Assessing Condi Rice
Kevin Drum excerpts a review* from a leading history journal of Condi Rice’s The Soviet Union and the Czechoslovak Army, 1948-1983: Uncertain Allegiance (Princeton University Press, 1984). He summarizes the review:
Problems distinguishing facts from propaganda. Too quick to pass judgment without adequate knowledge. Failure to properly assess sources who have an obvious axe to grind. Ignorance of regional history.
Does any of this sound familiar?
I would note that this particular book was not only picked up by a major academic press but was a revised version of her doctoral dissertation, which was by definition vetted by a panel of subject matter experts. I’m sure there were flaws in it–there always are–but it was almost certainly well researched.
Reviews in academic journals tend to be rather brutal, as they’re usually aimed at showing how clever the reviewer is. This is likely to be even more true when the reviewer is a Czechoslovakian historian reviewing the work of a political scientist studying the Soviet Union. Given that the review is nineteen years old, it’s rather hard to find out what the credentials of Josef Kalvoda are, other than that he was a Czech national who was a 60-year-old history professor at Saint Joseph College and he had at least two books to his credit, both on Czechoslovakia. Interestingly, criticisms quite similar to the ones he made of Rice’s book are leveled in an otherwise glowing review of one of Kalvoda’s books.
Ogged concludes, “Will someone please admit it? Condoleezza Rice is a moron. She’s in way over her head and it shows.” Whether she’s doing a good job as National Security Advisor is an open question that’s fairly difficult to judge at this stage, given how little we actually know of the process. Rice’s high intelligence is rather well documented, however.
*While Googling to figure out who this Kavorda guy is, it’s clear this review has been circulating for a few months now, although this is the first I’ve seen of it.