Conservative national security allies of President Bush are in revolt against Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, saying that she is incompetent and has reversed the administration’s national security and foreign policy agenda.
The conservatives, who include Newt Gingrich, Richard Perle and leading current and former members of the Pentagon and National Security Council, have urged the president to transfer Miss Rice out of the State Department and to an advisory role. They said Miss Rice, stemming from her lack of understanding of the Middle East, has misled the president on Iran and the Arab-Israeli conflict.
"...She is just incompetent on most foreign policy issues."
"Condi was sent to rein in the State Department," a senior Republican congressional staffer said. "Instead, she was reined in."
Several of the critics have urged that Mr. Bush provide a high-profile post to James Baker, who was secretary of state under the administration of Mr. Bush's father. They cited Mr. Baker's determination to confront Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein in 1990.
A leading public critic of Miss Rice has been Richard Perle, a former chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board [who] has accused Miss Rice of succumbing to a long-time State Department agenda of meaningless agreements meant to appease enemies of the United States.
A major problem, critics said, is Miss Rice's ignorance of the Middle East. They said the secretary relies completely on Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, who is largely regarded as the architect of U.S. foreign policy...The critics said Miss Rice has adopted the approach of Mr. Burns and the State Department bureaucracy that most—if not all—problems in the Middle East can be eased by applying pressure on Israel. They said even as Hezbollah was raining rockets on Israeli cities and communities, Miss Rice was on the phone nearly every day demanding that the Israeli government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert exercise restraint.
"Rice attempted to increase pressure on Israel to stand down and to demonstrate restraint," said Stephen Clemons, director of the American Strategy Program at the New America Foundation. "The rumor is that she was told flatly by the prime minister's office to back off."