- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 6, 2005

President Bush has made an excellent choice in selecting U.S. Trade Representative Robert Zoellick to serve as incoming Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s deputy. Mr. Zoellick brings solid credentials to the post, including a sharp mind, loyalty and a wealth of experience as a diplomat and an implementer of public policy in Washington.

After serving in a variety of positions in the Treasury Department (1985-89), he joined the State Department of the George H.W. Bush administration. There, he served as State Department counselor and undersecretary for economic affairs, and as the president’s personal representative at the 1991 and 1992 G-7 economic summits. He won many plaudits for his role representing Washington during the multiparty negotiations that helped bring about the reunification of Germany. As Trade Representative during George W. Bush’s first term, Mr. Zoellick fought to bring about open markets and bring down trade barriers.

Some conservatives have expressed concern that Mr. Zoellick, a longtime aide to former Secretary of State and Treasury Secretary Jim Baker, is a balance-of-power advocate who would work behind the scenes to undercut the president’s efforts to aggressively pursue the war against Islamo-fascist terror. But these complaints reflect a misunderstanding of Mr. Zoellick’s character and judgment and the way the Bush administration foreign-policy structure will actually function.

Two of Mr. Zoellick’s most important positive attributes are his honesty and loyalty to the presidents he has served — Ronald Reagan, Bush 41 and the current President Bush. In the current administration, foreign-policy decisions will be made by the president in close consultation with Secretary of State-designee Rice. We have absolutely no doubt that, whatever his views happen to be on a given issue, that once a policy decision has been made by Mr. Bush, that Mr. Zoellick will faithfully assist the president and the secretary of state in carrying it out.

Moreover, judging from his actions and writings before joining the current administration, Mr. Zoellick is a more clearheaded hawk than he is often given credit for. In 1998, for example, he joined Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton and Elliott Abrams, among others, in sending a letter to Bill Clinton warning that if Saddam Hussein were to “acquire the capability to deliver weapons of mass destruction, as he is almost certain to do if we continue along the present course, the safety of American troops in the region, of our friends and allies like Israel and the moderate Arab states, and a significant portion of the world’s supply of oil will be put at hazard.” The signers urged Mr. Clinton to make it the aim of American foreign policy to “remove Saddam Hussein and his regime from power.”

And, writing in Foreign Policy, Mr. Zoellick said: “Finally, a modern Republican foreign policy recognizes that there is still evil in the world — people who hate America and the ideas for which it stands. Today, we face enemies who are hard at work to develop nuclear, biological and chemical weapons, along with the missiles to deliver them. The United States must remain vigilant and have the strength to defeat its enemies.”

Mr. Zoellick is a superb choice for the post, and looks to be philosophically in sync with the president and incoming Miss Rice.

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