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Bush's New Cabinet Is for Harmony, Control
Condoleezza Rice: Bush's Tutor and Disciple
By David E. Sanger
Condoleezza Rice with President Bush at the White House on Tuesday when he announced that she was his choice to succeed Colin L. Powell as secretary of state. Questions abound as to her policy orientation. Doug Mills/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Bush has instructed his new national security team to end the running battles between the State and Defense departments and the Central Intelligence Agency, and intends to extend his personal control over agencies he has suspected of impeding his foreign policy aims, according to current and former administration officials.

One senior official said Mr. Bush decided months ago to make no effort to retain Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, who had long indicated he planned to leave.

A close associate of Mr. Powell said he would have stayed if asked, at least for a while. "He was never asked," the associate said.

So when Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, told Mr. Bush at Camp David on the weekend just after his re-election that she was willing to stay for a second term, he quickly offered her the secretary of state job, a post that she told friends last year she thought did not suit her sometimes impatient temperament.

"Her interests ran to Defense," said a national security official who just left the administration. "But the president didn't want to change horses in the middle of a war."

Ex-State Secretary Colin L. Powell

The essence of Mr. Bush's moves has been to fill crucial cabinet agencies with people he has relied on in the Oval Office, people who know his mind. "This is a different cabinet — it's a true kitchen cabinet," said one official who no longer works in the White House but deals with it often. But one of the mysteries is whether the reorganization foreshadows a change of approach, particularly in American diplomacy.

Some saw the departure of Mr. Powell as the moment for conservatives under the influence of Vice President Dick Cheney to assume an even larger role.

But some officials who know Ms. Rice well do not expect her to take a hard-line hawkish view when she goes to State.

"This could actually turn out not so well for the ideologues," said one administration official, referring to the staff members in the vice president's office and the Pentagon who are openly skeptical of the idea of negotiating solutions to the crises over Iran's and North Korea's nuclear programs.

According to officials who have heard accounts of the case Mr. Bush made to Ms. Rice, he argued that their strong personal ties would convince allies and hostile nations like Iran and North Korea that she was speaking directly for the president and could make deals in his name.

State Secretary Condoleezza Rice

"This is what Powell could never do," said a former official who is close to Ms. Rice and sat in on many of the White House situation room meetings where policy conflicts arose. "The world may have liked dealing with Colin — we all did — but it was never clear that he was speaking for the president. He knew it and they knew it." Ms. Rice's brief acceptance speech gave few hints of what course she planned to set if confirmed, as expected. But several officials said that in recent days she has spoken of leaping at the opportunity created by the death of Yasir Arafat, the Palestinian leader.

Shortly after the election, Ms. Rice directed two top staff members, Elliott Abrams and Daniel Fried, to meet with European envoys in Washington to strengthen their involvement in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, to warn Europeans away from pressing their own pet ideas and to try to enlist their support for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's proposal to withdraw from Gaza.

"It seemed to us that she was bypassing the State Department, and that the White House was going to be in charge of the Middle East," said an envoy who attended one of the meetings, speaking before Mr. Bush announced that she was his choice for secretary of state. Other envoys now wonder whether her involvement was an indication that she knew she would be occupying the State Department job before long.

Administration officials say that it is possible that Ms. Rice will try to replicate the relationship Secretary of State James A. Baker 3d had with the first President Bush, that of presidential confidant as well as chief diplomat. But another hallmark of Mr. Baker, the fact that he relied on a coterie of his own advisers on the seventh floor, where his office is situated, rather than the large legions of foreign service officers working in the rest of the building, would not be welcome at the State Department.

George Bush and Condoleezza Rice

If a large-scale migration takes place from the National Security Council to the State Department, it could mark a transition between the institutions not seen since Henry Kissinger controlled both of them three decades ago, and would put the State Department under much closer scrutiny by White House loyalists.

Several officials said they believed that was Mr. Bush's intent.

The process of moving confidantes into crucial cabinet posts began with the nomination of the White House counsel, Alberto R. Gonzales, to be attorney general. It accelerated Tuesday with the nomination of Ms. Rice and the elevation of her deputy Stephen J. Hadley to replace her as national security adviser, whose role is to adjudicate conflicts between agencies.

Margaret Spellings, the president's top aide on social and education policy, is expected to be appointed secretary of education, perhaps as soon as Wednesday.

But that leaves in place Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, a strong-willed hawk who often clashed with Ms. Rice. Most notably, she took over control of the occupation of Iraq, creating an Iraq Stabilization Group. Her aides had made no secret of her opinion that Mr. Rumsfeld had failed to devote enough planning, attention or resources to making a success of the occupation.

Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld

Their relationship worsened after the abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib, the American-run prison west of Baghdad, became publicly known. Ms. Rice, her associates say, had warned Mr. Rumsfeld to focus to detention issues, but he often sent subordinates to meetings on the subject. So there is no end of speculation about whether Mr. Rumsfeld will have the kind of relationship with Ms. Rice that he had with Mr. Powell: one of constant bickering. Mr. Rumsfeld tried to tamp down that speculation on Tuesday, telling reporters traveling with him in Quito, Ecuador, that "long before this administration, we were friends."

"She is an enormous talent," he said. "She is experienced, very bright, and as we all know, has a terrific relationship with the president, which is a very valuable thing."

But he said that tensions would inevitably occur and that "it is the task, the responsibility, the duty of people who are participating in that national security process to make sure that the issues are raised and discussed," which "has worked very well in this administration."

Ms. Rice's associates said they expected that there would be fewer and less heated arguments in the future, partly because Mr. Rumsfeld would be more wary of Ms. Rice and her relationship with the president.

Some fear that an administration that seemed in a constant state of behind-the-scenes dissent may end up without enough. Lawrence Eagleburger, who served as secretary of state under Mr. Bush's father, told Paula Zahn of CNN on Monday night, "I do not believe that you should have in the secretary of state someone who has spent their last four years in the White House next to the president."

There is merit, he said, in "tension between the State Department, the Defense Department and the National Security Council."

The purge of some senior officials at the C.I.A., other officials note, could end up suppressing dissenting views on intelligence — the situation that led the administration to erroneously conclude that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction.

State Department officials said that events, more than personalities, would be driving the administration in its second term to make diplomatic approaches to Iran and North Korea, despite the urgings of conservatives who prefer confrontations over those countries' nuclear policies.

Not least is the demand by Europeans for engagement with Iran — an approach Mr. Bush's aides once disdained, but now, with few alternatives, feel compelled to embraced and the demand by South Korea and China for a policy that offers more incentives to North Korea.

Condoleezza Rice: Bush's Tutor and Disciple

Condoleezza Rice said she felt humbled to be asked to succeed "my mentor and dear friend," Colin L. Powell.
Doug Mills/The New York Times

WASHINGTON — President Bush introduced her in the Roosevelt Room on Tuesday as "America's face to the world," already known to most Americans and much of the globe. But mysteries remain about Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser nominated to be secretary of state in a second term that some administration officials assert will be characterized more by diplomacy than confrontation.

Is she as hawkish as those who urged Mr. Bush to invade Iraq? Or is she more moderate like the men who have been her mentors, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and Brent Scowcroft, the national security adviser to Mr. Bush's father?

More important, is she an ally of Vice President Dick Cheney? Or a counterpoint?

The answers, partly obscured from public view in the last four years by the secrecy that has surrounded her discussions with Mr. Bush, will help determine the direction of American foreign policy in the next four years, administration officials say.

After all, Ms. Rice, the presidential confidante who has been engaged in what friends call a "mind meld" with Mr. Bush, will have even broader powers when she moves from her West Wing office to the enormous jewel box of a State Department suite now occupied by Mr. Powell.

Condoleezza Rice

A key to her thinking is Sept. 11, 2001. Friends say that Ms. Rice, a Russia specialist who was schooled in the ways of the cold war, was transformed by the attacks. Already a conservative, she became convinced, friends say, that she was helping to preside over nothing less than the struggle between modernity and fundamentalism, and evolved along with Mr. Bush into more of a hard-liner.

"They believe that Sept. 11 was a wake-up call and that certain things had to be done — painful, violent, but they had to be done — and let the chips fall where they may," said Ms. Rice's friend Coit Blacker, the director of the Institute for International Studies at Stanford University and a former Russia specialist for the Clinton administration's National Security Council.

"They've shaken up the chessboard," Mr. Blacker said, "and now no one doubts the ability of the United States to run risks that were unimaginable before Sept. 11."

In the second term, he said, Ms. Rice knows that her success will depend in large part on mending the relationships with allies that were damaged, partly by her, in the first. "Punish France, ignore Germany and forgive Russia," Ms. Rice was widely quoted as telling associates in the spring of 2003, when she and Mr. Bush were angry at the allies who had not backed them on the war.

Friends say Ms. Rice believes that it is now critical to reach out to those allies. They say that while she has often said she has no patience for diplomacy, she is capable of great charm and will spend much time after her confirmation in Paris, Berlin and London.

"I think she'll be a good diplomat," said Samuel R. Berger, who was the national security adviser to President Clinton. "She's got those skills. And we'll have a secretary of state who foreign leaders know will be speaking for the president."

Condoleezza Rice and George Bush

In large part that is because Mr. Bush and Ms. Rice have spent so much time together in the last four years, discussing foreign policy over weekends at Camp David and in long walks at the president's ranch, that it is difficult to know where one begins and the other ends.

Although Ms. Rice started as the foreign policy tutor for Mr. Bush during the 2000 campaign, she has said more recently that he influences her as much as she influences him.

"This president has a very strong anchor and compass about the direction of foreign policy, about not just what's right and what's wrong, but what might work and what might not work," Ms. Rice said in a long interview a year ago. The president likes to focus "on this issue of universal values and freedom," and after Sept. 11, she said, "I found myself seeing the value of that."

It is not, she added, "the orientation out of which I came." Officials also say that while Ms. Rice fully backed the Iraq war, her views are not always predictable, and that she sometimes challenges the president in certain circumstances.

Rice in Yo-Yo Concert
After playing "Slow Movement of Brahm's Violin Sonata in D Minor," Yo-Yo Ma walks Ms. Condoleezza Rice in the concert.

In the Middle East, they say, she has completely endorsed the president's vision, and that of Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, that democracy is possible and that the spread of freedom in the region can make nations there prosperous and pro-American. She will make negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians a high priority. Administration officials said Ms. Rice's relationship with Mr. Bush would shift enormous power back to the State Department and be similar to the bond that Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger had with President Nixon.

"Condi's not going to be a normal secretary of state," Mr. Blacker said. "She's not going to be Colin Powell, who has to make an appointment to see the president. She's going to have continued access to him, and that will rearrange all the other pieces on the chessboard of national security and foreign policy."

Friends say Ms. Rice's closeness to the president makes it unlikely that she will be undercut by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Mr. Cheney, as Mr. Powell often was. But it is unclear, they say, whether she will ally herself with Mr. Cheney, who has a powerful voice on foreign policy, or become increasingly independent as the term progresses. Much will depend, they say, on who becomes Ms. Rice's deputy.

If it is John R. Bolton, now the under secretary of state for arms control and international security — a hawk who has close ties to conservatives and who has been mentioned as a possibility — that will signal that Mr. Cheney and Mr. Rumsfeld will have a close ally in the upper reaches of the State Department.

But friends say that Ms. Rice, a preacher's daughter who grew up in segregated Birmingham, Ala., and was pushed by her parents into believing that anything in life is possible, has more than enough toughness and rigor for the job.

While she is not always the most diplomatic person in the room, by her own admission, Ms. Rice has delivered scoldings to reporters about articles that displease her.

"She has the discipline," one friend say. "For her, discipline trumps patience."

Her entire life has been instilled with that discipline, from her training as a concert pianist and competitive ice skater to her service on the first President Bush's National Security Council staff and as provost of Stanford University. Even now, Ms. Rice still packs her lunch many days as a way of avoiding the expense and calories of the White House mess. She rises at 5 a.m. to run on the treadmill in her that she keeps in her sparse Watergate apartment, is in the office before 7 a.m. and is in bed by 10 p.m.

But she carves out small pockets of time for music, sports and friends. Ms. Rice, who has never married, celebrated her 50th birthday last weekend with a black-tie surprise party at the British ambassador's residence, attended by Mr. Bush, who put on a tuxedo and spent a rare night out in formal Washington.

Ms. Rice, who arrived in casual clothes en route to what she thought was to be a dinner at a restaurant with relatives, changed into a red gown that the designer Oscar de la Renta had created for her for the occasion.

On Sundays, Ms. Rice often practices with her chamber music group for the concerts she likes to perform for friends. Her favorite composer is Brahms, and that seems significant.

"I love Brahms because Brahms is actually structured," she said in the interview a year ago. "And he's passionate without being sentimental. I don't like sentimental music, so I tend not to like Liszt, and I don't actually much care for the Russian romantics Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff, where it's all on the sleeve. With Brahms it's restrained, and there's a sense of tension that never resolves."

The above article is from The New York Times.






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