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Hullabaloo


Saturday, April 12, 2003

 
Heads or Tails?

If there was ever any doubt as to the reason why nothing makes sense in this administration this removes it:

With strong and powerful personalities such as Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Vice President Cheney at the center of these disputes, the battles are often carried on to the last minute, when Bush makes a decision. Both sides wage spirited fights because, up until the moment Bush tips his hand, they assure themselves that the president shares their point of view.

The process, some officials say, at times verges on dysfunctional, largely because people at the lower levels make decisions without knowing or understanding the actual policy. That in turn can confuse and confound allies and foes as the administration appears to shift tactics from diplomacy toward confrontation, and back again.


No kidding.

That bodes well for this:

Administration officials have told the Israeli government that it is in its interest to allow Abbas to succeed. "We're talking hard, right now," an official said, about the steps expected of the Israeli government. A senior Arab official said Arabs will be watching to see whether Israel takes substantive steps such as quickly reducing the number of roadblocks and checkpoints on the West Bank or dismantling some settlements.

Yet Israel has serious concerns about the road map, and officials have indicated they want to renegotiate some aspects, a position that has some sympathy in other parts of the administration.


And this could certainly be a problem:

Asked if the United States was preparing to take some action against Syria, Wolfowitz said, "That's not a decision the Defense Department makes. That obviously . . . would be a decision for the president and Congress."

Yet, on the same day as Wolfowitz's comments, Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage told reporters that "in the last several days they have responded quite well to U.S. and coalition warnings and démarches about closing their borders and things of that nature and she has done so."

While the State Department is not unhappy to have Syria rattled, the rhetoric has begun to alarm some officials, as well as officials in the British government. Secretary of State Colin L. Powell is frequently forced to deny in television interviews overseas that the United States has a secret list of countries it plans to attack next


So, what do you think he does? Eeeny meeny miney mo? Rock, paper, scissors?