Rice loses top aide at State Department
Warren P. Strobel | McClatchy Newspapers - January 18, 2008
WASHINGTON — R. Nicholas Burns, the State Department's No. 3 official, who oversees daily policy on high-priority issues from Iran to India and the Balkans, announced Friday that he's retiring for personal reasons.
Burns, a longtime confidant of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, was the lead U.S. official in rounding up international support for economic sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program. That effort is in trouble because of Chinese and Russian objections to tougher sanctions.
A senior State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to talk about the subject, said Burns' decision to end a 26-year Foreign Service career was based only on personal factors and wasn't a result of policy disputes.
Nicholas Burns' departure — he leaves in March — nonetheless could leave a temporary hole at the top levels of the State Department as the administration struggles with a host of foreign-policy setbacks.
He and Rice will meet their counterparts from five nations in Berlin next week to discuss further UN sanctions against Iran, but the outcome is in doubt.
Bush also is facing a deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, a political crisis in Pakistan, a recalcitrant Russia and a declaration of independence from Serbia by Kosovo that could roil the Balkans again.
As the undersecretary of state for policy, Burns was an advocate of diplomatic solutions to confrontations over nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea. He was the target of occasional attacks by hawks within and outside the administration, often taking flak whose real target was Rice.
Poor "condescending" won't have anyone to protect her from flak anymore. Sniff, sniff.
Kinda makes one wonder who's gonna be the last one left on the USS buschco sinking ship, doesn't it ? ? ? ?