Conservatives Call For Rice To Be Demoted genre: Just Jihad & Polispeak

There is growing sentiment and increasing pressure from a number of high profile foreign policy conservatives to reassign Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to a lower level position within the Bush administration. At the moment the consensus has yet to reach the level that was previously witnessed with the failed nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court. Nonetheless, if world events continue to further destabilize, some experts believe Rice could be demoted after the midterm elections. Insight on the News has the full story.

Conservative national security allies of President Bush are in revolt against Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, saying that she is incompetent and has reversed the administration’s national security and foreign policy agenda.

The conservatives, who include Newt Gingrich, Richard Perle and leading current and former members of the Pentagon and National Security Council, have urged the president to transfer Miss Rice out of the State Department and to an advisory role. They said Miss Rice, stemming from her lack of understanding of the Middle East, has misled the president on Iran and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

The criticism of Miss Rice has been intense and comes from a range of Republican loyalists, including current and former aides in the Defense Department and the office of Vice President Dick Cheney. They have warned that Iran has been exploiting Miss Rice's inexperience and incompetence to accelerate its nuclear weapons program. They expect a collapse of her policy over the next few months.

"We are sending signals today that no matter how much you provoke us, no matter how viciously you describe things in public, no matter how many things you're doing with missiles and nuclear weapons, the most you'll get out of us is talk," former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said.

A leading public critic of Miss Rice has been Richard Perle, a former chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board and regarded as close to Mr. Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Mr. Perle, pointing to the effort by the State Department to undermine the Reagan administration’s policy toward the Soviet Union in the late 1980s, has accused Miss Rice of succumbing to a long-time State Department agenda of meaningless agreements meant to appease enemies of the United States.

Miers & Rice

Thought Theater has previously discussed the neoconservative origins and their ascendancy to power in the current Bush administration. One of the sources of this prior posting stated the following with regards to Richard Perle:

From Le Monde diplomatica:

Richard Perle, one of the most influential neoconservatives in the current administration and an early critic of detente, is quite open about it: "We had to show that detente could not work and re-establish objectives of victory" (5). Helped by Nixon’s ignominious downfall and the accession of Gerald Ford, who became a weak and unimpressive president, the radical right rapidly consolidated its position.

It clearly appears that the neoconservatives see Rice as an obstacle to the final implementation of their foreign policy doctrine...a doctrine which views power and force as the primary tool for the resolution of conflict. They oppose the notion of detente and have spent the last thirty plus years attempting to position the U.S. as the singular superpower. Rice's close relationship with high level officials in the State Department is seen as a negative that contributes to her perceived ineffectiveness.

One is inclined to wonder if the delay in U.S. efforts to broker a cease fire in the current Middle East conflict between Israel and Hezbollah is an indication of a waning confidence in the direction of the efforts of the Secretary of State as well as some further expanding neoconservative influence with the President. The fact that the administration has indicated that there must be an enduring solution rather than any rapid efforts to negotiate a cease fire seems to support the neoconservative belief that threats must be dealt with from a position of strength...even if that includes a lengthier period of military engagement. The delay in dispatching Rice to the region seems to be significant.

A major problem, critics said, is Miss Rice's ignorance of the Middle East. They said the secretary relies completely on Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, who is largely regarded as the architect of U.S. foreign policy. Miss Rice also consults regularly with her supporters on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Chairman Richard Lugar and the No. 2 Republican, Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska.

The critics said Miss Rice has adopted the approach of Mr. Burns and the State Department bureaucracy that most—if not all—problems in the Middle East can be eased by applying pressure on Israel. They said even as Hezbollah was raining rockets on Israeli cities and communities, Miss Rice was on the phone nearly every day demanding that the Israeli government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert exercise restraint.

"Rice attempted to increase pressure on Israel to stand down and to demonstrate restraint," said Stephen Clemons, director of the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation. "The rumor is that she was told flatly by the prime minister's office to back off."

The critics within the administration expect a backlash against Miss Rice that could lead to her transfer in wake of the congressional elections in 2006. They said by that time even Mr. Bush will recognize the failure of relying solely on diplomacy in the face of Iran's nuclear weapons program.

The direction of U.S. foreign policy appears to hang in the balance as the two sides jockey to influence the President. Should Rice be demoted after the November elections, one might expect to see the administration undertake a new round of military interventions. If the neoconservatives have their way, we may well find ourselves in the midst of a preemptive strike on Iran's nuclear program.

A number of articles have been written in recent months that indicate planning for such an attack has been in progress for some time. The administration has dismissed such speculation by indicating that multiple scenarios are considered with each security risk. There is little doubt that takes place on a routine basis...however it appears that there is growing pressure to transform these hypothetical models into actionable foreign policy positions. The demotion of Rice may signal that eventuality.

Daniel DiRito | July 26, 2006 | 7:10 AM
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