The alternate universe of Condi Rice

Condoleeza Rice is on a mission to save her (and her boss') legacy in the Middle East, with all this last minute peace-processing and the recent relaxation of the "no talking to Hamas or Syria" approaches of the past. She and her colleagues made a right mess over the last eight years with their "transformational diplomacy" and now they're returning to tried-and-true methods to limit the damage, apparently with greater-than-usual focus on preparing the transition to the next administration (or so one hears). But in this (poor) al-Arabiya interview she really seems desperate to provide a positive spin to her disastrous tenure as NSA and SecState:

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, let’s take a panoramic look at the region, the Middle East. The Bush Administration came with some high wishes, hopes: preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear power; spreading democracy in the Middle East; a peaceful Iraq, a democratic Iraq; and after Annapolis, a commitment to have peace between the Israelis and the Arabs. And are you disappointed because some of these objectives were not met – I mean, especially on the peace process?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, first, let’s look at the Middle East when this President became President in 2001 and the Middle East now. In 2001, you had a raging intifada after the collapse of the Camp David talks. You had in power in Israel a prime minister who did not come to power talking about bringing peace, and you had Yasser Arafat in power in the Palestinian Territories. You had Lebanon with Syrian forces occupying Lebanon, which they had done for decades. Saddam Hussein was in power in Iraq, threatening his neighbors, as he had done for decades. There really wasn’t very much discussion of democracy in the Middle East.
And you look now and you see that, first and foremost, Saddam Hussein is out of power. And while Iraqis are struggling with their new democracy, they are now a democratic state, a multiconfessional, multiethnic, democratic state. Lebanon has a president. Lebanese forces are throughout the country for the first time in decades; Syrian forces are out. Syria has established proper diplomatic relations with Lebanon.
You have a situation in which throughout the Middle East, people talk about popular rule, women can vote in Kuwait, elections have been held in a number of places, and in the Palestinian-Israeli situation, the two-state solution is now taken for granted that this the only real possibility. And President Bush, who put it on the agenda in 2001, has helped the parties come to a process after Annapolis so that you have the first really robust peace process in a number of years.
And so yes, it’s still a difficult region, but I think a lot has been achieved over the last several years.


And look towards the bottom at how the journalist fawns over "how hard you worked" on the peace process... since when? Since she realized that not working at all on the issue in her first seven years in office was not a super idea, that's when.
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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.