I’m not sure how I missed this back when it actually took place, and I was even still working at the State Department then (though it was during my last two weeks there, so I was somewhat distracted by the pending cross-country move). From an Essence Magazine interview with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, as transcribed on the State Department website, when asked if the decision to go to war in Iraq was the right thing to do:
Absolutely. Because it’s difficult, it doesn’t mean that, first of all, it won’t work out. I think it will. And secondly, that it wasn’t the right decision. Look at how many big historical changes that later on, it looked like it is inevitable, but they turned out right, were indeed very, very difficult in the process and looked like it was impossible. … I’m sure that there are people who thought that it was a mistake to fight the Civil War to its end and to insist that the emancipation of slaves would hold. I’m sure that there were people who said, why don’t we — 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. You — just because things are difficult, it doesn’t mean that they’re wrong or that you turn back.
I really think that might be the most offensive thing I’ve heard all year from this administration, and that’s saying a lot. I am stunned and appalled that anyone, and particularly an African American, would think to compare the debacle in Iraq with the U.S. Civil War and the emancipation of slaves. If a white person had made that comparison, it would be roundly–and rightly–criticized; where was the hue and cry over Secretary’s Rice’s attempt to portray her boss’s ill-advised, poorly conceived and worse-run war in Iraq as comparable to the Civil War struggle over slavery? How dare she!
I had once written in this blog that in person Secretary Rice had come across “as genuinely pleasant and witty, [and] sincerely interested [in our work].” I regret now that I was so obviously bamboozled. The thoughts she expressed to Essence were anything but pleasant or witty, and demonstrate at best only self-interest.