Can The Dems Vote Against A Muslim?
Zalmay Khalilzad, who was announced this week as leaving as U.S. ambassador to Iraq, is the leading prospect to replace John Bolton as envoy to the United Nations.Imagine a Muslim with Bolton's personality in the UN. How that would screw with the Iranians and Syrians! Imagine him arguing against the latest vile sanction against Israel. Imagine how many bodyguards he'd need.
President Bush was reported by aides as looking for someone who approximates Bolton's combination of toughness and diplomatic skill and has tentatively decided on Khalilzad. A native of Afghanistan, he has served in government posts dating back to 1985 and is the highest-ranking Muslim in the Bush administration.
Some Dems might focus on Khalilzad's former work advising Unocal on its trans-Afghanistan pipeline project and try to brand him as another Bush Big Oil lacky. Some might point to his early support of the Taliban, first to oppose the Soviets, then as a possible force for stability in Afghanistan -- a view he promptly changed after 9/11. Maybe they'll brand him an Uncle Tom Muslim, as they have Rice and Powell.
But check out this resume and see if you don't think he's a guy who should get confirmed:
In 1984 Khalilzad accepted a one-year Council on Foreign Relations fellowship to join the State Department, where he worked for Paul Wolfowitz, then the director of Policy Planning.
From 1985 to 1989, Khalilzad served as a senior State Department official advising on the Soviet war in Afghanistan and the Iran-Iraq war, during which time he was the State Department's Special Advisor on Afghanistan to Undersecretary of State Michael H. Armacost. In this role he developed and guided the international program to promote the merits of a Mujahideen-led Afghanistan to oust the Soviet occupation. Khalilzad served under former U.S. Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush as special assistant to the president for Southwest Asia, the Near East and North Africa. From 1991 to 1992, he was a senior Defense Department official for policy planning, serving as a counsellor to Donald Rumsfeld. Khalilzad initially viewed the Taliban as a potential force for stability and as counter balance to Iran, but his views changed over time, especially after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. ...
Between 1993 and 1999, Dr. Khalilzad was Director of the Strategy, Doctrine and Force Structure program for the RAND Corporation's Project Air Force. ... While with RAND, he founded the Center for Middle Eastern Studies. Khalilzad co-authored the RAND study, "The United States and a Rising China".
Dr. Khalilzad headed the Bush-Cheney transition team for the Department of Defense and has been a Counselor to Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. In May 2001, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice announced the appointment of Khalilzad as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Gulf, Southwest Asia and Other Regional Issues, National Security Council.
Looks like a very smart choice; one that can get confirmed; one that can accomplish things once confirmed.