When then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sat down with Moammar Gadhafi in 2008, she described an odd meeting that ended with the now late dictator showing photos of Rice with world leaders followed by an original song he had a composer write for her.
“What was going through my head was ‘How long do I have to sit here and how quickly can I get out of here?’ You know, it was funny because when he said, ‘I have a video for you,’ I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, what is this going to be?’ But it was actually just a bunch of pictures of me with Vladimir Putin, me with Hu Jin Tao,” she told me. “And then he said, ‘I have Libya’s best composer, most famous composer write this song for you,’ and it was called Black Flower in the White House,” she told me, calling the scrapbook “eerie.”
Rice dismissed the encounter as a “strange fascination” and quickly left for Algeria.
“And I thought, ‘Well this is a really, really strange, strange moment in my time as Secretary of State,” she said.
I spoke to the former Secretary of State about her new book, “No Higher Honor,” where she writes about her eight years serving in President George W. Bush’s administration.
She told me the purpose of her 2008 Libyan visit was to deliver on the “quid pro quo” after Gadhafi gave up his weapons of destruction and wanted to be welcomed into the international community.
I asked Rice if the administration had overcompensated and gotten too close to the then Libyan dictator?
“I don’t think we ever got very close to him. I think what we did was to eliminate his weapons of mass destruction, or the most dangerous ones,” she said.
“And then we started to allow business to go back in to Libya, raising some of the sanctions. But– it– we weren’t ever really going to get very close to Gadhafi,” she added. “And the most important thing was to try and open up this place that had been closed for so long, to get him out of terrorism, to get him away from weapons of mass destruction, to make it a little bit safer. But it’s far preferable that he’s gone.”
Gadhafi was killed last Thursday, and cell phone video of him being dragged through the streets quickly went viral.
Rice saw the video and told me that “revolutions aren’t pretty,” and they never end the way you want.
“I think our best hope now is that the Libyans who now have control of their country and have responsibility for their country– will turn away from the tendency toward vindictiveness and revenge and start looking towards the future,” she said