blogenlust
1.18.2005

Rice has a history of succeeding at failure


Noticeably absent from the discussions surrounding Rice's merits for the Secretary of State position is the fact that in October 2003, she was charged with managing the post-war efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"We want to cut through the red tape and make sure that we're getting the assistance there quickly so that they can carry out their priorities," Bush spokesman Scott McClellan said. "It's a new phase, a different phase we're entering." Rice will head the Iraq Stabilization Group, which will have coordinating committees on counterterrorism, economic development, political affairs and media messages. Each committee will be headed by a Rice deputy and include representatives of the State, Defense and Treasury departments and the CIA. [...] The new structure will give Bush's top White House aides a stronger voice in decisions and will make the president more directly accountable [ed. HA! Good one!]. Because of their close relationship, many people will assume Bush signed off on Rice's decisions.
So, 15 months ago, after expressing dissatisfaction with the progress in Iraq, Bush appoints Rice to oversee, among other things, counterterrorism and political affairs in Iraq so that he can have more control over, and be more accountable for, events there. Mission Accomplished, indeed! (Note to Democrats: This would have been a nice thing to mention during the election.) With this in mind, her statements on Iraq at today's confirmation hearing are not encouraging:
WASHINGTON — The U.S. is committed to improving "Iraq's capability to defend itself" and that improvement is directly tied to the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the region, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice told a Senate panel Tuesday as hearings opened into her nomination as secretary of State. [...] "The Iraqis will take more and more responsibility for fighting the terrorists, for rooting out the Baathists, and we will help them get there," Rice told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. She said the Bush administration was well-aware that the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq was tied to the successful training of an Iraqi security force. "The goal is to get the mission accomplished," she said. "We're right now focused on security for the election." Iraq is scheduled to hold its first democratic election Jan. 30.
I'm not sure there is anything Rice accomplished as head of the Iraqi Stabilization Group that makes me feel any better about our prospects in Iraq--especially now that she is Secretary of State. Arguably, things have gotten far worse since Rice took over post-war Iraq in October 2003, and we should all be wondering why we should expect to get different results with her as Secretary of State than as head of the Iraqi Stability Group.