August 7, 2005


The Condi Doctrine: After six months as Secretary of State, she has seized control over U.S. foreign policy. Now comes her toughest test--finding a way out of Iraq. An intimate look at Rice's world (ROMESH RATNESAR, 8/07/05, TIME)

When visitors arrive to see Condoleezza Rice on the seventh floor of the State Department, they are seated down the corridor from Rice's office, in a drawing room decorated with patterned carpets, Georgian furniture and a grandfather clock. Above one sofa hangs a framed, four-page document, typewritten and signed with the initials "GM." It is the original copy of the most famous speech ever made by a U.S. Secretary of State: George Marshall's commencement address at Harvard in 1947, the speech that led to the passage of the European Recovery Act, later known as the Marshall Plan. By today's standards, the speech is notable both for its brevity--you can get through most of it if Rice is running late--and its ambition. "Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine," Marshall said, "but against hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos." Hanging outside the Secretary's door, the document is meant to remind guests of a moment when America's top diplomat managed to change the world.

Rice believes this is her moment. In pep talks to State Department colleagues, she compares the Administration's drive to implant democracy in the Middle East to the policies devised by Marshall's generation to combat communism in Europe after World War II. She delivers major speeches on university campuses, rather than in ministerial chancelleries, and seeks out audiences receptive to her declarations of moral purpose. "Our greatest achievements are yet to come," she told French students in Paris. "We must provide greater prosperity to people all over the world," she said in Tokyo. "We are supporting the democratic aspirations of all people," she announced at the American University in Cairo. She is on her way to becoming the most traveled Secretary of State ever: she has visited 38 countries and logged 170,390 miles, according to her staff, which tallies such numbers like baseball stats. When she met TIME at the State Department for an interview, Rice didn't hide her confidence about making history--in part because she knows she already has. "If somebody had looked at the United States in 1789--or for that matter 1864, or for that matter 1954," she says, her smile widening, "and said the Secretary of State will be a black woman--and by the way, that will be after the last Secretary of State was a black man and the Secretary of State before that was a woman--people would have said, 'No, really--are you kidding me?'"

Much about Rice's six months on the job has been surprising. Her enthusiasm for travel has transformed her image from that of a remote presidential consigliere to a glamorous, globe-trotting operator with first-name-only cachet. (A Madrid hairdresser has started offering "the Condi flip.") "She has a little bit of star power," says Democratic Senator Joseph Biden, "which isn't a bad thing to have." But she can also play tough: in Sudan last month, Rice demanded an apology from the Khartoum government after members of her traveling party were manhandled by Sudanese security agents; she got one within an hour. At home, Rice has wrested control over the tone and direction of U.S. foreign policy away from war-cabinet hard-liners, curbing their unilateralist bluster. She persuaded President George W. Bush to support negotiations with North Korea and Iran over their nuclear programs, though both countries have balked at offers from the U.S. and its allies. In the process, she has cemented her status as the President's most trusted lieutenant, a relationship that makes her the most influential Secretary of State in more than a decade. [...]

Rice's most appealing qualities are her optimism and belief in the power of American ideals, a faith she believes has been validated by her rise from segregated Alabama to the top Cabinet post in the U.S. government. Whether she ascends even further--some G.O.P. insiders are already touting her as the running mate for the Republican presidential nominee in 2008--will depend largely on whether she can find a way for the U.S. to declare victory in Iraq before support for the Bush doctrine, at home and abroad, runs out. Toward the end of her interview with TIME, she made clear that she's prepared to take her chances. "I've lived in a place where difference was not tolerated and difference was a license to kill," she says. "I lived in a place that was not living up to the democratic principles of the United States but where, because the institutions were what they were, people were able to petition from within those institutions, not without ... People kept struggling toward those institutions and values and principles and, over time, we've gotten closer to the ideal.

"And so when I see Iraqis struggling with really hard issues or Afghans struggling with really hard issues, I'm probably less willing to say, 'Oh, they can't do it.' I look at [our history], and I say what seemed impossible on one day now seems inevitable. Well, that's the way great historical changes are. And it's why I have enormous conviction that these people are going to make it."

So the Condi Doctrine is implementing the Bush Doctrine.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 7, 2005 12:05 PM
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