Condoleeza Rice

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Condoleeza Rice (1954-) is a U.S. academic specialist in international relations and Soviet studies, who served as Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs (first term) and the 66th Secretary of State (second term) in the George W. Bush Administration. Before coming to that Administration, she was Provost of Stanford University, having served in other faculty appointments there. She was also an advisor to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the National Security Council in the George H.W. Bush (Bush 41) Administration.[1]

In the George W. Bush Administration, she enjoyed a high degree of rapport with the President. She was not, however, considered a strong bureaucratic infighter, and, in particular, battled with Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. During the first Bush 43 administration, she enjoyed somewhat better relations with Secretary of State Colin Powell, although their views differed in some areas.

Early life

Before college, she was in national level competition in both piano and ice skating, and began her undergraduate studies as a music major. African-American by heritage, she grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, and speaks of her family's high standards.

Her undergraduate work in political science was at the University of Denver, graduating at the age of 19 in 1974. Her master's came from the University of Notre Dame in 1975, and her doctorate from the Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Denver in 1981. Her dissertation was on the Czechoslovak Army and its relationship to the Soviet Union.

Academia and initial politics

She then went onto the political science faculty at Stanford. While she seemed competent but not unusual in her policy views, she stood out by personality, being articulate, disciplined, and cheerful. Brent Scowcroft, Deputy to Henry Kissinger and National Security Assistant in the [[Gerald Ford|Ford Administration", first met her at the arms control group at Stanford. "And one of the people there, who looked like an undergraduate, was Condi Rice. And in this group of aficionados of arms control, which is a pretty pretty esoteric subject, she spoke right up. She was thoughtful, she was good, she wasn't intimidated, and I thought, this is someone I really want to get to know." At meetings, she was usually the only woman and only black person, and almost always the only black woman. [2]

While she voted for Jimmy Carter, she broke with him over Afghanistan policy. According to her oldest and closest friend in academia, Coit Blacker, "Condi's always been pretty conservative. She realized she wasn't a Democrat in response to Carter's handling of Afghanistan." Her father had been a Republican, but she was not strongly ideological; she was more attracted to Kissinger and Scowcroft than to the ideologue in the Reagan Administration. [3]

Initial government service

On a one-year Council on Foreign Relations fellowship, she was named an advisor to the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1987, and in 1989 became director of Soviet and East European Affairs on the National Security Council. Francis Fukuyama said "you know, we'll all going to be working for Condi some day."[4]

National Security Adviser

She was involved in the initial planning for counterterrorism, reducing the bureaucratic rank of Richard Clarke from principal to deputy. Rice was operationally involved in the response to the 9-11 attack, the planning of the Iraq War. She was one of the first senior officials briefed on the intensified interrogation and extrajudicial detention of terrorist suspects.

Her deputy was Stephen Hadley, who succeeded her when she became Secretary of State.

Secretary of State

Fukuyama said she was not tied to the neoconservatism common in the Administration, but moving toward a "realistic Wilsonianism" because [the administration has] made democracy promotion a fairly important part of the foreign policy and they've been multilateral."[5]

She was involved in several key Middle East negotiations, including the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005 and ceasefire in the 2006 Israel-Lebanon conflict involving Hizbollah. She organized the Annapolis Conference of November 27, 2007, which focused on finding a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian problem.

Nuclear proliferation was another priority. She argued for sanctions against Iran unless it stopped or reduced its nuclear program. She opposed bilateral talks with North Korea although was an active supporter of the Six Party Talks between China, Japan, Russia, North Korea, South Korea, and the United States. In October 2008, she negotiated the U.S.-India Agreement for Cooperation Concerning Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy (123 Agreement).

Following the Bush Administration


  1. Home > Department History > People > Condoleezza Rice, U.S. Department of State
  2. James Mann (2004), Rise of the Vulcans: the History of Bush's War Cabinet, Viking, ISBN 0670032990, p. 146
  3. Mann, p. 148
  4. Mann interview with Fukuyama, July 19, 2002
  5. Peter Nolan (25 April 2006), "For Francis Fukuyama, there is life after the neocons", Common Ground News Service