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High Level of Responsibilities
on January 7, 2012
Condoleeza Rice eloquently tells her side of the story surrounding various policy-making decisions in the book "No Higher Honor". I am a former active duty navy veteran who plans on rejoining the military via a part-time component between the time period of December 2012-February 2013 (shaped by my intent to permanently live in the D.C. area). This influences me to feel a responsibility of learning what I can about politics the longer I reside here. Reading about some of the difficult decisions she faced going into the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts gave me further insight on what indirectly happens in all of the military branches (in terms of the aftermath regarding the military surges, manpower goals etc.).
The following are some of the vivid points made in her memoir:
Pages 1-12: Dr. Rice describes her first meeting with George W.Bush, and shares why she admires Dean Acheson. A heartwarming moment is illuminated during the discussion of encouragement from her father (John Wesley Rice Jr.). With joyful sentiment, she shares how John Wesley Rice Jr. inspired her achievements. Tragically, he passed away during the Christmas Eve of 2000 (before the beginning of her tenure as George W. Bush's national security advisor).
Page 61: Condoleeza Rice's first meeting with Vladimir Putin is mentioned. On page 85 she candidly tells her discovery that Osama Bin Laden had fought for the Soviet Anti-Resistance. Page 116-117 discloses the essential capture of Abu Zubaydah. It is listed that Abu Zubaydah was the mastermind behind the al Qaeda guide on holding the line against interrogation techniques. Page 118 features information on the capture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Mr. Mohammed was said to have bragged about being Daniel Pearl's executioner. For those who might not have heard of the original story, Condoleeza Rice mentions that Daniel Pearl was a Stanford graduate and journalist who was kidnapped in Pakistan and killed in 2002. Dr. Rice also notes the emotional challenge of being chosen as the one who had to break the news to Mariane Pearl (Daniel Pearl's widow).
Page 181: Dr. Rice factually lists that many of Washington D.C. policymakers are former academics. She confesses that this made her feel at home because various colleagues came from Stanford University.
Page 186: Saddam Hussein was initially offered one billion dollars to exit Iraq.
Page 208 (Ouch!): Vice President Dick Cheney had invited some of his close buddies to a party that commemorated the freedom of Iraq. Scooter Libby and Paul Wolfowitz are a couple of the names that were invited. Apparently, Vice President Dick Cheney excluded both Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice from his list of people to invite for the gathering.
Powerful people sometimes experience social trials/tribulations too (page 235): Condoleeza Rice was supposed to have dinner with a congressman that she thought was her friend. Apparently, a few days before their scheduled dinner, the "friend" cancelled on her claiming that they must be impartial. I appreciate that she had the courage to open up about this period in her life. This is because she helped me to see that even the most influential and famous people are not immune to friendships turning out differently than expected.
"Fairytale Birthday (Page 294): Condoleeza Rice openly shares a happy moment around a surprise birthday party that was thrown in her honor (for her 50th birthday). The additional bonus to this was it had happened shortly after she became Secretary of State.
Pages 366-367: Colorful photos highlighting pivotal moments are featured. The picture that stood out the most to me was where she was on the exploratory committee in March 1999.
Pages 454: Condoleeza Rice recalls a heart-wrenching moment of attending a dedication that paid respects to four little girls killed at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in 1963. Condoleeza Rice mentions that one of the four little girls was her kindergarten classmate Denise McNair.
Debate of Female Roles (page 548): An incident is documented where Senator Barbara Boxer indirectly implied that Condoleeza Rice was unaware of the sacrifices of those lost in war because she had no children. Naturally, Dr. Rice had a strong case for the question being insulting when she wondered if this would have been asked of a male Secretary of State (in a similar setting).
Celebrity Crush (pages 702-703): Qaddafi is quoted to have asked why he had to wait on his "African princess." On page 703, there was mention of how Qaddafi showed Condoleeza Rice a video that featured photos of her with various world leaders (set to the music of "Black Flower In The White House").
Page 717: With respectful sentiment, Dr. Rice shares how it was a smooth process of turning over the Secretary of State to Hillary Clinton. She shares how they got along well then and still do now. Logically enough, Dr. Rice admits that one of the reasons for their connection stems back to her days as Stanford provost (when Chelsea Clinton came there as a freshman).
Many more informative details feature in this book. "No Higher Honor" by Condoleeza Rice is best for the open-minded who want to increase their political understanding on what can drive a high level policymaker.