Monday, November 15, 2004
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David Rothkopf on the NSC
As Condi Rice moves on to State, Glenn Kessler and Thomas E. Ricks devote half a Washington Post article to what David Rothkopf, a former Clinton apointee at Commerce and the author of the forthcoming The Committee in Charge of Running the World, thought of Rice's performance at NSC. Rothkopf makes some points that have been stressed here at danieldrezner.com:
posted by Dan on 11.15.04 at 11:40 PM
Rice wasn't a good NSC because she was the NSCINO. She was functioning as a political advisor on the domestic effects of foreign policy. (As opposed to Rove, who was the campaign planner, and Hughes who was the metaphorical makeup and wardrobe department.)
Who was actually handling the actual NSC job is unclear to me. However, Rumsfeld and his boys were/are clearly running their own mini-government out of the pentagon. (Like Himmler! No, really. Ignore the actual policies and look at Himmler's administrative style and track record. 'Mine Mine Mine'.)
The actual question is who has the whiphand. Obviously, Bush is clearly in control in the domestic political arena, but outside that.... IS Rumsfeld the most powerful paladin? Too powerful to be dispensed with in spite of the litany of failure? Or is Cheney more powerful but backing Rumsfeld? Who owns Bush's cranium space of foreign policy? Has Rumsfeld simply remained loyal, elevating the political benefits of never admitting a mistake and reducing the political benefits of getting rid of him?
Tell me who actually came up with the notion of Abu Ghaib and I'll tell you who is in charge of foreign policy.
I expect that whatever the Bush wants he gets, and whoever goes along with him in that limited sphere can do whatever he wants outside of it.
ok, i'm getting more and more sick of people mentioning the cheney thing without ever explaining sufficiently for me WHY IT'S A PROBLEM THAT CHENEY IS INFLUENTIAL!
would someone PLEASE explain this to me?
is it a problem if Rice is influential?
would it/does it upset anyone if bush's cheif of staff is influential?
would cheney's influence cease to be a problem if he quit vp and them became an unofficial advisor to bush?
i don't get it.posted by: chris on 11.15.04 at 11:40 PM [permalink]
If it's true that Condi couldn't stand up to Rumsfeld and Cheney before, why exactly ought we believe she can now stand up to them?
Color me confused.posted by: austin mls on 11.15.04 at 11:40 PM [permalink]
Chris, Dan has explained it at least 20 times. Google is your friend. I won't do the argument justice, so just read his words.posted by: Jor on 11.15.04 at 11:40 PM [permalink]
Look, it's really really simple.
It's "a government of ONE", to go with the "Army of ONE" to go along with professional sports' transformation into a world where everybody's a superstar and there is no TEAM there. Loyalty to country and principle is a thing of the past. Loyalty only to THE ONE.posted by: majkia on 11.15.04 at 11:40 PM [permalink]
Condi as counterbalance? Very doubtful. You need to believe another point of view can exist to offer a counterpoint.
Mistakes? The election was seen, as we all understood a month ago, as full validation of the policies in place. Hell, let's ratchet things up a gear. Might even be time for some pre-emptive "diplomacy".posted by: wishIwuz2 on 11.15.04 at 11:40 PM [permalink]
State is becoming more and more irrelevant, no matter who is in charge. But with her close relationship to the president, maybe Rice will be told about the next war before Prince Bandar.posted by: Carl on 11.15.04 at 11:40 PM [permalink]
If she is able to keep her nose clean, I can see Condi running for national political office. She's well spoken, has the resume now, has great conservative credentials both with the neo cons and with the relious right. That is a black woman will probably help her in a republican party desperate to shed its image of a whites only club and appeal to minority voters. At the very least I can see her as a strong potential VP candidate in '08.posted by: Joshua on 11.15.04 at 11:40 PM [permalink]
The reason its a problem that Cheney is influential is that Cheney has an awful record in hi spolicies under Bush 1.
I had thought in 2000 that Cheney would bring some solid expertise to the table. Instead, he led us into the mess that is Iraq.posted by: erg on 11.15.04 at 11:40 PM [permalink]
Rothkopf's theory of Rice as a counterbalance is ridiculous because she has completely bought into the neo-con philosophy. Add that to the fact that she was a terrible administrator and an ineffective leader at NSC doesn't bode well for her tenure at State. Furthermore, she is going to probably go into State with orders similar to those of Goss in the CIA: Purge everyone who doesn't agree with the President. We have a POTUS who demands loyalty to the POTUS, as opposed to loyalty to the nation...Nixon anyone?posted by: flaime on 11.15.04 at 11:40 PM [permalink]
Rice will be an extremely influential Secretary of State. She will be so for one reason: Rumsfeld is going, and sooner than we think.
A lot of people misunderstand Rice's role. Bush kept her on as a true national security advisor. With three huge Big Dogs in the Cabinet in Rumsfeld, Powell, and Cheney, each with their own posse of clients in Washington, Rice could never hope to match their institutional influence.
However, she did have a constituency of one, and the one was the only one who counted.
Now she is at State, and once confirmed, will work to discipline the building. A lot of people in the building will start our suspicious, but will understand that her access to Bush will be far greater than that of Powell. The flip side of all this is that Rumsfeld is clearly going, imho. Rumsfeld's shortcomings had to be tolerated during a Presidential campaign in which mistakes simply couldn't be admitted. Now, Bush will exercise control: Rumsfeld's "state within a state" will be no more.
I think that Rice will come to dominate the Principal's meetings, but a lot depends on her relationship with Cheney. I suspect that it is closer than we suspect, in both ideological and personal terms. Her protege from Stanford is at NSC now, and she remains on excellent personal terms with both Bush and the larger Bush familia. Djerejian's speculation of a Bush-Rice-Hadley axis is something to keep in mind.
I recall writing several strongly worded posts earlier this year on the Democrats' folly in picking a Presidential candidate who chose to present himself as not having done much of anything since Vietnam. My bias toward choosing Presidential nominees from a pool of people who have accomplished notable things, as opposed to having punched their ticket in the right places, applies to Republicans too.
I have no very high opinion of the work Condoleeza Rice has done in government, but have nothing against her personally. However -- and let's be frank here -- those people promoting her for high elective office are doing so mostly for one of two reasons. Some of them would lose the idea of Rice as a candidate if she looked like Madeleine Albright. And some of them just think it would be cool to spite the liberals by running a black woman on the national ticket.
I probably sound very much behind the times, but these do not strike me as serious reasons to consider someone for national office. It looks to me as if Rice will have more than she can handle at the State Department.
This Rothkopf fellow may be just talking through his hat for all I know, but if you take his ideas seriously the warning signs are pretty clear. A President who does not back up an NSA with an office down the hall is not about to back up a Secretary speaking for a department he regards with suspicion. A Secretary of State sharing that suspicion will find it returned by the Foreign Service she will need to help her implement any administration decision she is able to influence.
It is possible for a Secretary of State to speak for the President within the Department and make the Department an effective instrument of the President's foreign policy. It has been done before. Only once has it ever been done by a Secretary who served as NSA for the same President: by Henry Kissinger, with whom Ms. Rice will never be confused. Lawrence Eagleburger, who would know, doesn't think it will work here.
Some press and internet commentators who know substantially less than Eagleburger does think it will work. I give their views due weight, but note that no Secretary of State in our history has ever had success acting on the contempt and suspicion for the department that most of these commentators share.posted by: Zathras on 11.15.04 at 11:40 PM [permalink]
"Tell me who actually came up with the notion of Abu Ghaib and I'll tell you who is in charge of foreign policy."
The torture stuff, Guantanamo, the imperial presidency that can blow off Geneva Conventions and torture treaties, all came from lawyers in Cheney's Office. Cheney is legendary, not just during this administration, for advocating for more power in the Oval Office. When Gonzales, Bush's lawyer, wrote the torture assenting memo, he was responding to work done in Cheney's office.posted by: jerryst. on 11.15.04 at 11:40 PM [permalink]
Nixon, Clinton, whatever ...posted by: Knemon on 11.15.04 at 11:40 PM [permalink]
You heard it here first:
2008 GOP Ticket:
Dr. Frist/Dr. Rice.
A request to all: Please refer to her as "Dr." Rice, and not Ms. Rice.
Ali Karim Bey
“Tell me who actually came up with the notion of Abu Ghaib (sic) and I'll tell you who is in charge of foreign policy."
Er, Staff Sergeant Ivan "Chip" Frederick was in charge of US foreign policy?
I realize that a couple of the members of the WaPo editorial board would like nothing better than to hang Abu Ghraib on Rummy, but the simplest explanation is that around a half dozen poorly supervised GIs working the mid shift got carried away.
I acknowledge that the administration considered and practiced some degree of “torture” (strenuous interrogation) on high-level al Qaeda detainees at Guantanamo, but in the context of the ticking bomb theory, that made sense to those who reasonably thought that imminent threat of a massive terrorist attack existed. Hang it on Cheney, Gonzales, and whatever others you may wish, but it’s clear that they followed a deliberative process to arrive at a policy for Guantanamo interrogations, and reevaluated it as necessary. But it was not a DOD-wide policy as the Taguba and subsequent reports verified.
In late 2003 the Abu Ghraib crimes were committed against ordinary Iraqis who would have no perishable knowledge that had to be immediately extracted. All a whacko like Graner needed was any excuse to get his coworkers to join him in his favorite pastime – abusing prisoners, a hobby noted in civilian life.
Condi will likely be a great asset at State -- folk will know she and the Pres. agree, very very very much.
Cheney could resign in 2006 -- Condi as VP then?
2008, Condi will be on the ticket. Dems could lose 90% of the black vote, 70% of the Hispanic & Catholic vote. HUGE election problems.
As long as Iraq is reasonable. Of course, anything less than Unreal Perfection will be displayed by the Press as obvious evil intent in the first place.
Look at the Stanford Prison Experiment, Abu was a SMALL incident.
What Zathras said. Were Condi to have less melanin, her reputation would be a lot lower among the foreign policy groupies.
Perhaps I'm missing something, but I can't think of a single major contribution, either policy or academic or organizational, that this woman's made in twenty years. Performing well on TV against Ben Veniste's nice, but we're not asking her to do Chris Matthews' job.
The only benefit I see here is a potential shift in diplomatic focus away from France-Germany toward Russia and Asia. Long overdue.posted by: lex on 11.15.04 at 11:40 PM [permalink]
Not a chance. Condi has no political base and her views on social issues are unknown. Her only base is her loyalty to the President.
Well, what Cheney, Wolfie and others promised us was flowers and dancing in the streets (which we did get for around a week), a prosperous democracy paying for its own reconstruction, democracy spreading out from the Middle East, the Israeli Palestinian problem solved and other wonders.
It continually amazes me that wingnuts continue to blame the press for Iraq. We have a country where car bombings and assasinations are a daily occurrence, where masscares and murders are common, where civilians are probably safe only in the Kurdisj areas, where the Green zone itself isn't secure, where many cities and areas are hotbeds of insurrection and rebellion. ANd somehow it's the presses fault because they insist on the unreal perfection of a society without a car bomb a day.posted by: erg on 11.15.04 at 11:40 PM [permalink]
What is this, a letting-off-steam forum for Georgetown SFS groupies frustrated by the election? Obsessed with the secret "neo-con" conspiracy published and described to everyone who would listen by PNAS back in 1998?
The reason that Condi did not "manage" the disagreements among Powell, Cheney, and Rumsfeld is that the president is, for better or worse, a Harvard MBA CEO in the precise form that that curriculum teaches is optimal. That means that you not only tolerate multiple views among your subordinates, you encourage them, to ensure that all views are exposed and not stifled by the organization's tendency toward groupthink. That works well to prevent marketing myopia in a corporation; it is less fool-proof in a political institution.
But once the policy has been established, whether in a corporation or government, everyone is bound to get on board and work full bore to implement the decisions. If GE had had the equivalent of the moles at DoS and CIA working actively to undercut and subvert the command decision, Jack Welch would have held a public execution. Bush, to his credit, has pressed on and waited to clean out those who have violated their job contracts and agency rules.
If the staffs at CIA and DoS disagree so strongly with the policy direction of the administration, integrity would require them to resign and go public, and try to persuade us via the political process to change the policies. Instead these gutless people play bureaucratic leaking games that approach treason. Unfortunately, Powell and McLaughlin, both of whom are decent public servants, did not control their departments, and thus did not serve us as well as they might have.
The same point applies to the administration's policy decisions as discussed here. If you disagree with the Iraq decisions, pray tell exactly what you would do differently to deal with the metastatic cancer of radical religious terrorists in the Middle East- and don't tell us that the answer is "the peace process"- unless you are prepared to stand up and frankly admit that you recognize the requisite result is to eliminate Israel- because that is the only goal of the Arafat brigade. If you disagreed with the Iraq decision, tell us exactly, point-by-point, what you would have done to resolve the problem of the 17 ignored resolutions and the inevitable result of the UN's Chapter 7 mandates being openly rendered totally ineffectual even as PR cover, not to mention the potentials for disaster that every intelligence agency in the world agreed, to a large extent, existed.
The pollyanna world of today's direct descendants of the execrable 19th century "Know-Nothings" are today's all-talk-then-more-talk "Wishful-Thinkings". If your position is that there is no such thing as evil in the world except for the US, stand up and say so openly.
This presumes that Bush is the sort of successful CEO that Jack Welch was. But Bush could more properly be called the sort of CEO that Ken Lay was, or that Chainsaw Al Dunlop was.
When such a CEO, who is pursuing a poor policy and is doing so in a ham handed way, with disastrous results emerges, then senior managers in the company do object. They go to the Board of Directors (Congress in this case), or take it to the shareholders (the US public). It is far from uncommon. Furthermore, the US is not a monarchy. Civil Service officials are beholden to us, the people, not to King George.
During the Clinton era, the Pentagon fought him tooth and nail on several occasions. For some reason, that was considered acceptable at that time.
Instead these gutless people play bureaucratic leaking games that approach treason.
Unfortunately, Powell and McLaughlin, both of whom are decent public servants, did not control their departments, and thus did not serve us as well as they might have.
If you disagree with the Iraq decisions, pray tell exactly what you would do differently to deal with the metastatic cancer of radical religious terrorists in the Middle East-
You're the one proposing a radical action. Maybe its up to you as an apparently supporter of the Bush Policy to elucidate
If you supported the Iraq decision, then maybe you should explain
posted by: jont on 11.15.04 at 11:40 PM [permalink]
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