In a move reminiscent of the premature endorsement of the unsuccessful attempt to unseat Hugo Chavez in 2002, the U.S. withdrew its initial congratulations to Kenyan incumbent and President-Elect Mwai Kibaki.
Why the flip-flop? First of all, Ms. Rice was never that good in the first place. Second, and this is more important, political appointees and career officials alike have been bailing out, and nobody who’s any good is going to climb on board for a one year ride on a sinking ship. There are simply not enough people to keep watch beyond the Middle East.
Playing short-handed has repercussions here in Northeast Asia as well, where the prospects of an uneasy stalemate that I first speculated on here has grown. The U.S. Congress is not going to let the Bush administration give Chris Hill his “deal at any price”, while North Korea appears to be willing to play the short game only. And I will be surprised if the U.S. Congress ratifies the FTA with South Korea, even though the climate should be improved under the new South Korean president.