Did anyone not see this coming? The US Secretary of State and the British Foreign Secretary have been nobbing around the UK, visiting Straw's riding and generally learning that Rice is either not important or not popular amongst the British public.
Suddenly, the pair just pick up and fly to Baghdad. From Libby Leist:
Rice, Straw, a select number of their senior aides (mostly Rice's) and a press corps of 14 flew into Kuwait very early Sunday morning after an all night flight from Liverpool, England. We transferred onto a C-17 military cargo plane for the journey north to Baghdad. The delegation landed in pouring rain forcing the cancellation of a planned chopper ride into the Green Zone. Instead, we boarded two "rhino" vehicles to make the drive on the notoriously dangerous Baghdad Airport road.Wow. That's determination. Straw makes pretty regular trips to Iraq but Rice hasn't been there since November. So what's the big hurry? From MSNBC:
“There is significant international concern about the time the formation of this government is taking, and therefore we believe and we will be urging the Iraqi leaders we see to press ahead more quickly,” Straw said.Fresh messages?
“We’ve wanted to be out there at times that we thought we could help move the process forward,” Rice said. “And of course it’s important to have fresh messages from time to time from Washington and from London about the concern that a government be formed.”
Oh! You mean the fresh message that Ibrahim al-Jaafari is not an acceptable choice for Prime Minister. Pay no attention. Rice regularly screws up the message, so whatever she said may mean nothing.
As far back as 1984, Rice was accused in a book review of being little more than the believer of propaganda. Despite that, she was proclaimed an expert on the Soviet Union. And the expert literally got it all wrong, having failed to recognize the collapse of the Soviets right up to the disintegration of the Soviet Bloc military alliance.
Last year, Rice visited Russia and claimed that the Kremlin's control of the Russian press was "very worrying". Pravda wasn't impressed and promptly skewered her.
For the information of Condoleezza Rice, who despite being Secretary of State of her country, continues to demonstrate an ignorance of world affairs at a shockingly consistent level, the notion that the Kremlin exerts a grip on the media is a fairy tale invented in the gardens of Washington.In fairness to Rice, she actually may have had a point. The International Press Institute views Russia as limiting freedom of the press.
Freedom of the media in Russia continues to be limited. Government control of media outlets is widespread, as is self-censorship. Television continues to be one of the most popular media, but all nation-wide channels are either controlled by the government or by groups close to the authorities.Umm... where have we heard that before? Coming from the Bush administration, Rice's criticism was very easy to scorn. It also came out that, although claiming to be fluent in Russian, during a radio interview she spoke English and the few Russian phrases she did use were poorly spoken and badly accented. So, maybe she didn't really mean, "fluent".
The channel ABC, which broadcast an interview with radical Chechen field commander Shamil Basayev in the United States without consulting the Russian authorities, came under strong criticism from the Russian authorities for giving a platform to terrorism. (Emphasis mine)
Then there was her admission to making thousands of tactical errors in Iraq.
"I know we've made tactical errors - thousands of them, I'm sure."Yup. Except General Zinni, who actually, you know, was there.... disagrees with her. He also thinks she doesn't knows the difference between "tactical" and "strategic".
In any event she suggested the next day that she didn't really mean it.
And how about that march toward democracy in Iraq? That's what this visit is all about. What Rice is telling them is that, no matter what anybody said in the past, no matter what she said about democracy and self-determination, she didn't really mean it.
That purple finger? Good photo material, but it didn't really mean anything.