Watch and see how it's done on today's edition of This Week with Christiane Amanpour. Amanpour feeds Condoleezza Rice some softballs that reflect the wise foreign policy agenda of the Beltway bobbleheads, and Condi hits them out of the park by 1) damning Obama's centrist foreign policy decisions with faint praise and 2) pushing the latest neocon agenda of the reasonableness of going to war with Iran. Stop me if any of this sounds familiar:
AMANPOUR: A deadly morning in Baghdad today, as three bombs exploded in a sprawling market. The attack came as shoppers were preparing for the Muslim festival of Eid. And it comes just hours after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki told his security forces to prepare for stepped-up violence. The backdrop, of course, is the U.S. decision to pull out of Iraq by the end of the year. It's a decision that now has some concerned that Al Qaida will re-establish a foothold in the country, all questions for former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. She has a new memoir, "No Higher Honor." And I spoke with her earlier.
AMANPOUR: Madam Secretary, thank you for joining us.
RICE: It's a pleasure to be with you, Christiane.
AMANPOUR: So you write in your book, obviously, a lot about the Bush administration, the Bush years. You also talk about when you first met the current president, Barack Obama, during a hearing, and you say his questions were sharp, not rude, he actually seemed interested in my answers. And you say you were really impressed. And lot of people questioned whether he had what it took to be commander-in-chief of the lone superpower. Did he prove them wrong?
RICE: Obviously, I think Barack Obama has done a number of things right, particularly in the war on terror. And I think that President Obama has, indeed, carried the war on terror forward in a very effective way.
AMANPOUR: So let me ask you, then, about the most controversial of events of your tenure, and that was the Iraq war. For better or for worse, the United States is in it. President Obama has now decided to call an end and to bring all the troops out, portraying it actually as a triumph. Others are saying it was a defeat. Do you think it was right not to push and keep for -- I mean, at the very least, 10,000 U.S. troops to guarantee some kind of security, to train, and to be there for counterterrorism?
RICE: Frankly, I think it would help the regional balance to have a residual American presence there. We need to find a way to help the Iraqis sustain themselves through this period and to -- to deal with their somewhat meddlesome neighbor in Iran.
AMANPOUR: Of course, the administration says it's because the Iraqis wouldn't agree to immunity. But the real issue is that this administration insisted on it ceding to State Department and Pentagon lawyers' demand that they get this immunity ratified by the Iraqi parliament. You did not do that. You got the agreement without forcing it through the parliament. Why did they have to do that? Was it a mistake for President Obama to do that?
RICE: Well, Christiane, I'm really rather reluctant to criticize negotiations that I didn't participate in. But it would have clearly been better to have a residual force, from my point of view, and perhaps there was a way out of the immunity clause that wasn't taken.
AMANPOUR: So is there a risk now of everything that America paid unraveling?
RICE: Yes. What is at risk here is not just the sacrifice of the United States, which is considerable, but also a pillar of a new kind of democratic stability in the Middle East.
AMANPOUR: And perhaps equally important, if not more, is Afghanistan. The Obama administration sources are telling me are likely to change their role, even before 2014, from a combat to a much lesser role, maybe advisory. Is that safe at this time? Is the Taliban anywhere near being defeated?
RICE: Well, I'm not inside, but I don't see that the Taliban is anywhere near being defeated. And, in fact, if you're looking for some kind of political arrangement, then ultimately there will have to be a political arrangement in Afghanistan, that brings former warring elements in. But if you're looking for that arrangement, you should be in the strongest position, not the weakest. And I don't think that right now the Afghan government and the NATO mission is in a position to make that kind of political deal. So, yes, I think there's a considerable risk in speeding up a timetable for Afghanistan.
AMANPOUR: In your book, you also write about Iran. The IAEA, the nuclear agency of the U.N., this week is about to reveal, apparently, more details showing, apparently, that Iran is trying to weaponize. Do you think the United States, the Obama administration, has to ratchet up the confrontation? You talked this week about confronting Iran. Does that involve military confrontation by the U.S.?
RICE: Well, the United States should certainly make clear that the president of the United States will consider military action, if necessary, because you never want to take that card off the table. I think there are other ways to confront Iran. You can confront Iran through even tougher sanctions. And I also think, Christiane, this is one of the downsides of having our forces out of -- out of Iraq, because we can confront the Iranians in Iraq.
So, yes, I think it's time to confront the Iranian regime, because it's the poster child for state sponsorship of terrorism. It's trying to get a nuclear weapon. It's repressed its own people. The regime has absolutely no legitimacy left. We should be doing everything we can to bring it down and never take military force off the table.
I had to weigh in here quickly because Condi was so incompetent as President Bush's National Security Advisor during his first term. Condi Rice is famous for saying this about the bogus claims the Bush administration made about those aluminum tubes that Saddam was supposedly trying to acquire so he could nuke the heck out of Cleveland.In 2002, Rice had said that the tubes were "only really suited for nuclear weapons programs," adding that "we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."
She absurdly had this to say also to the WaPo:
But, as reported by The Washington Post more than a year ago, the internal debate among intelligence analysts was intense, with the experts at the Department of Energy who specialize in uranium enrichment adamant that the tubes were not suitable for a nuclear program. They argued that the tubes were intended for Iraqi rockets.
Administration officials at the time did not acknowledge that debate, though Rice acknowledged yesterday she was aware of it. "I knew that there was a dispute," she said. "I actually didn't really know the nature of the dispute."
RICE: I understand that Americans see on their screens violence. They continue to see Americans killed, and we mourn every death. These are very hard things to do. But I would ask that people remember why we are there. We are there because we are trying to--having overthrown a brutal dictator who was a destabilizing force in the Middle East, we're trying to help the Iraqis create a stable foundation for democracy and a stable foundation for peace."
I seem to recall a different rationale for why we're there:
"Citing Bush administration officials, The New York Times reported Sunday that Iraq tried to buy thousands of high-strength aluminum tubes. The tubes, Rice said, "are only really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge programs." [CNN, 9/8/2002]
Bob Somerby aptly asked if Condi ever knew anything, anything at all:
"Does Condi Rice ever know anything back in 2004?
According to the White House, she didn't know about objections to the uranium-from-Africa story because she hadn't read the whole National Intelligence Estimate! And in May 2002, she said she hadn't known that terrorists might use airplanes as missiles—even though intelligence agencies has issued such warnings for years. Now, she says she didn't know something else—she didn't know the state of aa critical, year-long discussion about those aluminum tubes. I didn't know, Rice told [Wolf] Blitzer. And she was singing a sweet old refrain.