Condoleeza Rice sample essay
Upon assumption of her post as State Secretary, Condoleeza Rice has taken steps to bring the State Department under her control. As part of the broad restructuring of the diplomatic corps and under the guise of transformational diplomacy, Rice has shifted hundreds of Foreign Service positions from Europe and Washington to difficult assignments in the Middle East and elsewhere. As evidence of her aim for transformational diplomacy, Rice has even gone to the extent of announcing that diplomats will not be promoted to senior ranks unless they accept assignment in dangerous posts or gain expertise in at least two regions.
Even though this move by the State Secretary has been viewed as overwhelming at the least, it has proven nevertheless that Secretary Rice is serious in giving diplomacy and the foreign service a new focus. Whereas diplomats and foreign service personnel focus more on career advancement and development, Rice’s issue of this prerogative as State Secretary, to indeed has improved the administration’s views on foreign policies. Ultimately, it is estimated that about one-third of the 6,400 foreign service positions will be affected in the coming years because of this order.
However, it could be said that Rice’s plans are just part of a grand plan to have broader authority over a range of foreign assistance and policy programs thereby ending in politicizing of foreign assistance. For instance, Rice’s plan of restructuring US foreign assistance and elevating the USAID post, specifically the nomination of Randall L. Tobias as the new administrator of the U. S. Agency for International Development, would give the former a rank equivalent of deputy secretary of State.
This move is obviously intended to draw the agency closer to the department although it short of a merger between USAID and the State. Moreover, this will give the director broader authorities over a variety of foreign assistance accounts that are managed by separate entities. As Jim Bishop opined, “We’re concerned that the same priority won’t be given to long-term development as resources are siphoned to support shorter-term diplomatic or military objectives” (Bishop).
But it cannot be denied that this restructuring will definitely have ramifications to the diplomatic corps and the State Department as a whole. While it is good that as State Secretary has taken steps to give diplomats the wide experience and expertise in foreign relations before being promoted to a senior rank, such move has subsequently declared to the whole world that the State Department is run by an iron fist. I believe that this management policy would later on prove detrimental to the State Department as there would be thousands of foreign service personnel who will be affected by this order.
Instead of being able to focus on the foreign policies advanced by the diplomats, they might rather focus on how to keep their posts and their career. This would mean lesser accomplishment for the promotion of US foreign policies. As Rice has been continuously promoting the idea of transformational diplomacy, she particularly describes it as a shift from merely reporting on events to influencing them to foster the growth of democratic states worldwide (Kessler and Graham).
Part of Rice’s plans it to expand US presence in areas where there are only one-person diplomatic posts such Alexandria in Egypt and Medan, Indonesia and bring diplomats closer to the streets unto the pulse of the locale instead of barricading themselves in fortified embassies. The State Department also plans to expand the use of interactive Web sites maintained by diplomats to communicate with foreign citizens, promote the creation of rapid-reaction forces to deal with regional problems and seek to work more closely with military officers to promote the stability of nation conflicts (Rice, interview).
The above-mentioned plans for the State’s foreign policies on the other hand would need to be reviewed as most of them seemed to be too grand themes that it might be impossible to accomplish or see the success of even just one policy. For example, Rice’s plan to work more closely with military officers in order to promote the stability of nation conflicts can definitely be considered a far-fetched plan if not hilarious at best. Aside from US allies, the United States has been considerably viewed as being arrogant and pushing its nose on issues not her own.
The war in Iraq is a classic example of this. While the Iraqis were happy with the ouster of President Saddam Hussein, they however, were resentful of the continued military presence of the US armed forces in their country. Even the Iraqi soldiers whom the US worked closely with during the invasion and ouster of Saddam Hussein dislike the US policy of “keeping and maintaining peace” in the Middle East. Moreover, Rice’s plan to promote the creation of rapid-reaction forces to deal with regional problems can be considered as meddling in internal affairs of each country.
Foreign diplomats and ambassadors, while representatives of the US government and its interests in a particular country certainly cannot meddle in regional affairs lest it will send a signal of political mistrust on the part of the United States to the country concerned. So long as the interests of the United States are not at risk, the US cannot interfere and force itself and its foreign policies on a country. Perhaps, Rice inadvertently forgot that foreign countries are beyond her control unlike the US State Department where she reigns.
The most that she could do is to place pressure on the country only if US interests are at stake. On the other hand, Rice’s may have already succeeded in her efforts to bring the State Department under her control as she already lectured her senior staff about the dangers of media leaks. Thus, normally talkative officials have been observed to speak in carefully hushed tones. But her manner of administration can also considered a perfect example of leadership as she makes sure that she knows the whereabouts of her most senior staff, and once discussed with them a problematic newspaper article in North Korea policy.
But nonetheless, Rice knows the power of the media and the messages as well as images it portrays to the whole world. Thus, her staff gives particular attention to the images and shots of Rice around the globe. Moreover, while she emphasizes to her staff the perils of media leaks, she on the other, has mastered the art of dodging questions from reporters that might be detrimental to the points she outlined for her speeches and conferences. In fact, she would often ignore questions that may inadvertently raise sore issues about Bush’s campaigns for democracy.
This method practiced by Rice has considerably been sending mixed signals to the world. While it may appear that she is sincere in her efforts to effect the proposed changes in the State Department and the promotion of US foreign policy, it would nonetheless appear as well that she hesitates to trust the media and the world as well to tell them the truth herself. If I were on the part of the reporters, I would find incessantly disturbing that the State Secretary would not want to answer impromptu questions, much less questions that are not in her agenda.
As she is the considered the “face” of the State Department, it would have been better had she practiced the art of being able to connect more with the media. But as I mentioned earlier, Rice seemed to be sending mixed signals and this would be better explained in my discussion of her promotion of democracy. Promotion of Democracy Condoleeza Rice has been repeatedly giving the relentless message to the international community that may have portrayed the State Department as a communications machine of the White House.
Since her appointment as the Secretary of State she has articulated the promotion of democracy to any place which needs it. As she told a group of students in Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan, “We are not going to turn a blind eye to the human desire for freedom anywhere in the world” (Rice). Thus, this statement or something like it has become her rallying point and mantra in promoting democracy and perhaps justifying Bush’s decision to invade Iraq in retaliation to the September 11 attack by terrorists.
In contrast to Colin Powell who was known as being an independent operator and has had his share of debates regarding the State Department’s foreign policies with the administration, Rice, on the other hand is seen as bringing the views of the White House into the State Department. This may be attributed to Rice’s loyalty to Bush whom she worked closely with during the Presidential elections. While Powell was uncomfortable giving out speeches that seemed to portray grand schemes and themes, Rice, however loves to give them out in news conferences, interviews and speeches.
Rice has delivered major policy addresses designed to place President Bush’s vision with a larger strategic framework (Kessler). For example, while in Paris, she addressed a well-received speech that may have helped lay the groundwork for an agreement with European officials on confronting Iran over its nuclear programs. Then in Tokyo, she outlined a new U. S. vision of Japan’s increasing importance as a global power and challenged China to work harder to “embrace some form of open and generally representative government” (Kessler).
Rice also never fails to insert her love for tourism and the arts into her responsibilities in promoting democracy and US foreign policies. According to aides, these visits demonstrates respect and interest in a country’s heritage and culture, thus, photo-ops are ensured to make Rice look good for the global audience. For example, while Rice was in Beijing, she attended a Sunday church service which although was a private visit and described her as a deeply political woman, it gave another significance as well.
It shows Rice’s criticism of China’s lack of religious freedom. As mentioned earlier, Rice has cautioned her staff regarding media leaks and its implications, but nevertheless uses its power in furtherance of her responsibilities to the international community. As such, Rice has brought new media sophistication to an agency that long prided itself on its focus on policy not image. She has dropped Powell’s practice of talking to reporters in front of the glass doors of the State Department after he escorted foreign officials to their cars.
Instead, she brings reporters upstairs to the more visually striking Benjamin Franklin room, reminiscent of the rooms in the White House, where she sits with foreign dignitaries in front of a fireplace (Kessler). All these are examples of what Condoleeza Rice is capable of doing despite being the first black woman in history to hold such post. Weapons of Mass Destruction The Bush administration has been washed and plagued with its decision to attack Iraq in response to the terrorist attack on September 11, linking the Al Qaeda and Iraq together.
But there was no other person that supported this decision with much ardour than then-National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice. Despite the ramifications that resulted in not finding the weapons of mass destruction that Saddam Hussein and Iraq allegedly harboured, Rice is firm in her belief that they did the right strategic decision although she admits that they have made tactical errors. Even before she was confirmed for the appointment of Secretary of State, Rice faced almost nine hours of gruelling questioning before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in her role in helping the President decide to invade Iraq.
While her detractors have pointed out that the administration had made the mistake of invading Iraq over the alleged weapons of mass destruction, Rice on the other insisted that the war in Iraq was not launched solely over the weapons of mass destruction. Accordingly, the deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein welcomed terrorists and attacked his neighbors, all the while paying suicide bombers to aggravate the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians. For Rice, Saddam Hussein has been an international threat for a long time and that he must be taken out and stopped.
Although we can justify Rice’s position with regard to the invasion of Iraq at that time, we cannot deny however that she and the administration has focused so much on the Iraqi threat that the administration may have unconsciously allowed other terrorism hot spots such as Somalia, Indonesia and the Philippines to grow and train. But then again, as Rice claims, she does study terrorist reports everyday and have been taking measures without disrupting international peace efforts and mediation.
Regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for example, Rice claims that the United States is willing to support the government of new Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas but withholds that Arab states must crack down on the incitement of hatred against Israel (CNN). It is evident nonetheless that the administration have focused so much on the Iraqi problem, spending close to $300 billion dollars to disarm the alleged weapons that turned out were not there and spent only $1 billion a year that are sure to exist such as in North Korea.
This particular attitude may have been totally in disagreement with what she claimed when she was still the National Security Adviser. According to her, past administrations have permitted defense budgets to decline after the Cold War to a point where the resources were not matching the multiple missions that were asked from the armed forces to perform. This has led the administration to think of foreign assistance and policy at a different light. For the Bush administration, the real goal for each country is to be prepared internally in order to grow economically as well.
But as more people are getting aware of, Rice and Bush has indeed focused so much on the war on terrorism and against Iraq that it has failed to address other issues instead of focusing on the other responsibilities of the State Department. While it may be true that the problem of terrorism has grown to such huge proportion, the State Department should not have solely focused on such as there are still other ways in order to combat terrorism. Many political scientists and sociologists claim that foremost in the reason for the spread of terrorism is poverty and economic unrest.
People from poverty-stricken countries like Somalia would do everything to continue living so it is inevitable that they would attach themselves to any entity or groups that could fill their stomachs with food in return for doing service for them. Had the State Department focused on policies that helped countries alleviate hunger and poverty, these countries would have not resorted to the use of force and instead would help the United States in its efforts to combat terrorism. Key Issues of Foreign Policy
Among Condoleeza Rice’s claim on key issues regarding US foreign policies is to maintain confidence in the American commitment to justice and the rule of law. As such, she has for example urged the international community to act with great speed and deal with the humanitarian crisis in Darfur region in Sudan. Despite the US’ qualm regarding the United Nations International Criminal Court’s responsibility to try Darfur war criminals, claiming that the ICC powers are unchecked by any controlling authority, she has nevertheless showed US support on the resolution.
Although she has already made it clear that the United States’ stand regarding the ICC remained unchanged, she asserted that the situation in Darfur was an extraordinary circumstance in which crimes against humanity are clearly being committed and that the world cannot afford further delay in addressing it (Gollust). Moreover, according to Rice, the US had no desire to be world’s jailer and that Washington wanted the terrorists that capture stand trial.
Thus, although the United States had another alternate idea for a Darfur war crimes court to be set up in Tanzania but drawing little support instead, have agreed to accept the resolution that empowered the ICC in trying Darfur war crimes. Rice also averred that the use of force is not what is on the agenda now, particularly on the issues of Iran and North Korea’s nuclear programmes. Although they have condemned these countries’ nuclear programmes, Rice nevertheless maintains that they will not take the matters into their own hands and never take any option off the table but would also leave it to the United Nations to decide on the matter.
On the other hand, the United States would continue to enhance its close ties with Britain in its fight against terrorism. Both the United States and Britain had been specifically staunch in their efforts to disarm Iraq for its alleged weapons of mass destructions and considering that Britain is among the economically well-favored nations, maintaining friendly and close relations with the country would not only help the United States in its efforts to combat terrorism but to also maintain its excellent economic ties.
But we also have to applaud Rice’s guts as she does not hesitate to send stern diplomatic messages to countries that displease her or what she considers as those at the wrong side of freedom. For instance, she explicitly cancelled her trip to the Middle East when Egypt failed to respond to her request of releasing an imprisoned political figure.
She also withdrew the US Ambassador from Syria when a former Lebanese prime minister was killed in a bomb blast and contented that additional sanctions might be taken under the Syrian Accountability Act. Conclusion The Secretary of State has enormous responsibility not only to the State Department but to the country as well. As for Condoleeza Rice, she is accountable for whatever decisions and advices that might have gone through her and passed on to the President for final decision.
Thus, despite the criticisms that go along with her job, we can safely conclude that in the short years that Condoleeza Rice has replaced Colin Powell, she definitely has made some changes and although her decisions in running the State Department may at times be impugned, the changes under her remarkably had made differences in the Department. Whereas before, foreign service personnel and diplomats were more concerned with their respective career advancement, Rice has made sure that this practice is stopped and that diplomats live up with the expectations and demand of representing the United States to the various international posts.
Moreover, Rice’s stance on the administration’s decision to invade Iraq despite the ramifications of such action has proved that she will do everything and that she will continue to defend her and that of the president’s actions. Although it is not difficult to hate and condemn her for methods in acting as the Secretary of State, we can however, commend her because of her ability to express her displeasure on issues that are of importance to her and the US interest.