US politician, national security advisor 2001–04 and secretary of state 2005–09. As secretary of state, she launched a diplomatic initiative aimed at finding regional solutions to problems such as terrorism, and criticized Iran for its sponsorship of terrorism and its aspirations to develop nuclear weapons. As national security advisor she helped develop a new US defence doctrine, in the wake of the September 11 2001 terrorist attacks on the USA, which supported the use of pre-emptive strikes against an enemy. This was put into effect with the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 and 2003. She also played a key role in the negotiation of a Strategic Offensive Reduction Treaty (SORT) with Russia in 2002, to reduce both countries' strategic nuclear arsenals by two-thirds by 2012. A foreign-policy conservative, Rice is libertarian and a comparative moderate on social issues.
Drawing on her academic specialisms, she was an adviser on Soviet and East European affairs to President George H W Bush's National Security Council 1989–91, during the period of German reunification and the break-up of the USSR. A close aide to President George W Bush, she was his foreign-policy adviser during his successful bid for the presidency in 2000. She was the first African-American woman to serve as secretary of state.
Born in Birmingham, Alabama, the only child of a Presbytarian minister, Rice was a child prodigy on piano and initially planned to become a concert pianist. She moved with her family, at the age of 13, to Colorado, where her father became a vice-chancellor of the University of Denver. Her interest grew in international politics and she earned her PhD in the subject at the University of Denver. From 1981 she taught at Stanford University's Center for International Security and Arms Control, and from 1993 to 1999 was the university's provost, overseeing its budget.
She has written extensively on Soviet and Eastern European foreign and defence policy, and served on the board of directors of a range of US corporations.