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A State Department spokesman was quick to distance the department officially from Mr. Zelikow’s rema

A State Department spokesman was quick to distance the department officially from Mr. Zelikow’s remarks, which ruffled the feathers of American Jewish groups and Israeli officials.

In September, Zelikow alarmed pro-Israel groups when he told the Washington Institute on Near East Policy that, for Arabs and Europeans, "some sense of progress and momentum on the Arab-Israeli dispute is just a sine qua non for their ability to cooperate actively with the United States on a lot of things that we care about."

Philip Zelikow, Senior Aide to Rice, Resigns From Post

WASHINGTON, Nov. 27 — Two months ago, the State Department’s counselor, Philip D. Zelikow, offered an oblique criticism of the administration’s failure to push strongly for an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan in the Middle East.

In a speech to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Mr. Zelikow, an intellectual known for peppering his statements with historical references, said progress on the Arab-Israeli dispute was a “sine qua non” in order to get moderate Arabs “to cooperate actively with the United States on a lot of other things that we care about.”

A State Department spokesman was quick to distance the department officially from Mr. Zelikow’s remarks, which ruffled the feathers of American Jewish groups and Israeli officials. But the administration may soon be doing what Mr. Zelikow advised, starting a renewed push for a Middle East peace initiative, in part to shore up support in the Arab world for providing help in Iraq.

If it works, the architect of the plan will not be around to see its conclusion. On Monday, the 52-year-old Mr. Zelikow, after 19 months serving as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s in-house contrarian and advocate for realpolitik in American diplomacy, submitted his resignation, effective Jan. 2. He said that he would return to the University of Virginia, where he has an endowed chair as a history professor.

In his resignation letter, Mr. Zelikow cited “some truly riveting obligations to college bursars” for his children’s tuition and said he would remain available to help the administration where he could. While Mr. Zelikow, in an interview, maintained that he was not leaving his post because of any disgruntlement, one administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the subject publicly noted that Mr. Zelikow had been frustrated with the pace of the administration’s diplomatic efforts on the Middle East, Iran and North Korea.

Whatever the reason for Mr. Zelikow’s departure, in losing him Ms. Rice is losing not only one of her most trusted advisers, but also one of the few people in the State Department willing to speak with candor during closed-door meetings on American diplomatic efforts.

Some of his ideas have become policy; he had called for closing down secret prisons run by the Central Intelligence Agency a year before the Supreme Court decision that prodded the Bush administration to empty them. The United States offered North Korea a chance to negotiate a permanent peace treaty, as Mr. Zelikow had advised, and he, along with Ms. Rice, was one of the backers of the Iran initiative, in which President Bush offered to reverse three decades of American policy against direct talks with Iran if it suspended uranium enrichment. Neither North Korea nor Iran has responded positively to the initiatives, but America’s allies applauded them.

“I appreciate Philip’s dedicated service in this time of historic change and we will miss his counsel at the State Department,” Ms. Rice said in a statement.

Mr. Zelikow and Ms. Rice are co-authors of a book about Germany’s reunification, “Germany Unified and Europe Transformed: A Study in Statecraft” (Harvard University Press, 1995). The book is a study in realpolitik, examining — and admiring — the tempered, carefully managed American response to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

In the interview on Monday, Mr. Zelikow disputed suggestions that he was more of a political realist than an ideologue, calling it a “false dichotomy.”

“I think the issue of ideals is important, but ideals that are not practically attainable” end up hurting more than helping, he said. “You don’t end up strengthening your ideals when you fail to attain them.”

Close Adviser to Rice Plans to Resign
The Sometimes Controversial Zelikow Leaving at a Challenging Time for Secretary

By Glenn Kessler
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 28, 2006; A04

One of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's closest advisers said yesterday that he will resign at the end of the year, depriving her of a key sounding board at a time when she is still searching for a new deputy and faces difficult challenges in the Middle East.

Philip D. Zelikow, 52, holds the unassuming title of "counselor," but in many ways he is Rice's intellectual soul mate, and he plays a critical role in formulating policy at the State Department. In his resignation letter, he cited professional and personal obligations, including a need to return to an endowed chair that the University of Virginia has held vacant for four years and to pay "some truly riveting obligations to college bursars" for his children's education.

As a sort of minister without portfolio, Zelikow was a one-person think tank for Rice, churning out lengthy and sometimes blunt memos calling for confronting the deteriorating situation in Iraq, overhauling the administration's detainee policies and using the North Korean nuclear crisis to build a new security structure in northeast Asia. He also played an important role in Rice's decisions to strike a nuclear energy deal with India and to offer to join European-led nuclear talks with Iran.

Zelikow proved to be a controversial figure at the State Department and in the administration for his willingness to challenge administration orthodoxy and for his sometimes abrasive approach. But Rice valued his insights and contributions, aides said, even when descriptions of some of his memos began to surface in news reports.

In an interview yesterday, Zelikow said Rice "knew I had done no wrong." At no time, he added, was he quoted reflecting on people's personalities or disclosing private discussions with Rice.

"Philip is a close friend and we will continue to enjoy this friendship in the years ahead," Rice said in a statement. "I appreciate Philip's dedicated service during this time of historical change."

In September, Zelikow alarmed pro-Israel groups when he told the Washington Institute on Near East Policy that, for Arabs and Europeans, "some sense of progress and momentum on the Arab-Israeli dispute is just a sine qua non for their ability to cooperate actively with the United States on a lot of things that we care about."

Zelikow said yesterday that advocates on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict "over-read my remarks to make the arguments they wanted to make." But he noted that Rice will travel to the Middle East this week to assemble a coalition to "execute a regional approach to Mideast issues."

While Zelikow's name was sometimes floated for open jobs, such as deputy secretary of state, Rice aides said he was not seriously considered for anything but his current post, which did not require Senate confirmation. Zelikow had rubbed some lawmakers the wrong way when he served as executive director of the commission that investigated the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Friends said that Zelikow, who was appointed in February 2005, never intended to serve a full four years at the State Department but that he feels bad about leaving Rice before she has selected a deputy. If he did not leave now, he would not be listed in University of Virginia course catalogues for the upcoming semester, which would then delay his return until September.

Once he leaves the government, Zelikow will be able to supplement his salary with consulting projects and by writing books. He said he wants to write scholarly books, not a tell-all on the Bush administration, which is "no doubt a disappointment to my wife."

Asked what his departure means, Zelikow said: "Liberated from this weight, the secretary will soar higher and higher."

Rice's deputy, Robert B. Zoellick, left in July for a Wall Street investment house. He had carried an unusually large portfolio, principally handling China, Latin America, Southeast Asia, Sudan and international economics. One aide said Rice hopes to announce a replacement by the end of the year.

Zelikow and Rice worked together on the National Security Council staff in the administration of George H.W. Bush, beginning on the same day in 1989 and leaving within 24 hours of each other in 1991. They then co-wrote "Germany Unified and Europe Transformed: A Study in Statecraft," an academic book on U.S. policy during the tumultuous period of German reunification.

Zelikow was a consultant to Rice when she returned to Washington as President Bush's national security adviser, helping her restructure the NSC staff, though he did not join the administration at the time. At Rice's request, Zelikow was the primary writer of the administration's post-Sept. 11 national security strategy, which first outlined the intellectual rationale for preemptive war as a key tool in U.S. foreign policy.





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