Condoleezza Rice

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Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
Order 66th Secretary of State
Term of Office January 26, 2005
Predecessor Colin Powell
Date of Birth November 14, 1954
Place of Birth Birmingham, Alabama
Profession University Professor
Political Party Republican

Condoleezza Rice, Ph.D. (born November 14, 1954), is the 66th and current United States Secretary of State, and the second in the administration of President George W. Bush. She replaced Colin Powell on January 26, 2005.

Condoleezza Rice was previously Bush's National Security Advisor during his first term (20012005). Before joining the Bush administration, she was a Professor of Political Science at Stanford University and served as Provost from 1993 to 1999.



Condoleezza Rice was born in Birmingham, Alabama the only child of Angelena Rice and the Reverend John Wesley Rice (Jr.). Her father was a minister at Westminster Presbyterian Church, and her mother was a music teacher. The name "Condoleezza" is a derivation of the Italian music-related expression, "Con dolcezza", meaning "with sweetness". [1]

In an article for the New Yorker, Nicholas Leman, dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University, writes, "Birmingham had one notably rich black family, the Gastons, who were in the insurance business. Occupying the next rung down was the family of Alma Powell [wife of former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and U.S. Secretary of State, Colin Powell]; her father and her uncle were the principals of two black high schools in town. Rice's father, John Wesley Rice, Jr., worked for Alma Powell's uncle as a high-school guidance counsellor, and was an ordained minister who preached on weekends; Rice's mother, Angelena, was a teacher." [2] In 1967, the family moved to Denver when her father accepted an administrative position at the University of Denver.

She was born the same year as the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision. 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 states that growing up during racial segregation taught her determination against adversity, and the need to be "twice as good" as non-minorities [3].


After studying piano at an Aspen music camp, 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." [4]

At age 15, Rice began classes with the goal of becoming a concert pianist. Her plans changed when she 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 led her to call Korbel, "one of the most central figures in my life" [5].

In 1974, at age 19, Rice earned her B.A. in political science (cum laude) and Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of Denver. In 1975, she obtained her Master's Degree from the University of Notre Dame. In 1976 she switched her party registration/affiliation to the Republican Party. 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 age 26, she received her Ph.D. from the Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Denver. In addition to English, she speaks Russian, French, and Spanish.

Academic career

Condoleezza Rice
Condoleezza Rice

At Stanford University, Rice was an Assistant Professor, Political Science (1981-1987), Associate Professor (1987-1993), tenured Professor of Political Science (1993-July 2000), (see [6]], 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 U.C. Berkeley's George Breslauer in the mid-1980s. She also was an avid reader of Leo Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky, and once told a friend she leaned toward the latter in her world view. She was quietly cerebral, friendly but decorous, and always popular among students. They often saw her exercising in the gym. From 1993 to 1999 she served as the Stanford Provost, the chief budget and academic officer of the university. Yet, 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.

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 and Michigan State University in 2004.

Rice has written or collaborated on several books, including Germany Unified and Europe Transformed (1995), The Gorbachev Era (1986), and Uncertain Allegiance: The Soviet Union and the Czechoslovak Army (1984).

Business career

Rice has served on the board of directors for the Chevron Corporation, the Charles Schwab Corporation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, Transamerica Corporation, Hewlett Packard, The Carnegie Corporation, The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, The Rand Corporation, and KQED, public broadcasting for San Francisco.

She was also on the Board of Trustees of the University of Notre Dame, the International Advisory Council of J.P. Morgan, and the San Francisco Symphony Board of Governors.

Chevron honored Rice by naming an oil tanker Condoleezza Rice after her, but controversy led to its being renamed Altair Voyager [7],[8], and [9]

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.

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, and the Mid-Peninsula Urban Coalition.

Political career

Early phase

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 the George H. W. Bush 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 so impressed Bush that he introduced her to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev as the one who "tells me everything I know about the Soviet Union."[10]

In 1989 she served as director for Soviet and East European Affairs at the National Security Council and reported directly to National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft. In 1990 she became George H. W. Bush's principal advisor on the Soviet Union. In 1997, she sat on the Federal Advisory Committee on Gender-Integrated Training in the Military.

During George W. Bush's election campaign in 2000, Rice took a one-year leave of absence from Stanford University to help work as his foreign policy advisor.

National Security Advisor (2001–2005)

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 2001 Morse Target.

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 refused 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'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." [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 against race-based preferences. On the same day, Rice released a statement that somewhat contradicted this, saying that she believes race "can be a factor" in university admissions policies [12].

Secretary of State

Condoleezza Rice speaks after being nominated to be Secretary of State by President George W. Bush (background)
Condoleezza Rice speaks after being nominated to be Secretary of State by President George W. Bush (background)

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 7, 2005, Bush nominated U.S. Trade Representative Robert B. Zoellick to be Rice's deputy at the Department of State. 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, Ms. Boxer questioned Rice on issues about her personal life, which was deemed, by some, as 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. However, Rice's charm and intellect outweighed these factors, resulting in her approval by Republicans and Democrats.

Rice has a very close relationship with President George Walker Bush. Many analysts argue that Rice's close relationship with Bush is the closest President/Secretary of State relationship since former President Richard Nixon and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger in the early 1970s.

In January 2005, during Bush's second inaugural ceremonies, Rice first used the term "outposts of tyranny," referring 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.

Rice meets with Cardinal Angelo Sodano during her international trip.
Rice meets with Cardinal Angelo Sodano during her international trip.

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.

In April 2005, Rice went to Russia to meet President Vladimir Putin, visiting the country in which she specialized during her academic career and service with the National Security Council. On the plane trip over, she related comments critical of Putin 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". [13]

In person she told Putin: "We see Russia as a partner in solving regional issues, like the Balkans or the Middle East".

During an interview with Russian Echo Moscow Radio, her fluency in the Russian language was tested when she was asked about her intentions concerning running for President. [14] When asked by a schoolgirl, "One day you will run for president?" she replied, "President, da, da," before she quickly answered with "nyet, nyet, nyet." When a Russian girl asked how she could become like her, she replied in English, "I don't want to talk about myself."

Condoleeza Rice has been known to make use of her musical skills as is demonstrated here with Michaelle Jean playing Glenn Gould's piano at Rideau Hall on October 25th 2005.
Condoleeza Rice has been known to make use of her musical skills as is demonstrated here with Michaelle Jean playing Glenn Gould's piano at Rideau Hall on October 25th 2005.

She toured the damage from Hurricane Katrina in her home state of Alabama for several days in early September, 2005.

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.

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 is "set out to help the people of the Middle East transform their societies". [15]

On October 30, 2005, Rice attended a memorial service in Montgomery, Alabama, in Rice's home state, for Rosa Parks, the inspiration for the civil rights movement. [16] 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." [17]

Future prospects

Rice has risen to become one of the highest-profile female politicians in US history, and easily the most powerful African-American female politician. As a result, supporters have touted a future Vice Presidential or Presidential candidacy as a possibility.

Condi vs. Hillary: The Next Great Presidential Race
Condi vs. Hillary: The Next Great Presidential Race

After the U.S. presidential election, 2004, political consultant Dick Morris advocated Rice's candidacy for President in the U.S. presidential election, 2008.

"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. Rice for her part has repeatedly said she has no desire or interest in becoming President. Interviewed on the subject 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." [18]

In May 2005, several of Rice's associates claimed that she is interested in a run for the presidency, but only in draft form. [19] On October 16, 2005, on NBC's Meet the Press, Rice declined she would run for President in 2008. While 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." [20] Interviewed on BBC television's The Politics Show on October 23, she again stated her decision not to run, although dodged giving a "Yes" answer when asked whether that meant she would definitely not run in any circumstances.

Rice has frequently been mentioned as a possible opponent of Hillary Clinton in the 2008 election, as is the subject of the recent book Condi vs. Hillary: The Next Great Presidential Race, by political strategist Dick Morris and his wife, Eileen McGann-Morris, published in October 2005.



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