has been widespread speculation that Ms Rice, who has had the tough task of dealing with the rivalries between the State Department and Pentagon heavyweights, would rather return to academia. Alternatively she is said to relish the prospect of becoming the first woman appointed defence secretary. If she were to move, then that would also leave a possible opening for Mr Wolfowitz. (emphasis added)

One niggling thought -- if Mr. Rumsfeld fails to solve the insurgency problem -- created in part by Mr. Rumsfeld's failure at contingency planning -- just when would he decide to step aside?

posted by Dan on 11.10.04 at 09:38 PM


Obviously, Mr. Rumsfeld won't step aside, without a good shove. It's stunning that our President won't provide this shove to anyone, except "loonies" like those that project some realistic estimate of the costs of the war (Oneil, Lindsey, etc.).

Admit that President Bush has no sophisticated thoughts on foreign policy or international relations. The MBA approach to government just doesn't work. Meanwhile, the academics (Wolfowitz, Rice, etc.) will keep at their game.

Good luck to Powell with the peace-in-the-Mideast thing. Pragmatism rules, until it doesn't.

We need a strong President to get hold of all these (potentially useful) currents running through the executive branch.

posted by: Andrew Steele on 11.10.04 at 09:38 PM [permalink]

Yes you academics are SO much better at everything, or rather better at knowing everything and doing nothing.

posted by: Matthew Cromer on 11.10.04 at 09:38 PM [permalink]

The MBA approach to government just doesn't work.

Not necessarily. Bush isn't just a CEO, he's a really bad CEO. So this administration probably doesn't make a good test case.

posted by: Toadmonster on 11.10.04 at 09:38 PM [permalink]

Bush's no-firing approach makes me think that his management experience has mostly consisted of positions where someone else was the actual manager, and he was just along for the ride.

It goes way beyond a "hands-off" management style.

As the story says: "He said he believed Mr Bush was waiting for the trio to express their preferences"

That doesn't sound much like a resolute, determined leader.

posted by: Jon H on 11.10.04 at 09:38 PM [permalink]

Short answer: Jan, 2009.

posted by: Josh Yelon on 11.10.04 at 09:38 PM [permalink]

Hey Cromer, if you want to be so aggressive, take your ass down to a Recruiting Station.

Meanwhile, Tom Friedman points out how the attack on Fallujah is just deja vu all over again, for the attack on Iraq. But maybe the idea is to have a state of perpetual half-successful war?

posted by: Andrew J. Lazarus on 11.10.04 at 09:38 PM [permalink]

I heard a report that insurgents were passing out flyers in another town telling shopkeepers to close up shop. It's not like they've got their own cable TV show, but flyers are somewhat sophisticated. Which leads me to ask, what exactly are we doing in the psyops/hearts and minds front to counter attempts by insurgents to get support from the local population? Shouldn't the publicly released information on this be discussed? Supposedly four Baathists are running the insurgency from outside Iraq. What are we doing to cut their communication and funding?

This bit about the oil reminds me of the "global test." Perhaps the BushBots were wrong about that test. If we'd spent the time to convince the world - or at least striking a bargain with the world - we'd have a better chance at winning hearts and minds.

In completely off-topic news:
-Bush revives guest worker plan.
-Two "tanks" (actually Light Armored Vehicles) visit an ANSWER protest in Westwood. Were they there to intimidate, or were they just lost on their way to this morning's Veteran's Day memorial?

posted by: The Lonewacko Blog on 11.10.04 at 09:38 PM [permalink]

>One niggling thought -- if Mr. Rumsfeld fails to solve the insurgency problem -- created in part by Mr. Rumsfeld's failure at contingency planning -- just when would he decide to step aside?

When the United States 'withdraws' from Iraq. Which should be Feb. or Marchish. They don't want us there, and we don't want to be there.

Besides, they've got to R&R to get ready to hit Iran.

['No choice.']

posted by: ash on 11.10.04 at 09:38 PM [permalink]

That's classic Rumsfeld.

SALVATIO: "You screwed up! Why won't you resign?"
RUMSFELD: "Why won't I resign? Because I don't want to leave under a cloud."

Rather like his whole COIN strategy:
RUMSFELD: "Why aren't we leaving? We aren't leaving because Iraq isn't stable yet."
SALVATIO: "It's not stable in the sense that it's full of people shooting at us."
R: "Yes."
S: "Because they want us to leave."
R: "Yes."
S: "So you're saying we have to stay until nobody wants us to leave, then we'll leave."
R: "But not a day sooner than that!"
S: "..."

It's the first CEO administration, all right.
Pity the CEO in question seems to be Dilbert's boss.

posted by: ajay on 11.10.04 at 09:38 PM [permalink]

Stability among Bush appointees the President relies on most could have been predicted.

Bush is not Nixon or his father, someone who knew almost everyone worth knowing among people who could fill important government posts by the time he became President. It goes without saying he isn't Reagan either, someone with enough self-confidence to hire someone based on a good impression without worrying too much if he would be damaged if the appointee didn't work out.

Bush is instead exectly what he looks like: a man with very limited background in national government and especially in national security affairs, who delegates less from design than because he cannot operate in any other way. He does not trust easily, and does not know that many people well enough to trust them -- certainly not to manage the enormous Pentagon account in wartime. So for those positions that must be occupied by someone Bush trusts he will seek to hold on to the people he has now until they leave on their own.

All this chatter about government by CEO is just so much fluff to impress journalists who understand even less about business than they do about government.

posted by: Zathras on 11.10.04 at 09:38 PM [permalink]

"One niggling thought -- if Mr. Rumsfeld fails to solve the insurgency problem -- created in part by Mr. Rumsfeld's failure at contingency planning -- just when would he decide to step aside?"

Well, barring any serious health problems, I would guess Mr. Rumsfeld's tenure at the Pentagon will be unlikely to terminate any time short of January 21, 2009 - One of the hallmarks of the Bush 43 Adminstration has been the consistency of its personnel (save for the hapless few like Paul O'Neill who got too "reality-based" for the liking of the White House) - and given that George W Bush (despite the "resolute leader" piffle put out by Adminstration propagandists) is mostly a hands-off "manager", it's a safe bet to assume that Sec. Rumsfeld will be at his job as long as he wants to.

posted by: Jay C on 11.10.04 at 09:38 PM [permalink]

Rumsfeld may not stay as SecState... because someone's gotta be the new Director of National Intelligence. It's not gonna be Porter Goss.

posted by: Jonathan Dresner on 11.10.04 at 09:38 PM [permalink]

I mean SecDef, of course....

posted by: Jonathan Dresner on 11.10.04 at 09:38 PM [permalink]

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