No Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in Washington

No Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in Washington

by Condoleezza Rice

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Overview

No Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in Washington by Condoleezza Rice

From one of the world’s most admired women, this is former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s compelling story of eight years serving at the highest levels of government.  In her position as America’s chief diplomat, Rice traveled almost continuously around the globe, seeking common ground among sometimes bitter enemies, forging agreement on divisive issues, and compiling a remarkable record of achievement.
 
A native of Birmingham, Alabama who overcame the racism of the Civil Rights era to become a brilliant academic and expert on foreign affairs, Rice distinguished herself as an advisor to George W. Bush during the 2000 presidential campaign.  Once Bush was elected, she served as his chief adviser on national-security issues – a job whose duties included harmonizing the relationship between the Secretaries of State and Defense.  It was a role that deepened her bond with the President and ultimately made her one of his closest confidantes.
 
With the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Rice found herself at the center of the Administration’s intense efforts to keep America safe.  Here, Rice describes the events of that harrowing day – and the tumultuous days after.  No day was ever the same.  Additionally, Rice also reveals new details of the debates that led to the war in Afghanistan and then Iraq.
 
The eyes of the nation were once again focused on Rice in 2004 when she appeared before the 9-11 Commission to answer tough questions regarding the country’s preparedness for – and immediate response to – the 9-11 attacks.  Her responses, it was generally conceded, would shape the nation’s perception of the Administration’s competence during the crisis.  Rice conveys just how pressure-filled that appearance was and her surprised gratitude when, in succeeding days, she was broadly saluted for her grace and forthrightness.

From that point forward, Rice was aggressively sought after by the media and regarded by some as the Administration’s most effective champion.
 
In 2005 Rice was entrusted with even more responsibility when she was charged with helping to shape and carry forward the President’s foreign policy as Secretary of State.  As such, she proved herself a deft crafter of tactics and negotiation aimed to contain or reduce the threat posed by America’s enemies.  Here, she reveals the behind-the-scenes maneuvers that kept the world’s relationships with Iran, North Korea and Libya from collapsing into chaos.  She also talks about her role as a crisis manager, showing that at any hour -- and at a moment’s notice -- she was willing to bring all parties to the bargaining table anywhere in the world.
 
No Higher Honor takes the reader into secret negotiating rooms where the fates of Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and Lebanon often hung in the balance, and it draws back the curtain on how frighteningly close all-out war loomed in clashes involving Pakistan-India and Russia-Georgia, and in East Africa. 
 
Surprisingly candid in her appraisals of various Administration colleagues and the hundreds of foreign leaders with whom she dealt, Rice also offers here keen insight into how history actually proceeds.  In No Higher Honor, she delivers a master class in statecraft  -- but always in a way that reveals her essential warmth and humility, and her deep reverence for the ideals on which America was founded.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307952479
Publisher: Crown/Archetype
Publication date: 11/01/2011
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 784
Sales rank: 213,629
File size: 10 MB

About the Author

CONDOLEEZZA RICE was the sixty-sixth U.S. Secretary of State and the first black woman to hold that office.  Prior to that, she was the first woman to serve as National Security Advisor.  She is a professor at Stanford University, and co-founder of the RiceHadley Group.  Rice is also the author of the New York Times bestselling Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family.

Read an Excerpt

1

Before the Crack in Time

In August 1998, President George H. W. Bush called and invited me to spend time with him and Mrs. Barbara Bush in Maine. I had become close to President Bush in the years after I'd served as his Soviet specialist in the National Security Council, and they had hosted me a few times before at their wonderful family home in Kennebunkport. The weathered, shingle-style house, decorated in calming pastel chintz, has an elegant yet understated decor and a spectacular view of the ocean. I'm not all that fond of being in the water. But I love to look at it, and there isn't a prettier place to view the Atlantic than Walker's Point. I promptly accepted the invitation.

Driving along the rocky New England coast to the entrance of the property, I was struck by two flags flying over the compound: the Texas state flag for the governor and the Stars and Stripes for the former President. (The Florida state flag would later join them when Jeb Bush was elected governor.) It was a subtle reminder that this was no ordinary family and it would be no ordinary weekend.

The elder Bush didn't hide his desire to get me together with his son George just so we could get to know each other better and talk a little about foreign policy. Before a casual lobster dinner that night, I joined Governor Bush on the back porch, where he told me that he was confident of reelection in November and that if he won impressively (which he fully expected), he'd likely run for the presidency.

A run for the White House by the Texas governor struck me as having long odds for success. President Clinton's years had been morally tarnished but peaceful and relatively prosperous. The governor was untested and would likely face a real pro in Vice President Al Gore. I was too polite to say those things that night, but I sure thought them.

Throughout the weekend, while fishing (he fished, I sat in the boat and watched) or exercising side by side in the small family gym on the compound, we talked about Russia, China, and Latin America. He wanted to start thinking about what to do in foreign policy if he got elected. I soon realized that he knew our southern neighbors, particularly Mexico, far better than I did. I made a mental note to read a few articles about Mexico when I got back to my home in California.

But we also talked about other things. He was interested in my upbringing in segregated Birmingham. I was attracted to his passion for improving education for disadvantaged youth. We compared notes on the problems of college admission and affirmative action. I was more traditional in my support of race-based admission; he'd tried to increase diversity at the University of Texas by other means. He proudly said that he would likely receive half of the Hispanic vote and more than a quarter of the African American vote.

I liked him. He was funny and irreverent but serious about policy. We e_mailed back and forth several times during the fall, mostly friendly chitchat about whatever was in the news-the growing conflict in the Balkans or the Clinton administration's efforts to expand NATO. Then, a couple of days after the November election and the landslide victory Governor Bush had hoped for, I received a note from him. He wanted to follow international events more closely.

Early in March 1999, Karl Rove, the governor's political advisor, called to ask if I'd come down to Austin and speak with the governor about the upcoming campaign. "Will you book a hotel room for me?" I asked.

"You won't need a hotel," he replied. "The governor wants you to stay at the residence." It was a signal that he expected me to support his campaign, which was quickly becoming a serious endeavor. A few weeks later, when my picture appeared on the front page of the New York Times as a member of the "exploratory committee" dedicated to electing George W. Bush President of the United States, I was momentarily stunned by the sudden exposure but committed to the cause.

My father was the first person I called after the governor asked me to join his campaign. John Wesley Rice, Jr., loved politics. He watched news shows, particularly C-SPAN, for hours at a time, and had been a loyal Republican ever since a clerk affiliated with the Grand Old Party had helped him register to vote in segregated Alabama. My father could barely contain his excitement.

The campaign itself proved professionally fulfilling, but early on I realized that it would require my full-time focus. For six years I had been the provost-the chief operating officer-of Stanford University. I was ready to step down independent of the chance to join the Bush campaign. Foreign policy would be the governor's Achilles' heel against more seasoned candidates in the primaries and eventually in the general election. I knew that George W. Bush would look to me to help answer the inevitable questions about his readiness to assume the mantle of commander in chief.

Throughout 1999 I worked to assemble a small group of foreign policy specialists to develop policy for the governor. My first call was to Paul Wolfowitz, who had been ambassador to Indonesia under President Ronald Reagan and under secretary for policy in the Pentagon during George H. W. Bush's administration. Paul was a cerebral, almost otherworldly intellectual. He'd done his undergraduate work at Cornell and gone on to complete a PhD in the intense academic environment of the University of Chicago. Though Paul had already had a distinguished public policy career, he was really most comfortable debating ideas. We'd been friends since the 1980s, and when I asked him to join me as cochair of the foreign policy group, he readily did so.

Richard Armitage and Stephen Hadley had also been in the first Bush administration. Rich was a muscular, stout former naval officer who had served in Vietnam and specialized in Asian affairs. Many people believed that the Rambo character had been based on Rich. Yet, there was another side to him: he and his wife had adopted numerous special- needs kids. He was Colin Powell's best friend, a fact that would later lead to considerable conflict within the administration.

Steve was a quiet, Yale-trained lawyer from Cleveland, Ohio, who at the time wore horn-rimmed glasses. He was smart and methodical, and when there was real work to be produced for the campaign (rather than just things to be said and debated), we all looked to Steve to write the first draft of the paper. He did so selflessly and effectively.

Robert Zoellick, Robert Blackwill, and I had worked closely together during the extraordinary days of 1989-1991 at the end of the Cold War. They were among the best policy engineers I had ever known, capable of conceiving of a solution and then actually implementing it. Zoellick had been Secretary of State James Baker's closest aide at the State Department and the architect of many important initiatives concerning Central America and Europe. He had led the three-member U.S. delegation to the talks on German unification on which I had been the White House representative.

Bob Blackwill had been my boss for a while at the NSC the first time around as special assistant for European and Soviet affairs. He'd held numerous high-level positions. He was from Kansas, with very traditional values and a wicked sense of humor. But he could be abrasive and impatient, and he made enemies. Some thought that Bob would be high maintenance, but he would be valuable to the governor, and we were good enough friends to speak honestly about any problems that might arise.

I asked Richard Perle to join the group to represent the right wing of the Republican foreign policy establishment. Perle had been the bane of the party's foreign policy traditionalists such as Brent Scowcroft and Henry Kissinger. He had a well-deserved reputation for ruthlessness too. But Governor Bush needed all elements of the party united behind him, and the group that I assembled was broadly representative enough to demonstrate his commitment to a foreign policy big tent. Dov Zakheim, who did most of the work supporting our Pentagon reform plans, rounded out the group. And we were able, too, to draw on the regional expertise of others such as Jendayi Frazer, who developed our Africa policy.

In general, we got along well. My job was to organize the group and to deal with the personalities and egos-to keep everyone on board so that we could concentrate on the governor's campaign, not ourselves. If there was any resentment of my role (I had been the most junior of those who had served together in George H. W. Bush's administration), I couldn't tell. In any case, they all knew that I was the one who was closest to the governor. I was the point of access. We worked smoothly and with little drama, just getting the job done in standing Sunday- night phone calls to coordinate requests, policy positions, and responses for Governor Bush.

Just for fun we decided to adopt a nickname and called ourselves the Vulcans, after the Roman God and symbol of my home city of Birmingham, Alabama. The name meant nothing more than that, but many a conspiracy theorist tried to divine some deeper significance.

The work in the campaign was proceeding well. I made frequent visits to Austin to brief the candidate, developed policy papers on a half- dozen major initiatives, and helped write a couple of major speeches. I also began doing press appearances on behalf of candidate Bush. The question was always the same: "What makes you think that the one-term governor of Texas is ready to be President of the United States?"

My first televised interview was on Chris Matthews's Hardball in June. Chris was a relentlessly challenging interviewer who rarely gave a guest time to really answer a question. Asked at one point whether George W. Bush's being in the Oval Office would be "on-the-job training," I pointed out that my candidate was already dealing with considerable complexity as governor of Texas. Texas is a big, complicated state, and the person running it has to be able to ask the right questions, digest information, stick to principles, and make decisions. The Texas governor has to be tough.

Chris, sensing that I was contrasting George W. Bush's readiness with that of Bill Clinton when he had first run for President, said, "Right. You sound like the wife of the governor in Primary Colors where she said, 'And he's governor of a real state, not Arkansas.'_" I don't know where it came from, but I shot back, "I come from Alabama, so I'm not going to talk about what real states are." Chris broke up laughing, and I thought that I'd passed my first media test on the campaign trail.

Anyone who is interested in politics should work on the ground floor of a campaign at least once. Early on we got stuck in traffic jams and carried our own bags. The crowds were enthusiastic but, in some places, quite small. The music track that introduced the governor at campaign rallies included Stevie Wonder's "Signed, Sealed, Delivered (I'm Yours)." I never understood why that song was chosen, but to this day I can't listen to it without vivid memories of stadiums, auditoriums, and cowboy bars full of early believers in George W. Bush.

I loved the pace and the sense of being a part of an adventure. Life had settled into a nice post-provost pattern, and I was quite content. When I arranged to have George W. Bush meet my father during a trip to Palo Alto in July of 1999, Daddy was hooked. He peppered me every night with questions about campaign strategy that I couldn't answer: "How in the world did we screw up in New Hampshire? George Bush isn't getting through to people that he is going to be a different kind of Republican. That's what people need to know!" He admired Governor Bush and was very proud of my association with the campaign.

In February 2000 I was back home, helping to rally the troops for the California primary in the wake of the disasters in New Hampshire and Michigan. I was getting ready to do an interview with a reporter named Ann Dowd for a profile of me. Ann had gone to interview my father that morning and was in the house when suddenly my father suffered cardiac arrest. She called 911 and then my longtime assistant, Marilyn Stanley. I was in a meeting, but Marilyn burst in and said that something had happened to my father and he was not breathing. I asked my assistant Ruth Elliot to come with me, rushed out, and sped to the house. It looked like a scene from ER. Daddy was on the floor, and they were shocking his heart. I heard the medic say, "I have a weak pulse." We all rushed to the hospital and waited. It hadn't been a heart attack, but his heart had stopped long enough to cause what his physician called an "anoxic brain event." Essentially, he'd been deprived of oxygen to his brain and was now in a coma. No one could say what the prognosis was.

Daddy continued in a coma for about a week and then began to stir. But he'd sustained significant brain damage. He never fully recovered, but he fought to live. Several times he was near death and refused to go. As I watched this giant of a man who'd loved me more than anyone in the world approach the end, it was hard to find much good in life. It seemed so unfair that I could no longer share stories of the campaign with my father. Here I was at the height of my professional career, and my father couldn't enjoy it with me. Not surprisingly, my absences from home became a source of guilt, and the campaign, which had been such a wonderful magical mystery tour, became something of a slog.

I kept going and told myself that Daddy undoubtedly approved of my decision to keep my commitment to the campaign. Slowly the governor was climbing in the polls, and he clearly had a real chance to be President. But we had not erased the questions about his foreign policy competence. In fact, early in the campaign, one particular misstep created a deep hole, and it took a while to climb out of it.

I arrived at the Austin airport one November evening in 1999, and my cell phone was going crazy. It was Joel Shin, an incredibly dedicated young man who actually slept in the campaign office. (Joshua Bolten, the policy director for the campaign and later deputy chief of staff, director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), and chief of staff, finally made him get an apartment.) Joel asked if I'd seen the governor's interview with Andy Hiller. I said that I'd been on the plane and hadn't. He read the transcript. My heart sank. "Can you name the president of Taiwan?" Answer: "Lee." "Can you name the general who is in charge of Pakistan?" Answer: "General." "And the prime minister of India?" No answer.

"Well, that reads pretty badly," I commented.

"It's worse," Joel said. "It's on videotape and being played over and over."

Table of Contents

 
Prologue
Introduction
1 Before the Crack in Time
2 Honest Broker
3 Policy Begins
4 The Middle East
5 Vladimir Putin
6 “The United States Is Under Attack”
7 War Planning Begins
8 The War on Terror and the Home Front
9 Trouble in Nuclear South Asia
10 The Two-State Solution
11 Thee World’s Most Dangerous Weapons
12 Saddam Again
13 Confronting the International Community with a Choice
14 48 Hours
15 Bush the African
16 New Challenges in Iraq
17 2004
18 “Iraqis Need to Govern Themselves”
19 Another Step Toward a Palestinian State
20 Four More Years
21 Secretary of State
22 Promoting America’s Interests and Values Abroad
23 High Mountains and Dirt
24 The Color Revolutions Multiply
25 Baghdad and Cairo
26 A Heartbreaking Place Called Darfur
27 Katrina
28 Bringing Back the All-Nighter
29 Can Anything Else Go Wrong?
30 Transformational Diplomacy
31 Building a New Relationship with India
32 Democracy in Latin America and Beyond
33 A Change of Leadership in Iraq
34 Shifting Course on Iran
35 The Middle East Plunges into War
36 Revising the Framework for the War on Terror
37 Iraq Spirals Downward
38 An Explosion in Asia and a Challenge for U.S.-China Relations
39 Playing the Last Card
40 A Diplomatic Surge
41 A New Approach to Latin America
42 Improving the Daily Lives of Palestinians
43 Iraq and the Home Front
44 The Road to Annapolis
45 Emergency Rule
46 Final-Status Talks Begin
47 A Final Year 622
48 It Seems Like Yesterday—It Seems Like Forever
49 Whither China?
50 Olmert Makes an Offer
51 Completing the Task of Building a Europe Whole, Free, and at Peace
52 War Breaks Out in Georgia
53 Cementing Key Relationships with Iraq and India
54 He Lives in His Own Head
55 One Last Chance for North Korea
56 The Financial Crisis of 2008
57 Mumbai
58 One Last Chance for a Palestinian State
Epilogue
 
Note on Sources
Acknowledgments
Index

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No Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in Washington 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 59 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Dr. Rice writes candidly about her tenure with the Bush administration, explaining policy and admitting mistakes. The nicest thing about this book is that she stays away from the score settling with which so many political insider books are filled.
Joyachiever More than 1 year ago
Condoleeza Rice eloquently tells her side of the story surrounding various policy-making decisions in the book “No Higher Honor”. I am a former active duty navy veteran who plans on rejoining the military via a part-time component between the time period of December 2012-February 2013 (shaped by my intent to permanently live in the D.C. area). This influences me to feel a responsibility of learning what I can about politics the longer I reside here. Reading about some of the difficult decisions she faced going into the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts gave me further insight on what indirectly happens in all of the military branches (in terms of the aftermath regarding the military surges, manpower goals etc.). The following are some of the vivid points made in her memoir: Pages 1-12: Dr. Rice describes her first meeting with George W.Bush, and shares why she admires Dean Acheson. A heartwarming moment is illuminated during the discussion of encouragement from her father (John Wesley Rice Jr.). With joyful sentiment, she shares how John Wesley Rice Jr. inspired her achievements. Tragically, he passed away during the Christmas Eve of 1999 (before the beginning of her tenure as George W. Bush’s national security advisor). Page 61: Condoleeza Rice’s first meeting with Vladimir Putin is mentioned. On page 85 she candidly tells her discovery that Osama Bin Laden had fought for the Soviet Anti-Resistance. Page 116-117 discloses the essential capture of Abu Zubaydah. It is listed that Abu Zubaydah was the mastermind behind the al Qaeda guide on holding the line against interrogation techniques. Page 118 features information on the capture of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Mr. Mohammed was said to have bragged about being Daniel Pearl’s executioner. For those who might not have heard of the original story, Condoleeza Rice mentions that Daniel Pearl was a Stanford graduate and journalist who was kidnapped in Pakistan and killed in 2002. Dr. Rice also notes the emotional challenge of being chosen as the one who had to break the news to Mariane Pearl (Daniel Pearl’s widow). Page 208 (Ouch!): Vice President Dick Cheney had invited some of his close buddies to a party that commemorated the freedom of Iraq. Scooter Libby and Paul Wolfowitz are a couple of the names that were invited. Apparently, Vice President Dick Cheney excluded both Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice from his list of people to invite for the gathering. Many more informative details feature in this book. “No Higher Honor” by Condoleeza Rice is best for the open-minded who want to increase their political understanding on what can drive a high level policymaker.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The author gives a very perceptive, personal insight in her role as a national security advisor and secretary of state. Her 24/7 dedication to the the President and to the nation is really remarkable. We should be grateful to her for doing her share in protecting us in the tumultuous times after 9/11.This book should be a must-read for all of those who are critical of government employees in high positions.
Howard-R More than 1 year ago
Dr. Rice has packed a lot into her young life and this memoir reflects that. She does a great job of describing her encounters both as President Bush's National Security Advisor and later, Secretary of State. She has clearly groomed herself for the roles she had. Her dealings with leaders all over the world and the many issues they negotiated over her 8+ years in office are well presented. It is her presentation of current history and may read as a little self-serving in instances. I think this is subjective, however. There is a lot to read. I have read President Bush's, Don Rumsfeld's, and Vice President Cheney's books and they were interesting reads. Condi's book gets into more detail about people, policy, and issues than any of the other three.
Mike-in-Ala More than 1 year ago
Excellent book, Ms. Rice is a very smart lady and an excellent writer. I enjoyed her perspective tremendously.
SuperDuperNY More than 1 year ago
Terrific Read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked that she throughly described her career as NSA and Secretary of State because I am a Global Studies major, her travels and work were interesting. For those interested in Middle Eastern affairs, this book would be fascinating. I wish she elaborated more on US-Latin American affairs
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Wish she would ran for President
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wilVD More than 1 year ago
As an American and moderate Republican I wanted get a better understanding of the decisions made by the Bush 'White House". I was not only disappointed but concerned that Pres. Bush seemed to not be concerned with the factions in his staff.
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AndyLaurel More than 1 year ago
Condoleeza Rice provides depth and character thru grace that reflects the true American spirit of her contribution to U.S. government and her uplifting personal panoramic life. Many an American will contribute their life to literature though Ms. Rice will forever uphold what is right and spiritual in an ever growing ehthical world she helped build with her country, proudly delineated in her biography.
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