Tuesday :: Oct 7, 2003

Rice's New Responsibilities Won't Change Her Shortcomings to Date


by Steve

The White House formalized yesterday the restart of its occupation policies for Afghanistan and Iraq by centralizing both efforts within 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue at the National Security Council. Some media accounts deem this a good maneuver, as if assigning these heretofore-botched efforts with the inept Condi Rice and her Kool-Aid imbibing staff will make a difference.

Yet as some of the comments in the Washington Post’s story on this indicate, the problem hasn’t been with where the effort was managed from. Rather, the numerous problems with the conduct of this foreign policy and all others of this administration stem from many reasons. First, the ideological rigidity underpinning the policies themselves and the total inability of this regime to flexibly pivot to alternatives when original assumptions fall apart are at fault. Those failed policies, and the inability to multitask and move to alternatives when necessary, is what leads to ongoing unnecessary deaths and injuries to our brave men and women in uniform in these occupations.

Second, the unyielding personalities pushing these policies and their inability to work together instead of backstabbing each other also contribute to these failures. In an administration where the Secretary of Defense routinely undermines the work of the Secretary of State, where the Vice-president and NSC make comments unsupported by the facts, where the Pentagon sets up its own intelligence service to manipulate data to support a political philosophy, and where the Secretary of State works with the CIA behind the backs of the NSA and the SecDef with the Joint Chiefs, putting the NSA in charge of what she has previously been unable to manage will not improve things or cover over existing failures. It has been the overrated and overmatched Rice herself, despite glowing media accounts to the contrary, who has been incapable of doing her job in coordinating one coherent approach and herding the cats she has been falsely credited with doing. Some of the comments from State in the Post story reflect this:

Reaction beyond the White House to the Bush announcement was muted. Skeptics said they welcome added attention to details by Rice, but they wonder how effective the new group will be and how it will change the situation on the ground.

"We're basically trying to figure out how it relates to the other 500 committees going on," a State Department official said. "It was not greeted as a major statement of interagency relations. We'll just see if it works."

This official said a stronger hand exerted by Rice could prove helpful in obtaining faster answers on such matters as spending, staffing and policy. But several officials and analysts noted that the groups are unlikely to solve the thorniest problems, which will continue to require decisions by Cabinet secretaries and their deputies. Consensus among them has often proved elusive, and Rice has often struggled to produce results.

"It still funnels decisions into the same deputies and principals meetings that we've been having all along," the official said.

Lastly, centralizing the responsibility for occupation efforts within the White House isn’t likely to improve the results on the ground, not when part of the problem also rests with a president in over his head that isn’t intellectually capable of the commitment necessary to resolve things he doesn’t care to understand. He would rather insist that things are going better than they are, and blame “the filter” for portraying things worse than they are.

Try telling the families of those three dead soldiers today that things are going better than “the filter” would have us think.

Steve :: 7:50 AM :: Comments (5) :: Digg It!