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Joseph A. Palermo Headshot

Russian Crisis Reveals Condi Rice as Worst Secretary of State Ever

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Condi Rice might have had an oil tanker named after her by Chevron but she was a terrible National Security Advisor and is even worse as Secretary of State. As President George W. Bush's foreign policy tutor she botched all the warnings leading up to the September 11th attacks. She lied to the American people about "smoking guns" and "mushroom clouds," and she lied to Congress about the administration's goals and motives for the Iraq war. She should never have been confirmed as Secretary of State but the Bidens and the Clintons and the Lugars of the Senate voted for her despite her many failings and basic intellectual dishonesty.

But the worst was yet to come.

As Secretary of State, Condi Rice never really employed what we might call "diplomacy" toward Russia. She is supposed to be an "expert" on Russia. But her Cold War mentality and extreme hawkishness was really what allowed her to rise through the ranks within the U.S. foreign policy establishment in the first place. When Reaganites were calling for more nuclear missiles aimed at the Soviet Union, Condi wanted even more overkill; when the hawks called for arming "freedom fighters" in Central America to stave off "Soviet expansionism," Condi wanted to commit even more American resources and military personnel to the cause. Whatever the Right wanted during the Cold War, Condi wanted more. She caught the attention of the Republican hawks and the rest is history.

But as Secretary of State all she did vis-à-vis the Russians was needlessly antagonize them. The entire Bush policy toward Russia can be summed up in two words: "NATO Expansion." Condi pushed hard for the Czech "missile defense" system, and for the breakaway independence of Kosovo, initiatives that make little sense unless viewed through an outmoded Cold War prism. Calling for expanding NATO into Ukraine and Georgia was unnecessarily provocative.

Now, with the Russian military action in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, all the United States can do is make hollow threats. Unless George Bush and John McCain want to initiate a military draft in this country they should put to rest their blustering and posturing toward their old Cold War enemy.

The United States cannot do anything. Especially after eight years of Bush's repeated and routine violations of international law. Bush recently lectured the Chinese on "human rights" when he tortures prisoners and holds people without due process (and executed 152 people in Texas). Now we hear him tongue-wag Vladimir Putin for his incursion into Georgia. This belated moral rectitude regarding the sanctity of international borders comes from the Conqueror of Baghdad who lied to the world via the United Nations, invaded a nation of 27 million far from any U.S. border, and continues an illegal military occupation.

Those of us who opposed the Iraq war before it was launched argued that violating international law would undermine future efforts by the United States to hold other powers accountable for similarly lawless behavior. Well, here we are.