WWW Opinion Times

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Powell, Condi and the State of the State Department

Here is an interesting insight into the challenges Condi Rice will face as Secretary of State by Shaking Spears Blog.

It is my opinion that despite a general apprehension conservatives have of Colin Powell (many of which I share), he has acquitted himself extremely well under the circumstances presented to him. God has a way of putting the right person in the right place at the right time (stated with apologies to my left-leaning readers who cringe to think The Creator of the Universe might have a hand in human events). Mr. Powell is a man who has great respect internationally while strongly fighting for American interests abroad: that was critical in a post-9/11 world.

True, the French lied to him and he should have known better. But French media and political leaders fawned over the United States in the immediate aftermath of Islamo-facist terrorism purpetrated on our shores. They had also been strong allies during the Cold War. Yet Powell underestimated the French hatred of Bush policy. And he did ignore the reality of French complicity to radical Arab interests in the aftermath of their round with Islamo-terrorism in Algeria during the mid 20th century.

But despite Powell's French error, in my estimateion, he played a significant and positive role in administration policy during the last four years. And despite assertions that Bush has hurt our relations with many countries, it was his Secretary of State who did the yoeman's work to support Bush's pre-emption policy and maintain the alliances with our European Allies--a story much under-reported.

I agree with Pat Buchanan's assertion on Scarborough Country last night that an administration needs strong, independent personalities at the Cabinet level (I disagree with him that Condi Rice and the new appointees are not independent enough and mere administrators). Colin Powell fit that criteria with added grace and professionalism not seen since the Reagan years. And Bush chose him personally.

Condoleeza Rice will have a harder edge than Powell to be certain, but she will carry out her duties in her new office with equal independence and provoke a much needed shake-up of internal State Department politics. Her presence at State years hence will be seen as a necessary change in our diplomatic efforts in the future.