- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 8, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has helped to derail President Bush´s pro-democracy agenda.

A leading figure in the administration, Miss Rice has long had the ear of Mr. Bush. She has been at Mr. Bush´s side during every major foreign policy decision. However, as Stephen Hayes points out in the recent issue of the Weekly Standard, Miss Rice may be personally loyal but has proven to be an ideological heretic.

In reality, Miss Rice was never a foreign policy hawk - or even a genuine conservative. Rather, she is a flinty realist who emphasizes the importance of geopolitical stability and diplomacy over disruptive change. A protege of Brent Scowcroft and James Baker, she believes multilateralism and negotiations are the most effective tools of statecraft.

They are not. The stunning success of Mr. Bush´s first term should have sounded the death knell of realism. After the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Mr. Bush rightly realized America´s decades-long quest for stability in the Middle East and Asia had only helped to fan the flames of radical Islam. By bolstering unpopular tyrants, U.S. foreign policy had only helped to create the conditions where Muslim extremism could take root and grow into a potent social force.

Instead of pretending the threat of Islamic fascism could be managed through dialogue and law-enforcement action (as had occurred during the 1990s under the Clinton administration), Mr. Bush went on the offensive. He quickly amassed significant victories: two totalitarian regimes were toppled which led to liberating 50 million Muslims from oppression; the A.Q. Khan nuclear proliferation network was dismantled; Libya abandoned its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) program; Saudi Arabia held democratic local elections; and Egypt, the sick man of the Arab world, allowed for political opposition parties to be established. In short, the Bush administration laid the groundwork for bringing democracy to the Middle East - thereby draining the authoritarian swamp that allowed terrorism and extremism to fester.

Yet Miss Rice never fully accepted the Bush doctrine. Following the failure to find WMDs in Iraq and plan for the postwar insurgency, Mr. Bush´s critics in the State Department bureaucracy have waged a relentless campaign to undermine the president´s pro-democracy agenda. Sadly, they have found an ally in Miss Rice. Rather than taming the liberal Arabists who dominate Foggy Bottom, she has become co-opted by them. The result is that America´s foreign policy is adrift - and our enemies have become emboldened.

On Iraq, Mr. Hayes points out Miss Rice opposed the U.S. troop surge. She echoed the State Department´s line that adding 20,000 troops in an aggressive counterinsurgency campaign would only exacerbate sectarian violence and further anger our European allies. Miss Rice and other opponents of the surge have been proven wrong. The United States is on the verge of winning a great victory in Iraq. Al Qaeda has been smashed. The Sunni insurgents have been defeated in their stronghold of Anbar Province. The Shi’ite militias are on the run. If a stable, democratic Iraq can be secured, it will serve as a strategic linchpin to promote wider political reform across the region.

Yet this has not stopped Miss Rice from giving Mr. Bush more bad advice - only this time, unfortunately, he has taken it. She has pushed ahead with the reckless strategy to conduct clandestine bilateral negotiations with North Korea over its nuclear weapons program. The United States continues to send vital fuel and food assistance to Pyongyang without first insisting its nuclear facilities be permanently shut down. This only helps to sustain Kim Jong-il´s Stalinist regime and proliferation of its dangerous nuclear technology.

Iran´s mullahs have also benefited from Miss Rice´s dovish approach. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is the Adolf Hitler of our time. He has vowed to destroy Israel, erect an Islamic world empire anchored in Tehran, and acquire the nuclear bomb to spread his revolution of destruction.

More ominously, Iran has done the unthinkable: It has declared war on the United States. By arming, training and funding terrorist marauders in Iraq, the Iranian regime is directly responsible for shedding American blood. Miss Rice, however, insists the only way to deal with Mr. Ahmadinejad is through diplomacy and economic sanctions. She is adamantly opposed to using military force.

Miss Rice and the realist apparatchiks at the State Department suffer from a dangerous delusion: They believe that murderous tyrants such as Kim Jong-il and Mr. Ahmadinejad are fundamentally rational leaders, who respond to incentives and diplomatic perquisites. They do not. These men are irrational, driven by messianic dreams of grandeur and fanaticism. Mr. Bush once understood that the key to achieving lasting peace in the Middle East and the Korean Peninsula was through regime change. This is why he once labeled Iran and North Korea, along with Iraq, as part of the “axis of evil.” Although he is succeeding in Baghdad, he has lost his way on Tehran and Pyongyang. He has no one to blame but himself - and Miss Rice.

Jeffrey T. Kuhner is a columnist for The Washington Times.

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