Hitting the Ground Running
Making Sense By Michael Reagan
In just the two weeks since she was sworn in as Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice has racked up a dazzling list of breakthroughs.
If by "dazzling list of breakthroughs" you mean "tepid diplomacy, rigid stubbornness and occasional incoherence" then, yeah, she sure is racking up quite a list.
Just look at what has happened in a mere two weeks since she took on her new job. You see the King of Jordan, Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, Ariel Sharon, Mahmoud Abbas, all getting giddy together – and doing it without a single American in the room.
Wait, if she's not in the room, what are they so giddy about?
According to Reuters, Condi’s message to all parties was clear: "She did not fly to the region to bigfoot the Israelis and Palestinians and impose terms for moving them toward peace."
I'm not so sure I understand the verb "to bigfoot." Does it mean she will stride past an 8mm camera, make large imprints in mud and leave unsubstantiated claims to her existence?
During her whirlwind European tour she managed to get our critics there talking about getting involved in the rebuilding of Iraq now that the elections have taken place in spite of their gloomy predictions that the balloting could not possibly happen. And, as the seasoned and gracious diplomat she has proven to be, she was able to revive our relationships with our longtime allies on the Continent by her determination to let bygones be bygones.
All I can think of is Richard Fish on Ally McBeal:
"First up, Billy's brain tumor. It happened to a friend of mine once. Thought he had a brain tumor... turns out it was all in his head. Bygones."
And really. Does anyone except Mickey really think that her little tour of the Old World "revived" our relationships with the nations that this administration has humiliated, insulted and belittled?
Wrote Deutsche Welle, a German newspaper: "Whether in Poland, Italy, France or Belgium, Condoleezza Rice above all sold her old message in a new package. The charm offensive of the second Bush administration -- to affection-starved Europeans -- has been completely effective."
Must have been a rough translation. Apparently the Germans aren't really that "charmed" in the literal sense.
The result, the newspaper reported: "… if the US president in two weeks decides to play the unusual roll of charmer-in-chief, he will have NATO and EU officials lying at his feet."
Charmer in Chief, huh? I don't think all the charm in the world can make the Germans forget that Rumsfeld referred to them as "problems" when making the case for Iraq.
In France, long at odds with the U.S., the reaction was much the same. "Some time ago Condi Rice said France should be punished (for opposing the U.S.-led war in Iraq). By coming to Paris, she is showing the punishment period is over," Dominique Moisi of the French Institute of International Relations told Reuters.
"There's a feeling that perhaps now we have to cool things down and the moment for diplomacy has come."
Yeah! How did you like that punishment, France? Us not coming over and all! Bet you really hated that!
French media, which have often accused President Bush of going it alone and ignoring his allies' views, struck a new tone by applauding a visit which concentrated on areas of cooperation rather than potentially divisive issues.
"Condi Rice, a skilled pianist, gave a faultless recital at her European diplomatic gala in Paris," the French Liberation daily said.
A piano recital makes all that Unilateralism OK!
Said Foreign Minister Michel Barnier: "Today the time has come to open a new phase, to start a new chapter, to start in a new way within this very old relationship and to start in this new way to write this new chapter."
It’s amazing how things have changed, thanks to last year’s election that kept George Bush in the White House to continue his policy of seeking to advance the cause of liberty and democracy in the consistently troubled Middle East, the successful election in Iraq, and the selection of this multi-talented woman to head the Department of State.
She sings! She dances! She angers our allies! She's a real triple threat!
She is the right person in the right place at the right time, and in less than 14 days she has proven such foes as Barbara Boxer and John Kerry and doddering old Senator Byrd to be 180 degrees off base in their strident opposition to her appointment.
Mike- you're overselling it. The European leadership tolerated her and praised her for not saying anything completely assinine, and you're talking like it's Franklin's visit to Paris.
Much has been made of the fact that she is the first black woman ever to hold the job of Secretary of State. Yet she is far more than that. She is an astute student of world affairs, a determined and incredibly well-informed advocate of the policies of her boss, the President of the United States, and, unlike the aforementioned Sen. Boxer, a lady to her fingertips.
By her boss, you mean her husband?
Think about it – old Europe is happy and for the first time in nine years Israelis and Palestinians have been able to sit down amicably and begin to hammer out the beginnings of a mutually-agreeable peace process.
I'll give that it's good that Israel and Palestine are making progress. But honestly, how does one tell whether or not old Europe is happy? Seems to me there are still some significant issues to work out.
Condi Rice is just beginning to travel on a long and difficult road filled with potholes and surrounded by hostile parties, but she’s hit the ground running and her entire background testifies to the fact that she won’t slow down until she gets where she and George Bush want to go.
This is true. She has never let anything stand in the way of getting her husband/bosses message across and his goals met. But that is not necessarily a good thing. The thing that baffled me the most is this:
"I believe that everyone is telling the Iranians that they're going to have to live up to their international obligations, or next steps are in the offing. And I think everyone understands what next steps mean."
Next steps. Meaning . . . military committment? We're redesigning our own nukes . . . is that the next step?
I don't know that I even want to know. I just hope it doesn't come to that.