National Security Adviser - Condoleezza Rice
With the election finally settled, Condoleezza Rice was appointed National Security Adviser to the President. Her official duties began when he took office in January 2001. Going in she felt it was her duty to stay out of the business of actually making policy and implementing it (which was the job of the State Department and then Secretary of State Colin Powell). She cut back the staff of the NSC (National Security Council) by a third, eliminating sections that dealt with international and environmental health issues.
Now her scope ranged far beyond her training in Soviet Studies and embraced the entire world. As head of the NSC she was tasked to lead a stellar cast of foreign policy experts. Working with Colin Powell, she helped to handle the incident where a U.S. surveillance plane collided with a Chinese Fighter and was forced to land on Chinese territory. As NSC director, she got a reputation for being highly organized. She held her own in the political give and take between the administration's foreign policy lights, Colin Powell, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld.
Foreign policy before the terrorist attacks on 9/11 had been focused on the usual power politics of the great nations, China, Russia, Great Britain, the European Union. Suddenly, in a single day, several Muslim fascist extremists had taken over airplanes and in a suicide mission had flown them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. U.S. foreign policy suddenly changed. The United States was now in a war with radical extremists who would stop at nothing to destroy American Freedom and the American way of life. Condoleezza Rice found it her new mission to take on this violent threat.
Analyzing the Islamic Terrorist threat, Condoleezza came to believe that the root of the terrorist problem lay in the fact that there was no political freedom in the countries where terrorists were recruited. Thus, to make the United States safe, the United States must begin to export freedom to the third world. This first meant the liberation of Afghanistan where the Islamic Terrorist held sway and where Osama bin Laden (the main organizer behind al-Qaeda and the 9/11 attack) was hiding.
Saddam Hussein led a repressive regime in Iraq which had the potential to create weapons of mass destruction that could be used by terrorists organizations. Saddam had used these weapons before against his own people. He had even orchestrated a concentration camp system that had murdered over 300,000 people for political, religious and ethnic reasons. He was known to support terrorist organizations and had offered a reward to the families of suicide bombers in the guise of "martyrs". When Saddam Hussein would not live up to his treaty obligations to allow inspection of his nuclear research despite diplomatic and economic pressure it was judged that military intervention was the only way to mitigate his threat and at the same time bring political freedom to the region. In the buildup to the war Condi Rice, when questioned about the probability that Iraq was close to developing a nuclear weapon, noted that we could not be certain but "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."
The United States and its allies began its campaign to destroy Saddam Hussein and to liberate the Iraqi people.
Next Page: The Second Iraq War