Condoleezza Rice: “I Don’t Miss Washington”
The former Secretary of State says she’s happy to be “home.”
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who was sharply criticized during the Bush administration for supporting the “weapons of mass destruction” theory, says she’s happy to be gone from Washington and its “pretty rough” political process.
In an exclusive interview in Glamour magazine with CBS anchor and Glamour contributing editor Katie Couric, Rice, now a professor of political science at Stanford, said it took her “about five minutes” to adjust to the university where she had been since she was twenty-six years old. “I’m an academic at heart,” she told Couric in the interview on www.glamour.com. “And so this was coming home. It was great to get back to kind of where I think I belong.”
During her time in Washington, first as National Security Advisor (2001-2005) and then as Secretary of State (2005-2009), Rice was criticized for allegedly failing to move quickly enough on intelligence information available in advance of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, and for insisting that Iraq had “weapons of mass destruction.” That proved not to be the case.
In the interview with Couric, Rice spoke briefly about the Iraq war, saying, “I certainly have no regrets about overthrowing Saddam Hussein. I’d do it again….And yes, I think there are a lot of things we’d all do differently… I’d probably work to rebuild Iraq from the outside in, rather than concentrating so much on Baghdad, for instance. But I believe that the Iraqis have an opportunity now, without Saddam Hussein there, to build the first…Arab democracy in the Middle East. And that will make for a different kind of Middle East. ”
These days, though, Rice is focusing on the personal rather than the political; she’s just published Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family. Rice, 55, grew up in the segregated South, but she moved beyond an environment of prejudice and fear thanks to her parents, John Wesley Rice Jr., a minister, and her mother, Angelena Ray, who emphasized education and achievement. In the South, Rice told Couric, “Education was almost like armor…even with the slings and arrows and humiliations of racism and segregation, somehow you had better control of the situation.”
Rice also told Couric that her father, who preached in her birthplace of Birmingham, Alabama, had taken teens from his congregation to a nearby temple to learn about Judaism. “My father…was determined that his students would have an open outlook, not a closed one,” Rice said.
Asked what her father would have done about the controversy of the Islamic community center near Ground Zero, Rice said, “Oh, my father would be in the middle of it, you know? He would be holding meetings at his church and inviting imams and rabbis. I can just see him. That’s what he would be doing because he just didn’t believe in barriers.”
Rice herself didn’t comment on the current controversy or “Islamophobia,” as Couric termed it, other than to say that the United States is “the most tolerant country in the world. I really think it’s unfortunate that a number of people are trying to paint America with this brush. I just don’t see it.” For the rest of the interview, go to Glamour.com.
Jane Farrell is a senior editor at BettyConfidential.