The “surge” of troops to Iraq has produced the signal foreign policy success of George Bush’s second term. In his devastating Weekly Standard cover story on Condoleezza Rice’s tenure as Secretary of State, my friend Stephen Hayes reports that Rice opposed the surge. (Hayes quotes Rice confirming her opposition to the surge in a May 9 interview conducted with him for the article.) The success of the surge is of course attributable to the brilliant performance of the American armed forces under the leadership of General Petraeus.
In his intensely reported article, Hayes takes a look at the major areas of foreign policy committed to Rice’s care during Bush’s second term: North Korea, Syria, Iran and Iran’s terrorist proxies. In these areas, the administration’s record is one of miscalculation, retreat and failure. Why? By way of explanation, Hayes quotes an unnamed State Department official: “We have gone from a policy of preemption to a policy of preemptive capitulation.” Hayes also quotes a relevant statement whose author he is able to identify: “Multilateral agreements and institutions should not be ends in themselves.” The author of the statement is Condoleezza Rice herself, in her 2000 Foreign Affairs article supporting the Bush campaign.
Earlier this week Secretary Rice hailed the Lebanese government’s capitulation to Hezbollah as “a positive step toward resolving the current crisis.” Hayes’s important article shows that Secretary Rice applies similar verbal dexterity to address a series of foreign policy disappointments. The article nevertheless leaves the administration’s current diplomatic efforts to engineer the framework of a Palestinian state unaddressed. For an excellent companion to Hayes’s article, documenting Rice’s serious misjudgments dealing with the Palestinian Authority, see David Rose’s “The Gaza bombshell.”
How has Secretary Rice persuaded President Bush support her in policies that abrogate key tenets of the Bush doctrine and other administration policies? How, for example, has she persuaded him on one day to announce a Middle East peace conference limited to those states that recognize Israel’s right to exist, and only a few months later to join her in securing the attendance of several enemies of Israel’s right to exist together with one such enemy that is also a designated state sponsor of terror? Here Hayes only suggests possible answers to a question that deserves an article unto itself.
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