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With Powell’s Departure, Rice Takes The Stage

With Powell’s Departure, Rice Takes The StageAfterwidely respected diplomat Colin Powell’s resignation assecretary of state, Tufts experts looked back on his tenure andforward at his replacement, Condoleezza Rice.Medford/Somerville,Mass.

Medford/Somerville, Mass. [11.18.04] As Secretary of StateColin Powell announced his resignation on Monday from PresidentBush’s cabinet, political experts from Tufts said that theformer chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff would leave witha record of mixed results.

“I thinkthat Secretary Powell's legacy will mainly be one of frustration,”Tufts political science professor Jeffrey Taliaferro told NewEngland Cable News. “He was not part of the president'sinner circle. He was not the most influential voice in the warcabinet.”

Bush’schoice for Powell’s replacement will be national securityadviser Condoleezza Rice, a close friend and trusted confidanteof the president.

Powell iswidely respected and admired around the world, but the moderatesecretary reportedly clashed often with the Bush administration’smore hawkish members.

In Februaryof 2003, Powell gave a presentation to the United Nations explainingIraq’s weapons program and capability for widespread aggression.He later regretted that his presentation was based on faulty intelligence.

Still, Powellwas admired at home and abroad for his outreach to and diplomacywith other nations.

“Powellwas much more willing than many in the administration to workwith traditional American allies to use multilateral institutions,if not to legitimize U.S. actions in the eyes of the world, atleast to consult with other states who might be affected by U.S.actions,” Taliaferro told NECN.

One FletcherSchool professor cited Powell’s failings as the nation’stop diplomat.

"He allowedthe State Department to be run over by the global war on terror,and did not fully articulate a positive view of what the UnitedStates is for, its capacity to inspire as well as its abilityto intimidate," Alan Henrikson, a diplomatic historian andassociate professor at Tufts, told the Los Angeles Times.

Rice’sselection is not without controversy. In April, she was calledto testify before the Sept. 11 commission, where her handlingof a presidential intelligence brief about Osama bin Laden issuedbefore the terror attacks was questioned.

Antonia Chayes,visiting professor of international politics and law at the FletcherSchool, said that the replacement of Powell with someone so closeto the president has both its advantages and disadvantages.

“[Rice]has not shown neither a very deep knowledge of foreign affairs,nor the ability to disagree,” Chayes told Tavis Smiley onNational Public Radio on Wednesday. “The advantage,of course, is that she is in lockstep with the president, hastutored the president, and will speak with the voice of the presidentand always have his ear.”

Another challengefor Rice will be managing the bureaucracy of the State Department.

“Thehead of the [State] Department can be undermined by the vast armyof the bureaucracy,” Chayes, former undersecretary of theAir Force during the Carter administration, told NPR.“It takes enormous skill to bring them along. Colin Powelldid have that skill.”

In November2000, before her selection as Bush’s national security adviser,Rice spoke at IFPA-Fletcher Conference on National Security andPolicy, co-sponsored by the Fletcher School. In her talk, shediscussed some of the challenges that U.S. foreign policy faces.

“I'mnot sure we very effectively integrate the various instrumentsof diplomacy that we have,” she said. “We've neverbeen particularly good at integrating our economic instrumentsinto our foreign policy more generally.”

In her 2000address, Rice also commented on organizational reform in government.Since then, a new Cabinet-level Department of Homeland Securityhas been established.

“I thinksometimes we get overly caught up in moving the boxes when itisn't clear what else to do,” she said at the time. “Andwe all know that sometimes you can make structural reforms thatend up creating new problems and you wish you'd stuck with theold structures.”

Still, evenamid an election that at the time of her talk was still unsettled,she expressed faith in the democratic process.

“Democracyis sometimes a little bit messy,” she admitted. “Butif you have strong institutions, and you have a belief in thoseinstitutions, you can come through it just fine.”






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