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Condoleezza Rice's History

8:08 AM, Nov 1, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Steve Hayes reviews Condoleezza Rice's new book in the Wall Street Journal:

When Texas Gov. George W. Bush decided to run for president in 1999, he enlisted as his top foreign-policy adviser a former National Security Council staffer who was close to his father. Condoleezza Rice was serving as provost at Stanford University and ready for a change. "No Higher Honor" is an exhaustive, and sometimes exhausting, account of the eight years Ms. Rice spent in the Bush administration. She enjoyed a close personal relationship with the president; he asked her to put together his foreign-policy advisory team and consulted her regularly on a wide variety of policy issues. This closeness makes the book an important, if occasionally self-serving, contribution to the history of a controversial presidency.

In the first term, as national security adviser, Ms. Rice served primarily as a facilitator of the policy process, and her account of the intense and sometimes contentious battles after 9/11 reads like the notes of a careful but disinterested observer. Her stories add texture to the well-known history of those days and weeks, sometimes movingly so—as in her description of the "deep, mournful moment" that the national-security team shared over hymns the weekend after the attack. For the most part, though, she breaks no new ground.

That the second term takes up 38 of the 58 chapters in the book reflects her larger role as the chief advocate of the kinder, gentler foreign policy of the second Bush administration. "The time for diplomacy is now," she declared at the 2005 hearings to confirm her as secretary of state—words she added to the remarks her speechwriters had prepared. The implication was clear: The second term would be different from the first. What never comes clear in "No Higher Honor" is why. Ms. Rice furnishes plenty of detail on the behind-the-scenes maneuvering that consumes the lives of diplomats, but it's possible to finish these 766 pages without coming to understand her boss's broad shift in philosophy or why she was able to change his thinking.

Whole thing here.

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