Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice
Foreign Policy, Race, and the New American Century
by Clarence Lusane
May 2006, 288pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-0-275-98309-3
$65, £50, 57€, A90
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eBook Available: 978-0-313-01519-9
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Critically examines the racial context of the foreign policy of the George W. Bush administration by assessing the ideological and political roles of Powell and Rice, the two highest-ranking black government officials in American history.

Lusane has created a groundbreaking analysis of the intersection of racial politics and American foreign policy. This insightful work critically examines the roles played by former Secretary of State Colin Powell and current Secretary of State (and former National Security Advisor) Condoleezza Rice in the construction of U.S. foreign policy, exploring the ways in which their racial identity challenges conventional notions about the role of race in international relations.

Neither Powell nor Rice consciously allowed their racial identity to substantially influence or characterize their participation in the defense and projection of U.S. hegemony, Lusane argues, but both used their racial identity and experiences strategically in key circumstances to defend Bush administration policies. This is but one sense in which their race, despite their reluctance to be seen as racial figures, is significant in relation to U.S. foreign policy.

Locating Powell and Rice within the genealogy of the current national security strategy, and within broader shifts under George W. Bush, this work argues that their racial location in the context of the construction of U.S. foreign policy is symbolic, and that it serves to distract from the substantive part they play in the ongoing reconfiguration of U.S. global power. Criticism of Powell’s and Rice’s policies, for example, is often blunted by race. Black liberals may be reluctant to condemn them, while white liberals may be afraid criticism could be interpreted as racial bias, especially since conservatives of both races argue that such criticism is probably racist. Lusane tackles these difficult issues along with others, asking whether there is a black consensus on foreign policy and, if so, what its dimensions, driving forces, and prospects for stability are. How can a progressive alternative to the current U.S. foreign policy be realized? Are Powell and Rice merely functionaries, or did they substantially determine the direction of U.S. foreign policy? What will their legacies be?


"The author establishes that race has played a preeminent role in the assumptions underlying American foreign policy decisions and that the war on terrorism is narrowly defined to exclude the terrorism of global human security that Darfur and other places manifest....Lower-division undergraduates through graduate students."—Choice, April 1, 2007

"Lusane analyzes the impact of race on U.S. foreign policy by examining how former Secretary of State Colin Powell and current Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have constructed current policy. He argues that African Americans have a long history of participating in U.S. foreign policy and that blacks serving in foreign-policy posts in previous administrations have embraced their racial identities and stressed racial equality in the world. This, he writes, was owing to the historical racism experienced by blacks in the United States. According to Lusane, Powell and Rice have not embraced their racial identities unless doing so has promised to advance the Bush administration's agenda; instead, both champion the idea of individualism. This break with tradition has upset many in the African American community....Recommended."—Library Journal, August 1, 2006

"This work argues that the racial identity of Secretary of State Colin Powell and National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice, the first African Americans to be appointed to their positions, helped shape the presentation of the hegemonic foreign policy of the George W. Bush administration, but played very little role in the actual formation of that policy. Author Lusane suggests that they played a game of racial affinity that was used to justify a more dangerous foreign policy and to distract from their more substantive roles in policy formation. Along the way, he provides a history of African American attitudes towards foreign policy, examines the 2001 UN World Conference on Racism as a case study on the intersection of race and Bush foreign policy, and details the role of Powell and Rice in bringing us the Iraq War."—Reference & Research Book News, August 1, 2006

"[R]eveals how many Blacks presumably feel, and it therefore it performs a public service."—WAIS, January 1, 2006

"Clarence Lusane offers a critique, not only of two individuals, but of a foreign policy that has further isolated the USA in a sharply polarizing world. Lusane contextualizes Powell and Rice as both part of a minority political tendency within Black America, as well as individuals the political Right utilizes in order to make more palatable its message of US global domination. Lusane's scholarship and passion make this a compelling book, and one which all students of US foreign policy and the politics of Black America should consider an invaluable text."—Bill Fletcher, Jr., President, TransAfrica Forum, Visiting Professor, Brooklyn College/City University of New York

"In a much-needed expose', Clarence Lusane documents the Bush administration's craven attempts to use the civil rights legacy to justify its war in Iraq, and the willful collaboration of Colin and Condi in that shameful equation. This thoroughly researched analysis of the twisted relationship between US racial politics and US foreign policy is a must-read for both academics and activists. Highly recommended!"—Howard Winant, UC Santa Barbara, author of The World Is a Ghetto: Race and Democracy Since World War II
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