Top Bush Aide Calls For
Anti-Missile Shield
By David Wastell

An anti-missile shield to protect Britain and other American allies in Europe from attack by Middle Eastern "rogue states" is advocated by a senior aide to George W Bush, the Republicans' leading presidential candidate.
Iraq and Iran are both striving to develop rockets capable of striking targets in Europe. Condoleezza Rice, a strategic weapons expert and Mr Bush's senior foreign policy adviser, told The Telegraph she believes that America should develop and deploy a "theatre defence" system as soon as possible.
Such a system - still some years from fruition - could not defend against the sheer number of missiles available to China or Russia. But, she said: "If you're talking about a launch by a rogue state, or an unauthorised launch by someone else, then why shouldn't both the United States and its allies be protected?"
Mr Bush, the governor of Texas, has made the creation of an anti-missile defence system to protect US forces stationed around the world a central plank of his presidential election platform.
Dr Rice, 44, who emerged as Mr Bush's leading foreign policy adviser earlier this year, is being tipped as a likely National Security Adviser or Secretary of State if Mr Bush, the son of the former US leader, wins next year's race for the White House. He is a favourite in public opinion polls to be the next president.
Although Dr Rice - widely known as Condi - has spent much of her life as an academic, she has had spells in the Pentagon and the White House under Presidents Reagan and Bush, and, until earlier this month was Provost of Stanford University.
A top job in a new Republican administration would be a formidable achievement for a woman whose early childhood was spent in segregated Birmingham, Alabama, at a time of acute racial tension. She did not have a white classmate until she was 12, when her family moved to Denver, Colorado.
A study of the Soviet bloc and arms control led to a temporary attachment to the US government. She was working within the Pentagon when President Reagan - at the Reykjavik summit with President Gorbachev - surprised the world by offering a deal to scrap all long-range ballistic missiles.
She regards nuclear weapons as a necessity whose "absolute horror" has actually prevented war. "The world doesn't need to be embarrassed about nuclear weapons. They had their place and still have their place."
Critics of Mr Bush say it is essential to find out the foreign policy views of people such as Dr Rice because Mr Bush has so few of his own. He seemed slow to state a clear position on the launch of the air campaign in Kosovo, at first merely commenting that he had "concerns" about it. He has also been ridiculed for confusing Slovenia with Slovakia, and referring to inhabitants of Greece as "Grecians".
She defends Mr Bush strongly against his critics. She said: "People are playing an elite game with him. 'Can we catch him calling some group of people by the wrong noun, or mis-hearing where somebody in the audience says they are from?'
"This was something people played with Ronald Reagan all the time, and he couldn't tell Brazil from Bolivia. But he got one thing right - he knew it was time to challenge the Soviet Union because it was weak enough that you no longer had to try to accommodate its interests everywhere. That single decision ended up creating the conditions on which we ended the Cold War after 45 years' trying."
On Kosovo, she shows how her own experience has shaped her thinking. While still a child in Birmingham, one of her former kindergarten classmates was killed in a racial confrontation at a church - a horror that left a deep impression.
She said: "I appreciate how far America has come and that we are now a functioning multi-ethnic democracy. The reason to take on Milosevic was that he challenged what may be the most important principle for Europe going forward, which is that multi-ethnic groups can live together without threat to minorities."
The Foreign Office has issued a standing invitation to her to visit Britain at any time. For now, however, she insists that she has not even decided whether she would work in a possible Bush administration, preferring to wait and see.
But British diplomats are not the only ones in Washington rushing to get alongside her - just in case. She said: "I have a lot of friends in the foreign policy establishment over there. And, yeah, for some reason I suddenly seem to be hearing from them rather more often."