Secretary Rice a challenge for US diplomacy




Submitted on January 31, 2005 to the Stanford Daily


Condoleeza Rice’s confirmation hearings as the next Secretary of the State attracted high ratings in last week’s episode of “Washington, D.C.”, the most expensive soap-opera to be paid by American public funds.  It wasn’t the record number of questions that Rice had to answer that turned this episode so sexy, however.  What raised attention was the simple fact that a future head of US diplomacy was openly called liar.


It takes enormous confidence, if not ready evidence, for any member of the Senate to use such strong vocabulary.  Was Senator Dayton justified in saying “I really don’t like being lied to repeatedly, flagrantly, intentionally”?  Well, you can easily perform a Rice-google to untangle the Rice-noodle of the past three years.  And you may be luckier than Senator Boxer, who sought to stretch out this serpentine noodle by asking the nominee to square statements and facts in her turbulent political career.


Rice is of course a devout Christian, so any confession of the kind “Forgive me, Senator, for I have been technically inaccurate or terminologically inexact (whatever is closer to the truth)” is out of question.  She is also a musician and knows something of enharmonic modulations: if a chord doesn’t work the way you like, just change its name and move in a new direction.  Say, “Saddam has WMD”; pardon, I meant “Saddam is about to have WMD”; no, it’s more accurate to say that “Saddam wants to have WMD”; why do you misquote me? The spirit of my statement was clearly that “Saddam had a childhood dream to acquire WMD some day...By the way, have you noticed how friendly to America Iraq has become ever since we invaded it?”  Who traumatized Rice’s integrity but her own statements and actions of blind devotion to a cyclopean vision of a world shaped in the desires of a few Washington, D.C. ideologues?


As always, the future historian will have the final word on Rice.  Until then, she appears to be in charge of US diplomacy for the coming years. “The time for diplomacy is now,” she stated stately last week.  But how do you engage in diplomacy with a damaged credibility?  International relations depend on trust and mutual respect.  Who can trust the number one bully on the planet, whose actions have openly been termed illegal by the UN Secretary General?  Who will lend goodwill capital to a country that defies international law, violates human rights, and, in addition, is permanently in denial of its own mistakes?  If things continue the same way as in the past three years, the world will simply wait for the giant American phallus to lose its erection, and then it will take its revenge by keeping the tough cowboy in international isolation.


To reverse the existing course, Secretary Rice should take strong and sincere initiatives.  But how can she do that, while remaining a mouthpiece for her boss and leaves unchecked her Christoamerican fundamentalism?  No harmony can be produced with “single” voices.  A state entirely controlled by one party is a definition of totalitarianism.  An administration that lacks polyphony and even the desire to synthesize multiple viewpoints is no better than a communist regime.  The extreme right eventually merges with the extreme left, engulfed as they both are in a crusade against all dissent.


Can Rice think for herself in the State Department?  Can she stand politically on her own, without patrons, bosses and Bushs?  Can she offer to a mistrusting world something more than an iron skirt of diplomacy?  Is she capable of turning the ominous eyes that ever finger-point and never apologize into eyes of compassion, understanding and will-to-do-good? These are the true challenges of her new role.  We can only wish her the best of success.  No room has been left for any more mistakes.


© 2005, Ilias Chrissochoidis.  All Rights reserved.