Is Cheney in or out?

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images I was intrigued last week by a Financial Times article by Edward Luce about the “Gang of Three” that is supposedly running U.S. foreign policy nowadays: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Defense Bob Gates, and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson. According to Luce, these pragmatic realists are informally cooperating to correct ...

602670_070411_cheney_05.jpg
602670_070411_cheney_05.jpg

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

I was intrigued last week by a Financial Times article by Edward Luce about the "Gang of Three" that is supposedly running U.S. foreign policy nowadays: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Defense Bob Gates, and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson. According to Luce, these pragmatic realists are informally cooperating to correct the mistakes of the past six years. Key to their success has been the sidelining of Vice President Dick Cheney, writes Luce:

Their growing co-operation on key issues was most dramatically illustrated last month when Ms Rice persuaded Mr Paulson to swallow the Treasury Department’s doubts about unfreezing $25m (€19m, £12.7m) worth of North Korean accounts in order to free the way for the six-party nuclear deal with Pyongyang to ­proceed.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

I was intrigued last week by a Financial Times article by Edward Luce about the “Gang of Three” that is supposedly running U.S. foreign policy nowadays: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Defense Bob Gates, and Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson. According to Luce, these pragmatic realists are informally cooperating to correct the mistakes of the past six years. Key to their success has been the sidelining of Vice President Dick Cheney, writes Luce:

Their growing co-operation on key issues was most dramatically illustrated last month when Ms Rice persuaded Mr Paulson to swallow the Treasury Department’s doubts about unfreezing $25m (€19m, £12.7m) worth of North Korean accounts in order to free the way for the six-party nuclear deal with Pyongyang to ­proceed.

Ms Rice said she spent several hours talking it through with Mr Paulson. She also managed to gain Mr Gates’s support to by-pass Washington’s normal interagency process for big policy decisions – most critically to circumvent Dick Cheney, the vice-president, who remains opposed to diplomatic engagement with rogue regimes.

Luce and his sources may be reading the tea leaves wrong on this one. For starters, there’s today’s Washington Post article explaining why retired four-star generals don’t want to work in the White House on Iraq and Afghanistan policy:

The very fundamental issue is, they don’t know where the hell they’re going,” said retired Marine Gen. John J. “Jack” Sheehan, a former top NATO commander who was among those rejecting the job. Sheehan said he believes that Vice President Cheney and his hawkish allies remain more powerful within the administration than pragmatists looking for a way out of Iraq.

My hunch? Cheney, like Richard Perle and John Bolton, thinks the North Korea deal will ultimately fail. If and when it does, he’ll be vindicated. That’s why he let it go through.

More from Foreign Policy

An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.
An illustration shows George Kennan, the father of Cold War containment strategy.

Is Cold War Inevitable?

A new biography of George Kennan, the father of containment, raises questions about whether the old Cold War—and the emerging one with China—could have been avoided.

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks on the DISCLOSE Act.

So You Want to Buy an Ambassadorship

The United States is the only Western government that routinely rewards mega-donors with top diplomatic posts.

Chinese President Xi jinping  toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.
Chinese President Xi jinping toasts the guests during a banquet marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China on September 30, 2019 in Beijing, China.

Can China Pull Off Its Charm Offensive?

Why Beijing’s foreign-policy reset will—or won’t—work out.

Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.
Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar chairs a meeting in Ankara, Turkey on Nov. 21, 2022.

Turkey’s Problem Isn’t Sweden. It’s the United States.

Erdogan has focused on Stockholm’s stance toward Kurdish exile groups, but Ankara’s real demand is the end of U.S. support for Kurds in Syria.