Rice Brags about Killing Genocide Resolution in New Memoir


By Russell Berman

WASHINGTON (The Hill) — Condoleezza Rice displays little love for Congress in a new memoir of her years in the Bush administration, recalling incidents of political grandstanding, personal attacks and temper tantrums.

The former secretary of state’s 766- page tome, No Higher Honor, hits bookstores this week, and her recollections of meeting Moammar Gadhafi and battling former Vice President Dick Cheney have already made headlines. But Rice also shares her frustrations with Congress over its interference in foreign policy and its failure to overhaul the nation’s immigration system.

Rice voices frustration at Congress in many areas. She takes credit for averting a diplomatic crisis when negotiations with Turkey were almost “derailed” in 2007 by a move to hold a House vote on a resolution recognizing the Armenian Genocide. The vote was scrapped at the last minute, but Rice writes that it “was just one example of how the tendency of the Congress to grandstand on hot-button issues can severely interfere with the conduct of foreign policy.”

According to a 2007 story from Forbes, Rice said to the members of the House Foreign Relations Committee, “This is a very delicate time with Turkey. We have extremely important strategic interests with the Turks. … This was something that was a horrible event in the mass killings that took place, but at the time of the Ottoman Empire. These are not the Ottomans.”

Rice saves her harshest assessment for her fellow Californian, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D), whom she accused of turning any policy difference into “a personal assault.”

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After noting her close relationship with the state’s senior senator, Dianne Feinstein (D), Rice writes: “My relationship with the other senator from California, Barbara Boxer, was, to put it mildly, less cordial.”

She writes that Boxer “should have been more careful” in suggesting Rice was dishonest in presenting intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war, and she speculates that the “angry exchanges” the two had during Rice’s frequent testimony to Congress stemmed from Boxer’s concern that Rice would one day try to unseat her in the Senate.

“Barbara Boxer and I had a history,” Rice writes. “She knew that I’d worked for every California Republican who’d tried to defeat her. And perhaps she bristled at speculation that I’d one day take her on for that seat. She needn’t have worried, but it was never just a policy difference for Senator Boxer; she always managed to descend into a personal assault.”

Boxer was one of the Senate’s sharpest critics of the war in Iraq, and she aggressively questioned several members of the Bush administration’s foreign policy team over the conflict. Rice also took Boxer to task for her suggestion, during a 2007 hearing on President George W. Bush’s proposed “surge” strategy, that Rice could not understand the sacrifices of soldiers killed in combat because she had no children herself. “Not only was it a dumb thing to say, it was deeply offensive,” Rice writes.

Boxer explained at the time that she was referring to the fact that neither she nor Rice had relatives in combat and said she did not intend to single out Rice for not having children.

In a response to Rice sent to The Hill, Boxer said: “I wish Condoleezza Rice well, but history will record her role in an unnecessary war that led to thousands of dead and wounded Americans, while taking our eye off those responsible for 9/11.”

Rice offers a much warmer recollection of Boxer’s colleague on the Foreign Relations Committee at the time, a “wiry junior senator” named Barack Obama.

“His questions were sharp but not rude, and he actually seemed interested in my answers,” Rice recalls in the book. “We volleyed back and forth a few times, and I was really impressed. That was my first encounter with then Sen. Barack Obama. He’d vote for my confirmation despite objections from some in his camp, and we would become friendly. We didn’t always agree, but I always knew that our exchanges would be without personal animosity or rancor.”

Rice writes that she and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the 2008 GOP presidential nominee, were “old friends,” but she said he lit into her on one occasion about a perceived lack of support from the State Department for the war effort in Iraq.

“I let him finish the tirade because I knew that he could be emotional,” Rice writes.

(Additional material used from Forbes.)

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