In this week’s International Press Club, Judith Latham talks with leading members of the media about reaction to the nomination of National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice as the next U.S. Secretary of State.
Patrick Jarreau, Washington bureau chief of the French daily newspaper Le Monde, says that Ms. Rice is not viewed as a friendly partner in Europe and especially in France. And people there are still annoyed by a remark attributed to her in the wake of the crisis in Iraq that “the U.S. would forgive Russia, ignore Germany, and punish France.” He says that Europeans are skeptical about recent moves by the United States to reach out to their allies across the Atlantic.
In contrast, most Indians have welcomed the news of Ms. Rice’s nomination as a successor to Colin Powell, who as a military man was viewed with “great suspicion,” partly because of his “cozy relationship” with President Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan. That’s according to Chidanand Rajghatta, foreign editor of the Times of India, who further points out that Ms. Rice had what he calls a “separate channel” with New Delhi that “actually bypassed the State Department.”
Xing Fu Zhu, Washington bureau chief of Shanghai Wen-Hui, says the Chinese were also pleased by Condoleeza Rice’s selection. And that’s partly because, when Ms. Rice visited Beijing last July, she met with “all the senior Chinese leaders there” who were favorably impressed by their “very good and frank discussions.” But, in sub-Saharan Africa Colin Powell will be “sorely missed” for his patient mediation in the Darfur region of Sudan and his genuine interest in African affairs, says Robert Guest, Africa editor for The Economist magazine. Mr. Guest says that people in Africa frankly don’t know much about Ms. Rice, who has not been as outspoken about the continent.
In the Arab world, according to Hisham Melhem of al-Arabiya, the reaction ranges from skeptical to hopeful. He says some people see in the choice of Ms. Rice a victory for the neo-conservatives in the Bush administration, whereas others are heartened by the fact that Condoleeza Rice is very close to the President and clearly has his ear. Although reactions to Ms. Rice vary across regions, most international journalist point out that her greatest asset is that, unlike her predecessor, she can truly speak for President Bush.