- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Assuming that her nomination as secretary of state is confirmed next year, Condoleezza Rice faces some very difficult challenges, first in dealing with international problems, and second, in managing a department with many employees who seem hostile or indifferent to President Bush’s agenda. She brings impressive credentials to the job. As national security adviser for the past four years, she has had a major hand in shaping a more realistic American approach to the complex issues posed by terrorism in the wake of September 11.

Miss Rice will have major responsibility in shaping American policy toward nascent democracies in Iraq and Afghanistan, and she will have to devise a way to deal with the dictatorship in North Korea that is starving many of its own citizens to death and remains determined to press ahead with its nuclear-weapons program.

No less daunting will be the problem posed by Iran — perhaps the world’s No. 1 state sponsor of terrorism. Iran has been relentlessly working to develop nuclear weapons. These could serve as a deterrent against a military response to Tehran’s efforts to subvert what likely will soon be an elected government in Iraq, and its support for organizations like Hezbollah and terrorists like Osama bin Laden and Abu Musab Zarqawi. Any effort to formulate a more assertive, approach toward Iran will almost certainly encounter opposition from France and Germany, as well as Britain — Washington’s otherwise stalwart ally.

The new secretary of state will encounter plenty of other difficult problems. Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza will hold elections in January. She will seek to mobilize support for Palestinian leaders willing to work for democracy, embrace the rule of law and confront the terrorists. But Miss Rice will need to be equally vigilant in resisting efforts from Europe to deliver Israeli conditions on issues like settlements in the absence of Palestinian action against terror. There also will be other complicated geopolitical matters on her plate — everything from dealing with China (and its bullying of democratic Taiwan), genocide perpetrated by the Sudanese government and its allies in Darfur, and the international HIV/AIDS crisis.

Miss Rice will also need to deal with a stubborn bureaucracy filled with officials who are hostile to the Bush agenda. Throughout Mr. Bush’s first term, State Department officials kept open the deeply flawed Visa Express program, which made it far too easy for residents of Saudi Arabia to enter the United States after September 11. Behind the scenes, anonymous bureaucrats at Foggy Bottom have repeatedly poor-mouthed and sought to undercut presidential initiatives dealing with rogue states like Iran and North Korea.

Miss Rice will need to be vigilant in rooting out recalcitrant Foreign Service types who attempt to undermine the Bush doctrine. After all, some of those policies were, in fact, courtesy of Miss Rice herself. We wish her luck through the confirmation process, and much more when she gets to Foggy Bottom.

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