Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrives in Saudi Arabia, journalists look
forward to her news conferences.
Witty, erudite, stylish and all business
she is a master at deftly handling the media under the most arduous
But it’s becoming increasingly clear that
Rice is all style and no substance. This is not to suggest a lack of talent
or skill. She possesses the chops to do the job, but she is constrained by
the US policy and her almost slavish loyalty to President George Bush.
Her legacy inevitably will be as the most
ineffective secretary of state in modern history.
At the heart of the matter is her strident
view of refusing to talk to Syria or Iran, tacitly encouraging Fatah to
battle Hamas in the hopes that Hamas will be defeated, and standing idly by,
if not endorsing, the disastrous Israeli war against Hezbollah.
She has failed to broker peace between
Fatah and Hamas, offered no solutions to deal with the crumbling Lebanese
government and has been virtually silent on the disaster in Iraq.
In fact, Rice has capitulated her role as
a diplomat and peacemaker by asking leaders of the Gulf countries, including
Saudi Arabia, to step in and help mediate peace and minimize sectarian strife
in the region.
This is not wholly an Arab view. Even
fellow Republicans and former diplomats have begun criticizing Rice’s
Former Secretary of State James A. Baker
III is mystified with Rice’s refusal to engage in dialogue with Syria. He
recently told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, “We practiced diplomacy
full time, and it paid off.”
She has avoided the harsh criticism
leveled at former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. But now that he has
been put out to pasture, her role in Iraq has come to front and center. It’s
as if Americans expected more from Rice than from the martinet Rumsfeld.
It may be Bush’s overall foreign policy
that will set the stage for a potential regional war in the Middle East, but
she is the face of that foreign policy. For all his failures as secretary of
state under Bush, at least we know that Colin Powell voiced dissent of the
administration’s policy by advocating diplomacy over a military solution.
Rice, however, is nothing more than a yes-woman to Bush and Vice President
Rice is a good girl. She does what’s she’s
told. But in the end she is no friend to the Arab world.