Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates have begun a high-level diplomatic effort in the Middle East with a weeklong visit to the region. Brookings senior fellow Suzanne Maloney joins guest host Susan Page along with Brookings nonresident senior fellow Shibley Telhami and Henry L. Stimson Center research fellow Emile El-Hokayem. Their discussion centers on a newly announced Bush Administration offer of multi-billion dollar arms deals to Arab nations in hope of isolating Iran and receiving help to defeat the insurgency in Iraq.
I think it's unusual for the chief of staff to go on a trip, particularly on a trip this long. The chief of staff is usually more of a chief operating officer in the White House itself, and normally when your principal—whether it's the president himself or the head of Cabinet agency—goes abroad, you have his deputy and those folks staying behind to help manage operations in his absence.