If Bret Stephens does not recommend Condi Rice, neither does Israel Commentary

I Stephens: Anyone But Condi

II Mort Klein’s commentary on a speech given by C. Rice, October 20, 2006

If Bret Stephens does not recommend Condi Rice, neither does Israel Commentary

(Brett Stephens is one of the brightest, most astute and most dedicated American political commentators in today’s media. I rate him with Chas. Krauthammer. Besides, to my own mind, Condi Rice has about the same emotional and political understanding of the importance of Israel to the well-being of the US, as does Ron Paul.) jsk

A tempting but unwise choice for Romney’s vice president.
Did you loathe and detest the Bush administration? If so, you’d probably say its ideas were horrible and their execution worse. Did you not loathe and detest the Bush administration? In that case, you might say its ideas were pretty good—only the execution often left something to be desired.

Now the person who did much of the executing tops a list of names to be Mitt Romney’s running mate. A mid-April CNN poll finds that former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has unmatched name recognition and a favorable rating of 80% among GOP voters. She’s also the person Republicans would most like to see on the ticket, with 26% to runner-up Rick Santorum’s 21%. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio tie for third place at 14%.

(Really hard to believe those numbers. Who took the poll – Arab propagandist James Zogby’s little brother John Zogby – now at the very bottom of the political pollster recommended list?) jsk

The political appeal of Romney-Rice is obvious. Here are two seasoned and reassuring presences who seem to complement each other in all the right ways. He’s the business whiz; she’s the foreign-policy wonk. His government experience is in the statehouse; hers in Washington and foreign capitals. He’s the un-Obama; she’s the un-Palin. He’s the world’s whitest white man; she isn’t. That could even count for something if President Obama decides to dump Joe Biden for Hillary Clinton.

There’s only one problem. Ms. Rice was a bad national security adviser and a bad secretary of state. She was on the wrong side of some of the administration’s biggest internal policy fights. She had a tendency to flip-flop when it came to the president’s core priorities and her political misjudgment more than once cost Mr. Bush dearly. She was a muddler of differences at the national security council. Her tenure at State was notable mainly for the degree to which the bureaucracy ran her, not the other way around.

Take the surge. In her memoir “No Higher Honor,” Ms. Rice recalls some of the events leading up to Mr. Bush’s best and bravest decision. She starts by noting that, in early 2006, she had endorsed the idea of creating the blue-ribbon bipartisan Iraq Study Group, which wound up calling for a diplomatic, but not military, surge. She then adds that “it was a bitter pill to swallow that many commentators subsequently depicted the commission as a gathering of wise men from the administration of George H.W. Bush, who would teach his prodigal son a thing or two about realism and competence in foreign policy.”

Well, yes, that’s how it was seen, and one wonders why Ms. Rice couldn’t have seen it coming. Nor does Ms. Rice cover herself in glory by describing her ambivalence about every option on the table in the run-up to the surge—the surge itself; a mini-surge; some form of retreat; or her own preferred option to have Iraqis “kill one another for a while before they get the point.” At length she admits to being scolded by the president:
“‘So what’s your plan, Condi? We’ll just let them kill each other, and we’ll stand by and try to pick up the pieces?'” Ms. Rice recalls bridling at having her feelings hurt.

It’s true that the surge was a hard call, or at least it seemed so at the time. Harder to forgive was Ms. Rice’s performance on North Korea. In October 2006, Kim Jong Il tested one of his nuclear bombs. Ms. Rice’s response to this flagrant challenge to the Bush Doctrine was to reward Pyongyang with an engagement policy that would ultimately lead to the lifting of key sanctions—in exchange for exactly nothing.

“Two and a half months [after the nuclear test],” recalls Dick Cheney in his memoir, “with Secretary Rice’s approval, Assistant Secretary [Chris] Hill and the American delegation held a bilateral meeting with the North Korean delegation in Berlin. On the evening of January 16, 2007, the Americans provided a lavish meal, supplied large amounts of liquor and proposed friendly toasts. . . . The North Koreans had crossed one of the brightest of bright lines—they had tested a nuclear weapon—and we were hosting them at a banquet.”

Ms. Rice’s North Korean misadventures are worth pondering for what they say about her instincts and judgment: her readiness to put hope before experience, reward bad behavior with concessions, allow her subordinates to flout the explicit instructions of the president and—if Mr. Cheney’s account is to be believed—more or less baldly lie to the president about the terms of the supposed deal the U.S. and the North had struck. The shame is that Mr. Bush blessed all this when he ought to have reprimanded Ms. Rice, if not fired her outright.

What about the rest of Ms. Rice’s tenure? By her own admission, she flubbed the handling of the notorious 16 words on Iraq’s WMD, giving life to the narrative that Mr. Bush lied about the intelligence. She hired Flynt Leverett for a top job at NSC; he’s since gone on to become the Beltway’s go-to apologist for Bashar al-Assad and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. She arranged a premature ceasefire between Israel and Lebanon that allowed Hezbollah to declare victory. She opposed a U.S. attack on the nuclear reactor North Korea had built in Syria, leaving Israel to do the job.

It’s probably a testament to Ms. Rice’s inspiring story and winning persona that this blemished record has largely gone down the memory hole. The temptation for Mr. Romney to ask her to join the ticket must be great.

Still it must be said: If the presumptive Republican nominee is going to choose his running mate with an eye toward governing the country and not just winning the election, he can do better than Ms. Rice. Choosing her would simply be evidence that he doesn’t have much faith in his own November chances.

II US Secretary of State C. Rice Shocking Speech

Redacted from Mort Klein’s commentary
October 20, 2006

I’ve heard and read many speeches on the Arab-Israeli conflict. Those made by well-known, hostile critics of Israel always caused me great pain by their use of hyperbole, absurd analogy and falsehoods. But I was not prepared for a speech by an American secretary of state with those very attributes, such as the keynote address delivered last week by Condoleezza Rice to the gala dinner of the American Task Force on Palestine in Washington.

Secretary Rice stated that “there could be no greater legacy for America than to help to bring into being a Palestinian state.” Really? What type of legacy would it be to reward the Palestinians, who are among the most pro-terrorist societies in the world, with statehood?

Despite Rice’s claims about “moderate Palestinians,” their own polls show that Palestinians consistently approve of suicide bombings and terrorism (57% and 61% in two September polls), rocket attacks on Israel (63% in September) and the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers (75% in September). An August 2006 poll showed that 97% of Palestinians supported Hezbollah’s actions. Successive Palestinian polls over recent years always show high levels of support for the so-called “right of return.”

Rice also drew an analogy between Palestinian dreams for statehood and the American struggle for independence. This not only implies an odious comparison of Yasser Arafat and Hamas leaders to George Washington and Thomas Jefferson; it also ignores the Palestinians’ promotion of Israel’s destruction and their hatred and murder of Jews.

The Palestinians’ real goals are made clear by the incitement in the speeches of their leaders and in the media, mosques, schools and youth camps under the control of the Palestinian Authority. P.A. maps, atlases and textbooks display no country called Israel. They name streets, schools and sports teams after suicide bombers. America’s founding fathers didn’t want to destroy England and its civilians; they simply wanted independence.

Under current circumstances, a Palestinian state would simply be another terrorist state. Especially now, with the rise to power of Hamas, it is simply wrong to even discuss the possibility of a Palestinian state. Statehood would give Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups greater power and opportunity to promote their terrorist agenda; it would not moderate them….

Throughout this speech, Rice repeatedly pledged her support for P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas, calling him a “moderate leader.” But is he a moderate leader? He co-founded the terrorist group Fatah with Yasser Arafat and was his deputy for 40 years. He funded the Munich massacre. He wrote a Ph.D. thesis and a book denying the Holocaust. As president of the P.A., Abbas said “it is our duty to implement the principles of Yasser Arafat.” He refers to terrorists as “heroes fighting for freedom.” He rebuffed President Bush’s call at the 2005 Aqaba summit to accept Israel publicly as a Jewish state …

But Secretary Rice ignored all of this and delivered the most pro-Palestinian speech in memory by a senior U.S. administration official. This speech is surely at odds with an administration that claims to be “the best friend Israel ever had.” If the president does not subscribe to the themes in her speech, he should publicly distance himself from it immediately.

Morton A. Klein is national president of the Zionist Organization of America.

Second Thought: US-Israel Initiative and False Assumptions

The American People Stand with Israel
But, unlikely, the present American administration

By Ambassador (ret.) Yoram Ettinger
Jerusalem, Israel

March 11, 2011

(Glenn Beck Video at end of this article)

At the end of 1989, Israel’s top Foreign Office bureaucrats argued that Israel was, ostensibly, losing ground in the USA, due to the end of the Cold War, a supposed New World Order and Prime Minister Shamir’s dismissal of “land-for-peace.”  Therefore, they proposed that, in order to secure relations with the US, Israel should cede land to the Palestinians.

However, their assumptions were resoundingly refuted.  Israel’s strategic posture was upgraded as a derivative of the New World Disorder and a series of mutual threats, such as Islamic terrorism, Iran, ballistic missiles, rogue Arab regimes, exacerbated Middle East volatility, violence and uncertainty. US-Israel strategic cooperation expanded significantly, in spite of deep disagreements over the Palestinian issue and in defiance of President Bush and Secretary of State Baker.

In 2011, despite the 1989 lessons and the 2011 seismic upheaval in Arab countries, Jerusalem again considers ceding land to the Palestinians, in order to sustain strategic cooperation with the USA, under the false assumptions that US-Israel relations evolve around the Palestinian issue, that Israel-in-retreat is respected by Americans, and that Israel’s strategic standing in the US is undergoing erosion.  

Thus, Gallup’s annual (February 2011) poll on American attitudes toward foreign countries highlights Israel as a favorite American ally.  Israel (68%) ranks among the seven most popular countries, which include Canada, Britain, Germany, Japan, India and France, ahead of South Korea and dramatically ahead of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt (37%, 50% and 40% respectively).  The Palestinian Authority (19%)  is at the bottom of the list, along with Iran and North Korea.

Currently, Israel benefits from a public opinion tailwind, merely one percent behind its 1991 all time record popularity.  Israel’s image as a credible, reliable, capable, stable, democratic, non-conditional ally of the USA is bolstered against the backdrop of the current turmoil in Arab lands, which clarify that the Palestinian issue is not the core cause of the Middle East turbulence, is not the crown jewel of Arab policy-making and is not favored by the American People and Congress.

Anyone claiming that Israel is losing ground in the USA, and that in order to rebound Israel must introduce more concessions to the Arabs, is either dramatically mistaken, outrageously misleading or seeking an alibi for vacillation in face of pressure by a relatively weak American president.

A positive image of the Jewish State, and a negative image of Arab countries, has dominated the state of mind of the American constituency, which is the key axis of the US political system, holding an effective stick over the head of American legislators and presidents.  

According to the February 25, 2011 Rasmussen Report, one of the top three US pollsters, most constituents would stop foreign aid to Arab countries, but support foreign aid to the Jewish State.  61% do not expect the current Middle East upheaval to advance democracy or peace in Arab countries.

The most realistic expression of Israel’s robust standing in the US is reflected by the most authentic representatives of the American People: the Legislature. Congress is equal in power to the Executive, representing the attitudes of the American constituent on domestic, external and national security issues.  Hence, 75% of the 435 House Representatives and 80% of the 100 Senators – Republicans and Democrats alike, tend to support the Jewish State through legislation and resolutions, sometimes in defiance of the White House.

The gap between the world view of President Obama and most constituents was exposed in November 2010, when Democrats suffered – due to Obama’s plummeting popularity – the most devastating political defeat since World War 2.  That gap also reflects the attitude toward Israel, which constitutes a rare bi-partisan common denominator, earning a higher level of support (68%) than Obama (47%).

The American constituent does not consider the Jewish State a conventional foreign policy issue, but also a domestic issue, closely identified with the moral Judeo-Christian foundations of the USA.  Moreover, unlike Obama, most constituents regard President Reagan as a role model of values and view the Jewish State as the “Ronald Reagan of the Middle East,” representing their basic values: respect toward religion and tradition, patriotism, security-oriented, anti-UN, anti-terrorism and suspicion toward Arab and Muslim regimes.

The solid foundation of shared US-Israel values, the recent volcanic eruptions in the Middle East and Israel’s strategic capabilities and reliability have transformed the US into a sustained bastion of support of the Jewish State, notwithstanding problematic attitudes by some presidents, criticism by the “elite” media and hostility toward Israel on some US campuses.

This is not the time for vacillation and painful concessions; this is the time to enhance US-Israel strategic relations and demonstrate pain-killing steadfastness.

(Are you listening PM Netanyahu?) jsk 

Video – Glenn Beck