Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Bob n' Colin n' Condi

USA Today interviewed Condoleeza Rice the other day. The headline said:
Rice: Not U.N.'s job to disarm Hezbollah

which made it sound as if, now that the IDF has pretty much killed as many people as they think they can get away with without looking too bad in the eyes of the Europeans(or Israelis with qualms about the war), Rice was at last willing to at least sound like she hasn't been playing favorites and actively retarding the attempts of the international community to craft a cease-fire these past few weeks. Whether or not such a shameless concern with appearances over diplomatic accomplishment is in fact desirable being another matter entirely, of course. Ok, words fail me. It's shameful, not shameless, in it's shamelessness. But there's more, from the USA Today article:

That "political agreement" will be the responsibility of the Lebanese, Rice said in an interview with USA TODAY. In the past, the Lebanese government has been unwilling or unable to disarm Hezbollah, a movement that is now part of the government itself. A United Nations resolution on the books since September 2004 has called for all Lebanese militias to disarm.

"I don't think there is an expectation that this (U.N.) force is going to physically disarm Hezbollah," Rice said. "I think it's a little bit of a misreading about how you disarm a militia. You have to have a plan, first of all, for the disarmament of the militia, and then the hope is that some people lay down their arms voluntarily."

Uh...ok. Well, if the orthodox Jews in the west bank voluntarily leave their settlements and return to Israel, maybe some members of Hezbollah will voluntarily lay down their arms. Only a real S.O.B. wouldn't hope for such a turn of events...

And, another view of Condi:

In A Tiny Revolution, Jonathan Schwarz refers to an WaPo Op-Ed by Condoleeza Rice entitled "A path to lasting peace", in a piece he calls "My Apologies If You're Hit By The Flecks Of Vomit." Now you're thinking-- "I guess Schwarz doesn't like Rice's Op-Ed too much." No, I don't think he does-- he sees it as Voltairian or Orwellian or something.

One commenter, Adam Kotsko, wondered:

"What was the more important function of the Op-Ed? To claim that the US was taking urgent action on the problem, or to do some apologetics for Israel?"
I replied:

I think the real answer is apologetics for Rice.

It's the famous "non-apology apology"(patent pending) in which she tries to schlep off blame for the lackadaisical approach the Bushies have taken to getting Israel, er, the aggressors, to cease hostilities. Or if you prefer,

"Nobody could have known that if we dragged our asses on pressuring Israel to stop killing people and laid all the blame at Hezbollah's feet, more civilians would have been killed."

Presumably, Powell is working on a book about how, like McNamara, he was just a pawn of a fiendish Machiavellian war machine, etc. He'll wring his hands and attend book signings.

Presumably, Rice will also write a book about how, like Powell, she was just a pawn of a fiendish Machiavellian war machine, etc. She'll wring her hands and attend book signings.
I remember Barbara O'Brien and Sidney Blumenthal discussing Rice recently, and suggesting that she would prefer to be firmer with Israel, but is being outmanoeuvered by the Cheney faction at the administration. Even if this is true, I think Blumenthal and O'Brien are giving her too much credit for being well-meaning, or at least not so craven after all. I don't know how much secretary of state pays, but I'll bet it's substantially more than, say, nine bucks an hour. If she cared so much about how the administration's dithering over a cease-fire caused unnecessary deaths, she could have resigned, and still turned around and commanded pretty hefty fees on the lecture circuit for years to come, or secured a cushy do-nothing gig as a president at a tweedy private college somewhere. She might have to trade down from a Stanford-class school, to, I don't know, a Reed College. But if she resigned it would've been next to impossible for her to hope to run for prez or even VP in 2008 or 2012 or whenever--and wouldn't that be a bitch?

update, October 2006:Slate's Gary Kamiya reviews a new biography of Powell in "the evil of banality."