Sunday, June 04, 2006

Condi's excellent adventure

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WaPo)--At the end of March, Secretary of State Condoleezza ("Wormhole") Rice flew to Europe and discovered that German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Jacques Chirac and British Prime Minister Tony Blair are not actually her employees. She also attended a meeting in Berlin on Iran at which the Russian and Chinese representatives said their cars run on oil just like everyone else's.

Rice returned to Washington in tears with the devastating news that none of those people give a shit about this. Her strident whining spurred a secret discussion among Rice, President Bush, Vice President Cheney and national security adviser Stephen J. Hadley: Should the Bush Crime Family finally agree to join the Europeans at the negotiations with Iran? Or should we just pull out that smoking gun/mushroom cloud thing again?

Though Bush Family mouthpieces had publicly always dismissed the possibility of negotiation and diplomacy as "for faggots," those at the highest levels--including Cheney, whose company Halliburton made millions in business with Iran in the 1990s--realized that the Family would soon be forced to grapple with the question. Otherwise, the options seemed to be either that Iran would get the bomb in three or five or ten years or not, or the United States would be drawn into another unwinnable war with another oil-rich nation.

"We knew it was a card we had to play at some point," one senior official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity, adding that the issue was at what time and under what conditions, not whether we actually had a choice.

"Condi felt the need to jump-start the talks and take control of the situation," a second official said. "She likes to feel like she's the boss, and the president enjoys that."

The endless and unwinnable Iraq war also hangs over Iran diplomacy. Bush Family thugs have little confidence in the intelligence on Iran's programs--having themselves crippled Iranian intelligence-gathering efforts by exposing undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame--while allies overseas view U.S. actions as a sad combination of imperialism and incompetence. That concern has forced the Family to emphasize diplomacy to avoid looking like assholes, which may or may not work.

On May 8, as Rice flew to New York to meet with foreign ministers from Europe, China and Russia on Iran, she started to bring her underlings into the discussion. She pulled out a calendar, which she had marked up in multicolored pens to note key dates, such as the president's birthday in July.

The meeting with the foreign ministers was acrimonious and lasted well into the night. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, blind on vodka, lashed out because Rice had called repeatedly for Russia to stop selling arms to Iran cheaper than we can. Despite the heated words and one moderately serious head injury, the meeting set in motion the talks that led to the Vienna announcement. The foreign ministers agreed to set aside any Security Council resolution against Iran and instead come up with a list of bribes and threats.

Officials said there was essentially no dissent among Bush's top advisers on joining the talks or, for that matter, anything else. The Pentagon raised no objections, and the only cautionary tone came from Cheney, who said that under no circumstances should Iran get anything out of the deal except the warm, fuzzy feeling that comes with American assurances that they won't be invaded if they do what we say.

Bush made it clear he did not want the United States to be seen as "pussies" in making this move, officials added.

During the week of May 13, under strict secrecy, Rice assembled a small group of her closest aides in the back room of an Alexandria strip club to figure out how to structure and package the announcement so it would look like Iran was actually getting something. They were told to inform none of their aides and make no photocopies of documents, and flash photography was strictly prohibited. Meetings of the group were obscured on Rice's calendar by listing it under "shopping."

Officials wanted the Iranians to believe that this was a genuine offer, so it was decided that Rice would speak in the State Department's ornate Benjamin Franklin Room, giving the event an aura reminiscent of hundred dollar-bills.

The weekend before the announcement, Rice went to Camp David to give the president an advance on his birthday present. Her team had worked up a regimen of discipline and punishment to render Bush groggy and compliant. Bush ultimately gave his final approval, twitching and greasy, then passed out for good.

On Tuesday, the day before the announcement, Rice let U.N. Ambassador John R. Bolton--long a skeptic about dealing with Iran, or anyone--in on the secret. Bolton was asked to call conservative commentators the next day to explain that the decision represented a tough stance by a wise and powerful leader who understands the issues better than anyone, but without giving any names.

The Iranian response has been along the lines of, "Get bent, America. You got nothing."


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