The New Statesman has a fascinating article which you kids simply must read. It is called The fall of Condi.
The US secretary of state was feted as “brilliant” and “gifted”, but her tenure is now acknowledged as a disastrous failure.
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.
Rice’s “brilliance”, too, is vastly overstated. Long before Manning’s guests wildly cheered her, Washington insiders – ranging from Powell himself to Dubbya’s [sic] father, the former President Bush – had given up on her. Dick Clarke, chief counter-terrorism adviser on the National Security Council during both the Clinton and Bush II administrations, until he resigned in despair in 2003, tells the story of how he gave a top-secret security briefing about al-Qaeda to Rice during the 2000-2001 transition even before Bush had moved into the White House. It was clear, he says, that she had never even heard of al-Qaeda – and, as a result, was sceptical of everything he had to say.
George Tenet, director of central intelligence for both Bill Clinton and George W Bush until he resigned in despair four months before the British embassy’s Ricefest, had a similar experience. In some desperation, he took a senior CIA undercover man as part of a deputation to warn Rice at her White House office on 10 July 2001 that al-Qaeda was planning “spectacular” attacks “designed to inflict mass casualties” against the United States, and that “multiple and simultaneous attacks are possible and they will occur with little or no warning”. Rice turned to Clarke and asked: “Dick, is this true?” Clarke leaned forward and buried his face in his hands before managing to croak out, “Yes.”
David Kay, chief weapons inspector for the United Nations and then the CIA, called her “probably the worst national security adviser since the office was created”. Larry Wilkerson, once Powell’s chief of staff at the state department, described her tenure as “a very disastrous four years”. Even George H W Bush, according to Bob Woodward in State of Denial, thought she was “not up to the job”.
But her shoes are fabulous!