[FOUNTAIN]Time to look more closely at Ms. RiceOn Sept. 12, 1989, Boris Yeltsin was fuming in front of the White House. Then an “emerging” Soviet lawmaker, the future president of Russia was upset over an appointment.
He was to visit the office of the national security advisor, Brent Scowcroft, and President George H.W. Bush was supposed to stop by. But Mr. Yeltsin was yelling at those who arranged the meeting that those plans were not a proper way to see the president, and demanded he be taken to the Oval Office.
Then Condoleezza Rice appeared. She was a special assistant to the president for national security affairs and in charge of receiving Mr. Yeltsin. For five minutes, Boris Yeltsin stared at Ms. Rice in his car. Finally, she calmly declared, “I will report that you never arrived. Can I show you the way back to the hotel?” Mr. Yeltsin had to surrender; the incident was an example of Condoleezza Rice’s strong personality.
In the mid 1970s, she visited the Soviet Union for seven weeks to research a dissertation for the University of Denver. Having no way to obtain data about the Soviet government, she came up with an ingenious idea in Moscow. She counted the number of windows in the Soviet Strategic Defense Command building and estimated the number of people working there. When she met a former Soviet military leader as a White House official, she asked the actual number of officers in his command, and learned that her estimate was correct.
Brent Scowcroft, who was Ms. Rice’s boss in White House, said she had a sense of purpose and responded to issues with flexibility while understanding the heart of the matter. Former President George H.W. Bush praised her as smart and persuasive.
She earned the nickname “Warrior Princess,” and the American media is busy analyzing what the warrior will do as secretary of state.
To Seoul, Condoleezza Rice is a very important figure, a major partner in discussing pending issues such as the Korea-U.S. alliance and the North Korean nuclear threat. But government officials are reiterating only vague impressions of her as a hawk or as very reasonable. She has the full confidence of President George W. Bush, who said that he had never doubted her decisions. Korean officials need to start more serious research on the policy direction of Condoleezza Rice.
by Ahn Sung-kyoo
The writer is a political news deputy editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.