Rice’s Speech: inspiring, yet inconsistent

Bernardo Vigil

This last Sunday, former Secretary of State and National Security Advisor Dr. Condoleeza Rice delivered a speech at Beth El Synagogue that concerned, among few other things, the current state of affairs in Iran, the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and justification for the war crimes that the administration she was involved with committed.

Dr. Rice’s speech was attended by everyone one would expect to show up at a high-profile, Republican event: a large concentration of what appeared to be wealthy, elderly, white people, the police, and angry protesters. The speech itself also held few surprises, as within the first five minutes Dr. Rice evoked the same rhetoric that the Bush administration used to justify all of its ill-conceived policies regarding the Middle East and the War on Terror: “The United States must defend itself…from people who want to harm us.”

Throughout her tenure as National Security Advisor, Dr. Rice was a key proponent of the 2003 invasion of Iraq and alluded to this fact several times during the course of her speech. Unfortunately for Dr. Rice, the defense and explanation of her actions that she delivered at Beth El, no matter how eloquently delivered, were riddled with the same moral and logical inconsistencies that have plagued her decisions since Bush’s first term.

Dr. Rice specifically defended the invasion on the both the grounds that Saddam Husein’s actions were suspect, and that “the one thing that the USA has always stood for is that… no corner of tyranny must go unexposed”; she further claimed that “the space for decent politics were closed off,” and that she was “appalled” when no WMDs were found in Iraq. I don’t understand however, how she should be allowed to be appalled at anything considering the fact that it was under her guidance that our country went to war over bombs that she should have already known didn’t exist.

Of more importance than what she did say concerning Iraq was what she failed to address. Dr. Rice mentioned nothing concerning the fact that former CIA Director of Intelligence George J. Tenet has stated that he sent her more than one document, prior to the invasion of Iraq, that detailed CIA doubts that Iraq had nuclear capabilities. Dr. Rice mentioned nothing of the interesting coincidence that Iraq is an extremely oil-rich country and that she served on the board of directors for Chevron. Dr. Rice mentioned nothing concerning the fact that despite her claim that “no corner of tyranny must go unexposed,” the United Sates has traditionally taken a stance of military non-involvement and continues to do business with Saudi Arabia and China, two countries that have continuously displayed tyrannical and ethically dubious traits including the stifling of journalistic freedom and off-the-record executions.

Beyond Iraq, Dr. Rice presented several other paradoxes in regards to her foreign policy. First and foremost, Dr. Rice expressed that “with terrorism there are no shades of gray. There is only right or wrong.” Some of the moral resonance of what she articulated is lost on the fact that there are also no shades of gray with waterboarding, week-long sleep deprivation or forced nudity either, all of which were interrogation tactics that she authorized.

Dr. Rice also stated that she believed a diplomatic solution to Iran’s current political turmoil would be “far better,” and that she supports a two-state solution provided that Palestine proved to “be a state that forever renounced violence.” One must ask the questions, however, why would Dr. Rice ask the Obama administration to solve Middle Eastern problems diplomatically when the administration she served under for two terms was incapable of doing so? Why would she require Palestine to be a state that forever renounced violence if her own country hasn’t done so?

Dr. Rice’s speech last Sunday was brilliantly written and delivered almost to an art. Her concluding message of the importance of continued education despite adversity as well as her interaction with several students, including me, following the deliverance of her address was both inspiring and a surprising display of humility towards those younger than she. That being said, despite Dr. Rice’s obvious intelligence, her polarizing and consistently aggressive views on foreign policy make me more than grateful that this country will not have to go through another turbulent four years under her leadership.