Archive for the ‘Karen Hughes’ Category

“Gaffe Machine” Karen Hughes Leaving State Department

October 31, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
October 31, 2007

An American gaffe machine gets set to go home.  Good riddance.  No amount of costuming on this Halloween can convince us that Mrs. Hughes made a valuable contribution to U.S. foreign policy.

We are not big fans of the U.S. State Department these days so the announcement that Karen Hughes will leave and return to Texas didn’t break any hearts here.

Mrs. Hughes was give her cushy Foggy Bottom job by her pal George W. Bush. When she came to State — amid much publicity and hoopla — the world was informed that Mrs. Hughes would take charge of “winning over the world’s hearts and minds.”

Mrs. Hughes was supposed to restore respect for America and highlight the importance of America’s lustrous democracy.

Mrs. Hughes didn’t exactly impress anyone in the world outside of her buddy at the White House.

Officially, Mrs. Hughes is Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs.

On her fist major trip as America’s “Goodwill Ambassador,” Mrs. Hughes proved that she was a gaffe machine with little knowledge of the Arab world.

John Brown wrote in The Second Coming of Karen Hughes on August 9, 2007 in the Huffington Post: “her infamous ‘listening tour’ to the Middle East in the fall of 2005 — was ridiculed by both the US and international media as an illustration of her ignorance (she disclosed, to an Egyptian opposition leader, that our Constitution cites “one nation under God”) and lack of cultural sensitivity (she offended some Saudi women by reproaching them for not having the right to drive). After that disastrous overseas venture, she seemed to keep a lower profile, and by 2006 was practically off the media radar screen, especially during the Second Lebanese War. When she did engage in rare (for her official position) public events (many directed to American audiences to show them how good we US citizens were because of our compassionate-conservative aid to less fortunate foreigners) she was not infrequently criticized, including by the right-wing media, which accused her of being too accommodating to Muslim organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR).”

Today, the Fox News Channel is extolling Mrs. Hughes’ many accomplishments and achievements. They even allowed Mrs. Hughes to go on screen to brag about, well, herself.

U.S. Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs ... 
Charm machine turned into a gaffe
machine right in front of the world.

But polls show no improvement in the world’s view of the U.S. since Hughes took over. A Pew Research Center survey earlier said the unpopular Iraq war is a persistent drag on the U.S. image and has helped push favorable opinion of the United States in Muslim Indonesia, for instance, from 75 percent in 2000 to 30 percent last year.

“The great irony of this administration is that its opponents credit it with being masterful at spin,” wrote Mr. Jim Hoagland of the Washington Post on September 3, 2006.

“When it is in fact pathetic in managing its messages and its collective image. Whatever small credit Bush was gaining for becoming more realistic about Iraq was quickly wiped out by the controversy created by sharply partisan speeches of Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld last week in the latest example of a gang that can’t spin straight,” Mr. Hoagland concluded.

When asked by NBC News reporter Brian Williams on August 29, 2006 why there is so much anti-American sentiment and out-right hatred for America in many parts of the world., President Bush said “We are great with TV but we are getting crushed on the P.R. [Public Relations] front.”

About a month later Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld mused, “The enemy is so much better at communicating. I wish we were better at countering that because the constant drumbeat of things they say — all of which are not true — is harmful. It’s cumulative. It weakens people’s will and lessens their determination, and raises questions in their minds as to whether the cost is worth it.”

So if the President and his cabinet were Mrs. Hughes’ “customers,” it is difficult to find them happy about her performance.

We were ourselves so distressed by Mrs. Hughes that we made up a word to describe her gaffes: “Misunderspinning.” She just couldn’t get the hang of the spin game and often looked over her head.

And what have former Secretaries of State said?

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said: “Are Iran and Syria regimes that I look down upon? I certainly do. But at the same time I’ve looked down on many people over the years in the course of my military and diplomatic career and I still had to talk to them.”

Powell made the observation on “Face the Nation,” the CBS Sunday morning talk show with Bob Schieffer last December.

Secretary Powell has no illusions that a dialogue with Iran, for example, would change their direction in the pursuit of nuclear weapons, but most former Secretaries of State adopt the position that “Talking and engagement with all nations can have some merit.”

But the official policy of the White House and the State Department was not to dialogue with Iran, North Korea and Syria.

At about the same time that former Secretary Powell made his criticisms, the Iraq Study Group headed by another former Secretary of State, James Baker, and former Rep. Lee Hamilton — a noted expert in international thinking — were saying that America should engage all nations and not ignore places like Iran.

Secretary Powell’s position and that of Mr. Baker and Hamilton rests in sharp contrast to that of President Bush and the current Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who branded Syria, Iran and North Korea members of the “Axis of Evil” and broke all relationships and dialogue with these nations at the start of the war against terror in 2001.

Still, the commission said, “Given the ability of Iran and Syria to influence events within Iraq and their interest in avoiding chaos in Iraq, the United States should try to engage them constructively.”

Another former Secretary of State, Dr. Henry Kissinger, has also made remarks disparaging to the “no-discussion diplomacy” of Secretary Rice and Mrs. Hughes.

When asked by the BBC’s Andrew Marr on November 19, 2006, about Kissinger’s plan to remove U.S. troops from Iraq, Dr. Kissinger responded, “At some point I think an international conference – at some early point an international conference should be called that involves neighbors, perhaps the permanent members of the Security Council and countries that have a major interest in the outcome, like India and Pakistan.”

So the spin coming from the State department today is that Karen Hughes made a wonderful contribution and many “achievements.”

Frankly, we view her collective time at State as a gigantic mistake that should have resulted in an even earlier termination.

President Bush Lost Credibility, Confidence

September 6, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
September 6, 2007

It seems obvious to just about all American voters: Bush lost all credibility somewhere after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. He couldn’t or didn’t regain it thus becoming one of the presidents’ with the lowest public support polling numbers in history.

I like President Bush. But when the American people believe you have lost just about all credibility their confidence goes down the drain quickly.

Just yesterday, when a reporter asked Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin about the impending report from General David H. Petraeus on the “surge” in Iraq, he answered, “The Bush report?”

“We know what is going to be in it. It’s clear. I think the president’s trip over to Iraq makes it very obvious,” the Illinois Democrat said. “I expect the Bush report to say, ‘The surge is working. Let’s have more of the same.'”

For right or wrong, President Bush has become the “more of the same” president. As a result, Hillary Clinton and others are running for the White House under a one word banner: “CHANGE.”

I asked a friend who is a registered Republican what he thought about Vice President Cheney and he said (I am paraphrasing a little here) “Cheney represents the worst aspect of American politics. Cronyism. Special interests influencing the White House. Halliburton. Waste fraud and abuse. Lying to the American public. You cannot trust this guy and he has tremendous influence over President Bush.”

Cheney, to many, is the Emperor of the Evil Empire. Karl Rove was just the executioner.

Vice President Cheny was my “boss” in a way at one time while he served as Secretary of Defense (during the first war in Iraq) and I served as a Naval Officer. But Mr. Cheney lost me when he made a long-winded “over the top” defense of President general Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan on “Meet the Press” on Sunday, September 10, 2006. You have to read for yourself the transcripts (see references at the end).

Mr. Cheney is also close to President Karzai of Afghanistan. Mr. Karzai has made no secret of the fact that he believes the Taliban, al-Qaeda and perhaps Osama Bin Laden himself are hiding out in the tribal areas of Pakistan: the land governed by President General Pervez Musharraf. The tribal areas are along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan. They form, as the name implies, a semi-autonomous region. Pakistan’s Army does not venture into the tribal areas without severe trepidation.

For more than a year, we at Peace and Freedom have had an almost daily dialogue with journalist Muhammad Khurshid from Khar, Bajaur Agency, Tribal Areas Pakistan. Muhammad has given us at Peace and Freedom, and we hope, many readers, an appreciation for Pakistan, President General Musharraf and especially the tribal areas.

Muhammad I trust. Mr. Cheney: no.

Mr. Cheney was also involved in “the great research project” which prompted the administration to practically guarantee that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and intended to use them. CIA Director Tenet told a room full of Oval Office luminaries this fact was a “slam dunk.” Mr. Tenet lost his job, not too long after that, and was smeared, some say, by the White House as a man without credibility or merit.

Cheney also engineered Secretary of State Colin Powell’s dissertation before the United Nations on Iraq, Saddam Hussein, weapons of mass destruction and the CIA’s “proof.”

Mr. Powell also lost his job and may have been the victim of a smear campaign engineered by the White House. Powell was “thrown under the bus.”

But it is President Bush himself who has disappointed most. Remember, “Brownie, you are doing a heck of a job” after Hurricane Katrina? He lost his job soon thereafter also.

Remember, “I looked into Putin’s soul and saw a man I could do business with”?

Just yesterday, President Bush said of China’s Hu Jintao, the architect or banker, perhaps, of the genocide in Darfur, “He’s an easy man to talk to. I’m very comfortable in my discussions with President Hu.”

President Hu regularly stabs America in the back at the United Nations and elsewhere. The fact that he smiles and is an affable lad is not relevant.

Mr. Putin and President Hu Jintao just cooperated in the largest combined Chinese-Russian military maneuvers ever. They also hosted an international conference that gave the podium to the likes of President Ahmadinejad of Iran. He naturally attacked the U.S. in his speech.

But President Hu is really best known as the villain in the worst Human Rights abuses and the worst violations of ecology on today’s planet earth. Never mind what President Bush sees in his soul. Ask Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the United Nations, Greenpeace and other international human rights or ecology groups. God will mediate this one.

On China, President Bush has enemies on the left and the right.  The right wing of the Republican Party says Bush is soft on China.  The Democrat left says he does too little for Human Rights.

Remember Don Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, the architects of the war against terror in the Pentagon? Mr. Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, opened a two-front war of words on Capitol Hill, calling the estimate by Gen. Eric K. Shinseki of the Army that several hundred thousand troops would be needed in postwar Iraq, “wildly off the mark.” Pentagon officials put the figure closer to 100,000 troops.

Neither Rumsfeld nor Wolfie attended General Shinseki’s retirement. But the General, in hindsight, appears to have been right. Rumsfeld retired and Wolfie went to the World Bank where he crashed and burned.

But generally, commentators say, President Bush stands by his people.

President Bush stood by his pal from Texas Alberto Gonzales long past the time most president’s would have summoned, even driven the bus. The president will maybe go down for his loyalty to his guys: but not for his acute judgment.

And who in the United States is responsible for out “Hearts and Minds” effort in the war against terror?

To remind those that don’t even recall: Karen Hughes, another President Bush buddy from Texas.

In 2005 CBS News reported on Hughes’ role this way: “President Bush’s adviser Karen Hughes was named to a State Department post designed to change Islamic perceptions about America.”

And how are we doing on the “Hearts and Minds effort”? Miserable. A total failure (see references at the end about “misunderspinning”).  Ms. Hughes still works at the U.S. Department of State.

President Bush and his vice president are serving out their terms. The next presidential election is a huge one.

But you knew all this. I was the one that only caught on slowly.

Related:
Cheney’s Stand on Musharraf May Yet Be Reversed

Pakistan: Bush Team Ignored Experts

China: ‘Trust but verify’ needed

Cold War Redux?

Permanent President Putin?

Misunderspinning: Hezbollah Honored For Sharp Media Acuity; Where’s Ours?

Where is America’s War of Hearts and Minds?

Bush Again Proves Soft on China

Bush, South Korean President Roh Run Amok