Condi’s Quiet Endorsement of the Obama Doctrine?

June 26, 2008

Condoleezza Rice’s editorial in today’s WSJ defends the administration’s use of diplomacy with North Korea.

She writes: “We have no permanent enemies.”

Nevermind that this may go down as the biggest Bush administration flip-flop since H.W.’s “no new taxes”…

Nevermind that Cheney is probably planning an invasion anyway…

Does Condi’s stance suggest a tacit endorsement of Obama?

Arguably the least ideologically-driven member of the administration elite, Condi has made no secret of her affinity for some of Obama’s policy positions.

In response to his Philadelphia speech on race, Condi praised Obama’s words and argued that his willingness to talk about America’s history of racial oppression “important.”

In the words of Latoya Peterson:

“Apparently, Condoleeza shocked the hell out of people by reminding them that she was black.”

Similarly, her carefully-worded defense of multilateralism in today’s editorial might remind people that despite being a hawk, she’s still a diplomat. I would wager that the whole piece is nothing short of a diplomatic wink at “The Obama Doctrine” insofar as it argues for a return to global cooperation.

Throughout the editorial, Condi goes out of her way to make it clear that diplomacy alone is not enough – she insists that accountability mechanisms have played an important role in pushing Pyongyang back to the bargaining table.

But, whether or not you agree with that claim, the point is that she unconditionally endorses the idea of the bargaining table. This echoes Obama’s views on how to best deal with “rogue states” that harbor so-called “terrorists” or otherwise flaunt the will of the international community.

Irrespective of whether or not that constitutes an Obama endorsement, it’s absolutely a jab at John McCain.

Over and over and over again, McCain has expressed his unwillingness to pursue negotiation with America’s enemies. He has also taken great pains to contrast this stance with that of Obama (whom he calls naive).

It’s one thing for Obama supporters and Democrats to criticize McCain’s views on these matters. But when the nation’s top (Republican) diplomat makes a point of undermining the GOP nominee’s position, that’s a whole other can of worms. It takes the wind out of all the rhetoric about Obama’s inexperience on such issues.

Given Condi’s position and her own career aspirations, she could never make an explicit endorsement of Obama. However, her willingness to contradict McCain in such a public and overt manner speaks volumes about the state of chaos among the Republican party leadership. It also suggests that Obama and other Democrats can expect to get a lot of mileage from pushing the issue among the foreign policy community as a whole.


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