Condoleezza Rice is one of the most influential politicians in the USA since he has been the major foreign affair advisor and more recently the Secretary of State in the G.W. Bush administration. In such a way, she could influence and define the foreign policy of the USA within the last eight years, which have become probably the most turbulent epoch in foreign relations of the USA since the end of the Cold War. At the same time, Condoleezza Rice is renowned for her professionalism in the field of diplomacy and a strong academic background, which apparently helped her to make a successful political career.
At the same time, Condoleezza Rice is really unique because she is the 66th Secretary of State and the second African-American and the second woman who served as Secretary of State. In such a way, she has proved to able to achieve the top positions in the American politics, regardless of the existing barriers, which used to be considered unsurpassable in the past. Nevertheless, her political achievements are the result of her hard work and profound knowledge of international politics. On the other hand, Condoleezza Rice traditionally stood on the democratic ground and promoted the idea of spreading democracy in the world and the support of democratic states by the USA.
However, her achievements and work as Secretary of State were quite controversial since, in spite of her declared support of democracy, she, being Secretary of State, still maintained undemocratic regimes in countries of the Gulf area, such as Saudi Arabia, where democracy is still underdeveloped, and, what is more, she was an active proponent of Bush’s policies aiming at the elimination of Hussein’s regime in Iraq. Such policies became subjects to criticism of Condoleezza Rice, but it is hardly possible to underestimate the significance of her diplomatic work contributing to the development of positive relationships of the US with many countries of the world, her peaceful efforts in relation to Israeli-Palestinian and Israeli-Lebanese conflict, and other successes which contributed to the stability in the world and secured the position of the USA.
Early life and academic career of Condoleezza Rice
Condoleezza Rice was born in 1954, in Birmingham, Alabama. She grew up in the family of Presbyterian Minister Reverend Rice and Angelena Ray. Her father, Reverend Rice was a guidance counselor at Ullman High School and minister of Westminster Presbyterian Church, while her mother, Angelena Ray, was a science, music and oratory teacher at Ullman (Cunningham, 184). Her education started at the age of three when she started learning French, music, figure skating and ballet. Her early education was apparently oriented on her future political career. Instead, it was more concerned with art, especially music. At the age of 15, she began classes with the goal of becoming a concert pianist, but as she understood that she could not earn for living through music alone, she decided to change her education and career plans considerably and focused on international affairs and politics.
In 1967, her family moved to Denver, Colorado, where she attended St. Marry’s Academy, a private all-girls Catholic high school in Cherry Hills village, Colorado. Later, Condoleezza Rice enrolled at the University of Denver and attended a course on international politics taught by Joseph Korbel. This experience sparked her interest to the Soviet Union and international relations and made her convinced in the necessity of continuing her education in the field of international politics and making a professional career related to this field. In 1974, Condoleezza Rice earned her BA in political science from the University of Denver. Next year, she obtained her Master Degree in political of science from the University of Notre Dame (Wade, 113). She first worked in the State Department in 1977, during the Carter administration as an intern in the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs. In 1981, she received her Philosophy Degree in political science from the Joseph Korbel School of International Studies at Denver
Since 1981, Condoleezza Rice has been working as professor of political science on the Stanford faculty and has won two of the highest teaching honors ”“ the 1984 Walter J. Gores Award for Excellence in Teaching and the 1993 School of Humanities and Sciences Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching (Ditchfield, 193). At Stanford, Condoleezza Rice was a member of the Center for International Security and Arms Control from 1981 to 1986, a Senior Fellow of the Institute for International Studies, and a Fellow of the Hoover Institution (Felix, 198). Her scientific work was mainly focused on the study of the USSR and Eastern European countries, which comprised the Soviet Bloc at the epoch.
In 1999, she completed six year tenure at Stanford University’s Provost, during which she was the institution’s chief budget and academic officer. As Provost she was responsible for a $1.5 billion annual budget and the academic program involving 1,400 faculty members and 14,000 students. Remarkably, she managed to solve the problem of the annual budget deficit of $20 million and, within two years, the university was holding a record surplus of over $14,5 million (Felix, 218). In such a way, Condoleezza Rice has reached a considerable success in her academic and scientific career.
Political career of Condoleezza Rice
However, the most significant achievements of Condoleezza Rice are related to her political career, which she started under the Carter’s presidency, when she worked in the State Department in 1977, but it was the formative years, where Condoleezza Rice was still mainly concerned with her scientific career. The actual political career started in the mid-1980s, when she served as Special Assistant to the Director of the Joint Chiefs Staff. Later, her profound knowledge of the USSR and Eastern Europe proved very helpful in her further professional career since from 1989 to 1991 she served in President George Bush’s administration as Director, and then as Senior Director, of Soviet and East European affairs in the National Security Council, and the Special Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs.
In this position, Condoleezza Rice helped to develop policies contributing to the reunification of Germany. In 1991, she returned to her teaching position at Stanford (Burke, 558).
In 1997, she sat on the Federal Advisory Committee on Gender-Integrated Training in the Military. However, her political career started to progress rapidly during the George W. Bush’s presidential campaign and presidency. To put it more precisely, during the G.W. Bush’s Presidential election campaign, she took a one-year leave of absence from Stanford University to help to work as Foreign Policy Advisor of G.W. Bush. After the victory of G.W. Bush in 2001, Condoleezza Rice worked as National Security Advisor from 2001 to 2005. In this position, she proved to be an active proponent of the 2003 Iraq invasion, though Iraq did not possess the weapon of mass destruction which could threaten to the USA and its national security. Nevertheless, Condoleezza Rice insisted that this country was one of the major supporters of international terrorism. In general, she stood on the ground that it is necessary to prevent terrorism rather than struggle with terrorism by means of large scale military campaigns, but to prevent terrorism, she considered the invasion of Iraq essential.
Since 2005 she has worked as Secretary of State and it is the top position she has taken ever. Remarkably, Senate confirmed her nomination by a vote of 85 to 13. The negative votes, the most cast against any nomination for Secretary of State since 1825, came from Senators who found her policy in relation to Iraq and struggle with terrorism irresponsible. Her critics argued that she should not equate Iraq with radical Islamic terrorists (Mann, 146).
Nevertheless, as Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice developed the policy of Transformational diplomacy which was based on five core elements: 1) relocating American diplomats to the places in the world where they are needed the most, such as China, India, Brazil, Egypt, Nigeria, Indonesia, South Africa and Lebanon; 2) require diplomats to serve some time in hardship locations such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Sudan and Angola; gain expertise in at least two regions; and become fluent in two foreign languages; 3) focusing on regional solutions to problems like terrorism, drug trafficking and diseases; 4) working with other countries on a bilateral basis to help them build a stronger infrastructure and decreasing a foreign relations’ dependence on American hand-outs and assistance; 5) creating a high-level position, Director of Foreign Assistance, to oversee US foreign aid, thus de-fragmenting US foreign assistance (Ryan, 314).
Furthermore, Condoleezza Rice focused on burning regional conflicts, especially Israeli-Palestinian conflicts. She attempted to appease the conflicting parties and contributed to the withdrawal of Israeli army from Gaza in 2005 and renegotiated the opening of the Gaza border crossing (Cunningham, 228). At the same time, in response for Israeli withdrawal, Condoleezza Rice insisted on the democratic transformations in Palestine, including the democratic elections, which after the death of Yasser Arafat resulted in the victory of Hamas, the organization which considered by Israel and the USA as the terrorist organization.
In 2006, Condoleezza Rice mediation played a significant role in the resolution of Israeli-Lebanon conflict, though she apparently supported the position of Israel because the military conflict and military operation of Israel aimed at the elimination of Hezbollah, another terrorist organization. Condoleezza Rice insisted on the reasonable use of military power and avoidance of unnecessary casualties (Cunningham, 234).
The Middle East region proved to be very important for the USA and Condoleezza Rice attempted to maintain positive relationships with countries in the Gulf region, such as Saudi Arabia, which became one of the major allies of the USA in the region. In addition, Condoleezza Rice contributed to the improvement of the relationships between the USA and India. In addition, she contributed to bringing democracy to Pakistan, the country which was also strategically important to the USA.
At the same time, Condoleezza Rice was extremely concerned with the position of undemocratic states which misbalance international relations and security system. She was an active proponent of the invasion of Iraq and military operation in Afghanistan. In addition, she grew extremely concerned with the strengthening of undemocratic trends in such countries as Iran and Russia. The former was traditionally viewed by the US as the major opponent in the Middle East region and Condoleezza Rice supported this view. As for Russia, she was extremely disturbed with undemocratic changes that took place in the country after the election of the new President Vladimir Putin.
On the other hand, she characterized the US-Russia relationships in regard to the struggle with international terrorism as positive (Kessler, 192).
Finally, it should be said that North Korea raised another important issue of the security in Asian region. Condoleezza Rice conducted policy aiming at the elimination of the nuclear threat from the part of North Korea. For this purpose, since 2003 the “Six Party Talks”¯ have been initiated to denuclearize North Korea.
The analysis of Condoleezza Rice’s work as Secretary of State
The work of Condoleezza Rice is highly controversial and often she is severely criticized for her policy, which some specialists identify as the policy of double standards (Flanders, 251). In this respect, it is possible to refer to the invasion of Iraq, which was probably the most controversial issue, Condoleezza Rice maintained the military operation in Iraq and even after the invasion she insisted that the maintenance of order in Iraq was essential since the war in Iraq was essential to set out to help people of the Middle East to transform their societies (Wade, 147). In actuality, this position of Condoleezza Rice reveals the full controversy of her policy. She justifies the invasion of Iraq and interference of the US in domestic affairs of other countries by the intention of the USA to maintain and develop democracy in the world. On the other hand, she agrees on the use of undemocratic methods, such as the military operations, to establish democracy. At the same time, even the policy of democratization conducted by Condoleezza Rice proves to be highly controversial. On the one hand, she condemns the violation of human rights in Iran, while, on the other hand, she maintains the friendly relationships of the USA and Saudi Arabia as well as some other states where democracy is apparently underdeveloped. She supports the war in Iraq, but she insists on the avoidance of military conflict with North Korea which may possess the nuclear weapon. Furthermore, her policy in relation to Russia is also highly controversial. On the one hand, she is very critical concerning undemocratic changes within the country, while on the other hand, she appreciates the Russian support in the war on terror.
Moreover, the support of the establishment of democracy in other countries has revealed a serious problem, when the terrorist organization, Hamas, gains the power in Palestine in the result of democratic elections that raises serious problems to further peaceful negotiations between Israel and Palestine and put under a threat all of Rice’s achievements in her appeasement efforts in the region.
Thus, in conclusion, it should be said that Condoleezza Rice has made a successful political as well as scientific career. She managed to use her scientific knowledge and her political career, taking high positions, especially during G.W. Bush presidency. At the same time, her policies and views on international politics are controversial. On the one hand, she is a proponent of the development of democracy in the world, while, on the other hand, the means the US have used during her work as Secretary of State were not always democratic. Moreover, while supporting democratic transformations worldwide, Rice still maintained friendly relations of the US with undemocratic countries.