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Wednesday, 16 May, 2001, 02:04 GMT 03:04 UK
Bush's hawks and doves
President George W Bush and Colin Powell
George Bush has to balance strong personalities of his foreign policy team
By Rob Watson Washington Correspondent

During the recent tensions between the United States and China, the favourite point of discussion in the game of Washington whispers was who was ascendant in the Bush foreign policy team - the hawks or the doves?

The so-called hawks, Vice President Dick Cheney and Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld kept a low profile during the crisis.

More in evidence were the more dove-ish National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice and Colin Powell at the State Department.

On paper at least President George W Bush has the foreign policy dream team - a mix of experience and charisma in Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell and Rice.

Tension

But according to many, including James Lindsay at the Brookings Institution, the administration has already developed the classic tension between the departments of state and defence and their charismatic bosses.

"The two leaders, Powell and Rumsfeld, have very different styles - Rumsfeld, the hard-nosed bureaucratic infighter and Powell, the soldier turned statesman," Mr Lindsay said.
Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld
Donald Rumsfeld differs in style and policy from Secretary of State Colin Powell

And they also have policy differences, he adds.

"Rumsfeld is a big believer in technology, the ability of military might to solve problems, and oddly enough, Powell, as the former warrior, is very attuned to diplomacy," he said.

In past administrations such divisions have proved near fatal, but experienced Washington watcher Nick Berry, at the Centre for Defence Information, says the famous four are different.

"There is a fault line, but they have rules. They have made an agreement. They will fight strongly and recommend their positions, so they will struggle, but they will come together," he said.

"They are team players."

Treacherous politics

In a town where it is all about access to the president, the question is who of the four has Mr Bush's ear.

Norman Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute says the answer is surprising.
National Security Advisor Condoleeza Rice
Despite conventional wisdom, Rice has Bush's ear

"The conventional wisdom around town is that with national figures like Colin Powell, strong personalities and senior people like Donald Rumsfeld and the powerful vice president, the odd person out will be Condoleeza Rice, the national security adviser," he said.

But he said that Ms Rice is well schooled in treacherous politics having been a provost of a university, and despite the conventional wisdom, she has the ear of Mr Bush more than any of the other players.

Bush's test

But before everyone gets too hyped up about fault lines and face time, Norman Ornstein, an analyst with the American Enterprise Institute, says it is important to remember the big four have more in common than divides them.

"What you have here is a group of people who believe in free trade, internationalism, a strong American role in the world with some difference more in tactics than basic philosophy," he said.

Most notably absent, he added, is that not one of the four represents the "populist, isolationist protectionism that elsewhere is out there in conservative thought".

That said managing such undoubtedly powerful figures, will take some skill from Mr Bush, a man who prides himself on running the White House like a business, but who is still relatively untested.

See also:

05 Mar 01 | Americas
Bush cabinet profiles
07 Apr 01 | Americas
Analysis: Bush's foreign policy
26 Mar 01 | Letter From America
Bush leads from the right
03 Feb 01 | Americas
US stands by 'Star Wars'
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