As I was reading this front page NYTimes piece on a new, very hostile speech delivered yesterday against Russia by second tier employee at the State Dept, I was struck by this.
An advance copy of the speech was provided by an administration official who wanted to make sure Mr. Kramer’s remarks received broad attention.
What is that? It was made clear in the article that the White House "approved" the comments, but reading that odd sourcing I'm left wondering. Is this a sanctioned action, or has someone in the White House promoted this beyond the profile it was intended to get?
It seems to me that this speech was supposed to be a bit of quiet, back and forth diplomacy before the Putin meeting in Kennebunkport, but suddenly, it's front page and high profile, complicating the efforts of others in the administration who want to run a softer line.
At the same time, these officials said, the administration wanted to make clear that the meeting would be an opportunity for the two sides to improve their relations.
What is important about this relatively minor incident is that the hawkish side of the White House schism is breaking discipline to advance its aims. Coupled with the recent Iran talks, this tells me two things. 1) That the Cheney-led bloc within the administration is losing some of the internal battles, and 2) That they're willing to play dirty to advance their causes.
I recognize I'm building all of this on a tiny little mention, but if this is what's going down, it has big implications. Diplomacy and Real Politik are very delicate and subtle things that can be easily derailed if that's the hawks' intention.
If this is now the game, it has implications for Iraq, but, probably more importantly, for the policy on Iran.
(And notice that this took place on Russia, Condi Rice's one guaranteed area of expertise.)