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?