For those of you on line and over at the Office of Naval Reseach, former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage is giving a talk tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. titled “The World in 2020.”
I have someone who will be there to report back on any interesting material that gets discussed. I’ve written about Armitage many times in the past. I think I was the primary lead critic of his much-discussed “Armitage Report” on the US-Japan alliance written before the 2000 election.
His views on Japan and Asia Security policy differ from my own, but I very much respect the things he’s done for this country, particularly things like prevening an India-Pakistan nuclear exchange for which he is not given enough credit. I wrote once that of those people who left the Bush administration and who are charging high speaking fees, Armitage may be the one on the list who most deserves his $25k.
Chris Nelson of the Nelson Report had the following interesting thoughts on Armitage as a possible successor to Donald Rumsfeld, and word is that Armitage believes that he would have a shot at that top defense spot. Sounds unlikely to me, but Armitage feels he has been exceedingly loyal to G.W. Bush, if not to other members of the Bush team.
From the Nelson Report, 30 March 2006, discussing the move of OMB Director Joshua Bolten to White House Chief of Staff:
So the question may boil down to Bolten’s authority, and capacity. Observers say that the Bolten of today is just as smart as he ever was, with an additional layer of toughness. “Now he has learned that sometimes you must fire people, even your friends, if you want to succeed”.
So does he have the authority to fire Rumsfeld? Inside betting is “yes”…so stay tuned.
If Rummy goes, who’s next? Sources say don’t be surprised if Bush goes to Capitol Hill. Some Republicans think Senate Armed Services chair John Warner might look logical, given the confidence issues within both the military and the media. And come January next year, Warned is term-limited out as chairman, so will be “available”. But if Warner is deemed too old, some sources say don’t forget that former Senator and Indiana governor Dan Coats was on the short list back in 2000-2001 transition.
Hummm. . .we recall reporting at that time that Coats had DOD sewed up, pending his personal interview down at the ranch in Crawford, but that Coats’ performance was SO dismal the George Bush of that time. . .raw, inexperienced, and naÃƒÂ¯ve on both defense and foreign policy. . .rejected Coats out of hand.
What about former Deputy Secretary of State Rich Armitage, we hear you ask? Certainly Armitage has been known to express serious interest. . .and perhaps even serious hopes he could be on the list. . .due to his strong personal relationship with Bush, despite his loyalty to Colin Powell.
There could hardly be a stronger choice to prove that Rumsfeld has been “fired” than Armitage, but you have to figure out how to parse Armitage’s recent interviews in Australia, for example, or with The Oriental Economist, in which he had some frank and not entirely comradely things to say about the current Bush team, Secretary Condi Rice included.
I don’t have any evidence that Rumsfeld is on his way out — though I think that it would be great for the nation — and also for a legacy-focused Bush administration — to get rid of him now. It should have happened long ago.
Armitage would be a long shot for the SecDef job, but as Nelson said, nothing would say “you’re fired” more to the world about Rumsfeld than picking Richard Armitage to run the Pentagon.
— Steve Clemons
UPDATE: Please note that Richard Armitage is speaking tomorrow morning, April 6. Doubly confirmed information had come my way that he was speaking today — in part from the ONR media relations people, who were great but just made small mistake. More later, Steve Clemons