Condi Rice is Incompetent
Jude Wanniski
January 26, 2005


Memo To: Website Fans, Browsers, Clients
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: But I would have voted for her

President Bush at his press conference this morning promised that Condoleezza Rice will be "a great Secretary of State." From her earliest days as Governor George W Bush's foreign-policy advisor in 1999 as he prepared to run for President I could see she was in over her head, and in the last four years I did not see any improvement. It had been obvious to me that the neo-cons had arranged through former Secretary of State George Shultz to have her brought to the White House from Stanford, where she had taught Russian history, because she could be manipulated. Sure enough, as soon as Governor Bush decided she was a sweetie pie with a high IQ, she brought Paul Wolfowitz to Crawford to meet up with W, and within a week, Wolfie brought Richard Perle to Crawford. Even then they were planning the war with Iraq and to this day Condi does not know how all that happened.

Still, I would have voted to confirm her with all the reservations expressed by Delaware Sen. Joe Biden and Rhode Island Republican Lincoln Chafee. First, because the President could have picked someone worse and probably would have. Second, because Dr. Rice chose Bob Zoellick as her Deputy at State and Zoellick is a marvelous diplomat who was U.S. Trade Representative over the last four years and is a protege of former Treasury Secretary and Secretary of State James Baker III -- and Baker is very definitely not a neo-con, and neither is Zoellick. Third, because Condi seems to have been persuaded to let go of John Bolton, the maniacal arms-control officer at State. Colin Powell may have had his heart in the right place at State, but his deputy, Rich Armitage, was just a rubber stamp, and Bolton had been placed at State by the Perle Cabal to undermine Powell's diplomatic initiatives. The Cabal prefers war to diplomacy, which is what we should expect from lifelong Cold Warriors.

So given these personnel changes, I can at least hope that there will be a steady change in direction at State and little-by-little the USA can regain the confidence of the rest of the world, which it now does not have.

If you would like to see the record of my commentaries on Condi over the last four years you can do a site search at by typing in "Condoleeza" and you will find 57 pieces that are either devoted exclusively to her performance or reference her. I can't recall any positives in the skein. Here is one of my favorites, from October 10, 2003.

There are Flaws in Your Soup, Dr. Rice

Memo: To: Condoleezza Rice
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: A Few Flies in your Speech

On Wednesday afternoon I happened to catch your speech to the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, which had been advertised as one of the efforts by the Bush administration to drum up support for the war in Iraq. I know you are a very busy lady, having to keep President Bush on top of the world’s various political crises, but you continue to get the impression that you yourself are misinformed about these crises. The only explanation I can think of is that your advisors are either misinformed, or they have conspired to keep you in the dark, so that you will be able to keep the President in the dark. He makes many of the same errors of fact that you made in your Chicago address. I’ll go over what I mean, with my comments following those of yours that I found flawed:

Dr. Rice: For twelve years, Saddam Hussein sat in the heart of the world's most volatile region, defying more than a dozen UN Security Council resolutions, terrorizing his people, threatening his neighbors, and the world.

Wanniski: Saddam has not once threatened his neighbors or the world in any way since the end of the Gulf War in 1991, a dozen years ago. He has not defied any UNSC resolutions, complying with each one in turn as the UNSC tightened the terms established in 1991 for the destruction of any weapons of mass destruction in his possession. Since November 1991, Iraq has insisted it had destroyed all WMD, an assertion that now appears to have been true all along. The last of these UN resolutions was #1441, which Iraq was in total compliance with at the time the President chose war. His advisors insisted they knew he was hiding WMD that the UN inspectors did not know about. Remember, Dr. Rice? Not only did Baghdad invite the USA to send CIA teams to Iraq to find WMD the inspectors were not seeing; the UN itself had concluded diplomacy was working and Iraq was accepting every request made of it by the UN inspectors. Every request!!

Dr. Rice: Saddam Hussein twice launched unprovoked invasions of his neighbors. After losing a war of aggression that he began, Saddam's threatening posture toward other Gulf nations -- and his continued oppression of his people -- required the United States and the United Kingdom to maintain a massive military presence in the Gulf, and patrol two vast no-fly zones for a dozen years. Saddam is the only tyrant of our time not only to possess weapons of mass destruction ... but also to use them in acts of mass murder. And he maintained ties to terror, harboring known terrorists within his borders, and subsidizing Palestinian suicide bombers.

Wanniski: In 1980, Iraq and Iran were already in a state of war, provoked by the Iranian religious fundamentalists who sought the overthrow of the secular government in Baghdad. There was no Iraqi invasion, and in fact the US supported Iraq in that eight-year war, preferring Saddam to the Ayatollah Khomeini. In 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait after accusing the emir of Kuwait of conducting economic warfare against Iraq, a position Saddam clearly explained to the American Ambassador at the time – who told him she hoped the dispute could be worked out diplomatically. If you check the details, Dr. Rice, you will find many of Kuwait’s Arab neighbors at the time did believe Iraq was being provoked by Kuwait.

When the Gulf War ended, Dr. Rice, there was no “threatening posture toward other Gulf nations” that had been reported, unless you mean Iraq’s continued possession of conventional weapons and their movements from one part of Iraq to another from time to time. Can you cite one serious “threat”? You also say Saddam is the only “tyrant” of our time to possess WMD. You know of course that he only possessed mustard gas and a few other nerve agents that he used in the war in Iraq, against the Ayatollah’s tyrannical regime, which possessed other chemical agents that it used against the Iraqis.

You say Saddam committed “mass murder,” which implies acts of genocide. I’m sorry to inform you, Dr. Rice, that US intelligence services agree there was no such genocide. The CIA’s report of last September, which I understand you were too busy to read, confirmed earlier findings of the Army War College that no such genocide occurred. If you like, I’ll send you a synopsis of the report, which you can read if you have the time.

Next you said Saddam “maintained ties to terror.” I have no idea what this means, Dr. Rice, unless you mean that Iraq has supported the Palestinians, not the Israelis. This is the inference I take when you note that Saddam had “subsidized Palestinian suicide bombers.” Don’t you know he sent funds to the families of suicide bombers, not the bombers? The Saudi government sent a hundred times more money to the Palestinians that went to families who had lost members to Israeli attacks.

Dr. Rice: We have no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved in the September 11th attacks. Yet the possibility remained that he might use his weapons of mass destruction or that terrorists might acquire such weapons from his regime, to mount a future attack far beyond the scale of 9/11. This terrible prospect could not be ignored or wished away.

Wanniski: This was the reason for UNSCR #1441, which Iraq was following to the letter to persuade us beyond a shadow of a doubt that he had no WMD that he could use or that “terrorists might acquire” from his regime. Do you see what I mean?

Dr. Rice: President Bush put it this way: "Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike? If this threat is permitted to fully and suddenly emerge, all actions, all words, and all recriminations would come too late. Trusting in the sanity and restraint of Saddam Hussein is not a strategy, and it is not an option."

Wanniski: As the President’s National Security Advisor, you might have pointed out to the President that the other members of the UN Security Council were not asking him to trust in the sanity and restraint of Saddam, which is why UN weapons inspectors were all over Iraq, even looking under Saddam’s bed. They not only were not going to leave in force until they were completely satisfied, but made it clear that inspections would continue to monitor Iraq to make sure there was no it could reconstitute WMD.

Dr Rice: When the President went to the United Nations in September, 2002, there was little controversy about the nature of the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. The intelligence agencies of most governments agreed on Saddam's capabilities and appetites. The United Nations and other international organizations had -- again and again -- documented Saddam's aggressions against his neighbors, tortures of the Iraqi people, and violations of international law.

Wanniski: This is the first I have heard that “the intelligence agencies of most governments agreed on Saddam’s capabilities and appetites.” Do you have a list of these agencies and what they agreed upon? Just what were his “capabilities,” and his “appetites.” Also, could you share with us the documentation of the “tortures of the Iraqi people”? I’m not saying I do not believe Saddam countenanced torture. I think he probably did, just as every other regime in the region has countenanced torture (including Israel, which also countenances assassination). I just don’t remember official “documentation of the “tortures of the Iraqi people.”

Dr. Rice: Remember the clear logic of Resolution 1441 -- which passed unanimously. 1441 posed a test -- a final test -- of Saddam Hussein's willingness to disarm and comply with his obligations. Saddam Hussein refused to meet that test. 1441 mandated serious consequences if Iraq refused to comply. A coalition of nations ensured that these would not be empty words.

Wanniski: I beg your pardon, Dr. Rice. The reason the US did not get the support of the United Nations for its pre-emptive war was that it believed Saddam Hussein was passing the test. UNMOVIC’s director, Hans Blix, said there were only minor discrepancies in the paperwork that needed to be cleaned up on chemical and biological weapons. IAEA’s director, Mohammed Baradei, said beyond a shadow of a doubt Iraq had no nukes, and could not be able to develop them given the monitoring program that would remain in place.

Dr. Rice: Increasingly, the killing fields are yielding up their dead. The mass graves are being discovered.

Wanniski: Can you be more specific, Dr. Rice? I know there have been pictures of graves being unearthed in one place another in Iraq, but so far there has been no official finding that the bodies represent people killed outside of war. The mass graves we have all been waiting for are those of the 100,000 or 200,000 Iraqi Kurds who were supposed to have been rounded up by the Iraqi army in 1988, trucked someplace south of Kurdistan, and machine-gunned to death before being dumped into mass graves. The CIA still dismisses this charge, largely promoted by Human Rights Watch. Are there other mass graves you have in mind?

Dr. Rice: The Iraq Survey Group is finding -- and recording -- proof that Iraq never disarmed, and never complied with UN inspectors.

Wanniski: Pleeezzze, Condoleezza Rice. I’m beginning to think you are dyslectic. The Iraq Survey Group said exactly the opposite in its report last week. The opposite. It 1400 inspectors, led by longtime CIA operative David Kay, has roamed the country for months looking for stuff the UN inspectors missed, and they found NOTHING that could be considered anything close to a weapon of mass destruction. President Bush has made a big deal out of one vial of botulinum found in the fridge of an Iraqi scientist. Dr. Kay – who is not a scientist, if you did not know, but has a PhD in political science -- represented this vial as a clue to the Saddam’s potential to reconstitute biological weapons that could kills people by the millions.

Did you check this out before telling the President he could go ahead and pump up this vial to a doomsday weapon? Maureen Dowd of the New York Times did go to the trouble of checking out botulinum and found there are several types. One of which, she wrote in here column – BOTOX -- is used in the cosmetic industry to take the wrinkles out of your face. A second type “B” will make your food go bad. This is the type found in the Iraqi’s fridge. The killer stuff, type “A” has never been found in Iraq, not even a “reference strain.” Call Maureen over at the Times and she will straighten you out.

Dr. Rice:Let me read you a passage from the progress report that David Kay -- head of the Iraq Survey Group -- submitted to Congress last week:

"We have discovered dozens of WMD-related program activities and significant amounts of equipment that Iraq concealed from the United Nations during the inspections that began in late 2002. The discovery of these deliberate concealment efforts have come about both through the admissions of Iraqi scientists and officials concerning information they deliberately withheld and through physical evidence of equipment and activities that ISG has discovered that should have been declared to the UN."

The ISG has confirmed many activities that we already knew about, including Iraq's massive deception campaign to conceal its weapons programs, and its maintenance of prohibited delivery systems. The ISG has also uncovered some information that appears to corroborate reports that Iraq tested chemical and biological substances on human beings.

And the ISG continues to find evidence of activities that the United States did not know about before the war. For example, the ISG has so far found -- and I quote:

"New research on BW-applicable agents, Brucella and Congo Crimean Hemorrhagic Fever."

"Clandestine attempts between late-1999 and 2002 to obtain from North Korea technology related to 1,300 km range ballistic missiles."

"Research on a possible VX stabilizer, research and development for chemical weapons capable munitions, and procurement, concealment of dual use materials and equipment."

These are only the highlights of a statement that runs more than six thousand words. Iraq was required to declare all of these activities to the UN -- but instead deliberately concealed them and deceived the inspectors. Had any one of these examples been discovered last winter, the Security Council would have had no choice but to take exactly the same course that President Bush followed: to declare Saddam Hussein in defiance of Resolution 1441, and enforce its serious consequences.

Wanniski: This is pathetic stuff, Dr. Rice. Pathetic. Research on a possible VX stabilizer? Concealment of dual use material? Research on Congo fever? A third-hand report that Saddam once dreamed about sneaking North Korean ballistic missiles into Iraq? Dr. Rice, I can see why you had President Bush focus on botulinum, as that is the best Kay’s team has been able to come up with, even though Kay does not know the difference between Type A and a wrinkle cream. Now Kay wants another $600 million to go back and look for more stuff. He seems to be indicating that he will not know for sure that there are no WMD in Iraq until the week after the November elections next year. By the way, who do you work for, Mr. Bush or Mr. Rove?