By Contributor on April 16, 2014

By Clarence Lusane

Condoleezza Rice has reemerged in the midst of the Ukraine crisis, and she is offering unhelpful advice.

Rice, who served as national security adviser and then secretary of state under Pres. George W. Bush, is taking the neoconservative line on Ukraine.

She is repeatedly criticizing Pres. Obama for not responding more aggressively to Vladimir Putin.

This is reckless talk.

Russia still has thousands of nuclear weapons. The last thing we need is to return to the days of a nuclear standoff. Several times during the Cold War we were lucky to escape global annihilation.

Obama has been right to try not to turn the crisis in Ukraine into a military confrontation with Russia.

But Rice, who is the director of the Global Center for Business and the Economy at Stanford University, keeps egging the administration on.

Speaking to the California Republican Party in March, she said, “America has to lead.” She acknowledged that the American people “are tired . . . after more than 10 years of war and terrorism and engagement abroad.”

But Rice and the other leaders of the Bush administration are the ones who are responsible for getting us tired of war and terrorism and military engagements abroad.

As National Security Adviser, she was the main person responsible in the period leading up to September 11 for identifying and responding to terrorist threats. She ignored warnings that an Al Qaeda attack was coming, most infamously on August 6, 2001, in the Presidential Daily Brief titled, “Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US,” which Rice and Bush ignored.

Rice was also one of the chief propagandists for the disastrous war against Iraq. She was the one who first used the phrase that “the smoking gun could turn into a mushroom cloud.” And she insisted in an op-ed for the New York Times in January 2003 that Saddam Hussein was lying about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.

Of course, it was Rice and Bush and Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld who weren’t telling the American people the truth about these weapons. The Iraq War, which they launched on a false pretense, ended up costing almost 4,500 U.S. soldiers their lives. It also killed between 100,000 and one million Iraqis, and drained the U.S. Treasury of more than a trillion dollars.

Rice and her neoconservative colleagues in the Bush administration are in no position to be criticizing Obama’s handling of the crisis in Ukraine.

That they are taken seriously is the only surprise, since they never have apologized for, or even acknowledged, the fundamentally wrong and misleading role they played when they were in power.

Disregarding the disaster they created in Iraq, they once again seek to brandish the military might of the United States to send the message that Washington is still the big dog on the world stage.

“Leaders can’t afford to get tired,” she said last month. “Leaders can’t afford to be weary.”

Somehow she did not mention that leaders also can’t afford to ignore the facts, downplay the consequences of war or shamelessly scare the public.


Op-ed by Clarence Lusane, a professor political science and international relations at American University. This op-ed is part of The Progressive Inc.'s "Progressive Media Project."

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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