- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has drawn a parallel between the war in Iraq and America’s Civil War, saying that fighting to the end was the right thing to do even though many thought it was a mistake.

“I know that there were people who said, ‘Why don’t we get out of this now, take a peace with the South, but leave the South with slaves?’ Just because things are difficult, it doesn’t mean that they are wrong or that you turn back,” Miss Rice said.

In another parallel, she said that “by all rights, the United States of America should not have come into being,” because “there were people who thought that the Declaration of Independence was a mistake.”

Miss Rice made her remarks in a wide-ranging interview with Essence magazine, whose readership is predominantly black.

Miss Rice also defended President Bush’s record on racial issues.

It was “a ridiculous lie,” she said, that the government was “negligent” and “cared less” about most of Hurricane Katrina’s victims in New Orleans “because these were black Americans.”

It was Mr. Bush’s minority education policies when he was Texas governor that “really attracted me to this president,” she said.

“I’ve seen what is happening to our kids, particularly in inner city schools, where they are not being educated, where they are being warehoused,” she said. “And it makes me furious that people aren’t more outraged about that. He was outraged about that and wanted to have accountability.”

Miss Rice also pointed to “huge increases in funding to historically black colleges” during the Bush administration.

Turning to foreign policy, Miss Rice cited Sudan and Liberia as examples of the Bush administration’s commitment to Africa.

Mr. Bush said early in his presidency that he “wanted to do something about Sudan,” she said. At the time, the Islamist government in Khartoum was fighting in a bloody civil war with Christians in the south and problems in Darfur had yet to surface.

In Liberia’s case, Mr. Bush suggested that someone else help end a civil war there because Washington’s plate was full with Afghanistan, Iraq and other commitments.

But, Miss Rice said, she urged the president to reconsider, “because of our history with Liberia of having been founded by freed American slaves, Liberia is our responsibility.”

Asked whether she supports affirmative action, Miss Rice said that she does, but that she doesn’t “believe in quotas.”

“I don’t believe in lowered standards, but I don’t believe affirmative action means lowered standards,” she said. “I think it means looking outside of normal networks to find people who might be equally capable.”

She said her hiring by Stanford University in 1981 “was an example of affirmative action” because the school “didn’t need another Soviet specialist” but “took a look at this young black woman, and they liked my work, and I know that they created a space to hire me because they wanted to diversify their family.”

“We are not a color-blind society,” she said. “I think we aspire to be, but we are not, and race matters.”

In an interview with Reader’s Digest, Miss Rice, 51, said again that she would not run for president.

“But by this time in life, I do know what I want to do and what I don’t,” she said.

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