Bush's relationship with Rice is perhaps the strangest of his many strange relationships. The mysterious attachment involves complex transactions of noblesse oblige and deference, ignorance and adulation, vulnerability and sweet talk. Like his other female enablers, Karen Hughes, his political image-maker and undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, and Harriet Miers, his legal counsel, Rice is ferociously protective. She shields him from worst-case scenarios, telling him to ignore criticism that misunderstands his greatness, and showers him with a constant stream of flattery that he is a world-historical colossus...Can't help wondering if Rice wouldn't get more criticism if she were a man.
As national security advisor, before 9/11, Rice protected Bush from counterterrorism chief Richard Clarke's warnings about al-Qaida attacks and demoted Clarke. Before the invasion of Iraq she lent her imprimatur to the disinformation about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction and peddled it to the major media. She did not demand an Iraq postwar stabilization plan. Nor did she object to the Pentagon's seizure of Iraq's civil governance responsibilities from the State Department. Before Israel's attack on Lebanon in July, she did not caution against the possibility of Israeli failure against Hezbollah. She was party to the decision to lend full war materiel and intelligence support to the effort if Israel would undertake it. She requested no potential or actual damage assessment.
In the beginning, the didactic academic lectured her pupil that he stood at a crossroads like 1947, the making of the Cold War policy, "present at the creation," as Truman's secretary of state Dean Acheson described it. After 9/11 she inculcated in Bush the notion that he was a world builder and could imprint his design on a scale to match the Peace of Westphalia of 1648 that established the sovereignty of nation-states...
This May, as the situation in Iraq drastically worsened, Rice directed the senior staff that she wants no more reporting from U.S. embassies. She announced in the meeting, according to one participant, that people write memos only for each other and that no one else reads them. She said she didn't and wouldn't read them. Instead of writing reports, the diplomats should "sell America," she insisted. "We are salesmen for America!"
"There is no plan for Iraq," a senior national security official with the highest intelligence clearance and access to the relevant memos told me. "There is no plan. No plan."