Monday, October 17, 2005

I Am Not Feeling the Draft: The Case Against Condoleezza Rice for President

The News of the Day can be found here.

The last week or so has seen a remarkable boomlet for a Presidential candidate who, at present, seems to have no interest in running: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Political Svengali Dick Morris has even gone so far as to support a “draft” campaign to convince Ms. Rice to seek the Presidency: “like it was for Eisenhower in 1952” (National Review Online). Leaving aside some of the creepier extensions of that metaphor – if Rice is Eisenhower, who gets to be Imre Nagy? – Morris’ continuing presence on Pundit Row, and the formation of “Americans for Rice,” will force Americans, and especially Republicans, to examine the prospect of a Rice candidacy.

Although I consider it to be largely irrelevant to the anti-Communist cause (with exceptions: see the Larry Kudlow fiasco), I happen to be a Republican, and as such will vote in a 2008 primary. At present, I am not certain for whom I will cast my vote. I do know, however, that I most certainly will not vote for Condoleezza Rice; she has already proven in just one year as Secretary of State to be a frighteningly wrong choice for the Oval Office.

Most of the discussion surrounding would-be candidate Rice has centered around her electability and her close (political) relationship with President Bush. What has not been part of the discussion has been Rice’s tenure as Secretary of State, particularly regarding Communist China and its northern Korean colony. That record, all by itself, disqualifies Rice for the top job.

Prior to Rice taking over from Colin Powell, the Bush Administration was racked by internal dissent regarding Stalinist North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. One of the first things Rice did was end the quarrel within the Administration – and the soft-liners won hands down.

One of the loudest voices against making concessions to the Stalinists was then-Assistant Secretary of State John Bolton (BBC); the Stalinists even called him “human scum.” At first, it looked like Bolton would be eased out of State altogether (Reuters via Epoch Times). Instead, he was nominated UN Ambassador – in a move that, among other things, would ensure he couldn’t be in Washington pushing a hard-line stance with the Stalinists. Finally, he was forced into the indignity of a “recess” appointment due to a Senate filibuster. Most Bolton fans put the blame for the filibuster on the Democratic Senate caucus, and Ohio Republican Senator George Voinovich. However, few focused on how Rice addressed Voinovich’s concerns, which were based on alleged incidents of Bolton’s “temper” that were, at best, factually in dispute:

If anyone might have been expected to provide evidence of dysfunctional behavior, for example, it would be Lawrence B. Wilkerson, who was Mr. Powell's chief of staff. Mr. Wilkerson has said that he does not believe Mr. Bolton is fit to be U.N. ambassador, and by his description he knew pretty much everything that was happening at Foggy Bottom . . . Yet in an interview last Friday, Mr. Wilkerson was unable to provide any fresh examples of misbehavior by Mr. Bolton. Instead he complained about policy differences: Mr. Bolton was too eager to sanction Chinese companies that violated the nonproliferation regime, thereby making diplomacy more difficult (Washington Post).

Did Rice make note of the policy differences behind the charges? Not according to Voinovich’s account of her comments: “she assured me that she would be in frequent communication with him and that he would be supervised closely.” This is nothing less than a de facto acceptance of the allegations that according to Richard Lugar – Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman – “have proven to be groundless or, at worst, overstated” (CNN). Why would Rice damn Bolton with such faint praise? Could she possibly have been hoping the filibuster would damage Bolton – and by definition, his hawkish allies – even further? That question no one can answer.

Bolton, of course, did get the recess appointment, and attention shifted to Beijing for the six-party talks on the Stalinists’ nuclear weapons in July. Rice made her mark quickly, reversing previous Administration policy and contradicting the President’s own words in last year’s re-election campaign by allowing for bilateral talks with the Stalinists (BBC). However, the greater fiasco would come in September, as the six-party talks reached an impasse: the Stalinists wanted aid, including a light-water nuclear reactor, to come first; the U.S. wanted disarmament to begin first.

It should be noted that even this represented a major concession from the Administration, which had previously demanded SNK completely destroy its nuclear weapons program – and whatever weapons created by it – before aid would even begin. Now the U.S. would be happy if the Stalinists started disarmament before the aid spigot was turned on. Even that wasn’t good enough for SNK and its Communist Chinese allies, who “helped” things along by drafting a proposed agreement. The U.S. said no, but Communist China, rather than try to bridge the admittedly wide gap, told the U.S., “Take it or leave it” (Newsweek). Rice took it, and scored an ignoble milestone: “For the first time, America hewed to the Chinese line, not the other way around.”

In other words, Rice chose an agreement merely for the sake of an agreement. The fact that the Stalinists and the Administration issued completely contradictory claims of what the deal meant (and what was worse, said deal was so vague that they were both right), simply underscored the waste of time it all was. Now, we are in the perfectly unenviable position of having to follow an agreement whose provisions mean practically nothing, but will give the Stalinists enough political momentum to translate it into firm concessions and aid promises from the U.S. and its allies. In short – as James Robbins of National Review Online put it – three years after confronting SNK for violating its 1994 pledge not to develop nuclear weapons, “our negotiators seem to have beaten the North Koreans down to accepting what they originally proposed. This is the art of diplomacy – agreeing to your adversary's terms, but taking credit for the deal.” Meanwhile, the deal calls for SNK to comply with “IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) safeguards” (CNN); that would be the same IAEA that missed Iran’s nuclear weapons program for years (third item).

As for Communist China itself, Secretary Rice has, at least publicly, said nothing about the regime’s history of supporting terrorist nations and groups, including several of America’s enemies in the War on Terror. Before she came to the State Department, the highest-ranking official there who was determined to penalize Communist China for its terrorist arms deals was none other than John Bolton – and we all know what happened to him (see above).

Of course, the Secretary of State serves at the pleasure of the President, who signed off on the six-party fiasco and has also been silent on the Communists’ support for terrorists. However, the President is not on the ballot in 2008. Whatever criticism he receives (and on this issue, it will be far less than he deserves) is for history to determine. Rice, however, if Morris et al have their way, will at least be on a ballot (by choice or by draft) to be judged. She must be judged harshly.

As for Rice’s supposed “electability,” as I write this, it is widely assumed the Democrats will nominate Hillary Clinton, co-sponsor of the Graham-Schumer tariff bill, which would compensate for Communist China’s deliberately devalued currency. Rice is a member of an Administration that loudly opposes that bill. So unless Rice herself departs from the President on this issue, Senator Clinton, whose husband’s Administration appeased Communist China more than any other (though not without competition from its predecessor), would be the more anti-Communist presidential nominee based on the record. This is not a formula for a Republican victory in 2008.

Again, I have not decided whom I will support in the Republican presidential primary – although I have narrowed it down to a few potential aspirants – but I do know I can not and will not support Condoleezza Rice, and I hope all who read this will be convinced not to support her either.

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