From the Left, From the Right: Condoleezza Rice

Tony Venhuizen

Tony Venhuizen

Last Wednesday was an historic day. On that day, Condoleezza Rice became the first African-American woman to be sworn in as secretary of state. As a supporter of the president, I was pleased when he nominated Rice to replace Secretary of State Colin Powell, who was retiring after four years in the position. I have always been impressed with Rice’s depth and breadth of knowledge in the area of foreign affairs. For that reason, I watched most of Rice’s 10-hour confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

During the confirmation hearings, Rice was peppered with questions from the democratic members of the committee about the situation in Iraq, the Bush administration’s plans for dealing with possible threats in Iran and North Korea and the administration’s position on the incidents of torture in American-controlled prisons. While these questions raised important issues, many of them were clearly designed not to inform the senators, but to politically position the questioners and inflict damage upon the president’s nominee.

We are in the first weeks of Bush’s second administration. I believe that Rice’s confirmation hearings raise an interesting question: What will be the direction of the Bush foreign policy over the next four years?

President Bush’s decision to nominate Rice to be secretary of state is a clear signal that the president is not planning a significant shift in his first-term foreign policy. Rice was one of the president’s most trusted foreign policy advisors. I would hesitate, however, to label the new Bush foreign policy as “more of the same.”

In her confirmation hearings, Rice confessed that the Bush administration made mistakes in foreign policy. I believe that the administration will learn from its mistakes. The importance of relationships with allies and with the “public face” of diplomacy, which sometimes seemed to be lost on the first Bush administration, will become a higher priority in the second. Rice has committed herself to working harder to foster good relationships with our European allies. The administration is working with these allies in the Balkans and Afghanistan. France, Germany and Great Britain are taking the lead in negotiations with Iran regarding its nuclear program. At the same time, the United States is working with China, Japan and South Korea in negotiations with North Korea.

A new presidential term is an opportunity for new beginnings. The last four years have been difficult for the entire country. In his inaugural address, President Bush reaffirmed our country’s commitment to spreading freedom throughout the world. That is an ambitious long-term goal, but with President Bush and Secretary Rice leading the way, I am confident that American foreign policy will bring us closer to that ideal.

Tony Venhuizen is a registered republican and a student representative with the Board of Regents.