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Condoleezza Rice

Condoleezza Rice

Condoleezza Rice research papers show that she is just one of many fascinating individuals who contribute to contemporary world affairs and culture. Condoleezza Rice has overcome many obstacles to arrive at her current position in national politics. Best known as the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, she is also an intellectual black woman who has succeeded in a political world that is dominated by white middle-aged males. I would like to interview Condoleezza Rice to learn how she overcame obstacles of race and gender to reach this position, and how she is able to maintain her integrity among the many non-intellectual, middle-aged, white males with whom she works daily. These factors make Rice one of the most interesting public individuals in the world today, and an ideal interview candidate.

Condoleezza Rice's Experience

Rice is well educated, relatively young and has a great deal of international political experience. Rice's education is as follows:

  • She entered college at age 15
  • Holds a doctorate degree from the University of Denver's Graduate School of International Studies in political science.
  • Rice served Hoover senior fellow, was appointed provost of Stanford University

The culmination of her career was when she served as special assistant to the president for national security affairs and senior director for Soviet affairs at the National Security Council under President George Bush. As her education and experience demonstrate, Rice combines academic expertise with practical experience that is often rare in political affairs. This aspect of Rice makes her one of the most interesting individuals in world politics today.

Condoleezza Rice's Biography

Although she was born on 14 November 1954 in a deeply racist and bitterly segregated Birmingham, Alabama, Condoleezza Rice's family lived among the city's African-American elite in the Titusville section of town. As the only child whose father was a pastor and whose mother was a schoolteacher, she therefore enjoyed some privileges that were beyond the reach of many poorer Black families in Alabama, including French classes and piano lessons. Such experiences would awaken Ms. Rice's artistic talents from an early age: a child prodigy, she gave her first piano recital when she was just four year old. However, her family's relatively privileged position within African-American society did not shield the young Condoleezza from the horrors of Southern racism during the 1950s and 1960s: when she was only eight years old, she was within hearing distance when a white-supremacist terrorist bomb murdered her friend, Denise McNair.

In 1965, the Rice family moved to Tuscaloosa so that her father could take up a position as president of Stillman College. They subsequently moved to Denver after Mr. Rice was appointed vice chancellor at the University of Denver. During that period, Ms. Rice amply demonstrated that her superb talents went beyond the artistic. Aside from emerging as an accomplished ice skater, she completed the eighth grade at the age of 11, enrolled at the University of Denver at the age of 15, and graduated cum laude in political science at Denver at the age of 18 or 19 in 1973. After obtaining a master's degree in economics from Notre Dame, Rice returned to work on a Ph.D. in international studies at the University of Denver. Her mentor and inspiration at Denver was Josef Korbel, the father of Madeleine Albright, the first female Secretary of State under President Bill Clinton. It was under Korbel that Rice began to hone her enduring no-nonsense, realist approach to power, politics, and international affairs.

Upon obtaining her doctorate degree in 1981, Ms. Rice was promptly invited to Teach at Stanford University, where she was appointed assistant professor the next year. At Stanford she earned a reputation as an excellent teacher and forced a number of important relationships, including a mutually respectful association with Brent Scowcroft, who was co-director of the influential Aspen Strategy Group at the time of their meeting, and who in 1988 was be appointed national security adviser under President G.H.W. Bush. Although she had been a registered Democrat several years, in 1982 Rice became a Republican-a move that was apparently motivated in part by a strong disappointment with President Carter's performance. On Scowcroft's recommendation, the president selected Condoleezza Rice as National Security Council staff director for Soviet and East European affairs-a critical post in what would prove to be the final days of the Soviet Empire. As she had done in most of her undertakings, Rice brightly excelled.

During the Clinton years, Rice served as Provost of Stanford University and was also appointed to a directorship at the Chevron Corporation. As G.W. Bush prepared to run for the presidency, Rice was selected as his key advisor on foreign policy-the candidate being infamously unreceptive to foreign policy matters. After serving a four-year term as national security adviser during the first G.W. Bush administration, Rice took on the daunting responsibilities of Secretary of State in January 2005.

Analysis of Rice's Historical Contributions

This rather brief and highly incomplete introduction to the life and accomplishments of the Honorable Condoleezza Rice pinpoints several reasons why she is important and why she is having significant impacts on U.S. history-and, indeed, on world history. First of all, Rice deserves to be celebrated as a woman who defiantly rose above the awfulness of a racist society that cast "her" people as innately inferior, distinguishing herself from an early age not only in artistic and athletic pursuits, but also in scholarly and later leadership positions. Of course, it is in the leadership realm that she will be most recognized, having made important contributions three U.S. presidents: Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and G.W. Bush. In her current position, she ranks as no less than the second woman (after Madeleine Albright) and the second African American (after her immediate predecessor Colin Powell) to hold the crucial position of Secretary of State.

Therefore, in spite of the fact that U.S. foreign policy has long been a field with few women of any race and few African-Americans of either gender, the pioneering, boundary-breaking Rice has been the first African-American woman to serve as Secretary of State, serving as an immutable role model for both women and ethnic minorities. The fact that Rice has long lived and worked in a (White) man's world readily becomes obvious when one considers some of the responses to her work. For instance, one critic of her 1983 book The Soviet Union and the Czechoslovak Army clearly presumed that Rice must have been a man (and surely a White one at that) to be concerned with in the "manly" subject at hand: "His thesis is that…," "Rice based his discussion…," "Rice's generalizations reflect…".

Particularly at this critical moment in American history, it would be difficult to overstate Rice's importance to the nation. At a time when the nation and the world confront immensely difficult challenges from new problems such as the global war on terror, growing nuclear weapons threats from unpredictable "rogue" states, and an immensely troubled involvement in Iraq-problems altogether different, it should be noted, from those to which Rice's academic research was devoted-she faces the extremely daunting task of advising the leader of the leading of the world's sole remaining superpower about the best course to take in international affairs. The man who occupies the most powerful office in the world is highly dependent on Rice's counsel. Rice enjoys a well-earned unparalleled level of trust with and access to President G.W. Bush. From the inception, Rice played critical, though often unnoted roles in almost all of Bush's most important decisions (Serafin). Even before she began to serve as Secretary of State, the president enthusiastically admitted to "rel[ying] on her counsel, benefit[ting] from her great experience, and appreciate[ing] her sound and steady judgment".

For these and other reasons, the Honorable Condoleezza Rice has been accurately described as nothing less than "the most powerful woman in the world". Indeed, the fate of American foreign policy, and therefore of untold people around the world, are more dependent than ever on Rice-and on the rare combination of unyielding nerve and delicate manners that have earned her the title of "Warrior Princess"-at a time of great uncertainty. Thankfully, Rice has redirected both the tone and the direction of U.S. foreign policy aware from the unilateralist hard-liners and towards approaches that leave about more room for negotiation with even some extremist regimes. As such, rice has opened up at least some previously nonexistent possibility of engagement with North Korea and Iran over their nuclear programs.

Unfortunately, it is yet to be seen whether Rice's immense talents will be sufficient to negotiate a way out of calamitous Bush-era foreign policies that other players were largely responsible for advancing. After all, Rice faces challenges here that are entirely unlike any she-or most other experts-have ever faced. In the final analysis, however, the United States and the world should be highly grateful that it is this exceptional woman who is rising to the immensely difficult tasks at hand.


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