Rice’s anti-democratic leadership cannot be condoned
What is democracy? What does it mean to be democratic? Democracy is the form of government “of the people, by the people, for the people,” as Abraham Lincoln once said. A democratic government is one that hears and acts upon its people’s wishes and concerns. As such, “the principle of accountability holds that government officials — whether elected or appointed by those who have been elected — are responsible to the citizenry for their decisions and actions.” What role do honor and justice play in this ideology? These concepts help form the backbone of this ideology. Those who are chosen by the people to lead must ultimately answer to the people, and also have a duty to fulfill the obligations of the people. These principles were what former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, like much of the Busch administration responsible for the invasion of Iraq, desecrated when they agreed to send the United States military abroad under the false pretense of protecting our freedoms and the American way of life.
In order for democracy to work, there must be open and honest dialogue among political leaders and fellow citizens in the face of any situation. Rice willingly lied to the American public. She made claims that former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was harboring chemical weapons, cleverly termed “weapons of mass destruction” in order to gain support for the Iraq invasion, and that Iraq surely had ties to extremist organization al-Qaeda. These false allegations have been proven to be misleading. One of many examples found on a compilation by Henry A. Waxman, titled “Iraq on the Record,” is when Rice, while she was former President George W. Bush’s National Security Advisor, stated in an interview with CDF German Television in 2003 that Hussein was working to strengthen Iraq’s nuclear program to develop weapons; but in fact U.S. intelligence committees were conflicted regarding whether this was true. As U.N. inspectors repeatedly inspected Iraq and failed to find any evidence that there were nuclear, chemical or biological weapons in the country. Rice also made claims that Hussein was trying to gather the necessary ingredients to develop weapons of mass destruction, like “yellow cake” (uranium oxide) from Africa. This statement was considered “highly dubious” by State Department intelligence officials as well as CIA Director George Tenet.
The lies perpetuated by resulted in one of the most horrific catastrophes against humankind now called the Iraq War. As National Security Advisor and then Secretary of State, it was within Rice’s power to speak out against this illegal and unjustifiable attack on Iraq, resulting in the death or displacement of many innocent civilians who have become victimized through “collateral damage” of policies publicly supported by Rice. A project called the Iraq Body Count works to compile the name of every single innocent casualty of this barbaric campaign of aggression against a nation. So far the recorded body count is between 122,000 to 137,000 civilians. From the start of this occupation Rice also verbally supported dehumanizing torture — cleverly termed “enhanced interrogations” so as to avoid any eventual backlash for the use of information-extracting techniques such as waterboarding, along with the establishment of Abu Ghraib prison, which has functioned like Guantanamo Bay prison and served to further dehumanize the Iraqi population.
This is the example of leadership, honesty, integrity and justice that the administration at Rutgers University wishes to present to its graduating class of 2014. How is lying to an entire nation to involve the military in an invasion and occupation that has not been justified to this day supposed to be treated with any kind of honor, let alone an honorary Doctor of Laws degree and over $30,000? How does not answering to a single crime against humanity in Iraq constitute true leadership? How does supporting torture respect integrity of oneself and of those supposedly being “liberated”? How does murdering thousands of innocent civilians and calling it collateral damage do justice to anyone? To ignore the dirty game of politics that Rice played — as a politician — and focus only on her accomplishments as an African-American female is absolutely ridiculous. Hopefully, Rice will not have to come to speak at the 2014 Rutgers Commencement Ceremony to learn that nothing justifies what she signed off on and supported.
Ahmed Ayoub is a School of Engineering junior majoring in biomedical engineering.