A Strong Voice

December 20, 2011 By Jane Kaminski

Since leaving office, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has continued to be an advocate for strong American leadership in the world.  In recent speeches and her new book, No Higher Honor, she calls for continued efforts to modernize American national security policies to recognize today’s global challenges.  Initiatives begun under her watch have been recognized and continued by Secretary Clinton in the Quadrennial Development and Diplomacy Review’s (QDDR) efforts to strengthen U.S. diplomacy and development.  The executive summary of the QDDR acknowledges her work as a crucial foundation for its reforms, stating that it “builds on the work of Secretary Clinton’s predecessors, who recognized many of the needs we address here in reports such as Secretary Rice’s Transformational Diplomacy.”

While serving in the Bush Administration as National Security Advisor and Secretary of State, Dr. Rice worked to reorient U.S. foreign policy to address today’s complex threats, such as terrorism, famine, and economic insecurity.  In her book, she described the approach of the Bush Administration, saying, “U.S. interests were tied to democracy and good governance, and development assistance was critical to achieving those goals.” In 2006, Secretary Rice gave a speech calling for Transformational Diplomacy, a set of reforms and recommendations to modernize the State Department by shifting focus to China, India, and other rising powers in a post-Cold War era. This included building critical language skill capacity and diplomatic presence throughout the strategically important regions.

Considering the recent Arab Awakening, Dr. Rice makes the case for strong diplomacy and engaging with leaders whose citizens are calling for transparency and democracy throughout the world.  “Americans can help channel the developments [in the Middle East] in a positive direction,” she wrote. “We have influence with the militaries in Egypt and Tunisia; with civil society and political activists, many of whom we’ve helped train through America’s nongovernmental institution; and with entrepreneurs and businesspeople who need a way to access the power of international markets to deliver jobs and prosperity.”

In this critical time, Secretary Rice reinforced her call for U.S. global leadership in a letter to Congress with four other former Secretaries of State supporting the International Affairs Budget.  “Now is not the time for America to retreat from the world, which is why we need a strong and effective International Affairs Budget. This is one area where leaders of both parties can find common ground and come together to ensure a better, safer world and a more prosperous future.”