Condi's valedictory: a review and commentary.

Author:Bullington, J.R.
Position:Condoleezza Rice
 
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Editor's Note: The editor reviews Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's valedictory article in Foreign Affairs, and offers comments.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has published a somewhat precocious valedictory in the July/August issue of Foreign Affairs. Entitled "Rethinking the National Interest: American Realism for a New World," the article summarizes and defends the Bush administration's evolving policies of the past eight years and the underlying philosophy that has guided them. It is accessible on the Foreign Affairs website at:

http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20080701faessay87401-p0/condoleezza-rice/rethinking-the-national-interest.html

The article covers a lot of foreign policy ground, and is thus lengthy. Some highlights from the global tour d'horizon:

While its internal evolution has been a "considerable disappointment," we must remember that today's Russia is not the Soviet Union and that it is "neither a permanent enemy nor a strategic threat."

China is moving slowly to "a more cooperative approach on a range of problems," and its growing strength is "something we have no reason to fear if that power is used wisely."

Regarding NATO and other allies, "I believe Lord Palmerston got it wrong when he said that nations have no permanent allies. The United States does have permanent allies: the nations with whom we share common values."

The heart of the article, however, concerns what Secretary Rice calls "democratic development."

First, she harkens back to her January 2000 Foreign Affairs article outlining the intended foreign policy of a prospective Bush administration, and acknowledges that significant changes to these plans were required as a result of the 9/11 attacks, when "the United States was swept into a fundamentally different world." Because of this "new reality," she writes, "We recognize that democratic state building is now an urgent component of our national interest."

Secretary Rice defines democratic development as a "unified political-economic model" that is "not only an effective path to wealth and power; it is also the best way to ensure that these benefits are shared justly across societies." She acknowledges that some authoritarian countries are doing well economically, but she remains skeptical that "authoritarian capitalism" is sustainable in the long run. She maintains that for the United States:

"Promoting democratic development must remain a top priority. Indeed, there is no realistic alternative that...

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