Condoleezza Rice (born November 14, 1954) is the 66th United States Secretary of State, and the second in the administration of President George W. Bush to hold the office. She succeeded Colin Powell on January 26, 2005, after his resignation. Rice is the first African American woman, second African American (after Powell), and second woman (after Madeleine Albright) to serve as Secretary of State.
Condoleezza Rice was Bush's National Security Advisor during his first term (2001–2005). Before joining the Bush administration, she was a Professor of political science at Stanford University where she served as Provost from 1993 to 1999.
During the administration of George H. W. Bush, Rice also served as the Soviet and East European Affairs Advisor during the dissolution of the Soviet Union and German reunification.
Rice's role as advisor to the President and chief diplomat for the United States during a period of intense criticism of America's War on Terror has made her a controversial figure, although she currently has the highest public approval and favorability ratings of any administration official.
In 2004 and 2005, she was ranked as the most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine and number two in 2006. She is also one of only two African Americans to have been repeatedly ranked among the world's 100 most influential people by Time magazine.
Rice was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and grew up in the neighborhood of Titusville. She is the only child of Presbyterian minister Reverend John Wesley Rice, Jr., and his wife, the former Angelena Ray. Reverend Rice was a guidance counselor at Ullman High School and minister of Westminster Presbyterian Church, which had been founded by her father. Angelena was a science, music and oratory teacher at Ullman.
Condoleezza (whose name is derived from the Italian musical expression, Con dolcezza, which means "with sweetness") experienced firsthand the injustices of Birmingham's discriminatory laws and attitudes. She was instructed to walk proudly in public and to use the facilities at home rather than subject herself to the indignity of "colored" facilities in town. As Rice recalls of her parents and their peers, "they refused to allow the limits and injustices of their time to limit our horizons.”
However, Rice recalls various times in which she suffered discrimination and persecution on account of her skin color, which include being relegated to a storage room at a department store instead of a regular dressing room, being barred from going to the circus or the local amusement park, being denied hotel rooms, and even being given bad food at restaurants. Also, while Condoleezza was mostly kept by her parents from areas where she might face discrimination, she was very aware of the civil rights struggle and the problems of Jim Crow Birmingham. Says neighbor Juliemma Smith, "[Condi] used to call me and say things like, 'Did you see what Bull Connor did today?' She was just a little girl and she did that all the time. I would have to read the newspaper thoroughly because I wouldn’t know what she was going to talk about." Rice herself said of the segregation era: "Those terrible events burned into my consciousness. I missed many days at my segregated school because of the frequent bomb threats."
During the violent days of the Civil Rights Movement, Reverend Rice armed himself and kept guard over the house while Condoleezza practiced the piano inside. According to J.L. Chestnut, Reverend Rice called local civil rights leader Fred Shuttlesworth and his followers' activism as "misguided". Also, Reverend Rice instilled in his daughter and students that black people would have to prove themselves worthy of advancement, and would simply have to be "twice as good" to overcome injustices built into the system. While the Rices supported the goals of the civil rights movement, they did not agree with some of the tactics that activists had utilized, which included putting children in harm's way.
Rice was eight when her schoolmate Denise McNair was killed in the bombing of the primarily African American Sixteenth Street Baptist Church by white supremacists on September 15, 1963. Rice has commented upon that moment in her life:
I remember the bombing of that Sunday School at 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham in 1963. I did not see it happen, but I heard it happen, and I felt it happen, just a few blocks away at my father’s church. It is a sound that I will never forget, that will forever reverberate in my ears. That bomb took the lives of four young girls, including my friend and playmate, Denise McNair. The crime was calculated to suck the hope out of young lives, bury their aspirations. But those fears were not propelled forward, those terrorists failed.
– Condoleezza Rice, Commencement 2004, Vanderbilt University, May 13, 2004
Rice states that growing up during racial segregation taught her determination against adversity, and the need to be "twice as good" as non-minorities. Segregation also hardened her stance on the right to bear arms; Rice has said in interviews that if gun registration had been mandatory, her father's weapons would have been confiscated, leaving them defenseless against Ku Klux Klan nightriders.
Rice started learning French, music, figure skating and ballet at age three. At age 15, she began classes with the goal of becoming a concert pianist. Her plans changed when she realized that she did not play well enough to support herself through music alone. She said that her playing was "pretty good but not great", and that she did not have enough time to devote to practice. While Rice is not a professional pianist, she still practices often and plays with a chamber music group.
Rice made use of her pianist training to accompany cellist Yo-Yo Ma for Brahms's Violin Sonata in D Minor at Constitution Hall in April 2002 for the National Medal of Arts Awards. (Picture of Rice and Yo-Yo Ma). Rice also performed Brahms's Sonata in D Minor, 2nd Movement, with famed Malaysian violinist Mustafa Fuzer Nawi (conductor of the National Symphony Orchestra) at the Gala Dinner of the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on July 27, 2006. She has also played Glenn Gould's piano while meeting with Michaëlle Jean, the Governor General of Canada, at Rideau Hall on October 25, 2005, and she gave a sampling of her musical talent for Katie Couric on the 60 Minutes season premiere in 2006.
In 1967, the family moved to Denver in Colorado when her father accepted an administrative position at the University of Denver. She attended St. Mary's Academy, a private all-girls Catholic high school in Cherry Hills Village, Colorado.
After studying piano at the Aspen Music Festival and School, Rice enrolled at the University of Denver, where her father both served as an assistant dean and taught a class called "The Black Experience in America". Dean John Rice was extremely opposed to institutional racism and government oppression and was a vocal protester of the Vietnam War.
Rice attended a course on international politics taught by Josef Korbel, the father of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. This experience sparked her interest in the Soviet Union and international relations and made her call Korbel "one of the most central figures in my life."
Rice graduated from St. Mary's Academy in 1970. In 1974, at age 19, Rice earned her B.A. in political science and Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Denver. In 1975, she obtained her Master's Degree in political science from the University of Notre Dame. She first worked in the State Department in 1977, during the Carter administration, as an intern in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. In 1981, at the age of 26, she received her Ph.D. in Political Science from the Graduate School of International Studies at Denver. In addition to English, she speaks fluent Russian, and, with varying degrees of fluency, German, French, and Spanish.
Rice was a Democrat until 1982 when she changed her political affiliation to Republican after growing averse to former President Carter's foreign policy. She also cited influence from her father, John Wesley, in this decision, who himself switched from Democrat to Republican after being denied voting registration by the Democratic Party of Alabama.
Rice is unmarried, but dated professional football player Rick Upchurch while attending the University of Denver. In September 2006, The New York Times reported on gossip about her involvement with Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Peter MacKay.
Rice was hired for her first academic position by Stanford University as an Assistant Professor in Political Science (1981–1987). She was granted tenure and promoted, first to Associate Professor (1987–1993), and then (she was off-campus from 1989–1991) to Provost, the chief budget and academic officer of the university (1993–2000), and full Professor (1993–present). In addition to being the first female and first minority to hold the position of Provost at Stanford, Rice was the youngest Provost in Stanford's history. She was also named a Senior Fellow of the Institute for International Studies, and a Senior Fellow (by courtesy) of the Hoover Institution. She was a specialist on the former Soviet Union and gave lectures on the subject for the Berkeley-Stanford joint program led by UC Berkeley Professor George Breslauer in the mid-1980s. She also was an avid reader of Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, and reportedly told a friend she leaned toward the latter in her world view. She was said to be quietly cerebral, friendly but decorous, and popular among students. Friends and co-workers often saw her exercising in the gym or serving breakfast to undergraduates at Midnight Breakfast, a Stanford tradition during final exams.
As Stanford's Provost, Dr. Rice was responsible for managing the university's multi-billion dollar budget. The school at that time was running a deficit of $20 million. When Rice took office, she promised that the budget deficit would be balanced within "two years". Says Coit Blacker, Stanford's deputy director of the Institute for International Studies, "There was a sort of conventional wisdom that said it couldn't be done ... that [the deficit] was structural, that we just had to live with it." Two years later, Rice convened a meeting to announce that not only had the deficit been balanced, but the university was holding a record surplus of over $14.5 million.
Provost Rice was also responsible for relations with campus organizations, and she managed to maintain friendly contact with various student associations, such as the Venezuelan Student Organization. After departing to enter government service, she returned to Stanford in June 2002 to deliver the commencement address.
Dr. Rice is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has been awarded honorary doctorates from Morehouse College in 1991, the University of Alabama in 1994, the University of Notre Dame in 1995, the Mississippi College School of Law in 2003, the University of Louisville, Michigan State University in 2004, and Boston College Law School in 2006.
She has written or collaborated on several books, including Germany Unified and Europe Transformed: A Study in Statecraft (1995), The Gorbachev Era (1986), and The Soviet Union and the Czechoslovak Army, 1948-1983: Uncertain Allegiance (1984).
Rice has served on the board of directors for the Carnegie Corporation, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Charles Schwab Corporation, the Chevron Corporation, Hewlett Packard, the Rand Corporation, the Transamerica Corporation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, and KQED, public broadcasting for San Francisco. She has also sat on the board of the International Advisory Council of the prominent bank, J.P. Morgan Chase; the Board of Trustees of the University of Notre Dame; and the San Francisco Symphony Board of Governors.
She also headed Chevron's committee on public policy until she resigned on January 15 2001, to become National Security Advisor to President George W. Bush. Chevron honored Rice by naming an oil tanker Condoleezza Rice after her, but controversy led to its being renamed Altair Voyager.
Rice has also been active in community affairs. She was a founding board member of the Center for a New Generation, an educational support fund for schools in East Palo Alto, California and East Menlo Park, California, and was Vice President of the Boys and Girls Clubs of America of the San Francisco Bay Area.
In addition, her past board service has encompassed such organizations as the National Council for Soviet and East European Studies, the Stanford Mid-Peninsula Urban Coalition, and the Woodrow Wilson Center.
In 1986, while an international affairs fellow of the Council on Foreign Relations, Rice served as Special Assistant to the Director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
From 1989 through March 1991 (the period of the fall of Berlin Wall and the final days of the Soviet Union), she served in President George H.W. Bush's administration as Director, and then Senior Director, of Soviet and East European Affairs in the National Security Council, and a Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. In this position, Rice helped develop Bush's and Secretary of State James Baker's policies in favor of German reunification. She impressed Bush, who later introduced her to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev as the one who "tells me everything I know about the Soviet Union."
In 1989 she served as director for Soviet and East European Affairs at the National Security Council and reported directly to National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft. In 1990 she became George H. W. Bush's principal advisor on the Soviet Union and was named a special assistant to the president for national security affairs. At that time she was the highest ranking black woman in the administration.
In 1991, Rice returned to her teaching position at Stanford, although she continued to serve as a consultant on the former Soviet Bloc for numerous clients in both the public and private sectors. Late that year, California Governor Pete Wilson appointed her to a bipartisan committee that had been formed to draw new state legislative and congressional districts in the state.
In 1997, she sat on the Federal Advisory Committee on Gender-Integrated Training in the Military.
During George W. Bush's 2000 U.S. Presidential election campaign, Rice took a one-year leave of absence from Stanford University to help work as his foreign policy advisor. The group of advisors she led called itself The Vulcans in honor of the monumental Vulcan statue, which sits on a hill overlooking her home town of Birmingham, Alabama. Rice would later go on to give a noteworthy speech at the 2000 Republican National Convention.
On December 17, 2000, Rice was picked to serve as National Security Advisor and stepped down from her position at Stanford. She was the first woman to occupy the post. In 2001, Rice was staff or board member of The Scowcroft Group according to a report entitled The 2001 Morse Target: Washington's Movers and Shakers on Japan.
During the summer of 2001, Rice met with CIA Director George Tenet on an almost daily basis to discuss the possibilities and prevention of terrorist attacks on American targets. Notably, on July 10, 2001, Rice met with Tenet in what he referred to as an "emergency meeting" held at the White House at Tenet's request to brief Rice and the NSC staff about the potential threat of an al Qaeda attack. Rice responded by asking Tenet to give a presentation on the matter to Secretary Rumsfeld and (now-former) Attorney General John Ashcroft.
When asked about the meeting in 2006, Rice asserted she did not recall the specific meeting, commenting that she had met repeatedly with Tenet that summer about terrorist threats. Moreover, she stated that it was "incomprehensible” to her that she ignored terrorist threats two months before the September 11 attacks.
Rice became one of the most outspoken supporters of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. After Iraq delivered its declaration of weapons of mass destruction to the United Nations on December 8, 2002, it was Rice who wrote an editorial for The New York Times entitled Why We Know Iraq Is Lying.
In March 2004, Rice initially declined to publicly testify under oath before the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (the 9/11 Commission). The White House claimed executive privilege under constitutional separation of powers and cited past tradition in refusing requests for her public testimony. Under pressure, Bush agreed to allow her to publicly testify so long as it did not create a precedent of Presidential staff being required to appear before United States Congress when so requested. In the end, her appearance before the commission on April 8, 2004, was deemed acceptable in part because she was not actually appearing before Congress. She thus became the first sitting National Security Advisor to testify on matters of policy.
Leading up to the 2004 U.S. Presidential election, Rice became the first National Security Advisor to campaign for an incumbent president. She used this occasion to express her belief that Saddam Hussein's government in Iraq contributed to circumstances that produced terrorism like the 9/11 attacks on America. At a Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania campaign rally she said: "While Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with the actual attacks on America, Saddam Hussein's Iraq was a part of the Middle East that was festering and unstable, [and] was part of the circumstances that created the problem on September 11."
In 2003, Rice was also drawn into the debate over the affirmative action admissions policy at the University of Michigan. On January 18, 2003, the Washington Post reported that she was involved in crafting Bush's position on race-based preferences. Rice has stated that she believes that "while race-neutral means are preferable", race can be taken into account as "one factor among others" in university admissions policies.
In a January 10, 2003 interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, Rice was generally cautious about characterizing possible Iraqi WMD programs. However, she did say something that was, according to Blitzer, "ominous", and made headlines around the world: "The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."
After the invasion, when Iraq turned out to have no WMD capability, critics called Rice's claims a "hoax," "deception" and "demagogic scare tactic." "Either she missed or overlooked numerous warnings from intelligence agencies seeking to put caveats on claims about Iraq's nuclear weapons program, or she made public claims that she knew to be false," wrote Dana Milbank and Mike Allen in the Washington Post.
On November 16, 2004, Bush nominated Rice to be Secretary of State, replacing Powell, whose resignation was made public the day before. Bush named Rice's deputy, Stephen Hadley, to replace her as National Security Advisor. On January 5, 2007, Bush nominated Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte to replace Robert B. Zoellick as Rice's deputy at the Department of State. Zoellick, a former U.S. Trade Representative had served in the position since January, 2005. On January 19, 2005, the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations voted by 16–2 margin to approve the forwarding of Rice's nomination to the full Senate for approval, with Democrats John Kerry and Barbara Boxer voting against Rice. During her hearing, Boxer questioned Rice on issues about her personal life, which some observers deemed irrelevant. On January 26, 2005, the Senate confirmed her nomination by a vote of 85–13. The negative votes, the most cast against any nomination for Secretary of State since 1825, came from Senators who, according to Boxer, wanted "to hold Dr. Rice and the Bush administration accountable for their failures in Iraq and in the war on terrorism." All negative votes came from either Democratic or independent senators. Their reasoning was that Rice had acted irresponsibly in equating Hussein's regime with Islamist terrorism and some could not accept her previous record.
Rice signs official papers after receiving the oath of office during her ceremonial swearing in at the Department of State. Watching on are, from left, Laura Bush, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, President George W. Bush and an unidentified family member.
Rice signs official papers after receiving the oath of office during her ceremonial swearing in at the Department of State. Watching on are, from left, Laura Bush, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, President George W. Bush and an unidentified family member.
On October 30, 2005, Rice attended a memorial service in Montgomery, Alabama, in Rice's home state, for Rosa Parks, an inspiration for the American Civil Rights Movement. Rice stated, that she and others who grew up in Alabama during the height of Parks' activism might not have realized her impact on their lives at the time, "but I can honestly say that without Mrs. Parks, I probably would not be standing here today as secretary of state."
On September 24, 2006, Rice was interviewed on the 60 Minutes season premiere by Katie Couric. Rice discussed her experiences growing up as a child in Birmingham and her work as National Security Advisor and Secretary of State for the Bush administration.
Since Condoleezza took office as Secretary of State in January 2005, she has undertaken several major initiatives to reform and restructure the department, as well as U.S. diplomacy as a whole. Arguably her most substantial initiative has been dubbed "Transformational Diplomacy", a goal which Rice describes as "working with our many partners around the world ... and building and sustaining democratic, well-governed states that will respond to the needs of their people and conduct themselves responsibly in the international system."
Rice unveils her plan for restructuring American foreign policy, which she calls
Rice's Transformational Diplomacy involves approximately five core elements:
* Relocating American diplomats to the places in the world where they are needed most.
* Requiring diplomats to serve some time in "hardship locations", gain expertise in at least two regions, and become fluent in at least two foreign languages.
* Focusing on regional solutions to problems like terrorism, drug trafficking, and diseases.
* Working with other countries on a bilateral basis to help them build a stronger infrastructure, and decreasing foreign nations' dependence on American hand-outs and assistance.
* The creation of a high-level position, director of foreign assistance, to oversee U.S. foreign aid, thus de-fragmenting U.S. foreign assistance.
During Rice's introduction of her plan for Transformational Diplomacy, which she delivered at Georgetown University on January 18, 2006, she highlighted the issue of disproportionate numbers of U.S. foreign workers in relation to the population of the country they are serving in. As an example, Rice recounted, "We have nearly the same number of State Department personnel in Germany, a country of 82 million people that we have in India, a country of one billion people." She said that many of the diplomats in comfortable locations, like Europe, would be relocated to countries like China, India, Brazil, Egypt, Nigeria, Indonesia, South Africa, and Lebanon, which she said had become the "new front lines of our diplomacy."
Rice also stated that all American diplomats would hereby be required to serve in "hardship posts" and "challenging jobs", citing "critical countries like Iraq and Afghanistan and Sudan and Angola." She said that this move was needed to help "maintain security, fight poverty, and make democratic reforms" in these countries. Rice asserted that this would help improve foreign nations' legal, economic, healthcare, and educational systems. As for the new foreign language requirements, Rice suggested Chinese, Arabic, and Urdu as several needed languages.
Another aspect of Transformational Diplomacy, as outlined in Rice's speech, is the emphasis on finding regional solutions to various problems, rather than relying on one single official solution to a problem in every circumstance. Rice also pressed for an emphasis on finding transnational solutions as well, stating that "in the 21st century, geographic regions are growing ever more integrated economically, politically and culturally. This creates new opportunities but it also presents new challenges, especially from transnational threats like terrorism and weapons proliferation and drug smuggling and trafficking in persons and disease."
Another aspect of the emphasis on regional solutions is the implementation of small, agile, "rapid-response" teams to tackle problems like disease, instead of the traditional approach of calling on experts in an embassy. Rice explained that this means moving diplomats out of the "back rooms of foreign ministries" and putting more effort into "localizing" the State Department's diplomatic posture in foreign nations. The Secretary emphasized the need for diplomats to move into the largely unreached "bustling new population centers" and to spread out "more widely across countries" in order to become more familiar with local issues and people.
Finally, Rice announced a major restructuring of U.S. foreign assistance, including nominating Randall L. Tobias, an AIDS relief expert, as the new administrator of USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development). Tobias, who will be elevated to a position equivalent of a deputy secretary of state, has the job of focusing the United States' foreign assistance efforts and de-fragmenting the many disparate aid offices that exist. State Department officials described the move as necessary to "ensure more effective and focused spending overseas."
Rice says these initiatives are necessary because of the highly "extraordinary time" in which Americans live. She compares the moves to the historic initiatives taken after World War II, which she claims helped stabilize Europe as it is known today. Rice states that her Transformational Diplomacy is not merely about "influencing" or "reporting on" governments, but "changing people's lives" through tackling the issues like AIDS, the education of women, and the defeat of violent extremism.
Rice has been a vocal supporter of political change in Cuba. She has chaired the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba (formed in 2003), which, according to Rice, was created "to explore ways the U.S. can help hasten and ease a democratic transition in Cuba." Rice says that the message the Commission wishes to send is that "after 46 years of cruel dictatorship, now is the time for change in Cuba." The Commission seeks to integrate the administration's Cuba policies with all the agencies of the federal government.
Fidel Castro, in 2005, called the Commission a "group of shit-eaters who do not deserve the world's respect", and referred to Rice as the "mad woman who talks of transition". Castro has insisted that, in spite of the formation of the Commission, he will press his country ever onward "to socialism and to communism" and that it is "ridiculous for the U.S. to threaten Cuba now".
In July 2006, Rice and Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez released a joint statement reasserting the goals of the Commission for Assistance to a Free Cuba, stating that the Commission will keep a "promise the United States has made to the Cuban people: We will stand with you through the process of transformation to a democratic future ... The Compact with the People of Cuba is especially important because it is our message of hope and solidarity to Cubans on the island."48 Ricardo Alarcón, president of the National Assembly of Cuba, indicated that he saw this new report as an illegal and aggressive “plan for the annexation of Cuba”. Secretary General of the OAS, Jose Miguel Insulza (who was backed by Castro in his bid for Secretary General), also commented on the report stating, "There is no transition and it's not your country."
Rice has stated: "Today, when democratic members of the OAS meet, there is only one open seat at the table, and that seat will someday belong to a free and democratic Cuba. The 34 democracies of our hemisphere have signed the Inter-American Democratic Charter and together we, the states of the region, must hold states accountable to that Charter. And most importantly, we must insist that leaders who are elected democratically have a responsibility to govern democratically."
Though the U.S. State Department does not hold formal diplomatic relations with Iran, Secretary Rice's tenure has been quite entrenched in issues pertaining to Iran, especially in regards to its democratic progress and humanitarian record, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's threatening statements toward Israel, and its pursuit of nuclear technology.
In October 2005, Ahmadinejad stated that "Israel must be wiped off the map", to which Rice responded: "When the president of one country says that another country should be wiped off the face of the map, in violation of all of the norms of the United Nations, where they sit together as members, it has to be taken seriously." Rice then went on to name Iran as "probably the world's most important state sponsor of terrorism", whose people live "without freedom and without the prospect of freedom because an unelected few are denying them that."
Rice has also been a vocal critic of Iran's human rights record. On February 3, 2005, Rice said the Iranian regime's treatment of its people is "something to be loathed". She also stated: "I don't think anybody thinks that the unelected mullahs who run that regime are a good thing for either the Iranian people or for the region." In February 2006, Rice called for funding to aid democratic reform in Iran through television and radio broadcasting, through helping pay for Iranians to study in America, and through supporting pro-democracy groups within the country.
In recent years, Iran has also begun to pursue nuclear technology through uranium enrichment, which has been one of the most pertinent issues that Rice has dealt with during her tenure at the State Department. Iran maintains that its nuclear program only seeks to develop the capacity for peaceful civilian nuclear power generation. Rice, along with other nations, has contended that Iran's record of sponsoring terrorism and threatening the safety of other nations, along with its defiance of its treaty obligations, of the United Nations Security Council, and of the International Atomic Energy Agency, have not proven Iran to be responsible enough to conduct uranium enrichment without outside supervision. Under Rice, the official State Department consensus on the matter is that "the United States believes the Iranian people should enjoy the benefits of a truly peaceful program to use nuclear reactors to generate electric power ... and supports the Iranian people’s rights to develop nuclear energy peacefully, with proper international safeguards."
On September 9, 2005, Rice declared the refusal of Iran to halt its nuclear program unacceptable and called on Russia, China and India to join in threatening United Nations sanctions as punishment for Tehran, and on June 2, 2006, an international committee, consisting of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany, announced their plan to convince Iran to cease its nuclear activities. Rice represented the United States in the negotiation of the diplomatic initiative.
On February 14, 2006, Iran restarted its uranium enrichment program despite calls from the international community not to do so. Iran's traditional foe, Iraq, offered no resistance because Iraq's leadership had been transformed to Shiite control. Rice responded by asserting that "there is simply no peaceful rationale for the Iranian regime to resume uranium enrichment." Speaking on behalf of the United States and the European Union, Rice said they were "gravely concerned by Iran's long history of hiding sensitive nuclear activities from the IAEA, in violation of its obligations, its refusal to cooperate with the IAEA's investigation, its rejection of diplomatic initiatives offered by the EU and Russia and now its dangerous defiance of the entire international community." In May of 2006, Rice came up with a new approach for dealing with Iran: direct negotiation between Iran and the United States (alongside their European allies) and the possibility for "a package of economic incentives and some kind of longer-term relationship with the United States" in exchange for the suspension of uranium enrichment within Iran. Iran responded by saying that it will "never give up its legitimate rights, so the American preconditions are just unacceptable."
On July 12, 2006, Rice, along with the foreign ministers of China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the European Union, held a press conference to announce that, as a result of Iran's refusal to open the door to diplomatic negotiations via suspending their uranium enrichment program, they had agreed to seek a UN Security Council Resolution against Iran under Article 41 of Chapter VII of the UN Charter. Article 41 gives such a resolution the power to interrupt or sever Iran's economic, transportational, telecommunicative, and diplomatic relations.
Though the United States and Iran disagree on key issues, the State Department has offered aid to Iran on many different occasions. After a deadly earthquake struck the Iranian province of Lorestan in March of 2005, Sec. Rice offered humanitarian aid to the country during a visit to England. Rice said her "thoughts and prayers" were with the victims.
On September 30, 2005, as a keynote speaker at Princeton University's Celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Rice declared that the Iraq War was "set out to help the people of the Middle East transform their societies."
Though repeatedly pressed for a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S. military troops from Iraq, Rice is known for her opposition to the use of "deadlines" and date-setting in diplomacy and has remained steadfast in her refusal to set a date for any withdrawal(s). Rice, while having little say in the issue of troop withdrawal, has consistently affirmed that American soldiers will not leave Iraq until the country is stable and its peacekeeping forces are able to maintain stability on their own.
In 2005, when asked how long U.S. troops will stay in Iraq, Rice responded by saying, "I don't want to speculate. I do know that we are making progress with what the Iraqis themselves are capable of doing. And as they are able to do certain tasks, as they are able to hold their own territory, they will not need us to do that." When pressed again for a specific year, the Secretary added, "I think that even to try and speculate on how many years from now there will be a certain number of American forces is not appropriate."
Rice lauded Iraq's voter turnout and peaceful transition into a sovereign constitutional government in 2005, and Rice (an East-European/Soviet expert) has frequently compared the post-war reconstruction of Iraq to that of Europe and Russia after World War II. In a Washington Post editorial published on December 11, 2005, Rice wrote:
"Iraq ... in the face of a horrific insurgency has held historic elections, drafted and ratified a new national charter, and will go to the polls again in coming days to elect a new constitutional government. At this time last year, such unprecedented progress seemed impossible. One day it will all seem to have been inevitable. This is the nature of extraordinary times, which former Secretary of State Dean Acheson understood well and described perfectly in his memoirs. 'The significance of events,' he wrote, 'was shrouded in ambiguity. We groped after interpretations of them, sometimes reversed lines of action based on earlier views, and hesitated long before grasping what now seems obvious.' When Acheson left office in 1953, he could not know the fate of the policies he helped to create. He certainly could never have predicted that nearly four decades later, war between Europe's major powers would be unthinkable, or that America and the world would be harvesting the fruits of his good decisions and managing the collapse of communism. But because leaders such as Acheson steered American statecraft with our principles when precedents for action were lacking, because they dealt with their world as it was but never believed they were powerless to change it for the better, the promise of democratic peace is now a reality in all of Europe and in much of Asia."
– Condoleezza Rice, "The Promise of Democratic Peace", The Washington Post, December 11, 2005
One of the most eventful chapters of Secretary Rice's tenure so far has been the situation in the Middle East, particularly pertaining to Israel, Palestine, and its immediate neighbors, especially Lebanon. Rice has consistently been a supporter of Israel, and has defended Israel's right to protect itself in the ongoing Israel-Palestine conflict and in the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict. Rice has also been a key player in promoting the "roadmap for peace" in that region, which includes the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state. On August 29, 2006, she stated that the Middle East "should be a Middle East in which there is a Palestinian state in which Palestinians can have their own aspirations met, one that is not corrupt, one that is democratic, and one in which there is only one authority."
Rice has spent much time and effort persuading Israel to withdraw from Palestinian territories and freeing up commerce and travel between the two areas. During the summer of 2005, the Secretary set out on a mission to help ensure that Israeli leadership would follow through on withdrawing forces from settlements in Gaza and the West Bank. Initially faced with much skepticism, doubt, and lack of progress, Rice spent much of April 2005 raising support amongst Arab leaders. In July, when the situation, in many's opinion, began to lag, she visited the region personally to, in her words, "help bring the weight of the United States" to the discussions. While in the region, Rice guided the negotiations and helped coordinate the final stages of the move, which eventually came to fruition in September. Rice hailed the successful withdrawal as a victory for both Israel and Palestine, saying, "This is an historic moment for both sides, and the commitment of both sides to a successful disengagement process has been impressive." Gaza is now under Palestinian control once again for the first time in 38 years. However, one key issue that Palestinians felt was going unresolved was the inability to travel through border crossings in and out of Gaza, which had prevented the ability of Palestine to rebuild its shattered economy.
In November 2005, Secretary Rice made it clear she would attempt to negotiate an opening of the Gaza border crossings once and for all. James Wolfensohn, who had been appointed as the United States' special envoy for Gaza Disengagement for the Quartet on the Middle East, had brokered months of talks on the issue and had ultimately been unsuccessful in negotiating a deal. Wolfensohn warned that increasing tensions in the region left very little time for Israel and Palestine to wrap up the deal. The Secretary initially encountered resistance, but decided to make a final push to broker the deal, extending her visit to Jerusalem an extra 48 hours. Rice, in a Kissingerian feat, launched a mediation session at 11:00 p.m. on Monday, November 14, meeting alternately with Israel and Palestinian delegations and refusing to allow either side to go to bed until they reached the deal which had eluded mediators since 1967. "Piece by piece", one senior State Department official recounted, Rice shuttled up and down the corridor negotiating down through a long list of differences between Israel and Palestine that included a proposed blacklist of Palestinians that have been detained by Israel and a concern that future violence would induce a renewed closure of the border crossings. By mid-morning of Tuesday, November 15, Rice held a press conference to announce that an agreement had been made between the two parties to open Gaza's borders, which many hailed as a major step forward in the "roadmap for peace" process. The deal laid out the terms for establishing a system of transportation between Gaza and the West Bank, as well as defining the operations in regards to transporting cargo and people across the border and allowing Gaza to reopen its international airport and begin work on a seaport that will expand Palestine's capacity for international commerce. The Rafah border crossing, which provides Palestine's only land link to another country other than Israel, was a key accomplishment of the negotiations. The deal also provides for monitoring of the crossings by officials from the European Union.
The next major undertaking of Secretary Rice in the region came when she pushed for peaceful, democratic elections in Palestine following the death of Yasser Arafat. Rice asserted that "there should be the ability of Palestinian people to participate in the elections" and claimed that democratic elections would represent "a key step in the process of building a peaceful, democratic Palestinian state". Secretary Rice, also aware that members of the U.S.-labeled terrorist organization Hamas were planning on infiltrating the new government, stated that "there should be no place in the political process for groups or individuals who refuse to renounce terror and violence, recognize Israel's right to exist, and disarm", coining what has come to be one of Rice's more famous phrases, saying, "You cannot have one foot in politics and the other foot in terror."
One of the first steps Rice took in the matter was pressuring a reluctant Israel to allow Israeli Palestinians in East Jerusalem to vote in the Palestinian Authority elections. The Secretary helped to successfully persuade them, and Israel's cabinet voted unanimously to allow Palestinians in East Jerusalem to vote in the January 25 parliamentary elections, while banning Hamas, which officially calls for Israel's destruction, from campaigning in East Jerusalem. When, on January 25, Palestine held its elections in a relatively very peaceful and open format, Rice lauded the turnout, congratulating President Abbas and the Palestinian people, while at the same time informing Hamas, which had taken control of the government in the election, that it would "have to make some difficult choices", saying, "Those who win elections have an obligation to govern democratically. … It now inherits the obligations of a Palestinian government, authority, that go back now for more than a decade to recognize the right of Israel to exist, to renounce violence, to disarm militias, as is the case in the roadmap, and to find a peaceful solution in two states."
One of the key points of contention between Israel and the newly Hamas-led Palestinian government is Hamas' official charter position which refuses to recognize Israel. Immediately following Hamas' victory in the elections, Rice attempted to garner international support in demanding that Hamas recognize Israel's right to exist. By April, Hamas officials appeared to publicly state that they are willing to work toward recognizing Israel. Under their terms, Israel would have to fully withdraw from disputed territories, including Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem. Many saw this as a positive starting point for negotiations that would allow the "roadmap" process to continue. The statement was verified by Hamas leaders such as Mohammed Ghazal, a Hamas militia official, who stated that Hamas may be willing to amend its charter to recognize Israel, saying, "The charter is not the Quran." Ghazal went on to state that while he agreed with Hamas' positions, "we’re talking now about reality, about political solutions … The realities are different."
In mid-July 2006, the Middle East peace process encountered a new obstacle on a different front when Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon launched rocket attacks into Israel and ambushed Israeli convoys, kidnapping two soldiers and killing three, sparking what has become known as the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict. Secretary Rice immediately condemned the act, calling Hezbollah a "terrorist organization" and saying that the action "undermines regional stability and goes against the interests of both the Israeli and Lebanese people", specifically calling on Syria to "use its influence to support a positive outcome." That day, Rice was one of the first to speak directly to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni concerning the incident. Israel initiated aerial bombardments against Lebanon on July 13 and sent in land troops on July 23 to take out rocket launching sites that were shelling Northern Israeli cities, as well as to look for and recover the two kidnapped Israeli soldiers.
While the official United States position given by President George W. Bush was a clear endorsement of Israel's activities, Secretary Rice seemed to take a middle ground. While she supported Israel's right to defend itself from Hezbollah attacks, she repeatedly cautioned Israel to be responsible in minimizing collateral damage. Before the major fighting began, Rice demanded that both Israel and Lebanon "act with restraint to resolve this incident peacefully and to protect innocent life and civilian infrastructure." She also continued to pressure Syria to take a more active positive role throughout the crisis, accusing Syria of "sheltering the people who have been perpetrating these acts" and calling on it "to act responsibly and stop the use of its territory for these kinds of activitie, to bring all pressure on those that it is harbouring to stop this and to return these soldiers and to allow the situation to be de-escalated."
Rice seemed to be holding off on her involvement during the conflict's early stages, which received criticism from some. "When it is appropriate and when it is necessary and will be helpful to the situation, I am more than pleased to go to the region", Rice stated on July 19. When Rice arrived in the Middle East a few days later, one of her first moves was a surprise unannounced visit to Lebanese Prime Minister Siniora to praise Siniora's "courage and steadfastness" and show U.S. support for the Lebanese people. Rice initially drew criticism for her statement that the conflict was part of "the birth pangs of a new Middle East", stating that Israel, Lebanon, and the international community had to "be certain that we're pushing forward to the new Middle East not going back to the old one" At the time, many felt that the statements were too presumptuous with no clear end to the conflict in sight, though much of this criticism has died down since the successful passage of the ceasefire in August.
While things initially looked positive for the Secretary in the region, an unfortunate mistake was made by the Israeli military when it launched an airstrike on a suspected Hezbollah hideout in Qana, Lebanon, that killed 20–60 innocent civilians, many of whom were women and children. The airstrike seemed to sour many nation's support for Israel's endeavor and Beirut even cancelled a visit by Secretary Rice as a result. While the tragedy was a major setback in the negotiation process, it seemed to be a turning point for Israel, who, afterward, began taking a path toward a cease-fire, which they had previously rejected. Before Rice left the region on July 27 to tend to other commitments, including the ASEAN Regional Forum in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia she was able to negotiate a quick 48-hour halt on Israeli air-raids, except in case of unprovoked attacks for self defense.
Rice ultimately cut her Asia-trip short to return to the Mideast on July 29, where the outlines of the ceasefire to come began to take shape. As the end of the conflict began to come into sight, Rice constantly demanded that the global community do what it could to ensure that the Mideast region would never again return to, what she called, the "status quo ante". Rice saw the situation as an opportunity to create a new environment in which Israel and Lebanon could live in peace, and in which Lebanon could have full control over all its territories without Hezbollah acting as a "state within a state", being able to launch terrorist attacks on Israel. Building on the two resolutions that came out of the G8 Conference and the steps that had been taken at the conference in Rome, Italy in late July, the Secretary worked with other leaders at the United Nations to pass UN Security Council Resolution 1701 on August 11, 2006, which sought to resolve the crisis and has, so far, put a significant end to hostilities in the region. The ceasefire, which both parties had initially rejected, was passed unanimously by both the Israeli and the Lebanese cabinets, and went into effect on August 14 at 8:00 a.m. local time. The ceasefire that Rice helped broker provided for a full cessation of hostilities, a Lebanese-led international force to take the place of the Israeli forces, the disarmament of Hezbollah, full control of the Lebanese government to Lebanon, and an absence of paramilitary forces (including and implying Hezbollah) south of the Litani River; it also emphasizes the need for the immediate release of the two kidnapped Israeli soldiers. Rice lauded the outcome and expressed pleasure that the hostilities in the area had finally been brought to an end. Though there were sporadic, but small, spurts of violence after the ceasefire took effect, it has ultimately sustained, while international peacekeeping forces, volunteered largely by European and Arab countries, began to replace Israeli forces. On October 2, 2006, the last Israeli forces were completely withdrawn from Lebanon, allowing the UN and the Lebanese military to completely take over the operations.
She openly supported Mahmoud Abbas in his condition to recognize Israel in her visit to the Middle East early October 2006.
North Korea, like Iran, is barred from formal diplomatic relations with the United States, though much of Rice's career in the State Department has been consumed by issues surrounding Korea. Perhaps the most important has been the international concern over North Korea's nuclear weapons program. A series of negotiations featuring China, North Korea, South Korea, the United States, Russia, and Japan, have taken place since 2003, which have been dubbed "The Six Party talks". These talks have been aimed at denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.
On February 10, 2005, North Korea withdrew from the talks after President Bush's 2005 State of the Union Address, in which he stated that North Korea's nuclear program must be dismantled and pledged to go on the offensive against tyranny in the world. North Korea complained that the United States harbored a "hostile policy" toward their country and stated that they were permanently withdrawing from the Six-Party talks. In the following months, there was uncertainty over whether Rice could convince Kim Jong-Il to re-enter the negotiations, but in July 2005, North Korea announced that they had been convinced to return to the discussion.
After the first phase of the 5th round of talks, which took place from November 9–11, 2005, North Korea suspended its participations in the negotiations because the United States would not unfreeze some of its financial assets in a Macau bank. Rice has consistently called for the regime to return to the talks. On May 1, 2006, Rice stated that North Korea needs "to return expeditiously to the talks without preconditions, to dismantle its nuclear programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner, and to cease all illicit and proliferation activities."
On June 19, 2006, matters with North Korea were further complicated when it finished fueling an intercontinental ballistic missile that the regime said it would test fire. North Korea had previously self-imposed a missile-firing moratorium, but threatened to launch the missile anyway. Rice stated that "it would be a very serious matter and indeed a provocative act" for the North to follow through on the act, and that if the North decided to do so, "it would be taken with utmost seriousness."
On July 5, 2006, North Korea test-fired seven rockets, including the infamous Taepodong-2, sparking international backlash. Rice, in a press conference held on the same day, stated that she couldn't even begin to try to judge what motivated the North Koreans to act in such a way. Rice felt that North Korea had "miscalculated that the international community would remain united [in their opposition to the missile test-firing]" and "whatever they thought they were doing, they've gotten a very strong reaction from the international community." Following the missile test, the United Nations Security Council held an emergency meeting and strongly condemned the actions, though no official sanctions resulted at the time.
Then, in early October 2006, North Korea claimed that it was preparing to test a nuclear explosive device. While the rumors could not be substantiated by satellite surveillance beforehand, the test was actually carried out on October 9, 2006 with only twenty minutes warning. The nuclear detonation test was, purportedly, in response to the United States' decision to not hold direct bilateral talks with the regime, as well as America's increasing pressure on the government, which North Korea claims is evidence that the United States wishes to attack or invade their country. Secretary Rice disputes North Korea's claim that the nuclear test was committed to deter America from invading, saying, "We shouldn't even allow them such an excuse. ... It's just not the case. ... There is no intention to invade or attack them. They have that guarantee."
Rice has also repeatedly offered direct negotiations with North Korea in the context of the Six Party Talks, but she has held her ground in her decision not to hold bilateral talks with the dictatorship, stating, "We've been through bilateral talks with the North Koreans in the 1994 agreed framework. It didn't hold. ... The North Koreans cheated by pursuing another path to a nuclear weapon, the so-called 'highly enriched uranium' path. ... If Kim Jong-Il wants a bilateral deal, it's because he doesn't want to face the pressure of other states nearer to him that have leverage. It's not because he wants a bilateral deal with the United States. He doesn't want to face the leverage of China or South Korea or others."
Following the nuclear test, Secretary Rice made numerous calls to foreign leaders to consolidate support for taking punitive action against North Korea. Rice was able to draw condemnations from even some of North Korea's closest defenders, including China, who admitted the test was "flagrant" and "brazen". On the same day as the nuclear detonation, the United Nations Security Council convened another emergency meeting, where a clear consensus was apparent in favor of sanctions against the regime, with even China saying that it supported punishing the regime, changing its position from July, 2006, when it vetoed any sanctions on North Korea following its missile tests. On October 14, 2006, Secretary Rice worked with allies to pass a UN Security Council resolution against North Korea that demanded North Korea destroy all of its nuclear weapons, imposed a ban on tanks, warships, combat aircraft and missiles in the country, imposed an embargo on some luxury items that government officials enjoy while the general populace starves, froze some of the country's weapons-related financial assets, and allows for inspections of North Korean cargo. Secretary Rice called the resolution "the toughest sanctions on North Korea that have ever been imposed" and hailed the unanimous passage of the sanctions, which even North Korean-friendly China supported.
While Rice consistently affirms that the United States will not preemptively invade, attack, or topple the North Korean regime, she emphatically assured Japan during an October 18, 2006, visit that "the United States has the will and the capability to meet the full range–and I underscore full range–of its deterrent and security commitments to Japan", which many have interpreted to mean that America would not hesitate to use its military might should North Korea attack one of America's allies.
In April 2005, Rice went to Russia to meet President Vladimir Putin. On the plane trip over, she related comments critical of Russia's democratic progress to reporters. "Trends have not been positive on the democratic side", said Rice. "There have been some setbacks, but I do still think there is a considerable amount of individual freedom in Russia, which is important." In person she told Putin: "We see Russia as a partner in solving regional issues, like the Balkans or the Middle East."
In late 2005, there was a dispute between Russia and Ukraine after Russia decided to quadruple the price of energy being provided to the Ukrainian market (Making the price equal to that of the current market price). Rice subsequently criticised Russia's actions, accusing Russia of using its gas wealth as a political weapon. She called on Russia to behave as a responsible energy supplier and stated that the act did not show the international community "that it is now prepared to act … as an energy supplier in a responsible way." Rice insisted, "When you say you want to be a part of the international economy and you want to be a responsible actor in the international economy, then you play by its rules … I think that kind of behavior is going to continue to draw comment about the distance between Russian behavior and something like this and what would be expected of a responsible member of the G-8."
In January 2006, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the populist leader of the nationalistic Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, made highly controversial statements that Rice was critical of Russia because she was unmarried and aging. Zhirinovsky said, "Condoleezza Rice released a coarse anti-Russian statement … because she is a single woman who has no children. … Condoleezza Rice needs a company of soldiers. She needs to be taken to barracks where she would be satisfied. On the other hand, she can hardly be satisfied because of her age. … The true reason of Ms. Rice's attack against Russia is very simple. Condoleezza Rice is a very cruel, offended woman who lacks men's attention." A State Department official later said that Rice had chosen "to not dignify the article with a response".
In February 2006, Rice described the United States' relationship with Russia as "very good", saying, "In general, I think we have very good relations with Russia. Probably the best relations that have been there for quite some time. We cooperate in the war on terror. We cooperate in a number of areas. Obviously we have some differences, too. But on the Iranian situation, we've actually had very good cooperation with the Russians."
Though there was some question over whether or not Rice could convince Russia not to block the United States' move to refer Iran to the United Nations Security Council in early 2006 (because of Russia's economic and diplomatic ties to Iran), Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov eventually called Secretary Rice to confirm that Russia had agreed to allow the move.
The Bush administration has been particularly critical of the leadership of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, and brands the country an "outlaw country in the drug war". During Secretary Rice's confirmation hearings, she commented on Chávez: "We are very concerned about a democratically elected leader who governs in an illiberal way, and some of the steps he's taken against the media, against the opposition, I think are really very deeply troubling." Chávez reacted to this criticism by stating that he thought Rice was "dreaming about" him, presumably in a romantic manner. Chávez stated that Rice's problems with him were a product of sexual frustration and added, "I could invite her on a date to see what happens between us." However, he stated that he would not "make that sacrifice" for his country and instead nominated three political allies to "do it". In another speech, Chávez called Rice a "true illiterate" and asked Fidel Castro to mail to her samples of books to "see if she learns to respect the dignity of the people and learns a bit about us."
Venezuela actively campaigned for a non-permanent seat in the 2006 United Nations Security Council election. Secretary Rice, however, directed a global lobbying campaign by U.S. envoys in foreign capitals, contending that Venezuela did not belong on the Security Council. Rice pushed instead for Guatemala to get the seat on the Security Council. On 1 November, after 47 rounds of deadlocked voting, both candidates withdrew their bids and supported the nomination of Panama as a compromise.
In his 2006 speech at the UN, Chávez called George W. Bush the "devil" and claimed the podium from which Bush spoke "smells of sulfur". Secretary Rice declined to "dignify Chávez's remarks with a comment", though she did denounce them as "unbecoming for a head of state."
Dr. Rice's policy as Secretary of State views counterterrorism as a matter of being preventative, and not merely punitive. In an interview that took place on December 18, 2005, Sec. Rice stated: "We have to remember that in this war on terrorism, we're not talking about criminal activity where you can allow somebody to commit the crime and then you go back and you arrest them and you question them. If they succeed in committing their crime, then hundreds or indeed thousands of people die. That's why you have to prevent, and intelligence is the long pole in the tent in preventing attacks."
Rice has also been a frequent critic of the intelligence community's inability to cooperate and share information, which she believes is an integral part of preventing terrorism. In 2000, a year before the September 11th terrorist attacks, Dr. Rice warned during an interview on WJR, a Detroit radio station: "You really have to get the intelligence agencies better organized to deal with the terrorist threat to the United States itself. One of the problems that we have is a kind of split responsibility, of course, between the CIA and foreign intelligence and the FBI and domestic intelligence." She then added: "There needs to be better cooperation because we don't want to wake up one day and find out that Osama bin Laden has been successful on our own territory."
Sec. Rice also has promoted the idea that counterterrorism involves not only confronting the governments and organizations that promote and condone terrorism, but also the ideologies that fuel terrorism. In a speech given on July 29, 2005, Sec. Rice asserted that "securing America from terrorist attack is more than a matter of law enforcement. We must also confront the ideology of hatred in foreign societies by supporting the universal hope of liberty and the inherent appeal of democracy".
In January 2005, during Bush's second inaugural ceremonies, Rice first used the term "outposts of tyranny" to refer to countries felt to threaten world peace and human rights. This term has been called a descendant of Bush's phrase, "Axis of Evil", used to describe Iraq, Iran and North Korea. She identified six such "outposts" in which she said the United States has a duty to foster freedom: Cuba, Zimbabwe, Burma and Belarus, as well as Iran and North Korea.
As Secretary of State, Rice has visited nearly seventy countries and travelled several hundred thousand miles. Rice travelled more miles in her first year as Secretary than her predecessor, Colin Powell, did in his five-year career. She has also set the record for most miles flown by a Secretary of State on a single trip and most continuous miles in a single flight. By the end of 2005, Rice had travelled 240,261 miles, visited 49 countries, and spent over 500 hours in flight.
In February 2005, Rice began an extended tour of Europe and the Middle East for the first time in her official capacity of Secretary of State. She traveled to Germany, the United Kingdom, Poland, Turkey, Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Italy, France, Belgium, and Luxembourg.
Rice has risen to become one of the most powerful female and African American political figures in U.S. history. In August 2004 and again in August 2005 Forbes magazine named Dr. Rice the world's most powerful woman. And in August 2006, Forbes named Rice the second most powerful woman in the world, behind Angela Merkel, the German chancellor. Rice is also fourth in line to succeed the President. This is a higher ranking in the presidential line of succession than any other woman had ever achieved before Nancy Pelosi became the Speaker of the House. (Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was not born in the U.S. and was therefore ineligible to become President.)
Her supporters have touted a future Vice Presidential or Presidential candidacy as a possibility. Many websites and organizations seek to draft Rice and make her candidacy a reality. The most noteworthy of these groups, "Americans for Dr. Rice", is a 527 group, not approved by any candidate or party, dedicated to the candidacy, and election, of Rice in the 2008 presidential race.
However, Rice has repeatedly said she has no desire or interest in becoming President. Interviewed by Tim Russert on March 14, 2005, Rice declared, "I will not run for president of the United States. How is that? I don't know how many ways to say 'no' in this town."
During an interview with Russian Echo Moscow Radio, Rice was asked about her intentions concerning running for President. When asked by a schoolgirl, "One day you will run for president?" she replied, "President, да, да yes, yes", before she quickly answered with "нет, нет, нет no, no, no."
However, in May 2005, several of Rice's associates claimed that she would be willing to run for the presidency if she were drafted into the race. On October 16, 2005, on NBC's Meet the Press, Rice again denied she would run for President in 2008. While she says she is flattered that many people want her to run, she says it is not what she wants to do with her life. Rice told Fox News Sunday host, Chris Wallace: "I'm quite certain that there are going to be really fine candidates for president from our party, and I'm looking forward to seeing them and perhaps supporting them." Interviewed on BBC television's The Politics Show on October 23, she again stated her decision not to run.
Certain high-profile political figures, including Laura Bush, Former White House Spokesman Scott McClellan, and world leaders such as Russian President Vladimir Putin and Australian Prime Minister John Howard have also voiced encouragement. Laura Bush has perhaps been the strongest proponent of Rice's candidacy. On CNN's The Situation Room on January 17, 2006, Mrs. Bush implicated Rice when asked if she thought the United States would soon have a female President, stating: "I'd love to see her run. She's terrific." Mrs. Bush then turned to advocacy during an interview on CNN's Larry King Live on March 24, 2006, in which she stated that Dr. Rice would make an "excellent president", and that she wished Americans could "talk her into running." However, Mrs. Bush has also stated that Dr. Rice will not run for president "probably because she is single, her parents are no longer living, she's an only child. You need a very supportive family and supportive friends to have this job."
Rice has frequently been mentioned as a possible opponent of Hillary Clinton in the 2008 election, as is the subject of the book Condi vs. Hillary: The Next Great Presidential Race, by political strategist Dick Morris and his wife, Eileen McGann-Morris.
Even in spite of Rice's denials of any presidential aspirations, many recent polls show her as the number one or number two most desired Republican nominee, including prominent ones like Marist, Rasmussen, and Zogby. In fact, a Zogby America poll from December 2005 showed Rice defeating Democratic potentials Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and Mark Warner. However, a later WNBC/Marist pollfrom February 2006 showed Rice losing to both Clinton and John Edwards, while still defeating Kerry. Also in February 2006, TheWhiteHouseProject.org named Condoleezza Rice one of its "8 for '08", a group of eight women who they think could possibly run and/or be elected president in 2008.
Rice has publicly expressed aspirations to become the next commissioner of the National Football League and following the announcement of Paul Tagliabue's retirement, she was widely believed to be a serious contender for the post. If appointed to the office, she would have been both the first African American and the first female commissioner of any North American major sports league. However, Rice, a Cleveland Browns fan, declined to take the post, stating that she preferred to remain as Secretary of State.
Rice has been criticised for her involvement in the George W. Bush administration both in the United States and abroad. Protesters have sought to exclude her from appearing at schools such as Princeton University and Boston College, which prompted the resignation of an adjunct professor at Boston. There has also been an effort to protest her public speeches abroad, as well as signs of frustration from the members of the gay and lesbian community.
California Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer has also criticised Rice in relation to the war in Iraq: "I personally believe — this is my personal view — that your loyalty to the mission you were given, to sell the war, overwhelmed your respect for the truth." On January 11, 2007 Boxer in a debate over the war in Iraq said, "Now, the issue is who pays the price, who pays the price? I’m not going to pay a personal price. My kids are too old, and my grandchild is too young. You’re not going to pay a particular price, as I understand it, within immediate family. So who pays the price? The American military and their families, and I just want to bring us back to that fact.” The New York Post and White House Press Secretary Tony Snow considered this an attack on Rice's status as a single, childless female and referred to Boxer's comments as "a great leap backward for feminism." Debra J. Saunders, a commentator with the San Francisco Chronicle responded to Boxer's comments: "In citing Rice's childlessness, Boxer was doing what many lefties do — coming up with conditions that others must meet in order to be entitled to dissenting opinions. It makes about as much sense as arguing, before the war, that only people whose children had to live in Iraq under Saddam Hussein had a right to oppose U.S. troops in Iraq." Saunders continued her response to Boxer by stating, "Anyway, if not paying a personal price on Iraq means that your opinion is not particularly legitimate, then by her own logic, Boxer should cork it.".
Rice's rise within the George W. Bush administration initially drew a largely positive response from many in the African American community. In a 2002 survey, then National Security Advisor Rice was viewed favorably by 41% of African American respondents, but another 40% did not know Rice well enough to rate her and her profile remained comparatively obscure. As her role increased, some African American commentators began to express doubts concerning Rice's stances and statements on various issues. In 2005, Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson asked, "How did [Rice] come to a worldview so radically different from that of most black Americans?"
Other writers have also noted what they perceive to be a distance between Rice and the black community. The Black Commentator magazine described sentiments given in a speech by Rice at a black gathering as "more than strange – they were evidence of profound personal disorientation. A black woman who doesn’t know how to talk to black people is of limited political use to an administration that has few African American allies." When Rice invoked the civil rights movement to clarify her position on the invasion of Iraq, Margaret Kimberley, another writer for The Black Commentator, felt that her use of the rhetoric was "offensive". Stan Correy, an interviewer from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, characterized many African Americans involved with civil rights and politics as viewing this rhetoric as "cynical". Rice was also described by Bill Fletcher, Jr., the former leader of the TransAfrica Forum, a foreign policy lobbying organization in Washington, D.C., as "very cold and distant and only black by accident." In August 2005, American musician, actor, and social activist Harry Belafonte, who serves on the Board of TransAfrica, referred to African Americans in the Bush administration as "black tyrants". Belafonte's comments received mixed reactions.
Rice has defended herself from such criticisms on several occasions. During a September 14, 2005 interview, she said: "Why would I worry about something like that? ... The fact of the matter is I've been black all my life. Nobody needs to tell me how to be black."
A few notable African Americans have defended Rice from across the aisle, including Mike Espy, Andrew Young, C. Delores Tucker (chair of the National Congress of Black Women), Clarence Page, Colbert King, Dorothy Height (chair and president emerita of the National Council of Negro Women) and Kweisi Mfume (former Congressman and former CEO of the NAACP).