In this video from the USA, Representative ‘Henry Waxman points out Condoleezza Rice’s “recollection” problem’ about ‘weapons of mass destruction’ in Iraq.
From British weekly The New Statesman, by Andrew Stephen:
The fall of Condi
06 September 2007
The US secretary of state was feted as “brilliant” and “gifted”, but her tenure is now acknowledged as a disastrous failure.
How things change. It was less than three years ago that the British embassy here put on a ludicrously lavish extravaganza to mark the 50th birthday of the person whom they wrongly considered to be the most powerful woman in the world. “Dr” Condoleezza Rice, then George W Bush’s disastrously inept national security adviser and now his equally feckless secretary of state, walked into the ambassador’s residence and gasped when she was met by more than a hundred guests lining the curved Lutyens double staircase, applauding fervently and singing “Happy Birthday to You”.
The British ambassador, Sir David Manning, had thought of everything with his team: much to the relief of the woman who had arrived in slacks and a suede jacket, thinking she was going out for dinner with her aunt, Manning and his staff had obtained her measurements beforehand and were able to whisk her away so that she could change into a scarlet ballgown, specially made for the occasion by her favourite designer, Oscar de la Renta. Her very own hairdresser, whom the embassy had also thoughtfully provided, snipped away. And the honoured guest finally joined the throng as Van Cliburn, considered (again wrongly) to be America’s greatest pianist, hammered out the national anthem.
The full extent of the Iraq catastrophe was already beginning to dawn on most of Washington, but the British had always been peculiarly bewitched by Rice – dating back to pre-invasion days when Manning, then Tony Blair’s foreign policy adviser at 10 Downing Street, talked to her practically every day over the transatlantic phone line. Sir Christopher Meyer, Manning’s immediate predecessor, could hardly contain himself when he described Rice a year later in his book DC Confidential: “Extraordinarily gifted . . . can play the piano to a professional standard . . . fine ice-skater . . . brilliant academic career.”
This British lovefest, and the resulting mis calculation of both the abilities and importance of Condoleezza Rice, now seem thoroughly emblematic, in a tragicomic kind of way, of what George W Bush – via the lips of Rory Bremner, I have to say – describes as the Bush-Blair “error”. The British rightly sussed out that Rice was closer personally to Bush than anybody else in the administration. After all, she spent weekends at Camp David and watched football with him, didn’t she? True, very true, but the British government was not sufficiently plugged in to Washington to realise that the Bush administration was hopelessly dysfunctional even before it moved into the White House in January 2001, so much so, that proximity to Bush was virtually valueless from the very beginning.
Bush adopted Rice – black, and a woman – as a kind of mascot for his administration. He is genuinely fond of her, but that doesn’t mean he has ever paid any serious attention to what his inexperienced appointee has had to say. He always listened much more closely to hugely experienced Washington infighters such as Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, both of whom considered foreign policy to be part of their portfolios. As national security adviser, Rice flailed around desperately in the middle, letting both men trample all over her, and took command of US foreign policy away from Colin Powell, theoretically Bush’s secretary of state, and his deputy, Richard Armitage. “The calamitous consequences [of this] are likely to be felt for years to come,” says Zbigniew Brzezinski, US national security adviser himself from 1977-81.
Rumsfeld update: here.
Rice and Lebanon update, 1 November 2010: here.