Condoleezza Rice, whom President Bush nominated last week as his next secretary of state, was pegged early in her career as a disciple of the "realist" school exemplified by Henry A. Kissinger, more concerned with great-power relations than moral issues. Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, she has been viewed as an enabler of the "neoconservative idealism" that believes evil governments must be confronted -- and toppled.
In many of her speeches, Rice has decried such distinctions, saying they "obscure reality" and represent a false choice. "In real life, power and values are married completely," she said in New York on Oct. 1, 2002. "Great powers matter a great deal -- they have the ability to influence the lives of millions and change history. And the values of great powers matter, as well. If the Soviet Union had won the Cold War, the world would look very different today."
Indeed, Rice will bring to the job of the nation's top diplomat a firm belief that power and values are critical variables in successful diplomacy, according to a review of her writings and speeches before and during her tenure as Bush's national security adviser.
Rice, a specialist on the Soviet Union, has generally given thematic speeches that support Bush's policies. But she is regarded as Bush's closest adviser on foreign policy, and her move to the State Department will give her a high-profile platform to put her own stamp on the administration's policies -- and the selling of those policies overseas.
At their core, her speeches and writings reveal a determined individual willing to knock aside established doctrines, especially in this period of international turmoil, but grounded in a strong belief in American values and the essential good of U.S. power.
Rice's aides and friends declined to comment, citing her upcoming Senate confirmation hearings, though some privately suggested certain speeches to review.
Three critical elements appear to have fused Rice's outlook on the world. First, her original foreign policy mentor was Josef Korbel, a University of Denver scholar and the father of former secretary of state Madeleine K. Albright. Korbel, a refugee from communism, saw the United States as a moral beacon to the rest of world, though his ideology was tempered by pragmatism. Rice dedicated her first book to Korbel and her parents.
Second, Rice's formative governmental experience before becoming national security adviser was assisting Bush's father on the reunification of Germany -- the subject of another one of her books. That experience taught her that foreign policy goals that appear impossible should be sought, even when everyone assumes the effort is pointless. "Despite the occasional, almost ceremonial references to a unified Germany, the international system had grown quite satisfied with the status quo," said the book, which she co-wrote with Philip D. Zelikow. "In a year it was all gone."
Rice has also said that her travels to Eastern Europe after the collapse of the Soviet Union helped further her belief in the power of American democracy. As an African American, she wrote in 1996, she had once thought such claims by U.S. presidents could be "chalked up to bad speechwriting and hyperbole," especially since "my ancestors were property -- a fraction of a man."
Third, there was the searing experience of the Sept. 11 attacks. As a student of diplomatic history, Rice frequently compares the current era to the period of uncertainty faced by policymakers in the aftermath of World War II. "This is, then, a period akin to 1945 to 1947, when American leadership expanded the number of free and democratic states -- Japan and Germany among the great powers -- to create a new balance of power that favored freedom," she said in 2002.
"The international system has been in flux since the collapse of Soviet power," she said. "Now it is possible -- indeed, probable -- that that transition is come to an end. . . . Before the clay is dry again, America and our friends and our allies must move decisively to take advantage of these new opportunities."
Rice has increasingly infused this theme with moral fervor, pitching it as a rationale for the administration push to bring democracy to the Middle East.
"Lasting peace and long-term security are only possible through the advance of liberty and justice. The war on terror, like the Cold War, is as much a conflict of visions as a struggle of armed force," Rice told an audience at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif., earlier this year. "All of the early heroes of the Cold War -- Truman, and Churchill, and Adenauer -- understood this. Decades later, we seemed poised to forget it" until "President Reagan re-infused the Cold War with moral purpose."
Rice argues that "the terrorist ideology is the direct heir to communism, and nazism, and fascism -- the murderous ideologies of the 20th century. The struggle against terror is fundamentally a struggle of vision and values."
James Mann's history of the Bush war Cabinet, "Rise of the Vulcans," says that Rice voted for Jimmy Carter for president in 1976 -- though she turned to the Republicans and Ronald Reagan by 1980, after she was dismayed by Carter's handling of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
Her boss in the administration of George H.W. Bush was Brent Scowcroft, a national security adviser in the tradition of Kissinger's "realist" approach. But Mann writes that Rice avoided alienating conservatives and tried to avoid fractional divisions, appearing to straddle the realist and neoconservative camps in her writings during the 2000 campaign.
In an article in 2000 for Foreign Affairs, the bible of foreign policy thinking, Rice wrote that "power matters, both the exercise of power by the United States and the ability of others to exercise it." But she said that because many in the United States are uncomfortable with the notion of great power, there is "a reflexive appeal instead to notions of international law and norms, and the belief that the support of many states -- or even better, of institutions like the United Nations -- is essential to the legitimate exercise of power."
Rice instead argued that "multilateral agreements and institutions should not be ends in themselves" and the "United States has a special role in the world and should not adhere to every international convention and agreement that someone thinks to propose."
While Rice wrote that "it is simply not possible to ignore and isolate other powerful states that do not share those [American] values," she made the case that pursuing U.S. interests together with countries that share similar values, "the world becomes more prosperous, democratic and peaceful."
Before the Sept. 11 attacks -- and before the invasion of Iraq strained ties with Europeans -- Rice said in a June 2001 speech to the Council on Foreign Relations that it was a misnomer to say there was a "values gap" between Europe and the United States because of differences on the death penalty, gun control and other issues.
She said it was a "fundamental irony" that "the values debate is taking place at a moment when our core values -- the common values of the transatlantic community -- are ascendant," pointing to shared beliefs that there are fundamental freedoms to "say what we think, worship as we wish and choose who shall govern us."
Outlining Bush's national security strategy in October 2002, Rice said: "We have an historic opportunity to break the destructive pattern of great power rivalry that has bedeviled the world since the rise of the nation-state in the 17th century. Today, the world's great centers of power are united by common interests, common dangers and -- increasingly -- common values."
After the Iraq invasion, when French officials in particular were pressing the idea of trying to counter U.S. "hyperpower," Rice traveled to London in June 2003 to address the issue. She argued that it was essential for great powers to work together, not balance each other in a constant state of tension.
"The reality is that 'multi-polarity' was never a unifying idea, or a vision," Rice said. "It was a necessary evil that sustained the absence of war but it did not promote the triumph of peace. Multi-polarity is a theory of rivalry, of competing interests -- and at its worst -- competing values" -- which, she said, led to World War I, World War II and the Cold War.