A very interesting story from the New York Times detailing how, over many years, Condoleezza Rice has forced her way into the middle of the Bush-Cheney boys-with-war-toys club, and in the process coerced President Bush to favour diplomacy over war. After the Afghanistan and Iraq wars obviously.
Now Rice is even pushing Bush to "sit down and talk" with his dreaded enemy one, Iranian president Mahmoud Admadinejad :
Condoleezza Rice and President Bush are often described as opposites, but their closest advisers say they are remarkably alike. Both are products of their own elites — Mr. Bush from the old East Coast establishment, Ms. Rice from Southern black professionals — who are supremely self-confident on the surface but harbor resentments underneath. Ms. Rice, like Mr. Bush, has been underestimated her entire life, as an African-American, as a woman and often as the youngest person in the room.A sit down sessions of talks between the US and Iran? It's about two decades overdue. And what a legacy for the final year of Bush's presidency. Chances of it actually becoming reality? About 0.002%
Ms. Rice’s unusually tight bond with Mr. Bush has helped her as secretary of state in his second term to prod the president toward diplomacy with Iran and North Korea. But administration officials have long said that her devotion to Mr. Bush made her unwilling to challenge the president when needed during his first term, when she served as a less than confident national security adviser.More often in those years, Ms. Rice used her relationship with Mr. Bush to try to gain control over the national security process as well as two powerful men who drove much of the agenda in the first term, Vice President Dick Cheney and Donald H. Rumsfeld, then the defense secretary. In January 2001, Ms. Rice went to Mr. Bush to stop Mr. Cheney from taking a major part of her job, running National Security Council meetings in the president’s absence, as Mr. Cheney had proposed to Mr. Bush that he do. “She threw a fit,” a former administration official close to Mr. Cheney recalled.
Ms. Rice, in an interview earlier this year, said that she went to the president because she was determined “to get it fixed,” and that she made the argument to him that it “wasn’t appropriate” for Mr. Cheney to run the meetings since that had not been the role of vice presidents in the past. “Mr. President, this is what national security advisers do,” Ms. Rice recalled that she told the president, who sided with her.In August 2002, Ms. Rice went to Mr. Bush to tell him that Mr. Cheney had to be reined in after the vice president gave a speech to a Veterans of Foreign Wars convention in Nashville that effectively threatened war with Saddam Hussein and asserted that there was “false comfort” in sending United Nations weapons inspectors to Iraq.
“The president said, ‘Well, why don’t you call Dick and tell him what you want him to do?’”said Ms. Rice, who said she told Mr. Cheney that his speech was going to “trap” the president because Mr. Bush was planning to call for weapons inspections. The vice president, she said, agreed to temper his next speech. Mr. Cheney had no comment on Ms. Rice’s remarks.In September 2003, Ms. Rice went to Mr. Bush to try to wrest control of the administration’s Iraq policy from Mr. Rumsfeld and L. Paul Bremer III, then the administration’s top civilian administrator in Iraq, whose dictates from Baghdad had frustrated Ms. Rice for months.
“I explained the problem, how we were starting to get decisions out there that we would know after the fact, that had huge policy implications, and we just couldn’t work that way,” Ms. Rice said she told the president, who by October had put Ms. Rice in charge of what the White House called the Iraq Stabilization Group to manage policy during the American occupation.In the fall of 2006, when administration officials knew that the president would dismiss Mr. Rumsfeld once he found a replacement, Ms. Rice had a hand in his ouster when she went to Mr. Bush and enthusiastically recommended Robert M. Gates, an old friend and a superior from her days on the National Security Council staff of Mr. Bush’s father.
“I told the president, ‘We have to reach out to him,’” Ms. Rice recalled. She had battled for years with Mr. Rumsfeld, whose Department of Defense, she said, withheld so much crucial war planning information from her during the period before the Iraq war that she had to send members of her staff to the Pentagon to secretly ferret out documents.In recent months, Ms. Rice has gone so often to Mr. Bush to push him on diplomacy with Iran and North Korea that he has started to needle her that she expects him to talk to people like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the radical Islamist who is president of Iran, or Kim Jong-il, the North Korean leader whom Mr. Bush has said he loathes.
“You want me to sit down with Ahmadinejad?” a White House official recalled that Mr. Bush had archly asked Ms. Rice. “Kim Jong-il? Is he next?” The White House official said that Mr. Bush had also taken to calling Ms. Rice “Madame Rice,” as in “Madame Rice, you’re not coming in to tell me that we ought to change our position?”