By Moses Kamuiru.
Eroding democracy at home and ignoring it abroad
Former National Security Advisor and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice acknowledges her concerns about a president accused of undermining democracy at home and ignoring it elsewhere in an extensive new interview with The Global Politico. She says Donald Trump, a novice in world affairs, has a “steeper learning curve than most” presidents and pushes him to adopt what would be a stark reversal in policy to favor the global promotion of human rights and American leadership that Rice advocated as President George W. Bush’s top foreign policy adviser. “Words do matter,” she tells me. “I hope that we will say even more that the world is a dark place when the United States of America is not involved. It’s a dark place when we don’t stand up for those who just want to have the same fundamental values that we have.”
In the recent past, Rice has released a new book called Democracy: Stories from the Long Road to Freedom, and the timing is such that it has been immediately greeted as “a repudiation of Trump’s America First worldview,” as the Washington Post put it in a review published just before our conversation. In the book, the former secretary, a Republican who called on Trump to drop out of the 2016 election after the “Access Hollywood” tape was released, expresses alarm about the political wave of rising populism, nativism, protectionism and isolationism that helped boost Trump’s election, calling them “the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.”
Foreign policy flip-flops
However, the former first African-American woman to be appointed a secretary of state remains a circumspect diplomat. This is especially when it comes to how she phrases her critique of President Trump, who recently received her in the Oval Office to talk China policy, and Tillerson, a golfing buddy and former client whom Rice personally recommended to Trump’s team for her old post. She repeatedly says its “early days” when it comes to Trump’s presidency, notes encouraging signs of foreign policy flip-flops such as Trump’s missile strike in Syria to retaliate for an Assad regime chemical weapons attack on civilians. She continued to assert her optimistic faith that American political institutions from the courts to the media will contain Trump’s authoritarian impulses. Rice’s careful positioning and determination to press Trump to change without publicly offending him were not surprising given her reputation as a particular inside player, but they have made for an awkward dance throughout her book tour.
No Trump Fan
Ms. Rice’s She’s clearly no Trump fan, but, like many other once and possibly future critics of the president inside the Republican Party, she’s decided that the moment has not come for the full-fledged opposition. At least not yet. And so when I ask about the president, she takes refuge instead in the Founding Fathers, the “constraints” they built into the system and the fact that countervailing institutions of the sort she is so eager to support internationally also operate as a check here at home.
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Photo credits: Vocativ