Recent editorials from Alabama newspapers:
The Anniston (Ala.) Star on Condoleezza Rice:
That’s a shame on many fronts.
Rice is an expert on Russian history. We could learn much from her views on the current Russian aggression in the Ukraine, the ultimate aims of Vladimir Putin and the best way for the West to contain this emerging threat.
During much of the 1990s, Rice was provost at Stanford University, overseeing a $1.5 billion annual budget. Her views on higher education and its challenges would be highly relevant, especially for new graduates, many of whom are leaving campus with massive student-loan debt.
As the daughter of a prominent African-American educator who spent part of her childhood in the segregated Alabama of the 1950s and 1960s, Rice could add nuance and depth to our understanding of the nation’s current state of race relations.
Yet, none of these items were on the radar at Rutgers. Complaints from students and faculty centered on another part of her resume - her time as national security adviser to President George W. Bush and then as his secretary of the State Department.
Specifically, protesters objected to Rice’s role in the Bush administration’s war in Iraq and the deceptions employed to bring the nation to war.
Over the weekend, Rice announced she was backing out of the speaking engagement, which would have paid her $35,000. “Commencement should be a time of joyous celebration for the graduates and their families,” according to her statement. “Rutgers‘ invitation to me to speak has become a distraction for the university community at this very special time.”
It’s difficult to object to that gracious response. However, we’re left with some regret of what Rice could have said. Some of it might not be pleasant for her to share, but as an academic she surely knows the way to progress is through honest self-reflection.
Rice does indeed have much to say about Iraq and how she was a key player - though hardly the most influential within the administration - in taking the nation to war. She has lessons to offer Rutgers (and the rest of us) on the true costs of pre-emptive invasion, of thoughtlessly wielding U.S. power and of the bitter fruit when deceptive marketing of war and the failure to plan sufficiently backfires.