Monday, June 11, 2007

Know Your Bureaucrat: Condoleeza Rice

Dr. Rice was born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1954. At the age of 26 she received a PhD from the Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Denver. She was hired as a professor at Stanford University in 1981 and in 1993 became the university's youngest provost. She was a specialist on the former Soviet Union. Rice was a Democrat until 1982 when she switched to Republican because she disagreed with Jimmy Carter's foreign policy, a course correction that would prove fruitful.

Her political star began to rise in 1989 when she served President Bush (41) as director of Soviet and Eastern European Affairs. In 1991 she returned to Stanford. Rice also became the head to Chevron's committee on public policy until 2001 when she resigned to become George W. Bush's National Security Advisor.

She did such a fine job at Chevron that the company named an oil tanker after her. It has since been renamed.
During the 2000 Presidential campaign Rice took a leave of absence to become George W. Bush's foreign policy advisor. Her brilliance manifested itself when Bush could not remember names various foreign leaders during a key television interview. None the less, the bond between Rice and Bush grew strong and after Bush was installed as president Condi, as she was now known, became his National Security Advisor.

It bears noting the connections made in order for Dr. Rice to become National Secutiy Advisor. For one, she had to have the opportunity to serve Bush Sr. and from there connections were made to the oil industry and from there it was back to help his son George W. because, in her words, "I like him and he should be president." Her judgment has been under-fire ever since.

Condi, whose expertise remained in the now defunct Soviet Union, and bi-polar world of the Cold War, acquitted herself immediately as Bush's top national security advisor by complimenting the administration's curiosity over Saddam Hussein and Iraq.

Many long days were spent exploring questions such as: What
is he doing over there, anyway? I know he's up to something, but what? Who wants take out?

Booked solid, Condi simply had no time to pay any attention warnings that terrorism and Al Quada was the single greatest national security threat facing the incoming administration. Repeated warnings from Sandy Berger and chief counter terrorism advisor Richard Clarke found their way to an over-stuffed circular file.

After the terrorists attacks of September 11, 2001, Condi's stock rose even higher and she was drawn even further into Bush's inner cabal of close advisors. There she dutifully stoked post 9/11 fear and paranoia to get America into Iraq before we faced, as she put it, a "smoking gun in the form of a mushroom cloud."

Subsequent intelligence and foreign policy failures only served to bolster Dr. Rice's position as a political and academic superstar. She replaced Colin Powell as Secretary of State in 2004 where she has remained, lofty but largely innocuous.

Every once in a while Dr. Rice makes a trip to Israel to do a little glad handing and talk about the need for peace. Recently she was seen mentioning something about Bush's new missile defense program in Eastern Europe. Russian President Vladimir Putin said a few things and Rice offered a biting rejoinder. Ah, that's something familiar. It's almost like the Cold War all over again.

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