Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has usually kept out of hard political attacks since leaving public office in 2009, but Wednesday night she took the stage at a GOP dinner to give a substantive challenge to many of the Obama Administration’s policies. She referred to the “naive” nature of the US’ current foreign policy and told the crowd that “leaders can’t afford to get tired” of standing up for what’s right.
Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice accused Barack Obama of dramatically weakening the United States’ position in the world, drawing a straight line between Obama’s ever-yielding foreign policy and the increasing troubles around the world.
“Right now, there’s a vacuum,” she told a crowd of more than two thousand attending the National Republican Congressional Committee’s annual dinner last night in Washington, D.C. “There’s a vacuum because we’ve decided to lower our voice. We’ve decided to step back. We’ve decided that if we step back and lower our voice, others will lead, other things will fill that vacuum.” Citing Bashar al Assad’s slaughter in Syria, Vladimir Putin’s aggression in Ukraine, al Qaeda’s triumphant return to Fallujah, Iraq, and China’s nationalist fervor, she concluded: “When America steps back and there is a vacuum, trouble will fill that vacuum.”
Rice – measured in tone, but very tough on substance – excoriated Obama administration policies without ever mentioning the president by name. She mocked the naïve hope that “international norms” would fill the vacuum left by U.S. retreat and blasted the president for hiding behind the weariness of the public.
“I fully understand the sense of weariness. I fully understand that we must think: ‘Us, again?’ I know that we’ve been through two wars. I know that we’ve been vigilant against terrorism. I know that it’s hard. But leaders can’t afford to get tired. Leaders can’t afford to be weary.”
Rice’s speech was the highlight of an evening that brought in $15.1 million for House Republicans. The former secretary of state has mostly limited her political appearances since leaving office to major events. She delivered a well-received speech at a donor event that Mitt Romney held in Park City, Utah, in 2012 and addressed the Republican National Convention in Tampa that summer. But those familiar with her thinking say she’s determined to help Republicans pick up the Senate and maintain the House heading into the 2016 presidential elections.