Condi Rice’s Birth Pains (7/31/06)

AP photo by Mikhail Metzel from the 10/19/05 USA Today.

 

In her  “Special Briefing on Travel to the Middle East and Europe”  in Washington, DC on July 21 starting at !;34 p.m., found on the State Departments website,  Secretary Condoleezza Rice was asked by a reporter,

Madame Secretary, you’ve heard the voices saying you should have — the last several days saying you should go to the region and why you chose now to announce this trip and to go? And secondly, would the United States be willing to contribute troops, that is, boots on the ground to an international peacekeeping force on the Lebanese border?

Rice’s response, in full, contains he now infamous comments that have raised the ire of the arab media in the Middle East, as well as administration critics at home:

We are looking at what kind of international assistance force makes sense, but I do not think that it is anticipated that U.S. ground forces are expected for that force.

As to the timing of this, John, after all I could have gotten on a plane and rushed over and started shuttling and it wouldn’t have been clear what I was shuttling to do. We have now had a series of discussions with our — first at the G-8. I’ve been in constant contact with others, including with the Egyptians here a couple of days ago. We have been in contact with the Siniora Government. Of course I have been in constant contact with the Israeli Government and then I was just at the UN. I think we are beginning to see the outlines of a political framework that might allow the cessation of violence in a more sustainable way tied to 1559, tied to — what is there in the G-8 statement. The elements are becoming quite clear. But I have no interest in diplomacy for the sake of returning Lebanon and Israel to the status quo ante. I think it would be a mistake.

What we’re seeing here, in a sense, is the growing — the birth pangs of a new Middle East
and whatever we do we have to be certain that we’re pushing forward to the new Middle East not going back to the old one. 

In a way, Condoleezza is right. We may indeed be witnessing the birth pangs of a New Middle East, but not the one she imagines. It is a Middle East in which the US, Israel and the “friendly” but moribund Arab regimes are becoming ever more discredited, leaving the populace at large ever more radicalised and disaffected.

In his dispatch from Beirut on the following Tuesday, July 24,  the Guardian’s Brian Whitaker
responded in “Rice lacks recipe for success in the Middle East: The US secretary of state believes in a New Middle East, but her narrow focus on security leaves little room for the aspirations of ordinary people :”   

TIn a way, Condoleezza is right. We may indeed be witnessing the birth pangs of a New Middle East, but not the one she imagines. It is a Middle East in which the US, Israel and the “friendly” but moribund Arab regimes are becoming ever more discredited, leaving the populace at large ever more radicalised and disaffected.

On July 27, The Guardian also published former Clinton senior advisor Sidney Blumenthal’s piece,  “The neocon resurgence: The delusional US mindset that made the Iraq war a disaster has resurfaced in Lebanon”

Indeed, Rice is ushering in “a new Middle East”, one in which the US is distrusted and even hated by traditional Arab allies, and its ability to restrain Israel while negotiating on behalf of its security is relinquished and diminished.

Matthew Rothschild, editor of The Progressive Magazine posted a kick-ass web commentary July 28, “Condoleezza Rice: Midwife from Hell” criticizing this description of the tragedy in Lebanon.

After being one of the most inept national security advisers in the nation’s history, Condoleezza Rice is now earning the same grade as secretary of state….The 400 Lebanese who have died, an overwhelming number of them civilian and many of them children, were not feeling any birthpangs. They were feeling deathpangs. Nor were families of the Israeli victims (about 50 so far, and most of them soldiers) cheering the new day, either….For five and a half years, Rice did nothing about the most serious problem in the Middle East, and now she’s done worse than nothing.

Rice believes in is the diplomacy of the F-16.

And that style of diplomacy is crashing and burning.

But for some reason, Mike Allen, in the July 30 Time, “It’s the Condi Rice Show: She has Bush’s ear, global clout and a high profile. Now she needs some results,” writes,

some Bush-family aides say Rice’s election as the first black and first woman President could be one of the clan’s greatest legacies. Although no national race appears to be in the offing for 2008… Rice’s staff recognizes that the speculation about her political future may be useful, and has overhauled the optics of the job to give her coverage greater pizazz. In Washington she appears with world leaders in front of a fireplace that could be in the Oval Office. Abroad, she is photographed stepping from a plane with an almost presidential wave, a shot that Colin Powell’s staff rarely facilitated

Wonder who he’s been reading, maybe the website Americans for Dr. Rice?

More later, the library is closing.

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