December 18th, 2008
10:33 AM ET

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on the last eight years

Rice on the last eight years.


Rice's best and worst moments.


Letting loose: Rice on her daily routine and how she likes to relax.

Read a full transcript of the interview here.

Filed under: Condoleezza Rice • Global 360° • Zain Verjee
December 17th, 2008
06:49 PM ET

Secretary Rice on Iraq, Israel and why she's not type-A

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Zain Verjee
CNN State Department Correspondent

QUESTION: Thank you so much, Madame Secretary.

SECRETARY RICE: Pleasure to be with you.

QUESTION: You’ve been in the Bush Administration for eight years.


QUESTION: What’s been the best moment?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, there have been a lot of great moments: seeing the Afghans liberate themselves from the Taliban; seeing the Iraqis vote for the first time; going for the first time to the West Bank and being with Palestinians was a really special – a special time. And I think the thing I never expected was to actually be in Libya face-to-face with Colonel Qadhafi. So that probably stands out as one of the extraordinary moments.

QUESTION: It was a historic trip, though.

SECRETARY RICE: It was an historic trip.

QUESTION: (Inaudible) Secretary of State to Libya.

SECRETARY RICE: A historic trip. And you could see that this country of Libya which has been so isolated for so long has a great deal to offer. And even though U.S.-Libyan relations have a long way to go, at least now we can talk about U.S.-Libyan relations, and I think ultimately, that will be a good thing for the region, and it will be a good thing for the people of Libya.

QUESTION: Looking back, what was your worst moment?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think one of the hardest times for me was during the Lebanon war. I’m very glad that we were able to negotiate a ceasefire in that war. And I believe Resolution 1701, which ended the war between Israel and Lebanon, will show, it will stand as an effort that led to greater sovereignty for Lebanon, with the Lebanese forces throughout the country, with a strong government in place with Fuad Siniora. But standing next to Fuad Siniora in Rome as really, the country was being bombed to smithereens – things were very difficult – and having to say we can’t call for an immediate ceasefire that we can’t deliver, and that will ultimately lead back to the status quo ante with Hezbollah able to do this again was very difficult because I have so much respect for him.

QUESTION: If you could call a time out or a replay in foreign policy with a decision that you made and – you made a decision, you went back home and thought, gosh, you know, I wish I could do a redo of that -


QUESTION: - what would that be?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, it’s going to take some time to go back and think about that.

QUESTION: Well, just your gut.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, my gut is that there are, frankly, things that we could have done better in the early stages in Iraq.

QUESTION: Like planning better the aftermath of the -

SECRETARY RICE: Well, no, we planned. We -

QUESTION: For the aftermath of the war -

SECRETARY RICE: We planned for the aftermath of the war and we planned -

QUESTION: Not well, though.

SECRETARY RICE: - and we planned – no, but the – some of the assumptions turned out to be, I think, erroneous. And probably the thing that I would do differently is I would go back and put less emphasis on what we would do in Baghdad and more emphasis on what we would do out in the provinces and with local governments and try to bring this from the bottom up rather than from the capital out.

And that’s why the Provincial Reconstruction Teams that put the military and the diplomats and the aid workers together out in the provinces, I think, has worked so well.

QUESTION: Staying in Iraq, the shoe-throwing incident, it was really a symbol in so many ways in the Arab world of utter contempt -


QUESTION: - for President Bush.

SECRETARY RICE: And it was one journalist among several who were sitting there respectfully, and I hope it isn’t allowed over time to obscure the fact that this was the President of the United States standing in Baghdad next to the democratically elected Shia Prime Minister of a multi-confessional Iraq that has just signed agreements of friendship and cooperation with the United States for the long term.


Filed under: Global 360° • Iraq • Israel • Zain Verjee
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