A major problem, critics said, is Miss Rice's ignorance of the Middle East. They said the secretary relies completely on Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, who is largely regarded as the architect of U.S. foreign policy. Miss Rice also consults regularly with her supporters on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Chairman Richard Lugar and the No. 2 Republican, Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska.
In point of fact, Burns and Asst Sec Welch have served in the Middle East and between them have about thirty years experience with the area. When I was a brown-bagger at DC policy confabs, Sen. Hagel would attend and ask very perceptive questions. Lugar knows more about the Middle East than Richard Perle and John Bolton put together. Not to mention Condi's IQ, which is probably higher than both Perle and Bolton's.
The militaristic wing of the Republican Party, now buttressed by the NeoCon Israeli Fifth Column, has always regarded the State Department as at best an impediment and at worst an obstacle to their muscular foreign policy goals. Colin Powell drank their Kool-Aid on Iraq and was subsequently embarrassed by having touted faulty CIA intelligence in the UNSC on national TV, although he himself was savvy enough to have voiced strong doubts beforehand which George Tenet assured him were baseless.
Insight magazine is run by Arnaud de Borchgrave, whose nickname about press types back when I was in DC was "Farrago de Bullshit." It's possible that Arnaud, a famous name-dropper, has been hyping the anti-Condi sentiment among the far right to bolster Insight and the Washington Times, his other outlet.
But if John Bolton disagrees with Condi, he sure has been putting a mild face on his inner bad-boy. Perhaps he wants to succeed her in the job. Fat chance!