October 8th, 2008
08:00 AM ET

Condi Rice gets personal

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Zain Verjee
CNN State Department Correspondent

Condoleezza Rice said something a little surprising, in a packed auditorium here at the State Department the other day. She got a little personal about Iraq. The road for the US in Iraq has been "harder, longer, and more difficult than I personally imagined."

Every time we hear Rice speak, or do a one-on-one interview with her, she's careful not to be personal. Usually she's pretty clinical in her responses. I don't think her comments this day mean her views on Iraq have shifted overall. She still believes invading Iraq was right, and that life in Iraq is improving: Iraqis are returning home, the economy's picking up, al Qaeda is weaker. Rice called these developments a "hopeful but fragile turn of events."

Yet the surprises kept coming. This time it was an ambush - of the friendly variety - of one of the top U.S. Generals. He was caught off guard. General David Petreaus was lured to the State Department under the false pretense that he was to give a speech. Instead, he suddenly found himself in the middle of an award ceremony, where he was one of the two star recipients. Both General Petraeus and the US Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker were given the highest award the State Department can give: The Distinguished Persons Award.

Petreaus seemed genuinely taken aback and joked about the speech he had written that he wasn’t to read now. Ambassador Crocker joined the ceremony via satellite and got his award from Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte - who was in Baghdad. He only got a faxed copy of his award certificate. The real thing is back here in Washington.

Rice praised both the general and the diplomat for their teamwork in Iraq and pointed out the strong bond they have formed over the years. Each man referred to the other as his “wingman.” That was cute.

But Rice warned, too, that despite all the progress, success in Iraq is "not a sure thing."

Filed under: 360° Radar • Condoleezza Rice • Global 360° • Iraq • Zain Verjee
soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Richard

    You people are pathetic excuses for Americans. Condi has put her convictions and beliefs before her personal well-being for years. She knows more about Iraq and foreign affairs than all of you could ever imagine. To second guess someone of her intellect, experience and dedication is absurd coming from dead-beat, entitlement-fixated socialists such as yourselves. What she has accomplished and sacrificed for her country is immeasurable – you're simply too spoiled and pampered to understand that people like Condi enable jerks like you to spew off your low-IQ comments. She doesn't ask for your thanks and, given your proclivity for ignorant innuendo, wouldn't find any satisfaction in it anyhow. Hate your own country for seeking to defend your butt against terrorists who would seek to kill you? Go live somewhere else if you think its nicer and safer. Do us all a favor!

    October 9, 2008 at 9:07 am |
  2. Bob.. Winchester Va.

    Condi who? What did she do? Not much accomplished during her reign

    October 9, 2008 at 8:46 am |
  3. Justin

    I have always felt sorry for her. It's clear she never uses her own judgement. I'm happy to read that she's finally coming around to reality. I can't wait to read her tell-all book once this administration has passed.

    October 9, 2008 at 4:58 am |
  4. Doug

    Having had the good fortune to have actually heard the Secretary speak in person at the Embassy in Baghdad, I can honestly say that she is one of the most articulate and focused people I have ever heard. Makes Obama sound like an idiot. She and many others "get it" with Iraq. The change to the attitudes of the people, the potentail for stability in the region provided by a prosperous and functioning modern society in Iraq makes everything worth while. People who have never been to Iraq have a very skewed view of what it is really like here. I am constantly amazed by attitudes about Iraq from people who get all of their information from the MSM.

    Simply put... if Iraq continues on its present "tenuous" course, it will within a decade be the most powerful and prosperous country in the region.

    October 9, 2008 at 3:17 am |
  5. Ron , West Coast

    Too bad it took so long for Ms. Rice to get a " LITTLE PERSONAL " about Iraq ..... She along with her band of liars , and swindlers should have given more thought about going into Iraq . To begin with Iraq was under a heavyly enforced no fly zone for years , With the technology then and now , Iraq was under constant survellince 24 – 7 , 365 days of the year .... Satellites could pin point an automobile license plate number , and any movement out of the ordinary . No this was a war of choice , plain and simple ......
    Condi needs to be arrested and put on trial , along with the rest of her traitorous crew of dual-citizenship, neo-con , unpatriotic , republicrook coharts......

    October 9, 2008 at 2:26 am |
  6. Sharon Kitchen

    It doesn't hurt for her to get a little personel.......the war ,after all is very personel. Lives and all........
    Our economy is personel.
    She will ,of course ,go into the history books along side Bush/Chenney and crew.......what will be written about her and them ???????

    October 8, 2008 at 2:52 pm |
  7. Maria

    Despite some of her little mistakes, she is still super. I think Rice and Collin Powel probably great fit for Dems not Reps.

    October 8, 2008 at 1:12 pm |
  8. Thomas

    Empathy !
    I don't feel sorry for a person that enabled so much grief.

    October 8, 2008 at 12:54 pm |
  9. Maureen / Newman, California

    I think Rice is a very intelligent woman. Too bad she is a Republican. I don't think she is just now seeing the light though. I think that the entire Bush administration had ulterior motives when attacking Iraq. And yes they thought achieving their goals would be easy, but it wasn't and still isn't. Bush's approval rating is 24%. Rice can't keep lying about "winning" like Bush is. Nobody believes them. We can't and shouldn't stay there forever, and the second we pull out things will go back to the way they were before the war. Why? Because Bush failed to go after bin Laden and his possey.

    October 8, 2008 at 11:50 am |
  10. More News

    I am happy to see Rice showing some honesty. That is just what the American public needs to see. This is an excellent news story.

    October 8, 2008 at 10:22 am |
  11. Renee

    Of course this Iraq plan is wearing on Condi, the President and every man and women in our Armed Services and their children and the parents, spouses etc who have lost a loved one.

    Success in Iraq will begin when the government in Iraq continues to take ownership of more and more of the country. Success isn't a sure thing because the government may in fact choice to align themselves with countries other than the US.

    I can only imagine the personal turmoil it must be for each and every Iraqi man, woman and child. It is a war and war for sure is hell on Earth.

    October 8, 2008 at 9:25 am |
  12. jenny in ontario

    I think that Condi Rice is now coming out of her DREAM. It's simple,America should not have been in Iraq in the first place.Forget the surge that John McCain still is loosing sleep over,that's a war he will not win either. Bottom line America needs to get out of IRAQ now and replenish it's army. Think about the number of men and women who died because George Bush and his army of idiots dumb tatics.I salute Barack Obama for his stand against the wrong war on terror in IRAQ.

    October 8, 2008 at 8:37 am |