Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick didn’t want to “manage” the State Department in the same manner that his predecessor Richard Armitage did. Zoellick wanted to carve out portfolios that he would manage, and left the meat-and-potato operations of the department to others.
Now Zoellick is planning to leave the government after hearing through the grapevine that he did not make the short list to succeed Treasury Secretary John Snow.
The question now is who will come in after Zoellick. Sources have told TWN that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice prefers to appoint Nick Burns as her DepSec.
But Cheney may use his influence to block Burns, whom many consider to be too much of a “diplomatic type”. During the recent UN Security Council skirmishes with Russia and China over how to deal with Iran, John Bolton and various other Cheney acolytes began a whisper campaign against Nick Burns.
Burns has cut many deals lately — including the Security Council resolution on Iran with Europe and the recent nuclear negotiations with India — but he’s no darling of the left. He’s considered to be serious but is a believer in Rice’s “transformational diplomacy” doctrine.
But Cheney had wanted John Bolton in the DepSec job rather than Zoellick — and in this next round, Cheney will not want Burns to help further strengthen Rice’s hand in foreign and national security policy.
It will be interesting to watch the sides square off, and whomever does succeed Zoellick will give some indication of the relative strengths of Rice and Cheney in the administration.
— Steve Clemons
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