10.27.11

Condi's Rivals React

Rice’s memoir poked some former rivals inside the Bush administration, but will it end the score settling? Now Donald Rumsfeld and John Bolton are weighing in. Plus, Newsweek's exclusive excerpts from Rice's memoir.

The last big memoir of a major player in the George W. Bush presidency—compliments of former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice—raised hopes that the gamesmanship of settling scores from the 43rd presidency might finally be waning. If so, Donald Rumsfeld may have signaled the truce.

“It’s a good thing that Condi has written her book, and I look forward to reading it,” the former defense secretary told The Daily Beast, demurring from any criticism of his onetime rival inside the Bush cabinet. “It’s no secret that we differed on some substantive issues from time to time, but they did not lessen my respect for her as an accomplished American, a dedicated public servant, and a friend.”

Former vice president Dick Cheney hasn’t fired any shots either. And even ex–United Nations ambassador John Bolton—no shrinking violet—didn’t put up much of a fight against Rice’s allegation in the book that he was sharing with Israel, without permission, the Bush administration’s drafts of U.N. resolutions to end the war with Hizbullah in Lebanon in the summer of 2006.

Rice writes, “Shalom Turgeman, [Israeli Prime Minister Ehud] Olmert’s diplomatic adviser, had called [then–National Security Adviser] Steve [Hadley], furious that the United States was putting on the table a solution that Israel couldn’t support. Steve made certain that they had the right version of the resolution. Only several years later did I learn that John Bolton had been sharing information with the Israelis through their U.N. ambassador without permission to do so. That practice had backfired, as the Israeli ambassador was one step behind the discussions between the White House and the prime minister’s office.”

When asked about that passage, Bolton all but pleaded guilty. “Of course I kept the Israelis informed about the state of play in the negotiations. That’s how you treat close allies,” he told The Daily Beast.

“It’s no secret that we differed on some substantive issues from time to time,” says Donald Rumsfeld, “but they did not lessen my respect for her as an accomplished American, a dedicated public servant, and a friend.”

Rice writes candidly in her memoir about her struggles with Rumsfeld, conceding in one passage, “I could barely contain my joy” when President Bush told her in late 2006 that he was thinking about replacing the embattled defense secretary with Bob Gates.

But Rice also writes that she resisted lobbying hard against Rumsfeld.

“I’d been careful not to involve myself in the decision about Don Rumsfeld’s fate. There was something unseemly about one secretary, no matter how close to the president, appearing in any way to be trying to vanquish another. The president knew how I felt. The closest I’d come to an opinion about Don had been in our initial conversation at Camp David when the president had asked me to be secretary of state. ‘I don’t intend to spend my energy sparring with Don,’ I’d said. 'I’m going to lead U.S. foreign policy, and I don’t need his input.'” She stresses that those remarks were “nothing personal with Don. I just wanted him out of the diplomatic lane.”