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Condoleezza Rice

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Condoleezza Rice
Condoleezza Rice cropped.jpg
66th United States Secretary of State
In office
January 26, 2005 – January 20, 2009
PresidentGeorge W. Bush
DeputyRichard Armitage
Robert Zoellick
John Negroponte
Preceded byColin Powell
Succeeded byHillary Clinton
20th United States National Security Advisor
In office
January 20, 2001 – January 26, 2005
PresidentGeorge W. Bush
DeputyStephen Hadley
Preceded bySandy Berger
Succeeded byStephen Hadley
10th Provost of Stanford University
In office
Preceded byGerald J. Lieberman
Succeeded byJohn L. Hennessy
Personal details
Born (1954-11-14) November 14, 1954 (age 64)
Birmingham, Alabama, U.S.
Political partyRepublican (1982–present)
Other political
Democratic (before 1982)
EducationUniversity of Denver (BA, PhD)
University of Notre Dame (MA)

Condoleezza Rice (/ˌkɒndəˈlzə/; born November 14, 1954) is an American political scientist and diplomat. She served as the 66th United States Secretary of State, the second person to hold that office in the administration of President George W. Bush. Rice was the first female African-American Secretary of State, as well as the second African-American Secretary of State (after Colin Powell), and the second female Secretary of State (after Madeleine Albright). Rice was President Bush's National Security Advisor during his first term, making her the first woman to serve in that position.

Rice was born in Birmingham, Alabama, and grew up while the South was racially segregated. She obtained her bachelor's degree from the University of Denver and her master's degree in political science from the University of Notre Dame. In 1981 she received a PhD from the School of International Studies at the University of Denver.[1] She worked at the State Department under the Carter administration and pursued an academic fellowship at Stanford University, where she later served as provost from 1993 to 1999. Rice served on the National Security Council as the Soviet and Eastern Europe Affairs Advisor to President George H. W. Bush during the dissolution of the Soviet Union and German reunification from 1989 to 1991. On December 17, 2000, she left her position and joined the Bush administration as National Security Advisor. In Bush's second term, she became Secretary of State.

Following her confirmation as Secretary of State, Rice pioneered the policy of Transformational Diplomacy directed toward expanding the number of responsible democratic governments in the world and especially in the Greater Middle East. That policy faced challenges as Hamas captured a popular majority in Palestinian elections, and influential countries including Saudi Arabia and Egypt maintained authoritarian systems with U.S. support. She has logged more miles traveling than any other Secretary of State. While in the position, she chaired the Millennium Challenge Corporation's board of directors.[2]

In March 2009, Rice returned to Stanford University as a political science professor and the Thomas and Barbara Stephenson Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution.[3][4] In September 2010, she became a faculty member of the Stanford Graduate School of Business and a director of its Global Center for Business and the Economy.[5]

She is on the Board of Directors of Dropbox and Makena Capital Management, LLC.[6][7][8]

YouTube Encyclopedic

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  • ✪ Condoleezza Rice: 2017 National Book Festival


>> From the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. >> Carla Hayden: It is my pleasure to welcome to the festival for the very first time the former Secretary of State, former National Security Advisor and Provost of Stanford University, who is also a two-time New York Times' best-selling author, the remarkable, amazing Dr. Condoleezza Rice. [ Applause ] And Dr. Rice is going to be interviewed for us by one of the best interviewers I know who has his own show on Bloomberg, our National Book Festival Co-chair and very generous supporter Mr. David Rubenstein. [ Applause ] Please welcome both of them. [ Applause ] And thanks and enjoy. >> David Rubenstein: Well, thank you very much for coming. >> Condoleezza Rice: Thank you very much for having me here. And welcome to everybody, thanks for being here, it's a great event, great event. >> David Rubenstein: So, it's hard to believe but you've now been out of government for about nine years. So, just before we get into your new book on democracy which I highly recommend and we'll talk about it in a few moments, tell us what you've been doing since you left government other than writing three best-selling books. This is the third. But, other than that you're teaching at Stanford and what else are you doing? >> Condoleezza Rice: Well, I've gone back to what I consider to be my real profession. I had that digression into Washington but I've actually been at Stanford since I was 25 years old. I started there as an assistant professor and so I've returned to Stanford. My appointment is in the business school but I teach both business school students and undergraduates. I teach a course in American foreign policy. I've been able to do a little bit of work in the private sector, a little consulting in the private sector and I'm spending a lot more time practising the piano than I did when I was in the government because that's really a great love and I'm trying to improve my golf handicap, that's a lot harder than playing the piano. >> David Rubenstein: Well speaking of your golf handicap, you were one of the first two women to be elected to the Augusta National Golf Club so was that an honor that you ever expected you would get? >> Condoleezza Rice: I was stunned. In fact when a good friend who was a member of Augusta came out to tell me that I was being invited to join Augusta I just sat there dumbfounded. And he said you are going to say yes, right? And I said yes I am but I was completely taken by surprise. >> David Rubenstein: Well, just tell me, don't. I won't tell anybody but what is your handicap? >> Condoleezza Rice: Well it's not really a state secret. So I am, for those of you who are golfers, there's something called an index and you take that index and you go to different courses and depending on the difficulty of the course you establish your handicap. So my index is 11.6 which means that on most courses I'm about a 13 or a 14 handicap. >> David Rubenstein: Okay, wow, okay so if you ever, did you ever play with President George W. Bush? >> Condoleezza Rice: I have played with President George W. Bush on a number of occasions. He plays speed golf. He plays really, really fast. You have to almost run to your golf ball to keep up with him but yes, we've played together. >> David Rubenstein: Okay. And music, you did train to be a classical music pianist? >> Condoleezza Rice: Yes. >> David Rubenstein: And I have seen you perform with Yo-Yo Ma among others, so do you do a lot of those concerts anymore or? >> Condoleezza Rice: Well, I play at least one concert a year. I was fortunate to play with Yo-Yo Ma at his music festival just recently at the Kennedy Center for which you were such a great leader David, but at least once a year I play a concert with a professional quartet from the Boston University called the Muir String Quartet. And we do a benefit for a charity that we started called Classics for Kids. It puts musical instruments in the schools because I'm a great believer, look I believe like everybody that we need STEM, Science and Technology and Mathematics, but I'm also a great believer that we need the arts. Our kids need exposure to the arts. [ Applause ] >> David Rubenstein: So, I want to focus on your book but I've heard some people who may not know, there may be one or two, your biography. Just, you were born and grew up in Birmingham? >> Condoleezza Rice: Yes. >> David Rubenstein: And it was a segregated South under the Jim Crow laws so when you were growing up did you, how long did it take before you realized that you were not being treated the same as everybody else? >> Condoleezza Rice: Well, I grew up in Birmingham. It was the most segregated big city in the country at the time. It was the place where the police commissioner, Bull Connor was well known for his brutality toward Blacks and it didn't take long to know that your parents were a little embarrassed that they couldn't take you to a restaurant or to a movie theater. They were never people who let us, this little community that I grew up in, which was mostly school teachers. My parents were educators. They never let us feel in any way that we were victims. As a matter of fact they always said when you consider yourself a victim you've lost control so don't ever consider yourself a victim. They also said you're going to have to be twice as good. Now they didn't say that as a matter of debate, they said it as a matter of fact because education was supposed to be your armor against prejudice. But I remember the very first time that I, it really came home to me. I went to see Santa Claus. And you know how it works, you take the little kid and Santa Claus puts the kid on the knee and says what will you have for Christmas? Well, this particular Santa Claus was taking the little white kids and putting them on his knee and holding little black kids out here to talk to them. And my father who was a former football player, my dad was 6.3, 240, he said to my mother Angelina if he does that to Condoleezza I am going to pull all that stuff off of him and expose him as the cracker that he is, he said. >> David Rubenstein: What happened? >> Condoleezza Rice: Alright so, you're this little girl and you're five and it's Santa Claus/daddy, Santa Clause/daddy. How is this going to end up? Santa Claus must have read my father's body language because when it came to me, he put me on his knee and he said, little girl, what would you like for Christmas? But I remember that was the first time that I thought this is really, really terrible and over Santa Claus of all things. >> David Rubenstein: One other thing that might have been unusual in your upbringing is you had an unusual first name. >> Condoleezza Rice: Yes. >> David Rubenstein: Where did that name come from? >> Condoleezza Rice: So, Condoleezza is my mother's attempt to Anglicize 'con dolcezza' which in Italian means 'with sweetness'. Now, I don't know maybe she missed the boat there but anyway that's what it meant. And her name was Angelina [assumed spelling] and I have an uncle Alto [phonetic]. I have an aunt Genova [phonetic] who since we're Southerners we call Genowa [phonetic]. But I think that she wanted an Italian musical term. And she first thought about [foreign language spoken] but that meant walking slowly. She thought that wasn't so good. 'Allegro' meant fast, that definitely wasn't good and so she came up with 'con Dolcezza' and Anglicized the ending. >> David Rubenstein: Okay. Ultimately your parents move out of Birmingham. They moved to Denver. >> Condoleezza Rice: Yes. >> David Rubenstein: And you ultimately went to school at the University of Denver? >> Condoleezza Rice: Yes. >> David Rubenstein: Where you graduated Phi Beta Kappa? >> Condoleezza Rice: Yes. >> David Rubenstein: And then you went to Notre Dame? >> Condoleezza Rice: That's right. >> David Rubenstein: But you didn't get involved in the football, cheering or anything there, you were a graduate student. >> Condoleezza Rice: I was a FIA, I loved football. Are you kidding? [ Inaudible Comment ] Right, of course I went to Notre Dame Football games as a graduate student, everybody does. >> David Rubenstein: Alright, alright so then you went back to the University of Denver and you got a PhD? >> Condoleezza Rice: Yes. >> David Rubenstein: And then you were recruited to Stanford, is that right? >> Condoleezza Rice: That's correct. That's correct. >> David Rubenstein: And your specialty was Soviet and Russian? >> Condoleezza Rice: Eastern European affairs, yeah. >> David Rubenstein: Now, why did you happen to pick that? It wasn't the normal thing that you might say you might have picked. >> Condoleezza Rice: No, I was a failed music major. I started in college as a piano major. I studied piano from the age of three. My grandmother taught piano so I learned very young and about the end of my sophomore year in college I went to the Aspen Music Festival School that summer. And I met 12-year-olds who could play from sight, everything it had taken me all year to learn and I thought I'm about to end up you know playing a piano bar someplace or playing while you shop, or whatever. And so, I wondered back with no major and I took a class in international politics. It was taught by a man named Josef Korbel, he was Madeleine Albright's father and all of a sudden I knew what I wanted to be. I wanted to study things Soviet, East European, diplomacy, international and that kicked me then into international politics as a major and ultimately as a degree. >> David Rubenstein: And Madeleine Albright is telling the story that her father once said that his favorite student was you. >> Condoleezza Rice: Yeah, yeah. >> David Rubenstein: And she was surprised that you had been his student, she hadn't known that for a long time. >> Condoleezza Rice: That's right, yeah, yeah. >> David Rubenstein: So you started your academic career at Stanford and then ultimately you got involved in the George Herbert Walker Bush administration. >> Condoleezza Rice: Yes. >> David Rubenstein: You served on the National Security Council staff? >> Condoleezza Rice: Yes. I got involved and it's a really important story because there's this notion that we sometimes have, I got there on my own. Nobody gets there on their own, there's always somebody who is advocating for you, working for you, and for me Brent Scowcroft who I had been national security advisor to, to Gerald Ford, came out to Stanford to give a talk, and I was a second-year professor at Stanford. And he got to know me and he said I want to get to know you better. I like your work. I was sort of getting known for my work on the Soviet military of all things. And so he started taking me to conferences like the Aspen Strategy Group and he really mentored me into the field. And I often say there's another lesson in that. We also say you know you have to have role models and mentors who look like you. Well, it's great if you do but if I'd been waiting for a black, female Soviet specialist role model. >> David Rubenstein: Right. >> Condoleezza Rice: I'd still be waiting and instead my role models and indeed my mentors were white men. They were old white men, those were the people who dominated my field and so I always say to my students now, your mentors just have to be people who believe in you and who see things in you that you don't necessarily see in yourself. >> David Rubenstein: So he helped you get a job on the Bush '41? >> Condoleezza Rice: Yes, when George H.W. Bush was elected he asked Brent to be his national security advisor and Brent, I'll never forget, he called me and he said. This fellow, this is 1988 remember, he said this fellow Gorbachev is doing some interesting things in the Soviet Union. The president is going to need somebody to help him sort it out. Do you want to come and be the White House Soviet specialist? And as a result I got to be the White House Soviet specialist at the end of the Cold War. >> David Rubenstein: So, and do you speak Russian? >> Condoleezza Rice: I do speak Russian. >> David Rubenstein: Wow, okay. And so after that administration was over you went back to Stanford? >> Condoleezza Rice: I did. >> David Rubenstein: And then when George W. Bush was running for president, how did you get involved with that? >> Condoleezza Rice: Well, I went back to Stanford. I was Provost of the university which is the chief operating officer of the university and a very happy academic. But George H.W. Bush called me one day and he said you know my son who is governor of Texas is thinking about running for president and I'd like you to come and talk to him about foreign policy. I spent a couple of days down at Kennebunkport with him and after a little while he asked me to organize his foreign policy in the campaign and that's how I got involved with George W. Bush. >> David Rubenstein: So were you surprised that he asked you to be the national security advisor at the beginning of that administration? >> Condoleezza Rice: Well, by the time we got to his election I figured I would probably go into the administration and national security advisor. I'd been on the National Security Council staff before. It seemed like a kind of natural thing to do. >> David Rubenstein: How many women had served as national security advisor before you? >> Condoleezza Rice: None [laughter]. [ Applause ] >> David Rubenstein: Okay. So let's talk about this book "Democracy". Why did you feel compelled to write a book about democracy? >> Condoleezza Rice: I think in many ways I wanted to write this book for a long time because it is in some ways an expression of my own life. I am a firm believer that there is no other system that accords the kind of dignity that human beings crave, than to be able to be free from the knock of the secret police at night, to be able to say what you think, to worship as you please, and most importantly to have those who would govern you have to ask for your consent. And I think growing up in segregated Birmingham where my parents and relatives were half-citizens but still fundamentally believed in this American democracy. I relate one story in the book. I was with my uncle Alto and he picked me up from school. And it was election-day in Alabama, and I was sixish-years old or so. And I knew in my own six-year-old way that this man George Wallace was not good for black people and so there were long, long lines of people going in to vote. And it was segregated of course so they were all black. And so I said to my uncle, well, if all these people vote then that George Wallace man can't possibly win. And my uncle said, oh no, no he said we are a minority he said and so George Wallace is going to win anyway. And I said to him, so why do they bother? And he said because they know that one day that vote will matter and I never forgot that. And I thought as I wrote this book of the extraordinary story of the United States of America, this Constitution that was given to America by its founders, these high-minded words about equality, and yet a country born with the birth defect of slavery. But how this same Constitution that had once counted in the compromise my ancestors as three-fifths of a man, would be the same Constitution to which I would take the oath of office, as the 66th Secretary of State, under a portrait of Benjamin Franklin, sworn in by a Jewish woman, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. And that for me is the story of democracy. [ Applause ] >> David Rubenstein: You point out in the book that you are African-American but actually 40% of your bloodline is white? >> Condoleezza Rice: Yes, 40% of my bloodline is European. >> David Rubenstein: European, and 10% is Asian? >> Condoleezza Rice: Something other, yeah [laughter] some other. >> David Rubenstein: So, by the way in Birmingham the young girls that were killed in the bombing, were they people that you knew? >> Condoleezza Rice: Absolutely. It was this, the Birmingham black community, particularly this little professional class black community was pretty small. And Denise McNair, one of the four girls killed in the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing in September of '63 had been in my father's kindergarten. I'd done kindergarten with her. There's a picture of my father giving her her kindergarten diploma. Her father was the photographer at everybody's weddings and birthday parties and so yes, my, Addie Mae Collins had been in my uncle's homeroom at Brunetta C. Hill and I remember him saying that that day, that Monday when they went back to school he just looked at her empty chair and just cried, so yeah. >> David Rubenstein: When that happened did your family say we should move out of here? >> Condoleezza Rice: No, no, I do remember the first time seeing real fear in my parents' eyes about what they could do to protect me, but no, we stayed there. Birmingham began to change. You know again, it's the story of democracy, that same Constitution would be used by the NAACP and Thurgood Marshall and others, starting all the way back, by the way and I describe in the book with the Marlow [phonetic] Report from 1937. And they would sit there on Friday morning and they would decide what cases they were going to take to try and break down segregation and inequality. And that would eventually end up in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the first time that my parents and I could go to a restaurant. Because, two days after the Civil Rights Act passed my father said, let's go out to dinner. And so we got all dressed up and we went to this hotel for dinner and I remember the people sort of looking up from their food and then maybe realizing now it was okay. We had dinner. >> David Rubenstein: So in your book you point out that we've had a birth defect, slavery, but when slavery was ended in 1865 we went to Jim Crow laws so how do you as an African-American woman rationalize what our country did after the civil rights amendments occurred in the Constitution? We still went through 100 years or so of discrimination. How do you say that democracy is such a wonderful system and our country is so great when you had to live through that? How do you rationalize that? >> Condoleezza Rice: Well because there is no perfect system that human beings have ever created, ever. And yet because of the institutions that we were bequeathed, the Constitution, the courts, independent judiciary, slowly but surely the rights of the descendants of slaves would be won through those very institutions. When Martin Luther King and others took on the struggle, Dr. Dorothy Height who was a very dear mentor of mine, the only real woman among those great civil rights leaders, they weren't asking America to be something else, they were saying America, be what you say you are. Now you're in a much stronger position when you have those institutions in place and you can appeal to those institutions. And so in any system the bringing of rights to people is a difficult and sticky and hard process and ours has been extremely hard. But I look at how far we've come, still with a long way to go, and I think we've actually done better than I can think of any place in the world has done it. >> David Rubenstein: So today, you're a very accomplished person. You're very famous. Do you feel any discrimination anywhere in the world, anything that you do? Do you feel that you're discriminated against? >> Condoleezza Rice: You know I always say if by the time you're a senior professor at Stanford or you're secretary of state and somebody treats you badly because of race or your gender it's your fault, not theirs. >> David Rubenstein: Right. >> Condoleezza Rice: You know, no, I feel very strongly that I am able to achieve what I want to achieve and I try to tell my students to feel the same way. You know if you, it goes back to what my parents said. If you consider yourself a victim then somebody else has control of your life. Now we all know that there are grave inequalities in our society and we know that our great national myth, it doesn't matter where you came from, it matters where you're going. You can come from humble circumstances. You can do great things. That it isn't true for all of our people, so our goal, our job as citizens of this democracy has to be to use these institutions to demand of these institutions that they deliver on that promise, not to shun them, because they're still the best option for getting there. >> David Rubenstein: Now, did your parents live to see your great success as a professional? >> Condoleezza Rice: I lost my mother very young. My mother was only 61 years old. I was 30 when she died. But she did get to see me as a professor at Stanford. As a matter of fact the Christmas before she died I gave her my very first book which was not a New York Times' best-seller. It was called "The Soviet Union and Czechoslovak Army". It had been my dissertation. In case you don't notice, neither of those countries actually exists anymore. And so I gave her the book so she saw me become a professor. My father knew that I'd become national security advisor. He died shortly before I left for Washington. >> David Rubenstein: You were an only, an only child? >> Condoleezza Rice: I'm an only child, yes. >> David Rubenstein: So am I and so you know the pressure of being an only child. >> Condoleezza Rice: Yeah. >> David Rubenstein: Right, so. >> Condoleezza Rice: Yeah, you, well that's why I'm a sports fanatic because that was my father's passion and a music fanatic because that was my mother's passion. So when you're an only child you have to satisfy both. >> David Rubenstein: Please both. >> Condoleezza Rice: Both, right. >> David Rubenstein: So, let's talk about democracy around the rest of the world. Let's say the United States has a democracy. Maybe it's the best in the world, it's not perfect. You talk about the Soviet Union and Russia, obviously a subject you know a great deal about. You point out that a couple of times democracy broke out in Russia. >> Condoleezza Rice: Yeah. >> David Rubenstein: After the Bolshevik Revolution and also briefly I guess after Gorbachev kind of lost power perhaps. >> Condoleezza Rice: Yes, yes. >> David Rubenstein: Why did democracy in both cases disappear from Russia, after the Bolshevik Revolution, after Gorbachev lost power? >> Condoleezza Rice: Right, well, one thing that I seek to do in this book is to dismiss one of the explanations that you sometimes get about Russia, that the Russians somehow don't have the right DNA for democracy. Right, I just don't believe that there are any people on the face of the earth who aren't capable of democracy. And David you know that we have used cultural arguments. So the Germans were once supposed to be too martial for democracy. The Asians were too Confucian. But of course you've got South Korea, you've got Japan. The Africans, well they were too tribal, but of course you've got Ghana. You've got Botswana. You've got a Kenya that's going through a very interesting period in its own democracy. Latin Americans, well they prefer caudillos, men on horseback, but of course now there's Brazil and Chile and Columbia. And by the way African-Americans well they were too childlike to care about that thing called the vote. But of course we've had a black president, a black attorney general. We've had attorneys general. We've had black secretaries of state. So, I just reject this cultural argument and with the Russians you get it all the time. They just like strongmen. But really what the story is, it's the story of the failure of institutions to take hold under enormous pressure. If you think about the collapse of the Soviet Union and you think about the kind of rapid effort to build capitalism, 50% of the Russian population fell into poverty practically overnight. The country broke apart overnight and unfortunately their first President, Boris Yeltsin who I admired for a lot of reasons, but instead of strengthening the institutions and working through them he starts to rule by decree. He weakens the legislature. He weakens the independent judiciary. Now, that presidency, really strong presidency in Russia under Boris Yeltsin is one thing, but when Vladimir Putin becomes president that same very strong presidency is now in the hands of somebody with authoritarian instincts. So the Russian failure is a story of the importance of institutions. You can't depend on a single person, you have to depend on the institutions. >> David Rubenstein: And deep down you don't see Putin as a Jeffersonian democrat? >> Condoleezza Rice: No, I don't think you would confuse him with a Jefferson. You know I know him pretty well. I spent a lot of time with him. >> David Rubenstein: Does he speak English? When you talked to him? >> Condoleezza Rice: You know he's, he was learning English from the time that we came into office and his English is now, I understand passable. But, I would chitchat with him in Russian but he really kind of liked me at the beginning I think because I was a Russianist. But I remember once sitting with him, toward the end of my time as secretary and he said Conda you know us. Russia has only been great when it's been ruled by great men like Peter the Great and Alexander the Second. Now you want to say, and do you mean Vladimir the Great but you know you're secretary of state you can't do that. That would be rude. And, but in fact that's who he thinks he is. He thinks he's reuniting the Russian people in greatness and I think that instinct has led him to destroy all of the kind of institutional constraints on the presidency, the independent judiciary, the free press, civil society et cetera. >> David Rubenstein: And you think the chance of his voluntarily stepping down is slim? >> Condoleezza Rice: I think so though you know relation, the thing about regimes like that is they, they're vulnerable. And you don't know that they're brittle until something happens. We have to remember that the only district that Vladimir Putin did not win in the fraudulent election of 2012 was Moscow. That tells you about, something about how he's viewed in the cities. >> David Rubenstein: So, let's talk about another country that adjoins Russia that you write about, Poland. >> Condoleezza Rice: Yes. >> David Rubenstein: Poland, democracy did break out in Poland and what do you think the state of democracy is in Poland today? >> Condoleezza Rice: Poland is a story that we should try and emulate at its beginning because what Poland is, is the story of having institutions in place when what I call the democratic opening comes. Solidarity, a nationwide labor union under Lech Walesa had actually been underground from the declaration of martial law at the beginning of the 1980s. It had been sustained by the Vatican and village priests. The AFLCIO, which was sustaining as the labor union, and Ronald Reagan's CIA, kind of an interest troika. Now, when Gorbachev comes to power and Eastern Europe breaks free Poland already had that institutional infrastructure in place and so the democratic transition was easier in Poland than almost any place else. But now what we're seeing in Poland is that it's still a young democracy. It has for the first time a very strong, centralized executive and you're starting to see a kind of erosion of the independence of the judiciary, the independence of the press but people are fighting back. Civil society is mobilized on social media against these moves of the, what's called the Law and Justice Party which is the president's party, and the president, President Duda actually ended up having to veto a law that he had sponsored, that would have gone a long way to undoing the independence of the judiciary so don't count out Polish democracy just yet. >> David Rubenstein: No. Let's go further south. You next write about Ukraine. Ukraine flirted with democracy. What would you say is the state of democracy in Ukraine now? >> Condoleezza Rice: Yeah, Ukraine is in many ways a kind of sad situation because if you are trying to build a democracy with a very watchful and assertive and aggressive neighbor that is in the process of taking your territory and making the eastern half of your country unstable it's kind of hard to build democracy. But, they've made some progress. Poroshenko who is the president now has launched an anti-corruption campaign. One of the great, one of the great checks on democracy, one of the great challenges for democracy is when you have corruption and they've made some good moves on corruption. There are some young people there in the Legislature who are determined to deliver democracy and it's a vibrant society in its Western part. The problem for Ukraine is that with the troubles in Eastern Ukraine and you don't read much about them in the newspapers these days but people are dying every day in Eastern Ukraine as these Russian separatists who are supported by the Russian Armed Forces are causing all kinds of problems. So Ukrainian democracy is always kind of on a knife's edge but it's not an authoritarian regime either and that's something to celebrate. >> David Rubenstein: But as long as Putin is in charge of Russia you don't see Eastern Ukraine all of a sudden going back to Ukraine and Crimea going back to Ukraine? >> Condoleezza Rice: Well, Crimea, I think it's going to be very hard. But here's one point that I'd like to make. One of the reasons I wanted to write this book also was to talk about the role America can play in supporting democracies. We have a tendency, and I take some responsibility for this, to associate democracy promotion with what happened in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those were extremely stressful situations where we had a security problem and later on tried to help build democracies. But most of the time democracy promotion is much simpler and much less complex. If you think about the way that we dealt with the Baltic states, so the 45 years that they were under Soviet occupation. David, when I was the special assistant for Soviet affairs I had a stamp and it said 'The United States does not recognize the forceful incorporation of the Baltic states into the Soviet Union'. And whenever you mention Lithuania, Latvia or Estonia you stamped it with that. Now we couldn't do anything about the fact that the Soviets had enforceably incorporated the Baltic states but, we stood for the principle. In Crimea we have to stand for the principle even if we can't do anything about it. We have to stand for the principle that the annexation of Crimea was unlawful. >> David Rubenstein: You mentioned Iraq and Afghanistan and I wanted to talk about the Middle East and democracy there but before we do, where were you on 9/11? >> Condoleezza Rice: Yeah, I was the national security advisor on 9/11 and if you were in a position of authority on 9/11 every day after was like September 12th. I was at my desk. My young assistant came in and said that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I thought well that's a strange accident. I called President Bush. You would remember he was in Florida at an education event and I got him on the phone and he said well that's a strange accident, keep me informed. A few minutes later I was having my staff meeting and somebody handed me a note, it said a plane had hit, the second plane had hit the World Trade Center and now we knew it was a terrorist attack. And so I went into the situation room to try to reach the national security principals. Colin Powell was in Peru at a meeting of the Organization of American States. George Tenet, the CIA director had gone already to a bunker. And they said we can't reach Secretary Rumsveld, his phone is just ringing and ringing and ringing. We looked behind us on television a plane had hit the Pentagon. And about that time they came and they said, you've got to get to a bunker because planes are flying into buildings all over Washington, D.C. Now, when the Secret Service wants to escort you under those circumstances they don't actually escort you, they kind of pick you up and they carry you. So I remember simply being grabbed, kind of levitated toward the bunker, saying wait a minute, I have to make a phone call. I called my aunt and uncle in Birmingham. You have to know the Rices and the Rays [phonetic], they would have made their way. And then I called President Bush and I said you can't come back here. The United States is under attack. And the rest of the day was dealing with the reality that American security would never be the same. >> David Rubenstein: So, on Afghanistan, it's been in the news lately, it's our longest war, 16 years. Do you see any solution in the near term? >> Condoleezza Rice: I'm worried about Afghanistan. I have always said that what, the point that we have to get to somehow in Afghanistan was that the Afghans were able to prevent the Taliban from an existential threat against the Afghan government. I've always thought that you were going to have remnants of the Taliban that would be kind of hit and run terrorists here and there in the country. But as they've been able to carry out bolder attacks closer to the capital, even in the international zone, you have to wonder how well we're doing in getting to that place of stability. And so I think the decision by the president and by Secretary Mattis to try to really stabilize the military situation is one that I support. But eventually there's going to have to be a political solution in Afghanistan and I suspect that's going to have to involve Pakistan which is a really big part of this problem because the Pakistanis aren't really convinced that a stable Afghanistan is in their interests, and they've got to be made to help stabilize that territory. And you know we're talking about democracy, look it's very tough. Afghanistan was the fifth poorest country in the world during the, at 9/11 but it is at least a place now where girls go to school in large numbers. It is a place now where women are not beaten in a soccer stadium that was given to the Taliban by the U.N. It is a place where men are not lashed because they don't wear beards. It's not a place that harbors terrorists and so I think we've had some achievements in Afghanistan but yes, I'm concerned. >> David Rubenstein: Now democracy in Iraq, do you think we've made progress there? And what do you think really went wrong after the invasion of Iraq? It didn't quite go the way you had thought it would. What went wrong? >> Condoleezza Rice: Yeah. Well, I talk a lot about the Iraqi case because I lay out several different scenarios of what the circumstances are when the democratic opening comes right. Now the best is a place like Poland where you've got institutions in place or Columbia where you have institutions that were weak but were there. The worst situation is when you've had a cult of personality, tyrannical leader where everything had been at the service of that leader. That was Saddam Hussein. And so there were effectively no institutions to think of or we thought underneath him. And so the distance between people's desire now that they've overthrown the dictator or that we've overthrown the dictator and the institutions there to channel all of those passions, there's a great distance and you don't have much time. I relate in the book that we made a lot of mistakes. We undervalued the potential for the tribes, the Sunni tribes to play an important role. We didn't understand the tribes. When we got back with the surge in 2007 the tribes were a big part of the reason that we were able to defeat Al Qaeda in Iraq. I think we didn't fully understand the implications of the disbanding of the army which wasn't supposed to take place by the way and I describe that in the book. And so in the fog of war a lot happens. But the one thing that I'd like people to understand about Iraq was we did not go to Iraq to bring democracy to Iraq, that's an urban legend. I was in those meetings, it doesn't happen to have the benefit of being true. We went to Iraq because we thought we had a security problem in a Saddam Hussein who had rebuilt his weapons of mass destruction. I would never have said to the president of the United States, use American military force to bring democracy to Iraq, or to Afghanistan for that matter. But once you've overthrown the dictator you have to have a view about what comes after. And the president and his advisors believed we had to try to give the Iraqi people a chance to build their democracy. Now, a lot of bloodshed, a lot of lives lost, that we'll never. We'll never be able to bring those people back. I will say that as the Iraqis now are on the verge of defeating ISIS you're beginning to see that the Iraqis do have some democratic institutions. They have a prime minister who is accountable to them. Their people protest and they're not shot in the streets. You don't have mass graves of the kind that Saddam Hussein put people in. Iraq's big challenge is going to be, can the country hold together with the Kurds who for a long time have wanted to be an independent people? That's the big challenge for the Iraqis but they do have some institutions that I think can help them. >> David Rubenstein: Now the Arab Spring was supposed to produce democracy throughout various parts of the Middle East. Talk about Syria, Syria doesn't seem to be having democracy anytime soon. What kind of solutions? >> Condoleezza Rice: And by the way I would rather be Iraqi than Syrian right. The Syrians, Bashar al-Assad is unfortunately, it's going to be hard to get him out of power because the Russians who have people on the ground, want him in power. Eventually if he's going to go it's going to have to be the Russians who make the decision that he goes. The rest of the Middle East, I'm not ready to give up on the Middle East finding its way toward democratic institutions. You know we get very impatient with people when they're trying to find their way to democracy. And we say either they just don't get it or look at all those you know those, the Muslim Brotherhood and all. And we forget as we've just talked about David. Our own history of democratization is a pretty long one and a pretty tough one. And so I would say use the Polish example. Try to plant some seeds for democracy. There are entrepreneurs who are people on whom you might build further democracy. There are civil society groups, women's groups. Tunisia is an example of where a national labor union and women's civil society groups have actually managed to bring about something that looks like a nascent democracy so I'm not ready to give up on the Middle East just yet. >> David Rubenstein: Take Egypt, after Mubarak, has there been a real movement towards more democracy in Egypt? >> Condoleezza Rice: No, in Egypt the Egyptian military rulers look an awful lot like Egyptian rulers have looked for a while, Mubarak, Sadat et cetera. But underneath again there are civil society groups that we ought to be supporting to try to help. You know what happens in the Middle East is that at the moment when you have a chance for a democratic opening the strongest institutions are often the radical Islamists. Now why is that? It's not an accident. It's because leaders like Mubarak destroyed the foundation of more liberal institutions and parties, people like Ayman Nour and others who might have been a foundation of democracy. But they didn't destroy these radical Islamists who organized in radical mosques and radical madrasas, so they were the best organized when elections came. We have to help more liberal forces be organized when opportunity comes. >> David Rubenstein: Okay. Talk about two other parts of the Middle East before we go to the Far East. On the Middle East, Israel, there's either a one-state solution or a two-state solution. >> Condoleezza Rice: Yeah, yeah. >> David Rubenstein: If you have a one-state solution, do you think you can really have democracy? >> Condoleezza Rice: No. I think for Israel to remain a democratic Jewish state it has to have a democratic Palestinian state. I'm a believer in the two-state solution and eventually they're going to have to get there. >> David Rubenstein: Alright. Let's talk about the Gulf states, the GCC states, the Gulf Cooperation Council countries. You don't think, I assume that democracy will break out there or should? >> Condoleezza Rice: No, these are monarchies and they have varying degrees of liberalism toward issues like women's rights and varying degrees of liberalism toward the marriage of religion and politics. But some interesting things are happening there even in a place like Saudi Arabia right. So Saudi Arabia has really basically now set a generational shift and most, and a majority of the people studying in university in Saudi Arabia, in their great university built by King Abdullah are women. Now they're going to have an interesting kind of test here. Can you educate women at this level and still tell them they can't drive? >> David Rubenstein: We'll find out. So, let's go to the Far East for a moment. In your book you point out that authoritarian governments, while not perfectly Jeffersonian democracies, can actually have some good democratic features and can have some good pluses for the people. And you cite for example Singapore. >> Condoleezza Rice: Yeah. >> David Rubenstein: What do you admire about Singapore? >> Condoleezza Rice: Well Singapore, first of all it's very small right. And what I really say is that when people say authoritarians are sometimes better, they have two examples, China, the largest country in the world and Singapore, one of the smallest. And Singapore was fortunate. It had a wise man leader in Lee Kuan Yew. It was at a time when democratic values were not very obvious in most of Asia and he turned out to be a truly wise, benign leader. But the problem with that theory is then you'd better hope that the next one is benign and then that his son is benign and that his son after him is benign because you don't always get lucky. The Singaporeans got very lucky. And we have this tendency to hold democracies to higher standards than we do authoritarians. So there are all kinds of really bad authoritarian leaders, just read Caracas in Venezuela, so the idea that authoritarians are somehow better because they deliver for their people, the Chinese have delivered, although that particular model is kind of running out of steam now. Singapore delivered but there are so many authoritarians that didn't deliver that I think we sometimes hold democracies to a higher standard. >> David Rubenstein: Now China, you don't expect a Jeffersonian democracy will break out there anytime soon right? >> Condoleezza Rice: No, I don't expect that Jeffersonian democracy is going to break out there but I will tell you something about China. China is also about to have an interesting test. China's economy grew rapidly. It lifted 500 million people out of poverty. It's a miracle what they were able to do. But they did it with a heavy export-led economy being the low cost of labor provider in the international system. They did it with a kind of command economy, a lot of state-owned enterprises. That model has run out of steam. They can't get growth out of that model any longer. Now they're having to free up market forces. When you free up market forces there's a kind of mismatch between those market forces and a top-down authoritarian political system. And so the question is, how long is it going to be before you have a clash of those? So just as an example China had 186,000 riots over the last couple of years, 186,000 reported riots, not because someone was out protesting for democracy but because a peasant would find that a party leader and a developer would seize their land. They have no courts to go to so they go and riot. So even Chinese leaders will say now well we need independent courts so that that doesn't happen. How long is it before independent courts become an independent judiciary? Now you're starting to get a difference in the institutional landscape in China. And I'll tell you one other story. I gave a lecture at Tsinghua University, their great university. They affectionately call it their cross between Harvard and Stanford. And I wanted to give a talk that was not about U.S. /China relations so I decided to give the same talk I would give to Stanford students, find your passion, do something hard, et cetera, et cetera. The questions blew me away. The questions were, well I'm an engineer, why do I need to take literature? Suppose, what do you do if your parents don't like the major that you've chosen? I thought these are Chinese kids? They're questioning in this way? How long is it, before questioning your parents' choice of your major becomes questioning your government? And so I think there are a lot of trends in China that may ultimately lead, at least to liberalization, if not to democratization. >> David Rubenstein: And you didn't write about it in your book but I can't help but ask you about another place where I don't expect Jeffersonian democracy will break out which is North Korea. >> Condoleezza Rice: Ah yeah, that's a ways away yeah. >> David Rubenstein: Where, if you were advising the president today, the current president of the United States, or any president today, who would you, what would you tell him to do about North Korea? >> Condoleezza Rice: Now, this is the most dangerous situation that we face. When I was secretary we tried to negotiate with Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un's father to denuclearize the country. We made some progress but ultimately they wouldn't live up to the agreements. We walked out of the talks. Ever since, they've been on a rapid course of improving their bomb design, harvesting fuel and increasing their, the range of their delivery systems, no American president can tolerate a somewhat unhinged North Korean leader because if he's not crazy, he is reckless. This is somebody who reached into Malaysia, killed his half-brother who was under Chinese protection so he's reckless. I don't think any American president can tolerate that leader with the capacity to reach the United States. And what the administration is trying to do, and I support what they're trying to do, is they're painting a very bleak picture for the Chinese. That's the only country with any real leverage on the North Koreans. The Chinese have never really been willing to use their leverage fully because they worry that the regime could collapse. Then they'd have unstable law and order and they would have refugee flows. But what the administration is saying to them is, your choice now is either we do something about the North Korean problem or you do something about the North Korean problem. And hopefully that will get through to the Chinese because the military solutions here are not very pretty. >> David Rubenstein: So, if a missile went and came near Guam would you think we would still have to wait for the Chinese to do something or are we? >> Condoleezza Rice: I think at some point the American president and I'm not inside so I don't know what he's being told about how long he has but at some point, you know if you're threatening Guam and already firing missiles over Japan we're getting pretty close to a [inaudible]. We're getting pretty close to the president having to make a decision. I will note that when Kim Jong-un came out and said he was going to attack Guam the Chinese must have talked to him because within a few days he came back and said maybe he wouldn't attack Guam so I think we do have the Chinese attention, it's a just a question of what are they willing to do. >> David Rubenstein: Now your book covers two other parts of the world I'll cover briefly. One is Africa and you talk about Kenya and there's an election going on now. But let me ask you about South Africa, you met with Mandela. You knew Mandela. Why do you think democracy hasn't worked as well after Mandela as it was expected? >> Condoleezza Rice: Well, Mandela was a remarkable man. I don't think I've ever met anybody who I was more inspired of, found more impressive. In fact he said to George W. Bush when President Bush asked him, he said so why didn't you run for another term. He said I wanted my African brothers to know it was okay to step down from office. And on a continent that had too many presidents for life this was really an important statement. But it's again a story of institutions. It was a single, essentially a single-party system under the African National Congress. Somehow Mandela's great authority was never transferred into institutions which could then survive him and they've had considerable trouble since, but the institutions are still there. It's just that it's been hard to really deliver through them. You know first presidents matter. The United States of America was pretty lucky that George Washington actually didn't want to be king. I don't know how many of you have seen "Hamilton", it is really a great, great show but it becomes very clear that we got lucky with a particular combination of founding fathers that we had and many places haven't been that fortunate. >> David Rubenstein: Now, you write about Latin America and you talk about Columbia, how democracy has made progress there. >> Condoleezza Rice: Yes. >> David Rubenstein: And generally the military juntas of the 60s and 70s are. >> Condoleezza Rice: Gone. >> David Rubenstein: Gone. But what happened to Venezuela? >> Condoleezza Rice: Hugo Chavez happened to Venezuela. You know you can get a really bad leader who doesn't, doesn't get checked by those around him, with considerable oil wealth. The oil curse is real. And when I was secretary of state the price of oil went to $147 a barrel. It empowered people like Chavez who then tried to buy elections across Latin America. And he singlehandedly step by step destroyed all of the really important institutions, the opposition. He was succeeded by somebody who is Chavez without charm and Chavez without, I think, without Chavez' street smarts. And Maduro has taken the country down. I hope that this is one where the Organization of American States, the Latin American states need to be all over Maduro to do something because it's sad to see a middle-income country where people can't find food and they can't find medicine. >> David Rubenstein: Now, we've had an African-American president but we've never had a female president and never had an African-American female president. >> Condoleezza Rice: Right [laughter]. >> David Rubenstein: Have you ever thought that? [ Applause ] >> Condoleezza Rice: Well, thank you very much but no. You have to know your DNA. You have to know your DNA. And I was on the campaign trail with George W. Bush. I'll never forget. You know we'd go to five campaign events. At the end of the day he was rearing to go, I just needed to get back to the hotel. You know there are people who draw energy from the process. I don't so much and I've never liked politics particularly. I love, I do love policy. The other thing is, I am. My calling is what I do, I love being a professor. I love teaching millennials. They are a challenge, they're wonderful. You know they come to me and they say I want to be a leader and I say you know that's not a job description and it's not a destination. Let's talk about what you're going to learn and know so somebody will follow you. And then my other favorite line, I want my first job to be meaningful. And I say, your first job is not going to be meaningful, it's going to be your first job. What will be meaningful is somebody will pay you to do it for the first time, that's what's meaningful, so I've got my work cut out for me. >> David Rubenstein: So, if you don't want to run for office, suppose some president came along again and said you did a great job as secretary of state, why don't you do it again? >> Condoleezza Rice: You should never try to go home again. I had an amazing alignment of the stars. I had a president who told, would tell leaders you know we grew up together he would say because we started out when he was just leaving the governorship of Texas, and he trusted me and I admired him. It was a time of consequence for the country. I have great admiration for people in public service. I don't think we, we admire enough people [inaudible] to public service. It's hard. It's hard work. And I just hope. I try so hard with my students not to let them be cynical about public service. I served as secretary of state. The foreign service and the civil service people who work in the State Department, not to mention the more than 30,000 foreigners who staff our embassies around the world are some of the most dedicated people you'll ever find, and so I was honored to lead them and I loved being the nation's chief diplomat. And there was nothing like getting off a plane that said the United States of America and thinking what can I do to represent this great country? But I'm done [laughter]. >> David Rubenstein: So, when you stepped down as secretary of state you handed the reins over to another woman. >> Condoleezza Rice: I did, Hillary yes. >> David Rubenstein: Hillary Clinton. What was it like, one female secretary of state handing the reins over to another female? Were you saying we don't need these guys anymore? >> Condoleezza Rice: [Laughter] well, you know and so Madeleine, colon, myself and then Hillary, it had been 16 years since there had been a white, male secretary of state and so we were saying mm-mm, you know I don't know. Maybe we're going to have to do a little affirmative action here and see what happened but, no it was great. And it's a nice little club, the secretaries of state. We are. The dean of the secretaries of state is George Shultz who is 97 years old and is still one of my great mentors. I will tell you a little story because you'll appreciate it. He had a birthday party not too long for Henry Kissinger who turned 94 and the two of them did a 20-minutes-walk around the world, no notes, completely coherent. I don't know but I'm sure hoping it was something in the water at the State Department so just amazing people. >> David Rubenstein: As I remember, because I heard from that party, George Shultz said something odd, 'to be 94 again'. >> Condoleezza Rice: Yes, he said. He said from his point of view Henry was still a promising young man. >> David Rubenstein: So, as you look back on your career which was extraordinary, what would you say you're most proud of having done? >> Condoleezza Rice: Well, with the caveat that history takes a long time to judge, I think I'm most grateful that we stood up for the right of people to live in freedom. I know that there were a lot of cynics about and a lot of criticism and some of it totally justified about the freedom agenda and declaring that America's, one of America's most important purposes was to, to work hard so that no one would live in tyranny. But I think America is at its, is at its best, its highest calling when it leads both from power and principle. When we stand for the proposition that the rights that we enjoy are indeed universal and if they are universal that there are no people for whom they shouldn't be secured. And so I'm very grateful that we were able to do that. When I think back on some of my travels it was always when it was about people and a couple of things stick out in particular. I went to China to Chengdu after the great earthquake there and a little boy, couldn't have been more than 12 years old, walked up to me and he said you're that lady from the United States aren't you? And I thought yeah, I am. And then just with the people have asked me, what was it like to be a woman representing the United States in the Middle East where women were second-class citizens? And one story really sticks in my mind there. I was, had a very difficult meeting with a Shia cleric, a very conservative Shia cleric who couldn't touch me because I was a woman outside of his family. And at the end of this meeting, this very difficult meeting, it was in Iraq, he said, will you do me a favor? He didn't speak English. Through the translator, he said will you do me a favor? I thought a favor, really? I said sure. He said my 13-year-old granddaughter watches you on television and she loves you. And she and her mother are coming to the States, would you meet them? And so on that day, this little 13-year-old girl runs, comes in, in a pink t-shirt that says 'Princess' and she walks up to me, in perfect English and says 'I want to be foreign minister too'. And I thought, you know there was something in that moment because her very conservative grandfather beamed when he thought about this little girl. This problem, this progress that we try to bring through democracy, through justice and equality it's a long, long, long road. And people have travelled that road for a long time. America has travelled it for a very long time and we're still working at it. And so the thing I'm most grateful for is that even with our own troubles here in the United States we stood for the proposition that every man, woman and child should live in freedom. >> David Rubenstein: Well, I want to highly recommend to everybody here this book which I enjoyed very much reading "Democracy". [ Applause ] And I want to thank you for your service to our country for over many, many years, thank you. >> Condoleezza Rice: It was an honor. It was an honor, thank you. [ Applause ] >> This has been a presentation of the Library of Congress. Visit us at


Early life

Rice was born in Birmingham, Alabama, the only child of Angelena (née Ray) Rice, a high school science, music, and oratory teacher, and John Wesley Rice, Jr., a high school guidance counselor, Presbyterian minister,[9][10] and dean of students at Stillman College, a historically black college in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.[11] Her name, Condoleezza, derives from the music-related term con dolcezza, which in Italian means, "with sweetness". Rice has roots in the American South going back to the pre-Civil War era, and some of her ancestors worked as sharecroppers for a time after emancipation. Rice discovered on the PBS series Finding Your Roots[12] that she is of 51% African, 40% European, and 9% Asian or Native American genetic descent, while her mtDNA is traced back to the Tikar people of Cameroon.[13][14] In her 2017 book, Democracy: Stories from the Long Road to Freedom, she writes, "My great-great-grandmother Zina on my mother's side bore five children by different slave owners" and "My great-grandmother on my father's side, Julia Head, carried the name of the slave owner and was so favored by him that he taught her to read."[15] Rice grew up in the Titusville[16] neighborhood of Birmingham, and then Tuscaloosa, Alabama, at a time when the South was racially segregated. The Rices lived on the campus of Stillman College.[11]

Early education

Rice began to learn French, music, figure skating and ballet at the age of three.[17] At the age of fifteen, she began piano classes with the goal of becoming a concert pianist.[18] While Rice ultimately did not become a professional pianist, she still practices often and plays with a chamber music group. She accompanied cellist Yo-Yo Ma playing Johannes Brahms' Violin Sonata in D Minor at Constitution Hall in April 2002 for the National Medal of Arts Awards.[19][20]

High school and university education

In 1967, the family moved to Denver, Colorado. She attended St. Mary's Academy, an all-girls Catholic high school in Cherry Hills Village, Colorado, and graduated at age 16 in 1971. Rice enrolled at the University of Denver, where her father was then serving as an assistant dean.

Rice initially majored in Music, and after her sophomore year, she went to the Aspen Music Festival and School. There, she later said, she met students of greater talent than herself, and she doubted her career prospects as a pianist. She began to consider an alternative major.[18][21] She attended an International Politics course taught by Josef Korbel, which sparked her interest in the Soviet Union and international relations. Rice later described Korbel (who is the father of Madeleine Albright, then a future U.S. Secretary of State), as a central figure in her life.[22]

In 1974, at age 19, Rice was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa Society, and was awarded a B.A., cum laude, in political science by the University of Denver. While at the University of Denver she was a member of Alpha Chi Omega, Gamma Delta chapter.[23] She obtained a master's degree in political science from the University of Notre Dame in 1975. She first worked in the State Department in 1977, during the Carter administration, as an intern in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. She would also study Russian at Moscow State University in the summer of 1979, and intern with the RAND Corporation in Santa Monica, California.[24] In 1981, at age 26, she received her Ph.D. in political science from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver. Her dissertation centered on military policy and politics in what was then the communist state of Czechoslovakia.[25]

From 1980 to 1981, she was a fellow at Stanford University's Arms Control and Disarmament Program, having won a Ford Foundation Dual Expertise Fellowship in Soviet Studies and International Security.[24] The award granted a year-long fellowship at Harvard University, Stanford University, Columbia University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology or University of California, Los Angeles. Rice contacted both Harvard and Stanford, but states that Harvard ignored her.[24] Her fellowship at Stanford began her academic affiliation with the University and time in Northern California.

Early political views

Rice was a Democrat until 1982, when she changed her political affiliation to Republican, in part because she disagreed with the foreign policy of Democratic President Jimmy Carter,[26][27] and because of the influence of her father, who was Republican. As she told the 2000 Republican National Convention, "My father joined our party because the Democrats in Jim Crow Alabama of 1952 would not register him to vote. The Republicans did."[28]

Academic career

Condoleezza Rice during a 2005 interview on ITV in London
Condoleezza Rice during a 2005 interview on ITV in London

Rice was hired by Stanford University as an assistant professor of political science (1981–1987). She was promoted to associate professor in 1987, a post she held until 1993. She was a specialist on the Soviet Union and gave lectures on the subject for the Berkeley-Stanford joint program led by UC Berkeley Professor George W. Breslauer in the mid-1980s.

At a 1985 meeting of arms control experts at Stanford, Rice's performance drew the attention of Brent Scowcroft, who had served as National Security Advisor under Gerald Ford.[29] With the election of George H. W. Bush, Scowcroft returned to the White House as National Security Adviser in 1989, and he asked Rice to become his Soviet expert on the United States National Security Council. According to R. Nicholas Burns, President Bush was "captivated" by Rice, and relied heavily on her advice in his dealings with Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin.[29]

Because she would have been ineligible for tenure at Stanford if she had been absent for more than two years, she returned there in 1991. She was taken under the wing of George P. Shultz (Ronald Reagan's Secretary of State from 1982 to 1989), who was a fellow at the Hoover Institution. Shultz included Rice in a "luncheon club" of intellectuals who met every few weeks to discuss foreign affairs.[29] In 1992, Shultz, who was a board member of Chevron Corporation, recommended Rice for a spot on the Chevron board. Chevron was pursuing a $10 billion development project in Kazakhstan and, as a Soviet specialist, Rice knew the President of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev. She traveled to Kazakhstan on Chevron's behalf and, in honor of her work, in 1993, Chevron named a 129,000-ton supertanker SS Condoleezza Rice.[29] During this period, Rice was also appointed to the boards of Transamerica Corporation (1991) and Hewlett-Packard (1992).

At Stanford, in 1992, Rice volunteered to serve on the search committee to replace outgoing president Donald Kennedy. The committee ultimately recommended Gerhard Casper, the Provost of the University of Chicago. Casper met Rice during this search, and was so impressed that in 1993, he appointed her as Stanford's Provost, the chief budget and academic officer of the university in 1993[29] and she also was granted tenure and became full professor.[30] Rice was the first female, first African-American, and youngest Provost in Stanford's history.[31] She was also named a senior fellow of the Institute for International Studies, and a senior fellow (by courtesy) of the Hoover Institution.

Provost promotion

Former Stanford President Gerhard Casper said the university was "most fortunate in persuading someone of Professor Rice's exceptional talents and proven ability in critical situations to take on this task. Everything she has done, she has done well; I have every confidence that she will continue that record as provost."[32] Acknowledging Rice's unique character, Casper told the New Yorker in 2002 that it "would be disingenuous for me to say that the fact that she was a woman, the fact that she was black and the fact that she was young weren't in my mind."[33][34]

Balancing school budget

As Stanford's Provost, Rice was responsible for managing the university's multibillion-dollar budget. The school at that time was running a deficit of $20 million. When Rice took office, she promised that the budget would be balanced within "two years." Coit Blacker, Stanford's deputy director of the Institute for International Studies, said there "was a sort of conventional wisdom that said it couldn't be done ... that [the deficit] was structural, that we just had to live with it." Two years later, Rice announced that the deficit had been eliminated and the university was holding a record surplus of over $14.5 million.[35]

Special interest issues

Rice drew protests when, as Provost, she departed from the practice of applying affirmative action to tenure decisions and unsuccessfully sought to consolidate the university's ethnic community centers.[34]

Return to Stanford

During a farewell interview in early December 2008, Rice indicated she would return to Stanford and the Hoover Institution, "back west of the Mississippi where I belong," but beyond writing and teaching did not specify what her role would be.[36] Rice's plans for a return to campus were elaborated in an interview with the Stanford Report in January 2009.[37] She returned to Stanford as a political science professor and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution on March 1, 2009.[38] As of 2012 she is on the Political Science faculty as a professor of political science and on the faculty of the Graduate School of Business as the Denning Professor in Global Business and the Economy, in addition to being the Thomas and Barbara Stephenson Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution.[39]

Role in Nuclear Strategy

In 1986, Rice was appointed special assistant to the Director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to work on nuclear strategic planning as part of a Council on Foreign Relations fellowship. In 2005, Rice assumed office as Secretary of State. Rice played a big responsibility in trying to stop the nuclear threat from North Korea and Iran.[40]

North Korea

North Korea signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1985, but in 2002 revealed they were operating a secret nuclear weapons program that violated the 1994 agreement. The 1994 agreement between the United States and North Korea included North Korea agreeing to freeze and eventually dismantle its graphite moderated nuclear reactors, in exchange for international aid which would help them to build two new light-water nuclear reactors. In 2003, North Korea officially withdrew from the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Rice played a key role in the idea of "six-party talks" that brought China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea into discussion with North Korea and the United States.[41] During these discussions, Rice gave strong talks to urge North Korea to dismantle their nuclear power program. In 2005, North Korea agreed to give up its entire nuclear program in exchange for security guarantees and economic benefits to ensure its survival.[40] Despite the agreement in 2005, in 2006, North Korea test fired long range missiles. The UN Security Council demanded North Korea suspend the program. In 2007, Rice was involved in another nuclear agreement with North Korea (Pyongyang). Rice, other negotiators for the United States and four other nations (six-party talks) reached a deal with North Korea. In this deal North Korea agreed to close its main nuclear reactor in exchange for $400 million in fuel and aid.[40]


In 2008, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced the Agreement for Cooperation between the United States and India involving peaceful uses of nuclear energy. As Secretary of State, Rice was involved in the negation of this agreement.[40]


Yo-Yo Ma and Rice after performing together at the 2001 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal Awards, April 22, 2002
Yo-Yo Ma and Rice after performing together at the 2001 National Medal of Arts and National Humanities Medal Awards, April 22, 2002

Rice has played piano in public since she was a young girl. At the age of 15, she played Mozart with the Denver Symphony, and while Secretary of State she played regularly with a chamber music group in Washington.[19] She does not play professionally, but has performed at diplomatic events at embassies, including a performance for Queen Elizabeth II,[42][43] and she has performed in public with cellist Yo-Yo Ma and singer Aretha Franklin.[44] In 2005, Rice accompanied Charity Sunshine Tillemann-Dick, a 21-year-old soprano, for a benefit concert for the Pulmonary Hypertension Association at the Kennedy Center in Washington.[45][46] She performed briefly during her cameo appearance in the "Everything Sunny All the Time Always" episode of 30 Rock. She has stated that her favorite composer is Johannes Brahms, because she thinks Brahms's music is "passionate but not sentimental." On a complementary note, on Friday, April 10, 2009, on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, she stated that her favorite band is Led Zeppelin.

As Secretary of State, Rice was ex officio a member of the Board of Trustees of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. As the end of their tenures approached in January 2009, outgoing President Bush appointed her to a six-year term as a general trustee, filling a vacancy on the board.

Private sector

Rice headed Chevron's committee on public policy until she resigned on January 15, 2001, to become National Security Advisor to President George W. Bush. Chevron honored Rice by naming an oil tanker Condoleezza Rice after her, but controversy led to its being renamed Altair Voyager.[47][48]

She also served on the board of directors for the Carnegie Corporation, the Charles Schwab Corporation, the Chevron Corporation, Hewlett Packard, the Rand Corporation, the Transamerica Corporation, and other organizations.

In 1992, Rice founded the Center for New Generation, an after-school program created to raise the high school graduation numbers of East Palo Alto and eastern Menlo Park, California.[49] After her tenure as secretary of state, Rice was approached in February 2009 to fill an open position as a Pac-10 Commissioner,[50] but chose instead to return to Stanford University as a political science professor and the Thomas and Barbara Stephenson Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution.

In 2014 Rice joined the Ban Bossy campaign as a spokesperson advocating leadership roles for girls.[51][52][53]

Early political career

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 President George H. W. Bush's 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 wrote what would become known as the "Chicken Kiev speech" in which Bush advised the Verkhovna Rada, Ukraine's parliament, against independence. She also helped develop Bush's and Secretary of State James Baker's policies in favor of German reunification. She impressed Bush, who later introduced her to Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, as the one who "tells me everything I know about the Soviet Union."[54]

In 1991, Rice returned to her teaching position at Stanford, although she continued to serve as a consultant on the former Soviet Bloc for numerous clients in both the public and private sectors. Late that year, California Governor Pete Wilson appointed her to a bipartisan committee that had been formed to draw new state legislative and congressional districts in the state.

In 1997, she sat on the Federal Advisory Committee on Gender-Integrated Training in the Military.

During George W. Bush's 2000 presidential election campaign, Rice took a one-year leave of absence from Stanford University to serve as his foreign policy advisor. The group of advisors she led called itself The Vulcans in honor of the monumental Vulcan statue, which sits on a hill overlooking her hometown of Birmingham, Alabama. Rice would later go on to give a noteworthy speech at the 2000 Republican National Convention. The speech asserted that "...  America's armed forces are not a global police force. They are not the world's 911."[28][55]

National Security Advisor (2001–2005)

Rice, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld listen to President George W. Bush speak about the Middle East on June 24, 2002
Rice, Secretary of State Colin Powell, and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld listen to President George W. Bush speak about the Middle East on June 24, 2002

On December 17, 2000, Rice was named as National Security Advisor and stepped down from her position at Stanford.[56] She was the first woman to occupy the post. Rice earned the nickname of "Warrior Princess", reflecting strong nerve and delicate manners.[57]

On January 18, 2003, The Washington Post reported that Rice was involved in crafting Bush's position on race-based preferences. Rice has stated that "while race-neutral means are preferable", race can be taken into account as "one factor among others" in university admissions policies.[58]


During the summer of 2001, Rice met with CIA Director George Tenet to discuss the possibilities and prevention of terrorist attacks on American targets. On July 10, 2001, Rice met with Tenet in what he referred to as an "emergency meeting"[59] held at the White House at Tenet's request to brief Rice and the NSC staff about the potential threat of an impending al Qaeda attack. Rice responded by asking Tenet to give a presentation on the matter to Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Attorney General John Ashcroft.[60] Rice characterized the August 6, 2001, President's Daily Brief Bin Ladin Determined To Strike in US as historical information. Rice indicated "It was information based on old reporting."[61] Sean Wilentz of Salon magazine suggested that the PDB contained current information based on continuing investigations, including that Bin Laden wanted to "bring the fighting to America."[62] On September 11, 2001, Rice was scheduled to outline a new national security policy that included missile defense as a cornerstone and played down the threat of stateless terrorism.[63]

President Bush addresses the media at the Pentagon on September 17, 2001
President Bush addresses the media at the Pentagon on September 17, 2001

When asked in 2006 about the July 2001 meeting, Rice asserted she did not recall the specific meeting, commenting that she had met repeatedly with Tenet that summer about terrorist threats. Moreover, she stated that it was "incomprehensible" to her that she had ignored terrorist threats two months before the September 11 attacks.[59]

In 2003, Rice received the U.S. Senator John Heinz Award for Greatest Public Service by an Elected or Appointed Official, an award given out annually by Jefferson Awards.[64]

In August 2010, Rice received the U.S. Air Force Academy's 2009 Thomas D. White National Defense Award for contributions to the defense and security of the United States.[65]


In March 2004, Rice declined to testify 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. Under pressure, Bush agreed to allow her to testify so long as it did not create a precedent of presidential staff being required to appear before United States Congress when so requested.[66] In April 2007, Rice rejected, on grounds of executive privilege, a House subpoena regarding the prewar claim that Iraq sought yellowcake uranium from Niger.[67]


Cheney, Rice and Rumsfeld participate in a video conference with President Bush and Iraqi PM Maliki.
Cheney, Rice and Rumsfeld participate in a video conference with President Bush and Iraqi PM Maliki.

Rice was a proponent of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. After Iraq delivered its declaration of weapons of mass destruction to the United Nations on December 8, 2002, Rice wrote an editorial for The New York Times entitled "Why We Know Iraq Is Lying".[68] In a January 10, 2003, interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, Rice made headlines by stating regarding Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's nuclear capabilities: "The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."[69]

In October 2003, Rice was named to run the Iraq Stabilization Group, to "quell violence in Iraq and Afghanistan and to speed the reconstruction of both countries."[70] By May 2004, The Washington Post reported that the council had become virtually nonexistent.[71]

Leading up to the 2004 presidential election, Rice became the first National Security Advisor to campaign for an incumbent president. She stated that 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."[72]

After the invasion, when it became clear that Iraq did not have nuclear WMD capability, critics called Rice's claims a "hoax", "deception" and "demagogic scare tactic".[73][74] Dana Milbank and Mike Allen wrote in The Washington Post: "Either she missed or overlooked numerous warnings from intelligence agencies seeking to put caveats on claims about Iraq's nuclear weapons program, or she made public claims that she knew to be false".[75]

Role in authorizing use of controversial interrogation techniques

A Senate Intelligence Committee reported that on July 17, 2002, Rice met with CIA director George Tenet to personally convey the Bush administration's approval of the proposed waterboarding of alleged Al Qaeda leader Abu Zubaydah. "Days after Dr Rice gave Mr Tenet her approval, the Justice Department approved the use of waterboarding in a top secret August 1 memo."[76] Waterboarding is considered to be torture by a wide range of authorities, including legal experts,[77][78][79][80] war veterans,[81][82] intelligence officials,[83] military judges,[84] human rights organizations,[85][86][87][88][89][90][91][92] U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder,[93] and many senior politicians, including U.S. President Barack Obama.[94]

In 2003 Rice, Vice President Dick Cheney and Attorney General John Ashcroft met with the CIA again and were briefed on the use of waterboarding and other methods including week-long sleep deprivation, forced nudity and the use of stress positions. The Senate report says that the Bush administration officials "reaffirmed that the CIA program was lawful and reflected administration policy".[76]

The Senate report also "suggests Miss Rice played a more significant role than she acknowledged in written testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee submitted in the autumn."[76] At that time, she had acknowledged attending meetings to discuss the CIA interrogations, but she claimed that she could not recall the details, and she "omitted her direct role in approving the programme in her written statement to the committee."[95]

In a conversation with a student at Stanford University in April 2009, Rice stated that she did not authorize the CIA to use the enhanced interrogation techniques. Rice said, "I didn't authorize anything. I conveyed the authorization of the administration to the agency that they had policy authorization, subject to the Justice Department's clearance. That's what I did."[96] She added, "We were told, nothing that violates our obligations under the Convention Against Torture. And so, by definition, if it was authorized by the president, it did not violate our obligations under the Conventions Against Torture."[96]

Secretary of State (2005–2009)

Rice signs official papers after receiving the oath of office during her ceremonial swearing in at the Department of State. Watching are, from left, Laura Bush, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, President George W. Bush.
Rice signs official papers after receiving the oath of office during her ceremonial swearing in at the Department of State. Watching are, from left, Laura Bush, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, President George W. Bush.

On November 16, 2004, Bush nominated Rice to be Secretary of State. On January 26, 2005, the Senate confirmed her nomination by a vote of 85–13.[97] The negative votes, the most cast against any nomination for Secretary of State since 1825,[97] came from Senators who, according to Senator Barbara Boxer, wanted "to hold Dr. Rice and the Bush administration accountable for their failures in Iraq and in the war on terrorism."[98] Their reasoning was that Rice had acted irresponsibly in equating Saddam's regime with Islamist terrorism and some could not accept her previous record. Senator Robert Byrd voted against Rice's appointment, indicating that she "has asserted that the President holds far more of the war power than the Constitution grants him."[99]

As Secretary of State, Rice championed the expansion of democratic governments and other American values: "American values are universal."[100] "An international order that reflects our values is the best guarantee of our enduring national interest ..."[101] Rice stated that the September 11 attacks in 2001 were rooted in "oppression and despair" and so, the US must advance democratic reform and support basic rights throughout the greater Middle East.[102] Rice also reformed and restructured the department, as well as US diplomacy as a whole. "Transformational Diplomacy" is the goal that Rice describes as "work[ing] with our many partners around the world ... [and] build[ing] and sustain[ing] democratic, well-governed states that will respond to the needs of their people and conduct themselves responsibly in the international system."[103]

Rice with Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal
Rice with Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal

As Secretary of State, Rice traveled heavily and initiated many diplomatic efforts on behalf of the Bush administration;[104] she holds the record for most miles logged in the position.[105] Her diplomacy relied on strong presidential support and is considered to be the continuation of style defined by former Republican secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and James Baker.[104]

Condoleezza Rice speaks with Vladimir Putin during her April 2005 trip to Russia.
Condoleezza Rice speaks with Vladimir Putin during her April 2005 trip to Russia.

Post–Bush administration

After the end of the Bush Administration, Rice returned to academia and joined the Council on Foreign Relations.[106]

She appeared as herself in 2011 on the NBC sitcom 30 Rock in the fifth-season episode "Everything Sunny All the Time Always", in which she engages in a classical-music duel with Jack Donaghy (Alec Baldwin). Within the world of the show, Donaghy had had a relationship with Rice during the show's first season.

It was announced on March 19, 2013, that Rice is writing a book to be published in 2015 by Henry Holt & Company.[107]

In August 2015, High Point University announced that Rice would serve as their commencement speaker in, May 7, 2016.[108] On Saturday, May 7, 2016, Rice spoke to nearly 10,000 people in attendance at High Point University's commencement ceremony. Her commencement address was highlighted by The Huffington Post,[109] Fortune,[110] Business Insider.,[111] NBC News, Time, and USA Today.

Rice with President Donald Trump, March 31, 2017
Rice with President Donald Trump, March 31, 2017

In May 2017, Rice said that alleged Russian hacking of DNC emails should "absolutely not" delegitimize Donald Trump's presidency.[112]

College Football Playoff Selection Committee

In October 2013, Rice was selected to be one of the 13 inaugural members of the College Football Playoff selection committee.[113] Her appointment caused a minor controversy in the sport.[114] In October 2014, she revealed that she watched "14 or 15 games every week live on TV on Saturdays and recorded games on Sundays."[115] Her term on the committee expired at the conclusion of the 2016 college football season.

Speculation on 2008 presidential campaign, views on successor

There had been previous speculation that Rice would run for the Republican nomination in the 2008 primaries, which she ruled out on Meet the Press. On February 22, 2008, Rice played down any suggestion that she may be on the Republican vice presidential ticket, saying, "I have always said that the one thing that I have not seen myself doing is running for elected office in the United States."[116] During an interview with the editorial board of The Washington Times on March 27, 2008, Rice said she was "not interested" in running for vice president.[117] In a Gallup poll from March 24 to 27, 2008, Rice was mentioned by eight percent of Republican respondents to be their first choice to be John McCain's Republican vice presidential running mate, slightly behind Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney.[118]

Republican strategist Dan Senor said on ABC's This Week on April 6, 2008, that "Condi Rice has been actively, actually in recent weeks, campaigning for" the vice presidential nomination. He based this assessment on her attendance of Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform conservative leader's meeting on March 26, 2008.[119] In response to Senor's comments, Rice's spokesperson denied that Rice was seeking the vice presidential nomination, saying, "If she is actively seeking the vice presidency, then she's the last one to know about it."[120]

In August 2008, the speculation about a potential McCain-Rice ticket finally ended when then-Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska was selected as McCain's running-mate.

In early December 2008, Rice praised President-elect Barack Obama's selection of New York Senator Hillary Clinton to succeed her as Secretary of State, saying "she's terrific". Rice, who spoke to Clinton after her selection, said Clinton "is someone of intelligence and she'll do a great job".[121]

Political positions

Condoleeza Rice is often described as a centrist or moderate Republican.[122][123] On The Issues, a non-partisan organization which rates candidates based on their policy positions, considers Rice to be a centrist.[124] She takes both liberal and conservative positions; she is pro-choice on abortion, supports gun rights, opposes same-sex marriage but supports civil unions, and supports building oil pipelines such as the Keystone XL pipeline.[125][126]

Terrorist activity

Rice's policy as Secretary of State viewed counter-terrorism as a matter of being preventative, and not merely punitive. In an interview on December 18, 2005, Rice stated: "We have to remember that in this war on terrorism, we're not talking about criminal activity where you can allow somebody to commit the crime and then you go back and you arrest them and you question them. If they succeed in committing their crime, then hundreds or indeed thousands of people die. That's why you have to prevent, and intelligence is the long pole in the tent in preventing attacks."[127]

Rice meets with Afghan Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta to discuss anti-terrorism efforts
Rice meets with Afghan Foreign Minister Rangin Dadfar Spanta to discuss anti-terrorism efforts

Rice has also been a frequent critic of the intelligence community's inability to cooperate and share information, which she believes is an integral part of preventing terrorism. In 2000, one year after Osama bin Laden told Time "[h]ostility toward America is a religious duty,"[55] and a year before the September 11 terrorist attacks, Rice warned on WJR Detroit: "You really have to get the intelligence agencies better organized to deal with the terrorist threat to the United States itself. One of the problems that we have is a kind of split responsibility, of course, between the CIA and foreign intelligence and the FBI and domestic intelligence." She then added: "There needs to be better cooperation because we don't want to wake up one day and find out that Osama bin Laden has been successful on our own territory."[128]

Rice also has promoted the idea that counterterrorism involves not only confronting the governments and organizations that promote and condone terrorism, but also the ideologies that fuel terrorism. In a speech given on July 29, 2005, Rice asserted that "[s]ecuring America from terrorist attack is more than a matter of law enforcement. We must also confront the ideology of hatred in foreign societies by supporting the universal hope of liberty and the inherent appeal of democracy."[129]

Rice chats with a member of the Saudi Royal Family after welcoming the new King Salman of Saudi Arabia, January 27, 2015
Rice chats with a member of the Saudi Royal Family after welcoming the new King Salman of Saudi Arabia, January 27, 2015

In January 2005, during Bush's second inaugural ceremonies, Rice first used the term "outposts of tyranny" to refer to countries Rice thought 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 said "If you go back to 2000 when I helped the president in the campaign. I said that I was, in effect, kind of libertarian on this issue. And meaning by that, that I have been concerned about a government role in this issue. I am a strong proponent of parental choice—of parental notification. I am a strong proponent of a ban on late-term abortion. These are all things that I think unite people and I think that that's where we should be. I've called myself at times mildly pro-choice."[130] She would not want the federal government "forcing its views on one side or the other."[131] She does not want the Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion, Roe v. Wade, to be overturned.[132]

Rice said she believes President Bush "has been in exactly the right place" on abortion, "which is we have to respect the culture of life and we have to try and bring people to have respect for it and make this as rare a circumstance as possible". However, she added that she has been "concerned about a government role" but has "tended to agree with those who do not favor federal funding for abortion, because I believe that those who hold a strong moral view on the other side should not be forced to fund" the procedure.[131]

Affirmative Action

Rice has taken a centrist approach to "race and gender preferences" in affirmative action policies.[133] She described affirmative action as being "still needed," but she does not support quotas.[134]

Female empowerment advocacy

In March 2014 Rice joined and appeared in video spots for the Ban Bossy campaign, a television and social media campaign designed to ban the word "bossy" from general use because of its harmful effect on young girls. Several video spots with other notable spokespersons including Beyoncé, Jennifer Garner and others were produced along with a web site providing school training material, leadership tips, and an online pledge form to which visitors can promise not to use the word.[51][52][53]


Condoleezza Rice supported the comprehensive immigration plan backed by the Bush administration and shared that it was among her regrets that it did not pass through Congress.[135] In 2014, Rice criticized the Obama administration from seeking to approve immigration reforms through executive action.[136] In February 2017 Rice publicly announced her opposition to the Trump administration's travel ban.[135]

Gun Issues

Rice says that she became a "Second Amendment absolutist" due to her experience of growing up in Birmingham and facing threats from the KKK.[136] "Rice's fondness for the Second Amendment began while watching her father sit on the porch with a gun, ready to defend his family against the Klan's night riders."[137]

Same-sex marriage and LGBT issues

While Rice does not support same-sex marriage, she does support civil unions. In 2010, Rice stated that she believed "marriage is between a man and a woman ... But perhaps we will decide that there needs to be some way for people to express their desire to live together through civil union."[138] When asked to select a view on a survey, Rice selected a response that said "Same-sex couples should be allowed to form civil unions, but not marry in the traditional sense."[139]

Confederate monuments

In May 2017, Rice said she opposes the removal of Confederate monuments and memorials or the renaming of buildings named after Confederate generals.[140] She argued, "If you forget your history, you're likely to repeat it. ... When you start wiping out your history, sanitizing your history to make you feel better, it's a bad thing."[141]


Rice experienced firsthand the injustices of Birmingham's discriminatory laws and attitudes. She was instructed to walk proudly in public and to use the facilities at home rather than subject herself to the indignity of "colored" facilities in town. As Rice recalls of her parents and their peers, "they refused to allow the limits and injustices of their time to limit our horizons."[142]

President Bush signing bill for Rosa Parks statue at Statuary Hall, Washington, D.C.
President Bush signing bill for Rosa Parks statue at Statuary Hall, Washington, D.C.

However, Rice recalls various times in which she suffered discrimination on account of her race, which included being relegated to a storage room at a department store instead of a regular dressing room, being barred from going to the circus or the local amusement park, being denied hotel rooms, and even being given bad food at restaurants.[143] Also, while Rice was mostly kept by her parents from areas where she might face discrimination, she was very aware of the civil rights struggle and the problems of Jim Crow laws in Birmingham. A neighbor, Juliemma Smith, described how "[Condi] used to call me and say things like, 'Did you see what Bull Connor did today?' She was just a little girl and she did that all the time. I would have to read the newspaper thoroughly because I wouldn't know what she was going to talk about."[143] Rice herself said of the segregation era: "Those terrible events burned into my consciousness. I missed many days at my segregated school because of the frequent bomb threats."[143]

During the violent days of the Civil Rights Movement, Reverend Rice armed himself and kept guard over the house while Condoleezza practiced the piano inside. According to J. L. Chestnut, Reverend Rice called local civil rights leader Fred Shuttlesworth and his followers "uneducated, misguided Negroes."[144] Also, Reverend Rice instilled in his daughter and students that black people would have to prove themselves worthy of advancement, and would simply have to be "twice as good" to overcome injustices built into the system.[145] Rice said "My parents were very strategic, I was going to be so well prepared, and I was going to do all of these things that were revered in white society so well, that I would be armored somehow from racism. I would be able to confront white society on its own terms."[146] While the Rices supported the goals of the civil rights movement, they did not agree with the idea of putting their child in harm's way.[143]

Rice was eight when her schoolmate Denise McNair, aged 11, was killed in the bombing of the primarily black Sixteenth Street Baptist Church by white supremacists on September 15, 1963. Rice has commented upon that moment in her life:

I remember the bombing of that Sunday School at 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham in 1963. I did not see it happen, but I heard it happen, and I felt it happen, just a few blocks away at my father's church. It is a sound that I will never forget, that will forever reverberate in my ears. That bomb took the lives of four young girls, including my friend and playmate, Denise McNair. The crime was calculated to suck the hope out of young lives, bury their aspirations. But those fears were not propelled forward, those terrorists failed.[147]

Rice states that growing up during racial segregation taught her determination against adversity, and the need to be "twice as good" as non-minorities.[148] Segregation also hardened her stance on the right to bear arms; Rice has said in interviews that if gun registration had been mandatory, her father's weapons would have been confiscated by Birmingham's segregationist director of public safety, Bull Connor,[149] leaving them defenseless against Ku Klux Klan nightriders.[143]


Rice greets U.S. military personnel at the American Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, on May 15, 2005.
Rice greets U.S. military personnel at the American Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, on May 15, 2005.

Rice has appeared four times on the Time 100, Time magazine's list of the world's 100 most influential people. Rice is one of only nine people in the world whose influence has been considered enduring enough to have made the list—first compiled in 1999 as a retrospective of the 20th century and made an annual feature in 2004—so frequently. However, the list contains people who have the influence to change for better or for worse, and Time has also accused her of squandering her influence, stating on February 1, 2007, that her "accomplishments as Secretary of State have been modest, and even those have begun to fade" and that she "has been slow to recognize the extent to which the U.S.'s prestige has declined."[150] In its March 19, 2007 issue it followed up stating that Rice was "executing an unmistakable course correction in U.S. foreign policy."[151]

In 2004 and 2005, she was ranked as the most powerful woman in the world by Forbes magazine and number two in 2006 (following the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel).[152]


Rice makes an appearance at Boston College, where she is greeted by Father William Leahy.
Rice makes an appearance at Boston College, where she is greeted by Father William Leahy.

Criticism from Human Rights Watch

Citing her role in authorizing the use of so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques", Human Rights Watch called for the investigation of Rice "for conspiracy to torture as well as other crimes."[153]

Criticism from Senator Barbara Boxer

California Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer has also criticized Rice in relation to the war in Iraq. During Rice's confirmation hearing for US Secretary of State in January 2005, Boxer stated, "I personally believe—this is my personal view—that your loyalty to the mission you were given, to sell the war, overwhelmed your respect for the truth."[154]

On January 11, 2007, Boxer, during a debate over the war in Iraq, said, "Now, the issue is who pays the price, who pays the price? I'm not going to pay a personal price. My kids are too old, and my grandchild is too young. You're not going to pay a particular price, as I understand it, within immediate family. So who pays the price? The American military and their families, and I just want to bring us back to that fact."[155]

The New York Post and White House Press Secretary Tony Snow called Boxer's statement an attack on Rice's status as a single, childless female and referred to Boxer's comments as "a great leap backward for feminism."[156] Rice later echoed Snow's remarks, saying "I thought it was okay to not have children, and I thought you could still make good decisions on behalf of the country if you were single and didn't have children." Boxer responded to the controversy by saying "They're getting this off on a non-existent thing that I didn't say. I'm saying, she's like me, we do not have families who are in the military."[157]

Conservative criticism

According to The Washington Post in late July 2008, former Undersecretary of State and U.N. Ambassador John R. Bolton was referring to Rice and her allies in the Bush Administration whom he believes have abandoned earlier hard-line principles when he said: "Once the collapse begins, adversaries have a real opportunity to gain advantage. In terms of the Bush presidency, this many reversals this close to the end destroys credibility ... It appears there is no depth to which this administration will not sink in its last days."[158]

Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld repeatedly criticized Rice after their terms in office ended. In his book Known and Unknown: A Memoir, he portrayed her as a young, inexperienced academic who did not know her place.[159] In 2011 she finally responded, saying that Rumsfeld "doesn't know what he's talking about."[160]

In his book In My Time, Dick Cheney suggested that Rice had misled the president about nuclear diplomacy with North Korea, saying she was naïve. He called her advice on the issue "utterly misleading."

He also chided Rice for clashing with White House advisers on the tone of the president's speeches on Iraq and said that she, as the Secretary of State, ruefully conceded to him that the Bush administration should not have apologized for a claim the president made in his 2003 State of the Union address, on Saddam's supposed search for yellowcake uranium. She "came into my office, sat down in the chair next to my desk, and tearfully admitted I had been right," Cheney wrote.

Rice responded: "It certainly doesn't sound like me, now, does it?", saying that she viewed the book as an "attack on my integrity."[161]

Rice has also been criticized by other conservatives. Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard accused her of jettisoning the Bush Doctrine, including the Iraq War troop surge of 2007.[162] Other conservatives criticized her for her approach to Russia policy and other issues.[163]

Views within the black community

Rice's approval ratings from January 2005 to September 2006
Rice's approval ratings from January 2005 to September 2006

Rice's ratings decreased following a heated battle for her confirmation as Secretary of State and following Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. Rice's rise within the George W. Bush administration initially drew a largely positive response from many in the black community. In a 2002 survey, then National Security Advisor Rice was viewed favorably by 41% of black respondents, but another 40% did not know Rice well enough to rate her and her profile remained comparatively obscure.[164] As her role increased, some black commentators began to express doubts concerning Rice's stances and statements on various issues. In 2005, Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson asked, "How did [Rice] come to a worldview so radically different from that of most black Americans?"[165]

Rice and Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer participate in a news conference at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, May 23, 2007.
Rice and Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer participate in a news conference at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, May 23, 2007.

In August 2005, American musician, actor, and social activist Harry Belafonte, who serves on the Board of TransAfrica, referred to blacks in the Bush administration as "black tyrants."[166] Belafonte's comments received mixed reactions.[164]

Rice dismissed these criticisms during a September 14, 2005 interview when she said, "Why would I worry about something like that? ... The fact of the matter is I've been black all my life. Nobody needs to tell me how to be black."[167]

Notable black commentators have defended Rice, including Mike Espy,[168] Andrew Young, C. Delores Tucker (chair of the National Congress of Black Women),[169] Clarence Page,[170] Colbert King,[171] Dorothy Height (chair and president emerita of the National Council of Negro Women)[171] and Kweisi Mfume (former Congressman and former CEO of the NAACP).[172]

Family and personal life

Rice has never married and has no children.[156] In the 1970s, she dated and was briefly engaged to professional American football player Rick Upchurch. She left him because, according to her biographer Marcus Mabry, "She knew the relationship wasn't going to work."[173] Her mother, Angelena Rice, died of breast cancer at age 61 in August 1985, when Condoleezza was 30.[174] In July 1989, her father, John Wesley Rice, married Clara Bailey,[175] to whom he remained married until his death, in December 2000, aged 77.[176]

From 2003 to 2017 Rice co-owned a home in Palo Alto, California with Randy Bean. According to public records, the two initially purchased the home with a third investor, Stanford University professor Coit D. Blacker, who later sold his line of credit to the two women. The co-owned property was first made known to the public in Glenn Kessler's 2007 book The Confidante: Condoleezza Rice and the Creation of the Bush Legacy, sparking rumors about the nature of Rice and Bean's relationship. Kessler has stated he "did not know if this meant there was something more to the relationship between the women beyond a friendship."[177][178][179][180]

On August 20, 2012, it was announced that Rice was one of the first two women to be admitted as members to Augusta National Golf Club (the other is South Carolina financier Darla Moore).[181]

In 2014, Rice was named as one of ESPNW's Impact 25.[182]

Honorary degrees

Condoleezza Rice has received honorary degrees from many universities, including the following:

Honorary degrees
State Date School Degree
Georgia (U.S. state) Georgia 1991 Morehouse College Doctor of Laws (LL.D)
 Alabama 1994 University of Alabama Doctor of Humane Letters (DHL)
 Indiana 1995 University of Notre Dame Doctorate
 District of Columbia 2002 National Defense University Doctor of National Security Affairs
 Mississippi 2003 Mississippi College School of Law Doctor of Laws (LL.D)
 Kentucky 2004 University of Louisville Doctor of Public Service
 Michigan Spring 2004 Michigan State University Doctor of Humane Letters (DHL)[183]
 Massachusetts May 22, 2006 Boston College Doctor of Laws (LL.D)[184]
 Alabama April 14, 2008 Air University Doctor of Letters (D. Litt)[185]
 North Carolina 2010 Johnson C. Smith University Doctor of Laws (LL.D)[186]
 Texas May 12, 2012 Southern Methodist University Doctor of Laws (LL.D)[187]
 Virginia May 2015 College of William and Mary Doctor of Public Service[188]
 Tennessee May 12, 2018 Sewanee: The University of the South Doctor of Civil Law[189]


See also

Published works


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Further reading

Academic studies

  • John P. Burke; "Condoleezza Rice as NSC Advisor A Case Study of the Honest Broker Role" Presidential Studies Quarterly v 35 #3 pp 554+.
  • James Mann. Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush's War Cabinet (2004)

Popular books and commentary

External links

Academic offices
Preceded by
Gerald Lieberman
Provost of Stanford University
Succeeded by
John L. Hennessy
Political offices
Preceded by
Sandy Berger
National Security Advisor
Succeeded by
Stephen Hadley
Preceded by
Colin Powell
United States Secretary of State
Succeeded by
Hillary Clinton
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