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Critics taking aim at the Condi Rice show
Timesonline (UK)
By Tom Baldwi
August 7, 2006

CONDOLEEZZA RICE is coming under sustained criticism on several fronts.

Some, even within the White House, have started referring to the "Condi Rice show" — suggesting that the Secretary of State spends too much time on television talking to a domestic audience and not enough in international negotiations.

A senior Republican expressed unhappiness at the way that she was snubbed recently by Fouad Siniora, the Lebanese Prime Minister. "Henry Kissinger would never have been turned away from any capital," he told The Times.

Richard Armitage, who was deputy to her predecessor, Colin Powell, has publicly attacked her for ignoring opportunities to negotiate with Syria. "We get a little lazy, I think, when we spend all our time as diplomats talking to our friends and not to our enemies," he said.

There has also been criticism from the neo-conservative flank, which has appeared marginalised by Dr Rice's emphasis on multilateral negotiations to settle the stand-off with Iran. William Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, has accused the Administration of pursuing policies that had allowed North Korea to test missiles with impunity and that had left the regime in Tehran "sitting pretty".

The British Government remains a staunch admirer of Dr Rice's hard-headed moderation, however. Mr Blair and Dr Rice believe that the crisis could yet help revive the Middle East peace process — provided Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister, and Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority President, can emerge with their authority intact and are not undermined or replaced by extremists.

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