Commentary Magazine


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Gates v. Rice

There’s much to be said about Jim Hoagland’s article in today’s Washington Post — a stinging indictment of Condi Rice’s way of handling the Georgia crisis. It paints her as someone losing control, and leaving things up to Defense Secretary Bob Gates:

Bush is the first president to appoint two Cabinet members who hold doctorates in Soviet studies. The other Kremlin expert is Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a relative latecomer to the administration who appears to have eclipsed Rice as a steadying, strategic influence on Russian policy

Essentially, the Russians were those choosing Gates over Rice — not a good sign for anyone concerned with the U.S.’s status in the world:

Gates was also on the phone to his Russian and Georgian counterparts urging restraint, while Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was ducking calls from Rice.

Hoagland’s sources tell him that Rice was becoming too emotional with the Russians. Would they say such thing in such a way had she been a male Secretary and not a female? I really don’t know – nor do I disagree with Hoaglad’s assessment of Rice as an uninspiring Secretary. I’m sorry if this sounds like  annoyingly liberal-minded whining, but I’m sure this description of her will be seen by some as an example of a chauvinistic way of diminishing a women’s status:

Even admirers have become concerned that Rice sees this crisis in intensely personal terms that could blur her policy judgments.

And the most irritating part of this Rice-bashing, is the reason for it all: She was more blatant in blaming the Russians and demanding their withdrawal than Gates. So maybe it’s the Defense Secretary that needs to see the crisis in more personal terms?