Foreign policy in the next Bush administration threatens to be more of the same. On Monday, President Bush named Condoleezza Rice as his replacement for Colin Powell as the United States secretary of state. Rice, soon likely to be "America's face to the world," was a seriously flawed national security advisor; The Washington Post points out that "many experts consider her one of the weakest national security advisers in recent history in terms of managing interagency conflicts." She is, however, a constant, loyal, dedicated Bush devotee, ready to work on "behalf of a boss whose sentences she can finish, and who trusts her totally to carry out his wishes." The following is a sampling of commentary in response to the Rice nomination from newspapers around the world.
"With Rice or another hawk at the helm of the State Department, the relationship with Europe will be vulnerable. After his victory President Bush promised that the old feuds would be solved and that there is room for a new trans-Atlantic dialogue. Bush's announcement that he will come to the EU and NATO in February seemed to confirm that intention. Let's wait and see. … If Bush really wants to enhance the unity in his cabinet and continue to follow the old course, a hawk will strengthen that cabinet–rather than weaken it. In that case, however, it will become immediately clear that the next four years will also be years of conflict and as difficult as the first four years under Bush."
Jean Vanempten, De Tijd, November 16, 2004
"Surprisingly little is known about where [Rice] stands on the political spectrum between the hawkish Vice-President, Dick Cheney, and the more moderate, multilaterally minded Colin Powell, whom she will succeed. She inclined at times to the one, at times to the other. Crystal clear, by contrast, is her closeness to the President. … Closeness to the White House will be of enormous advantage to the new Secretary as she emerges from relative obscurity, at least on the international stage, into the glare of heading one of a superpower's great offices of state. There, she will have to hold her own before Congress and with the wily big beasts of the first Bush administration, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense. In an arena of that size she has yet to prove herself."
Editorial, The Daily Telegraph, November 17, 2004
"On Iraq, Ms Rice played both sides of the argument. She promoted an aggressive line against Baghdad but also gave tacit support for Mr Powell's insistence on taking the issue to the UN. On the few occasions that she flexed her White House muscle, taking over postwar planning for Iraq from the Pentagon and US policy in the Israel-Palestinian conflict, the results were poor. Now, the move to the state department will entail having to take even greater responsibility."
Julian Borger, The Guardian, November 17, 2004
"Because Secretary of State Powell was one of a few 'multilateralists' within the first Bush cabinet, his announced resignation is bound to strongly effect the course of U.S. diplomacy…. His successor will hold the key to the future direction of Washington's diplomatic conduct. If National Security Advisor Rice, known as a moderate pragmatist, is chosen as the top American diplomat, U.S. foreign policy would not be drastically changed in favor of the hawks."
Editorial, Nihon Keizai, November 16, 2004
"Powell's diplomatic legacy will undoubtedly be the international conference on Iraq November 22 and 23. … It is ironic that for the victor of the first Iraq war, it is Iraq which later became Powell's insurmountable obstacle. … Condoleezza Rice will probably show less patience and openness than Colin Powell. But it is certain that she will have more authority over the President."
Philippe Gelie, Le Figaro, November 16, 2004
"Rice, as a security specialist, thinks of U.S. foreign policy largely in terms of national and strategic interest. She is, moreover, no fan of an America acting as a paternalistic nation-builder. … But there is more. Rice was also one of the few in the U.S. administration who advocated that Muslim societies were not adverse to democracy, freedom and the rule of law. As a U.S. secretary of state, she would need to emphasize the rule of law over security as a basis for solving the Middle East's many problems. Born and raised under the shadow of racial segregation in Birmingham, Alabama, Rice has no excuse for not recognizing the vital importance of justice."
Editorial, The Daily Star, November 17, 2004
"Condoleezza Rice is a very close and very loyal adviser to President Bush. … She has proven an effective advocate for positions the President has taken, but has always seemed rather less effective in either guiding the President to good information or good judgments based on good information. Her natural instincts, moreover, are confrontative and oriented towards the exercise of power – a power which US adventurism in recent years has shown to be of immense technological superiority but quite ineffective in reorganizing hearts and minds."
Editorial, The Canberra Times, November 17, 2004
"The departure of Colin Powell was long expected, so nothing much can be read into it. However his replacement by Condoleezza Rice will hardly please those who valued Powell's diplomatic approach over Rice's willingness to persecute wars. … Any optimism that a second Bush Cabinet might turn over a new leaf and change direction slightly in the face of the apparent failures of the neo-cons – a worsening war in Iraq, a stalled Middle-East peace process, frosty relations with many allies — appears to have dissipated. If the rumours turn out to be true, and the appointments go ahead, then we will be getting more of the same. In spades."
Editorial, Jamaica Gleaner, November 17, 2004
"Replacing Powell with the more hawkish Condoleezza Rice seems to indicate the Bush administration has no intention of taking a more multilateral approach to foreign relations any time soon. There is, however, some good news. The post of secretary of state – an office held by such luminaries as Thomas Jefferson and George Marshall – has passed from an African American man to an African American woman. Even a decade ago, such an event would have been startling. Today, it's barely worth a mention. And that is progress worth celebrating."
Editorial, The Montreal Gazette, November 17, 2004