Excellent news, as it appears its official that Condoleezza Rice will replace Colin Powell as Secretary of State. I have great respect for Colin Powell, I think he handled a difficult job during a very trying time period with wisdom, grace and dignity. I may not have agreed with all of his decisions, but I cannot doubt that all of the decisions he made were in the best interests of the American people and the world in general. I posted a fascinating interview between Powell and PJ O'Rourke a few months ago, here's a snippet-
(I asked the Secretary why the defense spending of our closest allies was, proportionately, so much less than our own.)
P. J. O'ROURKE: The powers that are on our side, why aren't they pulling on their oars? I mean, the EU has as big an economy and as big a population as we do.
SECRETARY POWELL: First of all, I do think they're on our side. I think we had a big hiccup on Iraq, and we lost some of them. But that'll swing back. The pendulum will come back our way because we do have more common interests than disagreements: terrorism, the world trading system, so many other things. Now, the reason we have to spend so much more is that there is no German navy preserving peace in the Pacific, there are no British troops standing guard in Korea, there is no need for any of our European Union friends to have the ability to project an army in a week or two from wherever they are to a place like Afghanistan.
P. J. O'ROURKE: But, why not?
SECRETARY POWELL: Because they have never felt that that was their destiny or their obligation. The United States entered into partnerships and believes it has these worldwide obligations. Nobody can move things like we can. They have never invested in it. Now, with the EU up to twenty-five nations, they're looking at whether or not this is where they should be putting their investment. And I think they should. But their domestic constituencies will not permit the kind of spending on defense that our domestic constituency permits. The Germans are dropping their defense spending and reducing the size of their armed forces. Whereas we've held steady for some years, and now Congress is passing laws to increase the size of our army.
The American people have always been more willing to shoulder this burden than our European friends, particularly now when the Cold War is over. There is no Iron Curtain, there is no Soviet Union, and the average European citizen looking around sees some of these out-of-the-way places like Afghanistan and the Balkans and Iraq. They're willing to do a little there, but they're not willing to put up to three or four percent of their GDP into defense spending the way we are."
I raise a toast to a job well done by Mr. Powell and thank him for his service to our country. He has earned a well deserved vacation.
Condoleeza Rice has an extensive background in foreign policy, and she is more than adequately prepared to assume the role of Secretary of State.
Born and raised in segregated Birmingham, Ala., Rice was the child of two educators. After her father took a job in Denver, Rice decided to take college courses while still in high school. She was 19 when she graduated from the University of Denver.
Although she was initially interested in music, Rice began studying the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. She earned her master's degree from the University of Notre Dame in 1975 and received her doctorate from the Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Denver in 1981. She began teaching at Stanford University, where she would later serve six years as provost.
In 1989, the first President Bush's national security adviser, Brent Scowcroft, helped convince Rice to leave Stanford and work for him in Washington. She quickly became one of Bush's most trusted advisers. From 1989 through March 1991, the period of German reunification and the final days of the Soviet Union, she served in the first Bush administration as director and then senior director of Soviet and East European Affairs in the National Security Council, and a special assistant to the president for national security affairs.
James Lileks has a great line in todays bleat about Condi and what he'd like to see her do-
"Yay Condi Rice. I want her to go to Saudi Arabia, and I want her first words upon getting off the plane to be “I’ll drive.” "
And one more thing- Michael King has a post over at Ramblings' Journal with an extremely interesting idea on who would make a great Secretary of Education: Bill Cosby.
Others are questioning whether or not it's a good sign that few people in the press or otherwise mention the fact that all three of the aforementioned people are African-American. I think people in my generation are more like "who cares? Are they qualified or not?". I take things like this as a sign of good things to come.