Condoleezza Rice

American Republican politician; U.S. Secretary of State; political scientist

Condoleezza Rice (born November 14, 1954) is an American political scientist and diplomat. She served as the 66th United States Secretary of State in the administration of President George W. Bush. Rice was President Bush's National Security Advisor during his first term, making her the first woman to serve in that position. Before joining the Bush administration, she was a professor of political science at Stanford University where she served as Provost from 1993 to 1999.

It's bad policy to speculate on what you'll do if a plan fails, when you're trying to make a plan work.


  • The growth of entrepreneurial classes throughout the world is an asset in the promotion of human rights and individual liberty, and it should be understood and used as such. Yet peace is the first and most important condition for continued prosperity and freedom. America's military power must be secure because the United States is the only guarantor of global peace and stability. The current neglect of America's armed forces threatens its ability to maintain peace.
  • But in terms of Saddam Hussein being there, let's remember that his country is divided, in effect. He does not control the northern part of his country. We are able to keep arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt.
  • I don't think that anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon, that they would try to use an airplane as a missile
  • This is your baby. Go do it.
    • Regarding directives to the CIA on which torture techniques should be used. Summer 2002 [1] [2].
  • In light of 50 years of bondage of Eastern Europe, [invading the Soviet Union in 1948 to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons] was probably a reasonable thing to do.
  • "Protests are a part of our democratic heritage and our democratic privilege ... [US and British efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq] are finally getting those countries to the place that actually people might have the same privilege of protest". The Guardian, 2003-11-15
  • Oh, indeed there is a tie between Iraq and what happened on 9/11. It's not that Saddam Hussein was somehow himself and his regime involved in 9/11, but, if you think about what caused 9/11, it is the rise of ideologies of hatred that lead people to drive airplanes into buildings in New York.
  • is a longstanding principle that sitting national security advisers do not testify before the Congress.
  • Condoleezza Rice: But I don't remember the al‐Qaeda cells as being something that we were told we needed to do something about.
    Richard Ben-Veniste: Isn't it a fact, Dr. Rice, that the August 6 PDB [Presidential Daily Briefing] warned against possible attacks in this country? And I ask you whether you recall the title of that PDB?
    Condoleezza Rice: I believe the title was, Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States.
  • People may oppose you, but when they realize you can hurt them, they'll join your side.
    • Advice given to her protégée, Kiron Skinner, while serving as Provost at Stanford University; quoted in James Mann, Rise of the Vulcans (Penguin Books, New York: 2004, ISBN 0-143-03489-8, p. 227.
  • The United States doesn't and can't condone torture. And I want to make very clear that that's the view and the policy of the administration, the policy of the president, and that he's made very clear to American personnel that we will not condone torture....Senator, under no circumstances should we or have we condoned torture. And the president has been very clear that he expects everyone to live up to our international obligations and to American law.
  • And so the administration, I think, has said to the American people that it is a generational commitment to Iraq.
  • When are we going to stop making excuses for the terrorists and saying that somebody is making them do it? No, these are simply evil people who want to kill.
  • Well, that's not how I read the statement ... After all, do Iraqis really want to -- any Iraqi, sitting around that table, want to suggest that killing an innocent Iraqi child standing at a bus stop is legitimate? Or that killing Iraqi soldiers who are lining up at recruitment centers is legitimate? Or even that multinational forces -- who by the way are there under a UN mandate -- are somehow legitimate targets?
  • We have had some bad incidents and there continue to be allegations of others which will be investigated; but overwhelmingly American forces there, putting their lives on the line every day, protecting Iraqis, helping to liberate them, that is appreciated by the Iraqi people and by the Prime Minister.
  • I don't know anyone who is more admired and respected in the international community than President Karzai, for his strength, for his wisdom and for his courage to lead this country, first in defeat of the Taliban and now a democratic and unified Afghanistan. And I can tell you I am with foreign ministers and with heads of state all over the world. I sit in the councils of NATO. I sit with the EU. I sit with people all over the world and there is great admiration for your president and also for what the Afghan people are doing here.
  • ...those hostilities were not very well contained, as we found out on September 11th, and so the notion that somehow policies that finally confront extremism are actually causing extremism I find grotesque.
  • The United States has been very clear that we did have to have some political basis to make clear that that cessation of hostilities was not going to countenance a return to the status quo ante. This resolution does that. And now we're going to see who is for peace and who isn't.
  • ...there have been plenty of markers that show that this is a country that is worth the investment because once it emerges as a country that is a stabilizing factor, you'll have a very different kind of Middle East. And I know that from the point of view of not just monetary costs, but the sacrifice of American lives, a lot has been sacrificed for Iraq, a lot has been invested in Iraq.
  • Ron Paul: We are escalating our sharp rhetoric toward Iran, We're deploying additonal carrier group and Patriot missiles to the region. And, although Iran has approached the United States to establish serious dialog two times since 9/11, they have been rebuffed both times...
    Condelezza Rice: ...When we have a carrier strike group into the gulf, or provide PAC-3, which is a defensive system, it's simply to demonstrate that the United States remains determined to defend its interests in the gulf, and the interests of its allies. And that, congressman, is a position that has been held by American presidents going back for nearly 60 years. I would just note that these are discrete responses to Iranian activities that are really deeply concerning, not just for us, but for the rest of the world as well. Now as to Tehran, and whether we can talk to them. I offered in May to reverse 27 years of American policy, and to meet my counterpart any place, any time, to talk about any set of issues that Iran wishes to talk about, if they would just do one thing. And that is, adhere to the demand that the international community is making, that they stop enrichment and reprocessing, so that we that while we're talking, they're not improving their capability to get a nuclear weapon. So I think, congressman, the question isn't why won't we talk to Tehran, the question is why won't they talk to us.
  • ...the consolidation of a stable and democratic Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein is a part of what America owes to the Iraqi people, owes to the region, and owes to ourselves so that our own security is there. Chris, it would be like saying that after Adolf Hitler was overthrown, we needed to change then the resolution that allowed the United States to do that so that we could deal with creating a stable environment in Europe after he was overthrown.
  • Condoleezza Rice: I think that these historical circumstances require a very detailed and sober look from historians and what we've encouraged the Turks and the Armenians to do is to have joint historical commissions that can look at this, to have efforts to examine their past and, in examining their past, to get over their past.
    Adam Schiff: come out of academia... is there any reputable historian you're aware of that takes issue with the fact that the murder of 1.5 million Armenians constituted genocide?
    Condoleezza Rice: Congressman, I come out of academia, but I'm secretary of state now and I think that the best way to have this proceed is for the United States not to be in the position of making this judgment, but rather for the Turks and the Armenians to come to their own terms about this.
    Adam Schiff: ...Why is it only this genocide? Is it because Turkey is a strong ally? Is that an ethical and moral reason to ignore the murder of 1.5 million people? Why is it we don't say, "Let's relegate the Holocaust to historians" or "relegate the Cambodian genocide or Rwandan genocide ?" Why is it only this genocide that we should let the Turks acknowledge or not acknowledge?
    Condoleezza Rice: Congressman, we have recognized and the president recognizes every year in a resolution that he himself issues the historical circumstances and the tragedy that befell the Armenian people at that time...
    Adam Schiff: ...You recognize more than anyone, as a diplomat, the power of words. And I'm sure you supported the recognition of genocide in Darfur, not calling it tragedy, not calling it atrocity, not calling it anything else, but the power and significance of calling it genocide. Why is that less important in the case of the Armenian genocide?
    Condoleezza Rice: Congressman, the power here is in helping these people to move forward... And, yes, Turkey is a good ally and that is important. But more important is that like many historical tragedies, like many historical circumstances of this kind, people need to come to terms with it and they need to move on.
    Adam Schiff: ...Iran hosts conferences of historians on the Holocaust. I don't think we want to get in the business of encouraging conferences of historians on the undeniable facts of the Armenian genocide.
  • I'm very glad that there was, in fact, a consequence. I think that this kind of coarse language doesn't belong anywhere in reasonable dialogue between reasonable people. ... It gets ruined by this disgusting -- and I'll use the word 'disgusting' -- comment which doesn't belong in any polite company and certainly doesn't belong on any radio station that I would listen to.
  • Now, six years ago, al-Qaeda was planning to attack the Twin Towers. It wasn't a very nice world. And I think that if you think about six years ago, al-Qaida was preparing to attack the Twin Towers, Pakistan was allied with the Taliban, Afghanistan was the base from which al-Qaida was going to operate; the Israelis and the Palestinians had given up on a chance for -- or let me put it, the Palestinians had walked away from a chance for a Palestinian state, launched the second intifada, elected Ariel Sharon who basically said there would never be a Palestinian state and there will be a greater Israel; the North Korean were cheating on a deal that they had just signed; China and others were indifferent to that because it was a U.S.-North Korea bilateral deal; Iran was cheating on the IAEA out of sight. I could go on and on and on. That was the world in 2000 and 2001. And there is no doubt that by confronting -- oh, by the way, and Saddam Hussein was shooting at our pilots regularly in the no-fly zone and making a mockery of the Oil-for-Peace -- Oil-for-Food program and corruption was running rampant in that program. So, a worse world? I think so.
  • This test has much in common with the other great challenges that are defining this young century -- from weapons proliferation, to the spread of disease, to transnational terrorism. These are truly global problems, and no one nation, no matter how much power or political will it possesses, can succeed alone. We all need partners, and we all need to work in concert.
  • ...I am proud of the decision of this Administration to overthrow Saddam Hussein. I am proud of the liberation of 25 million Iraqis. And I'm proud to see an Iraq that is now emerging with a stronger government, a truly multiethnic, multi-sectarian government that's about to have its second set of elections, that's inviting private investment into Iraq, and that is making peace with its Arab neighbors.
  • This is not 1968 and the invasion of Czechoslovakia, where Russia can threaten its neighbors, occupy a capital, overthrow a government, and get away with it. Things have changed.
  • In terms of the enhanced interrogation and so forth, anything that was legal and was going to make this country safer, the president wanted to do. Nothing that was illegal. And nothing that was going to make the country less safe. Unless you were there, in a position of responsibility after September 11th, you cannot possibly imagine the dilemmas that you faced in trying to protect Americans. You were determined to do anything that you could that was legal to prevent that from happening again... We were told, nothing that violates our obligations under the Convention Against Torture. And so, by definition, if it was authorized by the president, it did not violate our obligations under the Conventions Against Torture.
  • In response to a question about what "keeps her up at night", I worry about the fact that in K-12 education I can look at your zip code and tell whether or not you're going to get a good education.
    • Interview by Donna Shalala C-Span Video Library No Higher Honor University of Miami, School of Business Administration, November 3, 2011.

VOA interview (February 2003)Edit

Transcript by VOA (25 February 2003)
  • I would remind all states that we have been in this struggle with Saddam Hussein not for four months, which is the time at which Resolution 1441 was passed, but for 12 years. And to say that there needs to be more time now or more inspections is simply going to get us back into the same kind of game that we've been in with Saddam Hussein for that 12 years. He has successfully held off disarmament. He has successfully split the Council. I would remind [you] that Resolution 1284, which was passed in 1999, actually the French and the Russians and the Chinese abstained from that resolution. And so this is a long, long period of time, and it's really time for the Iraqi people to have an opportunity to rejoin the international community. It's time for the world to be rid of the threat of this homicidal dictator with weapons of mass destruction. And it's time for the region to have a chance to return to a more normal life.
  • We certainly always hope that the Iraqis will somehow decide that they are finally going to, after 12 years, live up to their disarmament obligations. It wouldn't be hard. We know what it looks like when a country wants to disarm. It looks like what South Africa did ?? to invite the international community in ?? not to try to hunt and peck and find things, but to actually expose completely the entire range of weapon systems and people and programs, research programs, so that the world can see that disarmament is actually taking place. But I would have to say that that would mean a Saddam Hussein who had tremendously changed his spots. It's hard to imagine now. And I would expect that he is going to engage in some game?playing over the next couple of weeks. He'll start trying to show a little bit of cooperation, a little bit of progress. Perhaps he will bring out this weapon that he destroys or that weapon that he destroys. Because now that he is under tremendous pressure, he has a lot of incentive to again get back into this game. But the world should not be fooled. We need total and complete disarmament.
  • I have to say that offering more time at this point really only plays into Saddam's hands. I won't question anyone's motives. I think everybody is trying to do this according to their own views of the situation. But if you just look at what Saddam Hussein and his regime said after the Friday meeting in the Security Council, they took tremendous heart in a Security Council meeting in which there seemed to be more focus on avoiding tough decisions than on taking tough decisions. Tariq Aziz said all of the good people of the world were in the streets protesting. And of course the good people were in the streets not protesting for Saddam Hussein but I can guarantee you that that's how the Iraqis played it and that's how they played it to their own people. And so it's extremely important that the world stand with one voice, say to Saddam Hussein: You were given a final opportunity to disarm and it is time to do that or to face the consequences.
  • But what will lose its relevance is the Security Council. What will be shown to be more like the League of Nations than the United Nations is the Security Council. It's the enforcement mechanism that gives the international community a way to stand up to the horrible dictators, to those who are proliferating weapons of mass destruction, to those who are threatening peace and security. It is the Security Council that gives the international community the ability, as one, to stand up to that. And if we allow Saddam Hussein to continue to defy the Security Council in the way that he has, the Security Council will be severely weakened.
  • The President is doing what leaders do. He has gone to the international community to put on its agenda in a very dramatic way the need to deal with the threat of Iraq and the threat of Saddam Hussein. He did it in the United Nations. We've repeatedly gone back to the United Nations. Secretary Powell gave his presentation of the case at the United Nations. And now we are requesting a second resolution or, I should say, really an 18th resolution since Saddam has ignored many resolutions before. So, the President is leading in a way that is far from unilateral. It's the exact opposite of unilateral; it's multilateral. And there are a lot of countries that are with us. One of the very interesting things has been to see how the countries that were denied freedom for so long, the countries of Eastern Europe, like Poland and Hungary or the Baltic States, or Bulgaria or Rumania, all of those countries that for so long were denied freedom, they're speaking up now for freedom. They are saying that when tyranny is ignored, tyranny wins. And they have the histories and the scars to prove that that is the case. We think that those voices need to be heard in the international community. They need to be heard in the debate, because they really know what liberty and freedom means. Fifty years ago, Western Europe was itself in a similar situation, with tyranny spreading across the region, and the United States came to their aid. And, as a result, we've had a prosperous and well-to-do and secure half of Europe since the end of World War II. But then, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, we were able to see that liberty spread. And it has been just tremendous, through NATO and through the voices of these countries, to see that they really do understand what it means to defend freedom.
  • That's right. It's ironic that we are trying so hard to get everyone in the world to react to the North Korean situation in a multilateral way. This is the least unilateral thing that you can do, because the North Koreans would like nothing better than to have the United States to have to come to the North Koreans and to do this in a bilateral fashion, and to make this a crisis between the United States and North Korea. That would achieve the goal that Kim Jong-Il has of being rewarded for the blackmail in which he is now engaging. But the United States really believes not only that it's important not to reward blackmail but that we can only resolve this issue in a multilateral forum. The fact is that China and Russia and Japan and South Korea, indeed, all of the countries of the world, have a great deal at stake here. And Secretary Powell was just with the Chinese. We will continue to impress upon China and others that they have not just a tremendous responsibility to deal with this but a tremendous interest in doing so. Because a nuclear free Korean Peninsula is in the interest of everyone. It is not just the responsibility of the United States to make certain that the Korean Peninsula is nuclear?free.
  • Well, the President identified a class of states, states that were closed, that were pursuing weapons of mass destruction, that supported terrorism around the world. And Iran, unfortunately, still makes the grade on all of those. We hope that the IAEA inspections that are perhaps going to take place in Iran will be fulsome. We hope that the Iranians will be cooperative. But we have to remember that in a society that is secretive, it is also possible to hide programs. And the IAEA cannot do it on its own. It has to really have full and complete cooperation. And we will see how the situation in Iran plays out. On terrorism, we need Iran to do much more. In fact, what really needs to happen in Iran is that the elected officials in Iran ?? and they do have elected officials ?? need to act like elected officials and care about the concerns and wishes of their people rather than pursuing a foreign policy agenda that is the foreign policy agenda that Iran is pursuing.
  • We think it's a very bad thing that Zimbabwe was allowed to participate here. You know, it was the French decision to do that. It's their summit. We understand that. But the world needs to unite and send a strong message to Zimbabwe that the appalling behavior of the Mugabe government, not just in the way that the elections were handled but in everything leading up to the elections, is really not condoned or appropriate, and cannot be accepted in the modern world. Africa itself, the continent, is trying to make strides in democracy and good governance. And indeed, the President has been encouraging those trends. For instance, through the Millennium Challenge Account, which will increase American development assistance by 50 percent over the next several years, to make possible support for countries that do have a positive agenda on human potential and development, a positive agenda on good governance, a positive agenda on open economic reform. And Mugabe is the exact opposite of that. And so not only Europe and the United States, but also the African countries themselves, need to stand up and say that this is simply unacceptable in the 21st century.
  • The President has been very involved in the Democratic Republic of the Congo's difficulties. He had a meeting not too long ago in New York, in which he brought together the Rwandan’s Kagame and President Kabila, to urge them, with President Mbeki there, to sign this peace accord. The peace accord was signed. And we work almost every day with the different parties to encourage them and to press them to carry out the terms of those agreements. The Great Lakes region is one that really needs now to have this resolved. Because it, too, is getting in the way of development for countries that have too long been dealing with civil war, been dealing with foreign forces on their soil. And so we appeal frequently to all of the countries involved in the conflict, as well as the leadership of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to really focus now. They have a peace accord. They have a peace accord that we believe is workable. And they need to implement it.
  • We believe very strongly that it was an electoral success in Kenya. And indeed, the President has encouraged President Moi to be a part of a peaceful transfer of power. He was a part of a peaceful transfer of power. And we now are working with the new Kenyan Government. We have very good relations with Kenya on a variety of fronts. They are a steadfast partner in the war on terrorism. They are a steadfast partner on security matters. But we also have important and growing economic ties with Kenya. We will do everything that we can to try and strengthen Kenya's resolve to carry this electoral success through to a governing success. But much is dependent, of course, on the Kenyans themselves. We believe that they will make it. This was a great success for East Africa. It was a great success for the Kenyan people. We want to see it continue.

RFE/RL interview (July 2008)Edit

Transcript by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (8 July 2008)
  • We believe very strongly and President Bush has made very clear that this problem with Iran about its nuclear technology can be resolved diplomatically. That is what we are working on. We want very much for the Iranian people to be able to have good relations with the United States. There's no reason that this great civilization, with a great history and a great culture, should be isolated from international politics. And so, there is a diplomatic way to do this, and that is why the United States is a part of the group, that is Germany, France, Great Britain, Russia, and China, [that] has made a proposal to the Iranian government that they hope they will accept.
  • Well, the reason that it's important for Iran to suspend its enrichment and reprocessing, to come to the table once it has suspended, is that we shouldn't be in a position of talking while Iran continues to improve the very technologies that could lead to a nuclear weapon. But, if Iran wants a peaceful program, it can have a peaceful program. Russia has a reactor [in Iran], the Bushehr reactor. The United States has been supportive of what Russia is doing there. We have offered, in the proposal that the P5+1 have made, to help Iran with civil nuclear technology, at the highest possible levels. It is just that when you enrich and reprocess, you are perfecting the technologies that can lead to a nuclear weapon and because of the Iranian regime's history of lying to the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency, it can't be trusted with enrichment and reprocessing. But, it can have civil nuclear power. And so, when the Iranian regime tells its people that the West is trying to prevent Iran from having very sophisticated technology, it could not be further from the truth.
  • The United States has made very clear that we are prepared to deal with the Iranian regime if it is prepared to change its policies. I have said many times that I am willing to meet my counterpart any time, any place, anywhere, to talk about anything. Iran only needs to suspend its enrichment and reprocessing. I know that, from time to time, the Iranians say, "Well, the United States is talking about changing the regime. Regime change." We have said we want to change the regime's behavior. That is what this is about, and so Iran knows the many opportunities that are before it for better relations with the United States. The American government represents a great people, the American people, and Americans have no permanent enemies. We don't believe in permanent enemies. We believe in finding a way to cooperate. We have done so with Libya, a country with which we had terrible relations at one point. And now, we have improving relations. So, that is the goal of American policy.
  • Well, we certainly hope that we can find ways, even in the absence of normal relations between our countries, to have increasing contact between the Iranian people and the American people. The United States hosted a group of Iranian artists under the age of 40. It was a wonderful show of a great culture. We had an American wrestling team in Iran, and I know they were very well received everywhere. We've had people who are in disaster relief and humanitarian issues to come and work with some of our humanitarian relief agencies. So, there are many ways to improve the contacts, and we have made no decision about an interests section, but we are looking for ways that Iranians can have access to the United States. I know that, right now, it is hard to get a visa to the United States. We would like to find a way that Iranians can come to visit the United States. We have nothing against the Iranian people. It is the Iranian regime that is isolating the Iranian people from the rest of the world.
  • Well, first of all, the United States is always going to stand for democracy, and the Iranian people deserve to live in a democratic state. When we talk about going ahead and talking even to the Iranian regime, on Iraq or if they suspend their enrichment, we never lose sight of the fact that true peace comes when people can live in democratic societies. And so, throughout the Middle East, the United States is standing for democracy. It is true that, sometimes, we have to deal with regimes that are authoritarian. It is in our interest to do so, for instance, when we are trying to be against a threat or to have a defense against a threat, we have to sometimes deal with regimes that are not democratic. If we are trying to make peace between Israelis and Palestinians, sometimes we have to deal with regimes that are not democratic in order to give support to the Israelis and Palestinians. But the United States -- and I do, and the president does in every conversation -- we talk about democracy because democracy is not a gift to Americans. It is something that every human being should enjoy. The blessings of liberty are what the president has called 'the non-negotiable demands of human dignity.' Every man, woman, and child deserves to be free.
  • Well, unfortunately, some of these have no short-term answers. The food crisis -- the United States has made a lot of food available. The United States is, by far, the largest food donor to countries in need, and we donate food without regard to political issues. So, we have been a large funder of food for North Korea. At one time, we even gave food to Afghanistan when it was under the Taliban. So, we have no political test for humanitarian help. And so, we are a major food donor but, ultimately, to deal with the food crisis, we have to increase productivity. We have to get the right fertilizers and the right productive capabilities to farmers. We have to have better transportation for food. In many places, it is hard to get food to where it is needed because of inadequate roads, for instance. So, there are some longer-term problems that have to be addressed. We also believe that the ability for people to grow crops that are drought-resistant through the biotechnology that is now available will be important. But, in the short-term, we are trying to help the neediest people. The president has increased our food assistance by billions of dollars in order to be able to do that. Now, as to energy and climate change, they go together. We have to find a way to wean ourselves, to get out of our dependence on hydrocarbons, on oil. That means alternative fuels, that means nuclear energy, that means the ability to use all of the possible alternatives so that we are not using so much oil and lessening our dependence on oil and, by the way, as a result, making the climate cleaner because hydrocarbons and carbon emissions are very much at the center of the greenhouse gas problem. What they are doing in the G8 is that they are looking at ways that all of the economies, whether they are developed like the United States or the European economies, but also China and India, which are increasingly part of the problem in emissions, can share in technologies, can share in ways to manage this problem. But, I am afraid the energy problem -- we're going to need more production because we are not going to wean ourselves from oil very quickly, but we also are going to have to take some longer-term approaches to dealing with this issue.

Financial Times (December 2008)Edit

Transcript by Financial Times (21 December 2008)
  • In the first term we had to do some difficult things, not all of which were well received in all quarters. I might note I think the relationships with our Asian friends and partners - China, Japan, South Korea, the deepening relationship with India - were never subject to those sorts of stress. But I don’t think it’s any secret that there were strains with some of our Nato allies; not all, but some. And the proximate reason for that was Iraq and disagreements about Iraq, but by the time I became secretary people had moved on to be concerned about stabilizing Iraq because, whether you agreed with the war or not, everyone understood that a stable Iraq was going to be essential to everyone’s interest. Similarly, I think that we were in a post-war phase in a number of circumstances and trying to then reassure that we were going to turn to diplomacy to stabilize various situations around the world. The one area in which I really did, with the President’s very strong support, take a conscious decision to change course was on Iran, where I went to Europe in February of 2005 and it was my first trip as Secretary and I was stunned at the degree to which there was a split with our allies, closest allies… So that was a conscious decision to change course because I thought we were in the wrong place.
  • I know, but I was national security adviser in the first term and I don’t think of it as a period in which we didn’t have diplomacy. [Former Secretary of State] Colin Powell did extraordinary work on Iraq, for instance, with [United Nations Security Council Resolution ] 1441 passed unanimously, and then putting together a strong coalition on Sudan, where we got a comprehensive peace agreement. There are a lot of examples of diplomacy. But there’s no doubt that the first term, both because of the attack on September 11 and then the war in Afghanistan, then the war in Iraq, was less a time of solidifying gains and building relationships and more a time of a different kind of engagement.
  • I don’t want to speak for the new administration; they will do things in their own way. But I think that we’ve left in place some diplomatic structures that are ways of managing and I think ultimately resolving these really difficult issues, whether it is the P5 plus one on Iran [the group of five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany that work on a common approach on Tehran’s nuclear program]… When I talk to our allies they believe that that is the structure with which this is ultimately going to be resolved. So if you look at the six party talks [on North Korea], even though we have had a recent set of difficulties, we managed to get an agreement with the North Koreans that they will denuclearize, shut down the reactors so they haven’t made any plutonium since 2005… I think the reason why there might be some elements of continuity is that what we’ve tried to do is to arrange or organize international groupings that can first manage and then resolve these very difficult problems in a multilateral way.
  • That’s a fair argument on Iran. On North Korea, there have been real outcomes. I think on Iran, we’ve managed to levy great costs onto Iran for what they are doing. They’re very isolated, they can’t use the international financial system… Investment credits have dried up. All of the major western oil companies are out, Total was the last one to go. And so we are imposing costs. I suspect those costs will be amplified by the lower price of oil. And then we will see whether the ferment that you’re hearing inside of Iran, which does question whether Iran’s president is on the right course with the international community, begins to produce a change in behaviour. I think it probably will.
  • In fact, I’ve made just the opposite argument. I think Musharraf after 2001 did a lot to try and rid Pakistan of extremism, but it’s very deeply buried in the country, it goes all the way back to [former Pakistani president] Zia al Haq. I have been impressed with the way that the [new Pakistani] civilian government has dealt with certain circumstances, the economic circumstances. They have managed to get an IMF program. That was not easy. They are however really going to have to take on this issue of terrorism and extremism. They now know it will consume them if they don’t, but this is a very tough problem for this civilian government.
  • But the Security Council sanctions we’ve gotten we’ve gotten because we have cooperated. They have been faithful to the two tracks [of sanctions and an offer of negotiations], they have. We’ve had really good cooperation on terrorism, really good cooperation on proliferation issues. Where we part company is on the periphery of Russia, where they have a view that Russia has a special place and special influence and therefore special rights concerning their neighbors. And we believe their neighbors are independent states that ought to be able to choose their own course. And that’s caused a flash, of course the most heated over Georgia… [US-EU] unity has frustrated Russian strategic objectives on Georgia. The Georgian president and his government are still there. The Georgian economy was not destroyed; quite the contrary the Georgians got more money at the donor conference than perhaps they even need… The question is, that is on everybody’s mind, is: ‘Is Russia a good partner?’ So I believe we will continue to have a relationship with Russia based on interests. I think what we had hoped for and tried to give an opening for was a relationship that was based not just on interests but on interests and values… And it hasn’t turned out that way. Now I don’t think it is lost for ever. Because it is not the Soviet Union, this is not a big ideological conflict in which the Soviet Union had one narrative about how human history ought to develop and we had another…
  • Well, I think it’s stable, I don’t worry about the stability of Russia. But I think there is a question going forward on what is Russia going to base its legitimacy. If it’s not a set of values, if it’s not the ability to deliver a better life, if it’s not modernity, both domestically and internationally, I don’t know quite where that leaves Russia. And I think that’s probably the debate that’s going on internally in Russia. I thought that when President [Dmitry] Medvedev made his speech about the ‘I’s- investment and innovation and so forth - that that was where Russia wanted to go. Maybe it still is, maybe it still is.

No Higher Honor: A Memoir of My Years in Washington (2011)Edit

  • Before a casual lobster dinner that night, I joined Governor Bush on the back porch, where he told me that he was confident of reelection in November and that if he won impressively (which he fully expected), he'd likely run for the presidency. A run for the White House by the Texas governor struck me as having long odds for success. President Clinton's years had been morally tarnished but peaceful and relatively prosperous. The governor was untested and would likely face a real pro in Vice President Al Gore. I was too polite to say those things that night, but I sure thought them. Throughout the weekend, while fishing (he fished, I sat in the boat and watched) or exercising side by side in the small family gym on the compound, we talked about Russia, China, and Latin America. He wanted to start thinking about what to do in foreign policy if he got elected. I soon realized that he knew our southern neighbors, particularly Mexico, far better than I did. I made a mental note to read a few articles about Mexico when I got back to my home in California.
    • Pages 1-2
  • Colin, on the other hand, always seemed very comfortable with my role and our personal relationship. I'd first met him in 1987, when he was deputy national security advisor and I was on a one-year fellowship with the Joints Chief of Staff. He invited me to a pleasant lunch, and we conversed about my future. He and his wife, Alma, became my friends. Alma and I share familial ties in Birmingham, Alabama. My father had worked for Alma's uncle, who was the principal of the second largest black high school. Alma's father, Mr. R. C. Johnson, was the principal of the largest, Parker High, and was a legend in our middle-class, segregated community. Colin knew how hard the NSA job was, and he tried to be supportive. But he also, I believe, thought that I was not strong enough in my support of him and the State Department agenda. He asked me many times why I didn't go to the President to "discipline" Defense for any number of sins of omission or commission, some imagined, some not. He probably didn't realize how often I took State's case to the President sympathetically. But truthfully, I wondered why he did not take greater advantage of his extraordinary stature. Sometimes I would go to the President and suggest that it was time for him to sit down with Colin over dinner; the between the two men was always better after they did. I often told the President before one of those sessions that Colin was very unhappy and would tell him so. He didn't, and the President sometimes had difficulty gauging the extent of Colin's dissatisfaction. I hate pop psychoanalysis, but I did sometimes wonder what held Colin back; perhaps the "soldier" felt constrained, and, of course, he had to be aware that he probably would have been President had he chosen to run.
    • Pages 21-22
  • It became fashionable during the Bush team's eight years in office to say that we did not come to power committed to the peace process and that we should have pursued the understanding at Camp David. It simply flies in the face of reality to believe that there was any room for negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis in 2001 or for some time afterward. Yasir Arafat had demonstrated that he would not or could not make peace. Ariel Sharon came to power to defeat the Palestinian resistance, not to negotiate. That was the situation we inherited. I do not blame the Clinton administration for trying, but later, when we tried to reinvigorate the peace process, Arabs, Palestinians, and Israelis alike communicated the same message: don't let Camp David happen again!
    • Pages 53-54
  • The fact is that the United States was poorly prepared for September 11, 2001, for systemic and psychological reasons. Our homeland had been spared a major foreign attack since the British burned the White House in the War of 1812. Yes, there had been the devastating attack on a military in Pearl Harbor and there had been fears of a homeland threat during World War II. But the homeland had not been hit. No one was prepared for what happened on that awful day. Ironically, the al Qaeda strategy was finally ready for the Principals' review on September 4. The meeting was fruitful. We were able to agree on a strategy of implementing an ambitious covert-action program in Afghanistan and launching the Predator drone for reconnaissance missions. Because its armed capabilities were not ready, the Predator, the Principals agreed, could provide us with actionable intelligence to target the locations of key al Qaeda leaders. I forwarded the strategy to the President for his approval on September 10.
    • Pages 69-70

PBS (November 2011)Edit

Transcript by PBS (3 November 2011)
People had strong views and strong disagreements. I always thought they were substantive, not personal. I have a lot of respect for Vice President Cheney. We didn't agree a lot of the time. And Don Rumsfeld's been a good friend for a long time. And, you know, Don's a little bit of a grumpy guy, but we're still friends.
  • People had strong views and strong disagreements. I always thought they were substantive, not personal. I have a lot of respect for Vice President Cheney. We didn't agree a lot of the time. And Don Rumsfeld's been a good friend for a long time. And, you know, Don's a little bit of a grumpy guy, but we're still friends.
  • Well, not as secretary of state, because, as secretary of state, you are a Cabinet officer and you pull your own weight with your own assets. And it's actually a much different position than being national security adviser, where you really are trying to coordinate and bring everybody to the table. I used to tell President Bush it was a little bit like trying to do foreign policy by remote control, trying to get Secretary A to do this and Secretary B to do that. But, ultimately, I'm sorry that some of the relationships didn't work better. But we were under a lot of stress and strain, and personalities come to the fore when you're under those sorts of stresses.
  • Well, possibly, because I know, in Don's case, he as much as said it in his own book. He thought that I was representing myself in coming and saying that the president wanted this, the president wanted that. But, of course, I was doing what the president had asked me to do. I would say, "You know, Mr. President, it's really time you sit down with Colin," or, "I think maybe Don needs to come in alone," because I didn't want to interpose myself between those relationships. But I think, particularly maybe in Don's case, he felt that sometimes.
  • I think that the case that was made for war perhaps overemphasized — and I say this in the book — what I have called intelligence nuggets, rather than the totality of the picture about Saddam Hussein. We didn't invent the threat of Saddam Hussein. He'd used weapons of mass destruction, chemicals, against the Iranians and against his own people.
  • Well, he didn't have stockpiles of them. I do think that, when we made the case, we should have made that broader case, not just the case about weapons of mass destruction. He had caused wars. We had gone to war against him in '91. President Clinton had used force against him in 1998. There hadn't been an inspector in Iraq since 1998. He was continuing to threaten his neighbors. He tried to assassinate George H.W. Bush. He was paying Palestinian suicide bombers $25,000. And, oh, by the way, he put 400,000 people in mass graves. You want to talk about a humanitarian disaster.
  • I would, because Saddam Hussein was at the center of an unstable Middle East. We wouldn't have an Arab spring in Iraq. The Arab spring in Iraq would have started at 9:00 and been done at 4:00, because this is — was the world's — the region's most brutal dictator. It would have made what we're looking at in Syria seem relatively mild in retrospect. And so I'm very glad that he's gone.
  • Right. Well, there were, as I remember, three times. And they were of different character. And it wasn't that — I never actually went to the president and said — about, for instance, testifying before the 9/11 Commission, where the idea that the president's aides shouldn't testify under oath. And, at that point, had I not been able to testify about what we had done, I think my credibility as national security adviser would have been shot, and it wouldn't have been worth staying. I did go to the president and say, when the military commissions executive order came out, and I had not known about it, that if that happened again, either I would have to resign or the White House counsel would. The one time that it was really more within me was a kind of flashback, if you will, standing on the White House lawn in 2006, right after the 9/11 commemorative service over in — at the church, and there was a plane that was coming, it seemed to me, at us. Obviously, it was on a normal approach. And I just came up short. I thought, oh, my God, it's headed right for us. And after that experience, I thought maybe I have been doing this too long.
  • Oh, I never particularly felt any pressure about being the woman. We had strong women in the White House. Around Katrina, I misread what it meant to be the highest-ranking African-American in the administration. I thought of myself as secretary of state. I went to New York when Katrina happened to go on vacation, after having traveled miles and miles and miles. And I thought to myself, how could you have been so stupid? This is a huge crisis. You're one of the president's closest advisers. And this tragedy in New Orleans has an undeniably sad, black face. And you need to be there.
  • Yes, yes. Well, it was kind of creepy, right? And I knew before I went to Libya, because a couple of foreign minister friends had told me. And so when I went there, I kept thinking, all right, whatever his bizarre crush is, your job is to go there, represent the United States, get a supply route through Libya for humanitarian supplies into Sudan, and get out. That's your job. And so we were through the diplomatic exchange, which was eerily normal, actually, with Gadhafi. And then he said, "I have a video for you." And I thought, oh, no, what in the world is this? And it was actually just scene after scene of me with Vladimir Putin or Hu Jintao, but then set to this song, "Black Flower in the White House," that he had written by Libya's best composer, he said. So I was glad to get on the plane for Algeria.
  • Well, Iran, in the sense that it has — it's the poster child for state sponsorship of terrorism, that it is seeking and making some progress toward a nuclear device, although I sometimes think the Iranians overstate their progress. But we shouldn't underestimate the impact of Syria on Iran's reach. Syria is Iran's handmaiden in the Middle East. And if the Bashar al-Assad regime were to go down, which I think, in time, it will, it will significantly undermine Iranian reach into the Arab world. And so we ought to be doing everything that we can to put pressure on the Syrian regime. It has lost the support of its people, and it's lost the support, largely, of the region. And so it will be a very good day when both of those regimes go. They have worked in concert to bring greater instability to the Middle East than anyone since Saddam Hussein went down.
  • Well, in terms of using financial sanctions and rallying the international community and doing whatever we can by whatever means, we should play a pretty heavy hand. It doesn't have to be, necessarily, an overwhelmingly public or rhetorical hand. But I think we have relearned a lesson. The administration said that they were going to reach out a hand of friendship to the Iranians and the Syrians, and the Iranians and the Syrians bit it off. And so, when you deal with those regimes, you have got to deal with them from a position of strength, because these are regimes that do — will never have our best interests at heart.

Politico interview (May 2017)Edit

Transcript by Politico (15 May 2017)
  • Well, since I started the book more than three years ago, there was no America First policy to which to react and repudiate and indeed, I think of it as really helping Americans to understand the great sweep of America’s involvement in democratic transitions, the promotion of democracy, trying to help us understand it from the context of our own democracy and the very long road that it took us to get to a stable democracy. In fact, before I get to today’s context, people have asked me, “Well, why did you want to write a book about democracy?” I think at some level, I’ve always wanted to write it because as a child, I grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, when black citizens did not experience full democracy. We couldn’t go to a movie theater or to a restaurant and indeed, I have one event in mind or one time in mind that really sort of encapsulates it for me. I was being picked up from school by my Uncle Alto, my mother’s brother, and I was probably 6 years old or so. It was Election Day, the day that George Wallace was about to be elected the governor of Alabama. And there were long lines of black people standing ready to vote and I said to my uncle—I said, “So Alto, if all of those people vote, then Wallace can’t win.” Because I knew in my own 6-year-old way that he wasn’t good for black people, and my uncle said, “Well, no.” He said, “We’re still a minority. He’s going to win.” And I said, “So why do they bother?” And he said something that I’ll never forget. He said, “Because they know that one day, that vote will matter.” And I then have watched long lines of Afghans and Iraqis and Liberians waiting to vote because they know that one day that vote will matter. And so this mysterious thing that we call democracy where people place their aspirations and their fears in the hands of institutions is really quite a remarkable story and it’s remarkable in America and it’s remarkable across the world.
  • I’m trying to tell Americans that they were bequeathed the best institutions that anybody has ever been given and that one of the characteristics of those institutions was that they had had a constrained executive. The Founding Fathers were quite concerned about executive power. They didn’t ever want the presidency to just be about whoever happens to occupy that office. They created Article I, the Congress, and my good friend, David Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prize-winning American historian, talks about the fact that most of the discussion of the government in the Constitution is actually about the legislature and most of it about the executive is how to get rid of him if necessary. And so it was constrained and it was constrained not just by the legislature but by courts, which can rule on constitutionality. A free press, which they respected. Governors, federalism, and then civil society. And so the American presidency has to be understood in the context of all of the scaffolding for democracy. Because democracy is built for disruption. People are going to challenge the institutions, but the institutions I have absolute faith in, and whatever we’re going through now, I have tremendous faith in them and that they’re going to hold.
  • I appreciate that very much. Anything I can do from California I’m prepared to do. I’m a very happy professor. We will get good people into these positions -- but we do need to know what happened. Something very objectionable happened here. The Russians tried to interfere in our elections. Now, they have tried to interfere in our elections for a long time. It’s just that with cyber, they have a more efficient way of doing it and they have a broader way of doing it. I am furious that they tried to but I’ve also thought that Vladimir Putin was kind of an eye-for-an-eye person, would have interfered because, in his view, we called his elections fraudulent in 2012, which they were. And now, he’s going to demonstrate that he can undermine our confidence in our elections. So I would have preferred to say, “We know you did it, Russia. At a time of our choosing, we will punish that.” But we have confidence in our institutions. We have confidence in our electoral system and because I can just imagine that in the Kremlin, there’s a lot of kind of chuckling about how much they have challenged and caused a lack of confidence in our electoral system.
  • Well, Putin received Rex Tillerson, so I have no problem with President Trump receiving Sergey Lavrov. I hope the messages were pretty strong that we are never going to accept the forceful incorporation of Crimea. Susan, you will know that for 45 years, we did not accept the forceful incorporation of the Baltic states. We couldn’t do anything about it but we didn’t accept it. We didn’t legitimize it and then when conditions changed, the Baltic states were among our best friends and now members of NATO because they remembered that. And so you can send long-term messages but I think because President Putin had received Secretary Tillerson it was probably appropriate for President Trump to receive Sergey Lavrov.
  • Well, I did recommend him and I think he’s doing a fine job as secretary of state. I read the speech with a little bit greater nuance than the way I think it’s been portrayed. Because I remember very well, when I went to Egypt and I gave that speech about democracy in 2005 in Cairo. And after I gave the speech, people were saying, “Well, then how can you meet with Mubarak?” Well, because sometimes in America’s interest or for policy, you have to meet with people who don’t share your values, who might even assault your values, but the United States of America isn’t an NGO, and so yes, we sometimes, for policy reasons, have to deal with people who don’t share our values. I think we’re always better, in the long run, to remember that we are safest, most secure and most prosperous when our values and our interests are inextricably linked. We just need to remember the history here. We need to remember that we took a risk that a democratic Germany was never going to invade its neighbors again and it didn’t. We took a risk that a democratic Japan was going to be a peaceful part of Asia, and it is. And so remembering that in the long run, we are always better served by countries that share our values is extremely important, even if one day you’re having to sit across from Muammar Qadafi, as I had to do as secretary of state.
  • These are early days for this administration and it is a pretty steep learning curve for a president who has never been in government before, never has carried those responsibilities of the presidency. It’s a learning curve for every president but if you’re a senator, you’ve been in and around the Oval and you know what that room means. If you are a governor, you’ve been in and around the Oval. Certainly, if you’re the son of a president, you’ve been in and around the Oval, you know what it means. I see, though, a president who is beginning to feel the weight of that office. You can’t sit at Roosevelt’s desk and not remember the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. You can’t look at Washington or Lincoln and not feel the weight of the history of our country and all that it’s been through for democracy. When the president decided to strike Syria, for instance, after the chemical weapons use by the Assad regime, it was a very interesting moment because he said, “I can’t let that stand. Syrian babies choking on chemical weapons.” He might as well have said, “I am the president of the United States and I can’t let that stand.” And so let’s see how this evolves. I am looking forward to the president having a chance to go and see what American support for small states, like Estonia and Latvia, has meant for decades, but now as a part of NATO. To go to a place like Israel and see what it’s like to be a democracy in a sea of countries that would have destroyed you had it not been for your toughness and your will. And so these are early days and I think the president and many around him have not been in government. Let’s give it a little time.
  • Well, I listen to a lot of our senators, whether it is—of course, John McCain or Lindsey Graham, but also listen to Dan Sullivan sometimes talk about these issues or listen to Joni Ernst. These are people who served for these values and who risked their lives for these values, people who served in the military. And so I don’t think my party is going to walk away from the principles. And yes, George W. Bush stood for these principles but they were probably most strongly articulated by Ronald Reagan. Because when Ronald Reagan talked about peace through strength, he wasn’t talking about peace as the absence of war. He was talking about an environment in which justice and liberty could thrive. And so no, I don’t think the Republican Party is going to walk away from this and ultimately, I don’t think the president of the United States is going to walk away from it.
  • That’s why I don’t think it’s going to happen. Look, I understand, Susan, why Americans get a bit jaded about quote “democracy promotion.” And one thing I wanted to do with this book was to say to people, “Democracy promotion is not Iraq and Afghanistan, right?” I would never have said to President Bush, “Let’s use American military divisions to go and delivery democracy to Afghanistan and Iraq.” We had security problems in both of those places. Once we had overthrown the dictators—one, because they were harboring Al Qaeda, the other because we thought he had reconstituted his weapons of mass destruction and he had been a threat in the region and was still a threat in the region. Once we overthrew them, we had to have a view of what we ought to try to help bring about after. And so that was a separate decision, that, “alright, we should try to help the Iraqi or Afghan people get on a road to democracy.” But democracy promotion is usually not that dramatic. It usually comes rather out of circumstances like the way that we helped Colombia to take back its country from almost failed state status through democratic security, as [Colombian President Alvaro] Uribe called it, support for that through Plan Colombia that had started with President Clinton and with President Bush and continued under President Obama, bipartisan over a long period of time. It means helping Kenya to get through a bad election into a place where they can accept the consequences of the next election. It means trying to help the Ukrainians deal with the most difficult circumstances: A neighbor that is constantly trying to dismember it as it’s trying to find its own way to both identity and to liberty. So I wanted this book to say to Americans, “Don’t think about democracy promotion as something that we do with hundreds of thousands of American forces. We usually do it in much more subtle ways. And, oh, by the way, we are best served to do it with our allies while they can still reform.” If Mubarak had continued the reforms that he started in 2005, we might never have had him thrown out of office in 2011.
  • It’s either too late or incomplete, or in the case of Mubarak, people get scared. He got frightened when the Muslim Brotherhood won big in the elections, the legislative elections, even though the presidential election had gone relatively well. But you have to keep pressing people because the same frustrations and disappointments that led to the Arab Spring aren’t going away in the Middle East. Now, you can keep a lid on it for a while, but eventually, it’s going to explode and we have a lot of interest in having our lives reformed before there are people in the streets.
  • Well, there’s no doubt that the way that Iraq played out and I talk in the book about some of the mistakes that we made in not understanding what institutions we might have used. There’s no doubt that it’s caused people to say, “Well, is it possible then to have democracy in the Middle East?” But Iraq and to a certain extent, Afghanistan, were sort of the most stressing cases because you had totalitarian regimes with nothing underneath. My definition of a totalitarian regime comes really from the way that Mussolini talked about totalitario, in which he said that it is the state, all in the state, all for the state, nothing outside the state. So the perfect example is one that we know well. In Joseph Stalin’s Soviet Russia, Prokofiev and Shostakovich are persecuted for not writing music that’s socialist enough. When you think about that, that’s what you mean by a totalitarian state and then you don’t have any institutions and it’s extremely hard to do anything and so that’s what happened in Iraq. But the Middle East is more than just that kind of circumstance. You have a wide variety of kinds of regimes in the Middle East.
  • And the fact that it was hard after—but let me just be very clear: I would rather be Iraqi than Syrian today. I would rather be Iraqi with a prime minister who might be weak but he’s accountable to the people. With 25 different newspapers and radio stations and Arab satellite available and where my government doesn’t actually use barrel bombs and chemical weapons against me. So when I hear about how poorly the Iraqis are doing, I want to say in regards to what or in comparison to what? So you can posit that it was better for the Iraqis to continue under a dictator who was putting 300,000 people in mass graves if you want to make that case. I don’t want to make that case and when people say, “Well, Iraq is such a disaster”; I want them to explain to me why they think that under Saddam Hussein it was a bucolic, benign dictatorship.
  • Well, my undiminished faith is that elections have to happen, right? And then the question is, can you improve the context in which they happen? And there are a couple of ways that you can do that. I think one mistake we made with Hamas was we really should have said they had to disarm if they were going to participate in the elections, along the lines of what was done in Northern Ireland, for instance. Or where Sinn Féin was able to run for elections but the IRA couldn’t—there couldn’t be an armed part of it. So that’s one thing. Don’t let armed militias participate in elections because they have a, shall we say, unfair advantage. It would be true, for instance, of Hezbollah in Lebanon. But a more important one is that yes, if you have elections and the only organized forces are Islamists, radical Islamists, then you’re going to get a bad outcome. In Egypt, when the Muslim Brotherhood did so well, there was a reason for that, which is that the Muslim Brotherhood could organize in the radical mosques and the radical madrassas. Whereas Mubarak had hounded liberal forces like Ayman Nour and others, shut down their newspapers, closed it, put him in jail. So when Mubarak would say to me, “I’m all”—he would say me, Mubarak, “All standing that is between the Muslim Brotherhood and Egypt,” I would think, “Yes, because you made it that way.” Because you didn’t allow liberal forces to emerge. Now, if you look at Tunisia instead, you have Islamists but you also have a nationwide labor movement that was able to help check it and moderate it. You have women’s movements that were able to moderate it and check it. So I think we make a false choice when we say, “If you have an election, the Islamists are going to win.” Well, yes, if you disable all other forces.
  • Not America. Helping the people on the ground who want to improve their circumstances. We can’t do this for them. One of the things I criticize in the book in liberal parties, particularly in Russia, that have no answer for the widow in Perm who has just lost her benefits and want to play power politics inside and around the Kremlin. So we can’t stand in for these liberal forces but we can support them and help them to the degree they can’t. But what Solidarity showed in Poland by being a nationwide labor movement that was ready to move when the democratic opening came; what has happened in Tunisia where you have multiple kinds of civil society groups able to step forward; what you are beginning to see in other places in Eastern Europe. Let’s take Poland, for example, where even though there are challenges from the Law and Justice Party to the democracy, you have a lot of other forces that are fighting back.
  • Absolutely. And let me just make a little distinction in terms because it’s really important. Realism comes out of political science and basically, it’s a theory that the international system is made up of billiard balls that bounce into each other. It’s all about power. It doesn’t matter what’s inside them. I think we have always found—and frankly, it was kind of a European 19th century view. It was all about who could win more power. And it was zero-sum. If I gave up power, you took it. Now, America has valued a balance of power that favors freedom, meaning that we’ve believed that what’s inside those billiard balls actually matters. That’s why we advocated for a democratic Germany as part of the answer toward a peaceful Europe after World War II.
  • No, I don’t know if it’s apocryphal, but Churchill supposedly said, “I like Germany so much I’d like as many of them as possible. Okay, break it up, make it weak.” That’s balance-of-power thinking. That’s realism. But to bet on a democratic Germany, that was a novel idea and it’s worked. Now, the other thing about—and the reason I wanted to say realism as opposed to realistic is I would say that the most realistic thing to say is, “What happens when you have democracies in the world?” They don’t employ child soldiers. They don’t harbor terrorists as a matter of state policy. They don’t invade their neighbors. If you’re realistic about authoritarians, they do all of those things. And oh, by the way, they don’t have the one important shock absorber that democracies have. People can’t change their circumstances peacefully. And so when an autocracy fails, you get an explosion. So I would say that the more realistic policy is to recognize that what happens inside those billiard balls actually really matters.
  • That just isn’t very—it doesn’t have very great faith in America and what it’s done for now almost more than a half a century. Because we have shaped outcomes. Great powers who have a view of how human history ought to unfold can have a big impact on the world. And if we had taken the view that we couldn’t shape the international system, then a lot of people might have been speaking either Russian or German. [LAUGHS] And so the United States has the power with supporting others. You ask a very interesting question. With Ronald Reagan, yes, he spoke about human rights and he spoke about freedom and he went and told Gorbachev to tear down the wall. But even well before Ronald Reagan, it had been support through the Council for Security and Cooperation in Europe going back to the ‘70s where these human rights advocates and these civil society groups from inside the Soviet Union and inside Poland and inside Hungary had been able to get out and go to a conference in Geneva or a conference in Bonn and feel the support of others, even though they couldn’t act at that moment. And you know what? When the Soviet Union collapsed, they were there. They were stronger. They were ready to lead the democratic transition. Ronald Reagan, and I talk about it in the book—Ronald Reagan through the CIA, the Vatican through Pope John Paul II and Lane Kirkland of the AFL-CIO kept Solidarity alive when martial law was declared in Poland at the beginning of the ‘80s. And by keeping Solidarity alive underground, when the opening came, Solidarity was ready. That’s what we should do.
  • Well, let’s wait and see if it really turns out to be a 30 percent cut because of course, the administration proposes but Congress actually authorizes and appropriates. I understand and look, I was provost of Stanford. I had to make big budget cuts. Sometimes efficiencies are a good thing. And I will say this: the State Department seems to have grown since I have left so I don’t know whether there is room for cuts or not. I think Rex Tillerson is the right person to take a look at that. But I sure hope that some of the programs that have been really important—America’s compassion through PEPFAR, the AIDS relief program, saving millions of people in what was a pandemic that was threatening to wipe out most of a continent. When you look at Millennium Challenge, which was a foreign assistance program that is different in that it demands of the recipient that they be governing wisely, that they’re governing democratically, that they’re fighting corruption, and so it’s a partnership that has worked. So whatever happens in the cuts, I hope that some of these more important and signature programs will not. That they do it with a scalpel, not with a hammer.
  • I think the relationship started to experience difficulty after the Orange Revolution in Ukraine. Putin had an idea that the new U.S.-Russia relationship was going to be built around the fight against terrorism and he was right about that. But when part of the Bush administration’s antidote to terrorism became the Freedom Agenda, now he wanted to get off that train. And we still did a lot of good work together. But by 2008, yes, Georgia happened. I don’t think it was a direct relationship to Crimea. Crimea, as you know, because of its relationship to Russia historically was in a sort of different category and what had happened in Georgia was also unfortunate in that the Georgians allowed themselves to be provoked by the Russians and we had actually talked about not having that happen. But once the invasion of Georgia had happened, it was pretty clear that this relationship was not going to be a close strategic relationship. I think we did a good job in keeping them out of Tbilisi. I remember a conversation with Sergey Lavrov in which he told me that the unspoken Russian demand was that Mikheil Saakashvili had to go, the president of Georgia. And told me it was a secret between us and I said, “You don’t have that conversation with the American secretary of state and expect it to be secret.”
  • First of all, it’s very serious whenever there is a charge with a foreign power, particularly a hostile foreign power, and I think you could probably count Russia today as hostile—is engaging in this kind of activity inside the United States. Let me say one thing: this isn’t our first cybersecurity problem with an outside power. We have the Chinese rattling around in Office of Personnel Management files as well. So maybe we also ought to be doing something about our cybersecurity. But that aside, it’s a very serious matter. But let’s investigate it. Let’s find the truth and if there is a punishment to be meted out, let’s do that. But I’m concerned that it has reached a point where everybody is speculating, everybody’s got an answer to what’s going on and what we need is for a responsible body and I think that’s Senate Intelligence, to take a look. They have access to everything. By all reports, they have bipartisan leadership that looks very sound. So let them investigate it. Let them come forward and tell us what happened and then we can move from there. But I have to tell you, I come from California. As you know, I live in California now and the level of pitch in Washington around these issues can’t be healthy. It’s got to be investigated by people who can actually get the facts and let’s get it done quickly so that the speculation can stop.
  • Our democracy is very strong and whatever someone says, I don’t see a press that has been silenced. I see a press that is more active and more vocal than maybe in many, many years. I see courts that continue to act when they believe that constitutionality is an issue. I see governors who are challenging executive orders. I see congresspeople, senators from both sides of the aisle who are raising questions when they see problems. So that’s the health of a democracy is that you have multiple channels, multiple power centers which can do this. And on criticism of the courts, we’ve been going down this road for a little while. I didn’t much like it when President Obama with the chief justice sitting in the State of the Union called out a justice or a Supreme Court decision. And so maybe we’ve been eroding some of those lines between the branches of government for some time and maybe we need to think, everybody, about what the founders really said. They are three coequal branches of government and they were very careful to give them their own powers, their own authority and those need to be respected.
  • I can’t tell because I’m not inside every day. It’s not abnormal to have people positioning within the White House. That is most certainly not abnormal. But I can’t tell you the level of whether it’s unusual. I can tell you that it is a steep learning curve for any president. It’s steeper for this president because he really hasn’t been around the government. I actually felt bad for him when he said that the job is harder than he thought. Sometimes I think when you’re on the outside—and I’ve heard a lot of business people say this, people that I respect, and they just don’t see why it’s so hard getting things done in Washington.
  • No, because President Bush had been around his father. He knew how hard it was. But I can’t tell you how many business people say, “Well, I don’t see why it’s so hard to get that done. Why can’t they change entitlements? Why can’t they do this? Why can’t they do that?” Sometimes, the press, there’s a little bit of—with columnists and reporters: [asking] why can’t they just get anything done> And having been in those positions, I want to say to people, “Try it for a few days and you’ll see why it’s hard.” It’s hard because you do have equal competing power centers that have to be accommodated. Madison was very interesting on this. He said that there should be no permanent losers in democracy. And by that, I think he meant that I don’t want to defeat you when I win on a particular policy issue because the next time around, I might need you. And if I could say anything that’s really troubling to me about Washington as I watch it safely 3,000 miles away in California, it’s that attitude. "I need to defeat you. I don’t just need to win this round. I need to defeat you." I heard something the other day that really troubled me. Well, that Obamacare helped to defeat the Democrats in the election and the new health care bill is going to defeat the Republicans in the election and I thought, "Is that all this is about? I thought this was about trying to do what’s right for the American people." And so I think that’s what is disturbing people and I think, Susan, as much as I myself like social media and use social media, and as much as I like the proliferation of possible sources of news these days, it’s a little bit too much that I can go to my corner, my aggregators, my bloggers, my cable news channel, never encounter anybody who thinks differently and now, when I encounter people who think differently, I think they’re venal or stupid. We’ve got to learn to talk across our differences. I tell my students at Stanford if you are constantly in the company of people who say amen to everything you say, find other company.
  • No, I think words matter but I also think these are early days and I see that we are seeing words that look to me like they are—and I’m speaking now in the area that I know, foreign policy—more strategically placed, for instance, than in the campaign and even in the early days of the administration. I think, for instance, to say to the Chinese, “If you don’t deal with the North Koreans, we will.” There’s nothing wrong with that message. I think to say to the Syrians, "We are not going to sit by and let you gas Syrian babies." I think there’s nothing wrong with that message. I think to say to Vladimir Putin, "Yes, I want to meet with you but at an appropriate time." I see nothing wrong with that message and I think it is reflective also of the strength of the national security team that they have. Rex Tillerson and Jim Mattis and H.R. McMaster and John Kelly. But yes, words do matter and I follow every day what we’re saying. I hope that we will say even more. That the world is really a dark place when the United States of America is not involved. It’s a dark place when we don’t stand up for those who just want to have the same basic values that we have. The right to say what you think and worship as you please and be free from the knock of the secret police at night and have the dignity that comes with electing those who are going to govern you. Because it’s really served us best when America leads from power and principle and I’m hoping to hear even more of that.

Face The Nation (September 2019)Edit

Transcript by Face The Nation (15 September 2019)
  • First of all, I think John is a great intellect. I think he cares deeply about the country, he has strong views. But John, I think, did a good job in trying to bring different perspectives to the president. I know that there were sometimes disagreements apparently everyone has said that. But the national security adviser has to be the kind of air traffic controller for the president and help to bring together the secretary of state, secretary of defense and others to- to get the president's agenda done. And I think John put together a good staff. And so I think he'll be missed because I know he was skeptical of some of the diplomacy. John was skeptical of some of our diplomacy so I understand that but he did a very good job, but the fact of the matter is, and I know he understands this, when the president and the national security adviser are not on the same page it's not the president who is going to go. And so he served well and I wish him well.
  • I- I think maybe even Henry Kissinger would say that that might not be the best idea because the president needs a secretary of state who is the chief diplomat who is out executing on behalf of the country who is confirmed by and accountable to the Congress. And the national security adviser has to be the president's alter ego, behind the scenes more. Working to bring all of the Cabinet secretaries together, making sure the defense is heard, the treasury is heard. And so if that person is also the secretary of state you- you're not going to have that kind of separation that you need to make sure that everybody is- is heard. But- but Henry Kissinger was singular. There has never been anybody like him in history probably never will be again. But I think the model works much better when the national security adviser tries to be an honest broker.
  • I don't know where the party is, but I certainly believe that President Trump is speaking to something that's in the country. If you think back to the interview that President Barack Obama did with Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic just before he left office there are really a lot of echoes of what you hear with President Trump. He talked about allies being kind of free riders. He talked about having been dragged into the Libya conflict and then they couldn't even find enough ammunition. There was this sort of anger and frustration sounding through about allies and what they do. And so this has been coming for some time. Probably a little bit of exhaustion with the wars and terrorism and vigilance- I once said that to President Bush I said "I think people are tired." But the fact is the American people have kind of two impulses simultaneously. One is we're tired of those burdens of leadership can't somebody else do it. You hear that in echoed by President Trump and earlier by President Obama. But they also don't want to see Syrian babies choking on nerve gas. They don't want to see people beheaded on TV as ISIS was doing. They don't want to see Vladimir Putin laying waste to his neighbors or Venezuelans starving because they have a bad government. And so what the president has to do is to activate the part of America that wants to continue to lead. And sometimes I think you get that from this administration. You certainly got it on Venezuela, but it is different language than we've heard from the more internationalist wing of the Republican Party. But remember this has roots that go back to Pat Buchanan and others so that strain has always been there in the Republican Party to have a little bit more isolationism.
  • I don't know if there's an identity that defines republic- defines foreign policy in either party. The United States is going through a transformative period in which we are leaving one era, the era in which the United States emerged really the sole superpower after the end of the Cold War. We're now facing new challenges to the system that produced that outcome. The system that was set up in 1945 with institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank and NATO these were all institutions that got us to the end of the Cold War. Then there was a period of having to deal with terrorism and the attacks that we had the anniversary of- on September 11th. Now we're facing all of these new challenges. What do you do about cybersecurity? What do you do about ungoverned spaces where terrorists train, but where you can't go in directly? What do you do about the rise of great powers like China? What do you do about the- the efforts of a declining power like Russia to disrupt the international system? The problems are different and I think we're going to have to come to a new consensus about what really principles are going to guide American foreign policy. I hope that there will be some echoes of the old principles that America is going to be involved, that without the United States the world is a more chaotic place. I hope that those principles will involve patience. One of the things that we talk about in a book that I've just done on To Build a Better World with my co-author Phil Zelikow is that we were patient for 45 years. We stayed in Europe until Germany unified in 1990. We've been patient on the Korean Peninsula keeping the peace there so that the South wouldn't be overrun. Patience has served us well, but we're feeling now impatient. So I hope that that will be a part of the new consensus and I hope we will continue to believe in free markets and free peoples it's- it's served us well to do so in the past.
  • I hope it's a bit of a wakeup call. When we see the rise of what we've called the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, populism that says don't believe in those institutions. Those institutions- you go around them directly to the people. Well there are some dangers in that. When you see the rise of what I'll call nativism. I-I think saying it's nationalism for Americans- nationalism is not a bad thing. It's not bad to be proud of- patriotic toward your country. Nativism though pits you against them. When you see isolationism, when you see protectionism growing, the whole idea that the international economy is better if people trade- countries trade freely, when you see that under attack, I do think we're drifting toward a systemic crisis. And so what we wanted to say is let's remember the diplomacy that was so successful to get us to what might have been even unthinkable, the peaceful decline and death really of the Soviet Union, the unification of Germany completely and totally on Western terms, the liberation of Eastern Europe. Those are events of- of a lifetime and apocable events. And so to- to go back and look at that is to say let's remember the principles that got us there as we're about to go through another period of upheaval.
  • But it's not just what defines some of the president's policies. America first, for instance. It defines a lot of what you're hearing across the world. It defines what you're hearing in Great Britain with Brexit. It defines what you hear from the Five Star Movement in Italy. It defines what you hear in Brazil with- with Bolsonaro. So the question is why are we getting this response? And elites can't sit back and say oh you're just wrong. There has to be some self-evaluation of how late-stage capitalism is dealing with some of the new challenges. When you tell the unemployed steelworker in Pennsylvania or the unemployed coal miner in West Virginia, oh I'm sorry globalization really was good for you because you can buy those cheap goods now at Wal-Mart. That message isn't getting through. Perhaps instead you have to think how are we going to actually match the job skills to the jobs that are available in the new economy? What are we going to do about the pressures of automation on low skilled workers? The European Union has a quite different problem. How are they going to determine what the proper balance is between what Brussels does, the unelected bureaucrats in Brussels of the European Commission as people sometimes derisively say, and what nations are supposed to do? Because it turns out that people want to be European but they also want to be Polish and British and German. And so the system has produced a lot of gains but those of us who believe in it can't just bury our heads in the sand and say oh it all worked perfectly. It didn't.
  • Well I do think that you see people pushing back on very specific circumstances. Now let's be fair. When it comes to some foreign policy issues that I was dealing with a decade ago, you have to give the administration credit for having taken them on. North Korea. Nobody's been able to solve the North Korean problem. I don't have a problem with how they're going about that. I would say that on Iran, they're pushing back correctly on an Iranian regime that is the most dangerous and disruptive regime in the Middle East.
  • I have no problem negotiating with the Iranians. I was the one who set up negotiation tracks with the Iranians back in 2006. But you have to do it when the conditions are right. One of the problems I think with the Afghan negotiations with- potentially with the Taliban, is not a question of do you ultimately have to sit down with all parties. But when you have a negotiation that looks like the Taliban is not going to even recognize the legitimate democratically-elected government of Afghanistan, not going to recognize the Constitution, now you have to step back and say is this time really to negotiate? When you're negotiating from a position of strength, as I think we would be with the Iranians or with the North Koreans because the sanctions have weakened those economies, that's- that's fine. When your partner or your adversary thinks that they have the upper hand, which I think the Taliban thinks because they think we want to get out so badly we'll- we'll take anything, then I think you have to stop and say this may not be the time to negotiate.
  • I was struck after 2016 with what I'll call the anthropological approach to common people, quote unquote, both by academics and journalists who suddenly wanted to go and find out what do those people think who might have taken a chance on a more populist president who had never actually even maybe- his first job in government was president the United States. And it was a sense that there was something different about them than the rest of us. I- I have a sense that we're still not quite capturing what it is that is the problem. And I think there are two problems. One is economic opportunity and that goes to job skills we can't- and by the way, we can't have anymore eighth- anymore third graders who can't read. Eight year olds can't read. So it goes to the education system. But there are also some cultural divides. When I hear people put down people because of their religious values or put them down because they are not a part of the kind of global elite that looks at the world as one big world. I think we've got some work to do to bridge those differences, to get back to a kind of common American narrative that really believes that it doesn't matter where you came from, it matters where you're going. And I don't think that work has really even begun yet. I think there people who were beginning to think about how that might- how that might work. But there probably is going to have to be some soul searching first about what is produced this division between the elites and- and the people.
  • We have a problem in both of our major parties. Now I'm a Republican and I'm going to work to make sure that I do everything I can to make the Republican Party have what you've called a big tent, which means that you unite anyone who has what I think are core values of the Republican Party when it's been its most successful. A belief in the American role in the world is one that is stabilizing. Even if one does not want to believe that the United States ought to be on the frontlines every time, you can believe in alliances and the ability to work with allies. I want to have an America that stands for people who are voiceless. When you see people in the streets of Hong Kong or when you see Iranian dissidents, you-you want them to know that America stands for the view that no man, woman, or child should live in tyranny. I want a Republican Party that does believe that an international economy doesn't have to be zero-sum game. If you grow, it doesn't mean that I can't grow. So there are some basic principles and I'll- I'll continue to work to see that we- that those views are voiced. But this is not a Republican or Democrat pr-problem. This is how are our longstanding political institutions, including our parties, going to respond to some very different challenges. I would say, for instance, on education, I like where Republicans are. I like the fact that we stand for school choice. I like the fact that a lot of Republicans believe in vouchers for poor parents and poor kids and for charter schools so that kids can get a failing neighborhood schools. I don't understand the argument that I can send my kids to good public schools because I live in a really expensive neighborhood or I can send my kids to private schools because I can afford to do it. But oh, if you're a poor parent, I'm going to trap your kid in a failing neighborhood school. So on education, I actually think the Republicans in a better position than the Democrats. So this isn't a Democrat Republican issue. This is a question of how are all of our political institutions going to deal with these very big problems.
  • I do and I've said I think that particularly from the White House, you need language that recognizes how raw race is as a factor in America. I grew up in segregated Birmingham Alabama alright. I understand race and racism and the like. But I'm- I'm going to tell you, Margaret, that I think that we can all be better and the way that we deal with this very raw nerve which is race. I think it's time to stop labeling each others and using explosive terms like she's a racist, he's a racist. That- that stops the conversation right. When you say that, that's meant to stop the conversation and we need to have a conversation. We also need to, and I say this very often to my students- you know, identity is a wonderful and marvelous thing. I am tremendously proud of my ancestors who survived the horrors of slavery, came out of it and by the time of my grandfather, were being college educated. I'm tremendously proud of that legacy but I also know that identity has to be something that you don't use against others. And so to the degree that we are breaking ourselves into ever smaller groups with ever larger senses of grievance and ever different narratives, I don't think anybody is doing very well at helping us to navigate this extraordinarily difficult minefield of race.
  • Well I'm not going to speak to the extraction issue and nobody should've. Let me be very clear it was irresponsible to talk about the extraction of an asset. I don't know the story. The CIA has pushed back on that story but when one starts talking about assets, you're putting people's lives in danger. And so I think was irresponsible to talk about that. When it comes to Russia and the threat itself, Vladimir Putin has clearly decided that he needs an enemy and it's us. And I actually think when you look at the policies and yes, some of them have originated in Congress, not in the White House, the sanctions regimes that are in place are actually having an effect on the Russian economy. So I don't think- and by the way, the Trump administration is the one that armed the Ukrainians. The Trump administration is also the one that put heavy brigades, following on Obama administration work, heavy brigades with Americans in-in them in Poland and Baltic states to say to Vladimir Putin no further. So the policies are very, very good. We need to continue to speak to the Russians who- we have work we have to do with the regime but we also need to speak to the different Russia that's been emerging since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Younger people who travel, who went to school in the United States- I've taught them in the Graduate School of Business at Stanford and people have taught them in law schools. They've worked in- in companies that are of our foreign companies. This is a different population. Middle class Russians who have their 30 year mortgage and spoil their kids at McDonald's. If people look at what happened to Vladimir Putin's party in Moscow, where his candidates were afraid to run under the banner United Russia, it says something about the unpopularity of the autocracy that he is building there.
  • I don't think sanctions should be pulled back but I think we have to be careful how we use them because we want to be certain that we're not cutting off access for Russian business people who might look to a different kind of Russian economy rather than the oil and gas oligarchy that currently governs Russia.

Face The Nation (June 2020)Edit

Transcript by Face The Nation (7 June 2020)
  • People are a little bit sick and tired of being sick and tired, to quote the great civil rights leader, Fannie Lou Hamer. And I think that is leading people of various backgrounds, different colors, different experiences to say how can we really make the outcome different this time? And it's leading people to look at questions about our criminal justice system, about the justice of our institutions. But more importantly, it's looking- having us look in the mirror at questions about race. It's a very, very deep and abiding wound in an America that was born with a birth defect of slavery. And I'm really hoping that this time, we'll have really honest conversations, conversations that are not judgmental. Conversations that are deep but honest conversations about what we've been through and who we want to be.
  • We have a very painful history. That's a very hard truth. But it is the truth of the past. We now have to talk about how to move forward. And when I talk to people of different colors, particularly my white friends, my white colleagues, I don't want it to be in the language of recrimination. I want to be in the language of how do we move forward. I think we each have an individual responsibility. It's a collective responsibility, yes, but it's an individual responsibility to ask what am I going to do specifically? What am I going to do to help heal these wounds and to move our country forward? Because race is still very much a factor in everyday life in America.
  • Yes. I come from a family of educators. I come from a family where my grandfather managed as- as a sharecropper's son to get educated in Alabama in the 1920s. Education was always for us a way to break through the barriers of prejudice, to make sure that my parents used to say, make sure that you have all of the armor you need to move forward. And I know that an education is not a- a shield against prejudice, but it gives people a fighting chance. The poor kids and minority kids in our country, they really don't have that shot at a high-quality education. I can honestly now look at your zip code and tell whether you're gonna get a good education. MARGARET, if- if anything, if you look at this COVID-19 crisis, it has exposed even deeper inequalities in our society. Just imagine being a child who's trying to learn- to learn at home and the parents don't speak English, the parents don't have an educational background of their own. And contrast that with the kid whose parents are well-educated and who can read to them. We've got a lot of work to do around inequality.
  • This crisis has exacerbated problems that were there already, and we now have to ask ourselves, are we just going to say, well, my goodness, look at what we've seen, are we really going to act? We know that in this crisis, if you can work from home, if you are capable of being on the Internet, then you can continue to work. You're not unemployed. Knowledge workers are doing better. Let's say every American is going to have broadband. Every American is going to have access to a reliable Internet. And that means people in rural areas. That means people in- in schools that are not well-endowed.
  • I would ask the president to first and foremost speak in the language of unity, the language of empathy. Not everyone is going to agree with any president, with this president, but you have to speak to every American, not just to those who might agree with you. And you have to speak about the deep wounds that we have and that we're going to overcome them. I've heard the president talk about the resilience of Americans. I'd love to hear more of that. Twitter and tweeting are- are not great ways for complex thoughts, for complex messages. When the president speaks, it needs to be from a place of- of thoughtfulness, from a place of having really honed the message so that it reaches all Americans. And by the way, not just the president. I would love to hear this from our leaders in Congress on both sides of the aisle. I would love to hear from mayors and from governors and from others. Leaders at this particular point need to do everything that they can to overcome, not intensify our divisions.
  • Well, no. The president, obviously, the shooting and looting, he said that he didn't know that historical context. And so I would say think about the historical context before you say something, because it is a deep wound. And the presidency is special in that regard. People look to the Oval Office as we've looked to the Oval Office throughout our history for- for messages, for signals. And as I said, the president has used some language that I'm really very, very much admire, like the resilience of the American people. Just be careful about those messages. I'm not advising the president, but if I were, I would say let's put tweeting aside for a little bit and- and talk to us, have a conversation with us. And I think we need that. And I think he can do it.
  • Well, look, I have enormous respect for Jim Mattis. And he's a man of great integrity. He's a patriot. He's my friend. And he spoke to something that he needed to speak to. What I want to speak to is the future and what we do here over the next several months. We are having protests that need to be peaceful, but we've always moved ahead in part by protest. There's no ex- excuse for the criminality and for the looting. That's not what- who we are and what we are. But I will tell you, as somebody who grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, Jim Crow Alabama, when if a black man was shot by a policeman, it wouldn't have even been a footnote in the newspaper, I'm really grateful to people who are going out now and saying, no, that is not acceptable. I'm grateful to those people who are thinking about how to support good police, who are thinking about how to support all of those people who put their lives on the line every day to protect us, but also to say to those who do not have our best interests at heart, who don't undertake that obligation to protect and defend without regard to color, enough. We won't put up with that either. And so this is a time for every American to speak to our unity, but to also be very cognizant of how we describe our differences, how we address our differences, and especially how we address one another with empathy.
  • Well, I would absolutely advise against it, particularly at this time. Look, the founding fathers were very smart about this. Thomas Jefferson talked about the citizen soldier, and the embodiment of the citizen soldier these days is the National Guard and Reserve. They come from these communities. They are of these communities. They are trained in everything from dealing with natural disasters to dealing with issues like crowd control. And when the local police can't handle it, the National Guard's the right- the right answer. Our military isn't trained to do this. Our military is trained for the battlefield. And this isn't a battlefield in that sense.
  • I would say to those, particularly in places like China and Russia and Iran, who may want to use this for propaganda, let's not be absurd. This is not Tiananmen Square where you've mowed down people who disagreed with the government. This is not the invasion of Crimea where you took land from your neighbor. This is not the Green Revolution in Iran where you killed people wantonly because they wouldn't agree with the theocratic government. And I would even say to our friends abroad, in places like Europe, where I'm seeing demonstrations in support of what is happening here, thank you for your support, but please look in the mirror. Please ask yourself, in countries in Europe and countries all across the world, what are you doing about racial and ethnic inequality in your own circumstances? America has gotten better because we have been willing to confront our problems. And we're going to confront our problems again. We're confronting them now. And I think we will move forward this time. But I- I really don't need to be lectured by Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping about peaceful protest when they have themselves used their own force just because people wanted to criticize the government. That is not is what- that is not what is happening here.
  • As I've often said, when I'm ready to speak about American politics, I'll come back to you. And I'll- you'll be the first to know when I want to speak about American politics. Right now, what I want to speak to is my fellow Americans and to understand the deep divisions that we have, to understand what it is to be black. You asked about the military earlier. Let's remember, too, that our people in uniform also come from different backgrounds. They come from different races. They're united in a common cause. But this is hard for them, too. And I know that their commanders are aware of the painful conversations that need to be- need to take place even within our military. But one great thing is when we unite for a common cause, as they often do, it helps us to overcome those differences.

The Afghan people didn’t choose the Taliban. They fought and died alongside us.Edit

Transcript by Washington Post (17 August 2021)
  • It didn’t have to happen this way. The images of Afghans hanging from American transport planes at the Kabul airport are heartbreaking and harrowing. That this moment comes less than one month from the 20th anniversary of 9/11 is hard to believe and harder to accept. The past years in Afghanistan have been difficult for every president, our armed forces, our allies and our country. The sacrifices of those who served — and those who died — will forever sear our national memory. Each of us who held positions of authority over those years made mistakes — not because we didn’t try or were heedless of the challenges. But the United States could not afford to ignore the rogue state that harbored those who attacked us on 9/11. The time will come to assess where we failed — and what we achieved.
  • In the wake of Kabul’s fall, though, a corrosive and deeply unfair narrative is emerging: to blame the Afghans for how it all ended. The Afghan security forces failed. The Afghan government failed. The Afghan people failed. “We gave them every chance to determine their own future,” President Biden said in his address Monday — as if the Afghans had somehow chosen the Taliban. No — they didn’t choose the Taliban. They fought and died alongside us, helping us degrade al-Qaeda. Working with the Afghans and our allies, we gained time to build a counterterrorism presence around the world and a counterterrorism apparatus at home that has kept us safe. In the end, the Afghans couldn’t hold the country without our airpower and our support. It is not surprising that Afghan security forces lost the will to fight, when the Taliban warned that the United States was deserting them and that those who resisted would see their families killed. No — they didn’t choose the Taliban. They seized the chance to create a modern society where girls could attend school, women could enter professions and human rights would be respected. No — they didn’t choose the Taliban. They built a fledgling democracy with elected leaders who often failed but didn’t brutalize their people as so many regimes in the region do. It was a government that never managed to tame corruption and the drug trade. In this, Afghanistan had plenty of company across the globe. Twenty years was not enough to complete a journey from the 7th-century rule of the Taliban and a 30-year civil war to a stable government. Twenty years may also not have been enough to consolidate our gains against terrorism and assure our own safety. We — and they — needed more time.
  • We have understood this before. Technically, our longest war is not Afghanistan: It is Korea. That war didn’t end in victory; it ended in a stalemate — an armistice. South Korea did not achieve democracy for decades. Seventy years later, we have more than 28,000 American troops there in an admission that even the sophisticated South Korean army cannot deter the North alone. Here’s what we achieved: a stable equilibrium on the Korean Peninsula, a valuable South Korean ally and a strong presence in the Indo-Pacific.
  • Afghanistan is not South Korea. But we might have achieved a reasonable outcome with a far smaller commitment. More time for the Afghans didn’t have to entail combat troops, just a core American presence for training, air support and intelligence. More time for us might have retained American intelligence and counterterrorism assets on the ground to protect our allies and our homeland from the reemergence of a terrorist haven. More time might have preserved our sophisticated Bagram air base in the middle of a dangerous region that includes Pakistan and borders the most dangerous country in the Middle East — Iran. More time would have served our strategic interests. We did not want to give ourselves or the Afghans more time. Understood. But we were in such a hurry that we left in the middle of the fighting season. We know that the Taliban retreats in the winter. Might we have waited until then and given the Afghans a little more time to develop a strategy to prevent the chaotic fall of Kabul?
  • Now we have to live with the consequences of our haste. We must do everything we can to mobilize regional allies and the international community to temper the nature of Taliban rule. Let us hope that Taliban leaders mean it when they say they will not brutalize the population as they did before. Meantime, the administration cannot simply state that our credibility is intact — it is not. Credibility is not divisible, and China, Russia and Iran have taken our measure. The pictures of the past few days will emblazon an image of America in retreat. Now is the time to reinforce our commitment to Ukraine, Iraq and particularly Taiwan. And as we relive the fall of Saigon, there is one page that is worth repeating. We rescued thousands of South Vietnamese who had helped us and were endangered. We did not get them all, and many suffered at the hands of the North. But the ones we did relocate, their children and grandchildren, contribute daily to strengthening the fabric of America. They are businesspeople, educators, government officials — and soldiers in the American armed forces who enlisted after 9/11. If we do nothing else, we must urgently provide refuge for the Afghans who believed in us. We must demonstrate that we still believe in them.

9/11: Twenty Years Later (September 2021)Edit

Transcript by Washington Post (10 September 2021)
  • Well, after we heard about the first plane, we thought it might even be an accident, and then I was handed this note. And, suddenly, I knew it was a terrorist attack if there was a second plane that had gone into the World Trade Center, and I went in to try to get the national security principals together. Colin Powell, it turns out, was in Peru for an Organization of American States meeting. George Tenet, the CIA director, they said had already gone to a bunker in Langley, and then we heard that they couldn't reach Secretary Rumsfeld. His phone at defense at the Pentagon was just ringing and ringing and ringing. We looked behind us, and the plane had hit the World Trade Center--had hit the Pentagon, and about that time, I thought to myself, this is really an all-out attack. But the Secret Service had taken over, and they said, "You've got to get out of here. Planes are flying into buildings all over Washington, D.C.," and so I was sort of lifted and actually levitated toward the Presidential Management Center, the emergency bunker that is there for the president. And from then on, it was just trying to manage the effects of what had happened that day, a sense that it was all a bit surreal, but you don't have time to think about how surreal it is or any sense of fear. You just simply have to act at that point.
  • Well, when I arrived, two figures really stand out in my memory. The first is the vice president who was on the phone with President Bush, and the Air Force had asked should they shoot down any plane that was not responding properly. And the president--there were lawyers trying to figure out if he had the authority to shoot down what might be civilian aircraft, but he just gave the order. He said, of course, they have to because every plane has become a potential missile, and I remember at that moment thinking what a Hobson's choice for the president of the United States to have to shoot down potentially a civilian aircraft. And the other figure that sticks out in my mind was Norm Mineta, who was the transportation secretary, and he was sitting there with a legal pad trying to track aircraft because we had to ground all civilian aircraft. Again, every plane had become a missile. It was calm. People were going about their work. I got on the phone with President Putin because our forces were going up on alert, and you didn't want Russian forces to respond. He told me, "Don't worry. Our forces are coming down, and we've canceled all exercises." And I remember at that time thinking, wow, the Cold War is really over. And the other thing that I did was to get a message out through the deputy secretary of state, Rich Armitage, that the United States of America has not been decapitated. Because the pictures were so terrible, we couldn't speak. You don't want at that moment, friend or foe, to think that you're not operating, and so it was calm. People were going about their work. But, after a couple of hours, apparently a lot of people had come into the bunker, and the oxygen level started to drop. And so the Secret Service was going around saying, "You're not essential. You have to leave. You're not essential. You have to leave," and that was a kind of weird moment there in the bunker.
  • Well, this plane had disappeared from the radar screen. As I said, we were tracking. Secretary Mineta was tracking, with the FAA, planes that were landing in Mexico and Canada and being diverted to go back to Europe, and one plane just disappeared, and because the order had been given to shoot down any plane that was not, quote, "squawking" properly, there was this awful few minutes where the vice president kept saying to the Pentagon, "But you must know whether you've engaged a civilian aircraft," and they kept saying they couldn't confirm. And I remember thinking at that moment, did we actually shoot down, ourselves, innocent civilians? We later learned, of course, that those passengers had taken themselves to their death to prevent that plane from reaching what we now know was its target, the U.S. Capitol.
  • He was really quite calm and resolute and steely. I remember thinking that he was angry. We all were, but that the emotion that I would describe was resolute. We've now got to go about the business of doing this. He was going to address the nation. He first asked if Mrs. Bush was okay, and we said yes. He knew that she had been--that she was safe, but he spent just a moment with her. And then we went into the Oval Office, and he said he wanted the speech to be one of reassurance to the American people. He didn't want to do policy. He just wanted it to be about reassurance. But, David, you probably know that one decision that was made that night was one line which did become policy. We asked whether he wanted to say if you harbor a terrorist, we will treat you as a terrorist. Since he had said he wanted it to be about reassurance, I said to him, "Mr. President, are you sure that you want to say this?" and he said, "I need to say that tonight. That warning, I need to give tonight." And I was asked to make sure that Colin and Don and others were comfortable with that line, but that one line, which would become known as the "Bush Doctrine," was decided really in a few minutes standing in the Oval Office before he went in to speak to the nation.
  • We all really knew deep down inside, both intellectually and emotionally, that this was al-Qaeda. We had not--what was surprising was not that there was an attack because we had seen '93 in New York. We had seen the Cole just before the election, the USS Cole which was attacked, a U.S. warship. Of course, there had been the embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya. So it felt like, smelled like an al-Qaeda attack. The other point is--and this is really ironic--we had had a national security council meeting on September 10th to review a strategy to take down al-Qaeda in a matter of a few years because the president said he was tired of "swatting at flies," as he put it. He wanted to completely disable al-Qaeda. It's ironic that we had done that on September 10th and then September 11th happened, but it shows that it was there in our consciousness. It was there in our mind. What was surprising was it was on our territory. It was done with civilian aircraft. The attack, the threat had come from within, not from a foreign border.
  • I believe that we did everything that we knew to do with the intelligence that we had. For instance, the famous August 6th, bin Laden determined to attack the United States, wasn't a surprise to anybody. That's the kind of general statement, he's determined to attack the United States, how, when, under what circumstances never really addressed. In fact, the only reason that that was written was that there was so much about what al-Qaeda was doing abroad that President Bush himself asked the intelligence agencies, "Well, don't they want to do something in the United States?" So we weren't really thinking that this attack would likely be an internal attack. And yet, in retrospect, if you had been able to put together all of the pieces, connect all of the dots, if we had not had a barrier between the FBI and the CIA, where the CIA did external intelligence and the FBI did internal intelligence, I'll just give you one example. Hamzi [phonetic] al-Mihdhar, one of the--who had become one of the hijackers, actually made a phone call from San Diego to Afghanistan, someplace, around September 7th or 8th. Because you didn't track phone calls from inside the United States for very good civil liberties reasons, that was a piece of intelligence that we did not know. Had anybody known that Hamzi al-Mihdhar was actually in the country, alarm bells might have gone off. And so there were lots of pieces. And I was national security advisor on that day. Of course, I feel responsibility that we didn't somehow put the pieces together. Again, I think we did everything we thought we knew how to do, but now in retrospect, knowing what I know, it's a source of remorse for me that we couldn't stop it. And I've had a chance to say that to some of the families of the victims. A man came up to me at, of all places, a golf tournament here in California a few years ago, and he said, "I want to thank you for what you did after 9/11." He said, "My wife was on the plane that went into the Pentagon," and I was so stunned, I couldn't speak because I thought you can't thank me. We didn't stop it. Somehow, I wish we had been able to stop it.
  • Well, of course, we kept in place everything that the Clinton administration had been doing, and the view was until we can have a more aggressive strategy, let's at least do what we are doing. But our hands were, in some ways, tied, as I think were those of the Clinton administration. We didn't have a presence in the region. So something like the kind of intelligence that you get on the ground, the ability to do certain kinds of operations, we didn't have that. If you even think about airfields after 9/11, we had to go and negotiate--is a polite way to talk about it--the use of airfields in places like Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. So we weren't present in the country, and that meant that there were certain kinds of things that you really couldn't do. The other point I'd made is that certain capabilities that on September 10th, we were still debating whether or not to arm "Predator," as it was called, the famous now drones that strike on the basis of intelligence information and strike into high mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan. That capability existed, but there was an argument that had gone on in the Clinton administration as well. The Air Force didn't want it really because it wasn't an airplane. It didn't have a human in it, and nobody really thought that an intelligence agency should have that kind of capability. And so, on September 10th, when we were going to give the report to the president on strategy about al-Qaeda, the issue of so-called "armed Predator" was still undecided. On September 12th, we armed Predator. And so the 9/11 attacks gave us, I think, an urgency and a reason to go after al-Qaeda in the way that nobody was really able to do prior to that.
  • Well, I do believe that the capabilities that we had by being on the ground--you know, intelligence is not in these cases what you get from satellite imagery. Intelligence is having ears and eyes on the ground. It's human intelligence. It's what diplomats can pick up just by being experienced people in the area. I'm worried that we don't have those capabilities. I mentioned the deal with Karimov for his airfields in Uzbekistan. We've already heard Vladimir Putin say that the central agents will never allow us to use their airfield in that way, and so we've given up seven American military bases, including Bagram airfield, which, by the way, had the characteristic of not just being, I think, good from the point of view of Afghanistan, but we have to remember Iran has a 900-kilometer border with Afghanistan. And so those capabilities are going to be hard to replace and over the horizon doesn't work in the same way, and so I hope that we will not be attacked again. We certainly have better systems. The FBI and the CIA do talk to each other in ways that they didn't before through the National Counterterrorism Center, which merges all of our intelligence. We have counterterrorism operations in other parts of the world. I think our allies and even our foes are much more aware of what terrorists can do. We've got systems to track terrorist financing. A lot has happened to make things better. But we understood, David, the importance of forward deployment. This isn't our first time having troops abroad. I was saying to someone the other day, I think we fell into the wrong narrative about Afghanistan. The narrative should have been that--the analogy might actually have been Korea. We are in an armistice in Korea. We never won that war. We fought the North Koreans and the Chinese to a stalemate, and then we established a stable South Korean government, which by the way was not democratic for many decades, and then we left 28,500 American forces there to make sure that North Korea didn't get any dangerous ideas. I think that was the way we needed to think about Afghanistan, a presence that made us more secure over time, even if there was no war to be won.
  • As to the matter of recognition, that's going to be our last card, and I certainly wouldn't play it soon. And I find it hard to believe we would ever actually recognize the government that harbored the people that killed 2,997 innocent souls on our territory. I find that hard to believe, and it would have to be an awfully compelling reason to ever do that with the Taliban. Now, I am hoping and praying that what we hear about a new 2.0 Taliban is true. I'm hoping that they--that all of those years in Doha that perhaps they are different than they were, the brutal people who not only harbored al-Qaeda but executed women in a soccer stadium given to them by the United Nations. So, if they're different, perhaps we can continue to deal with them. We have ways of dealing with countries that we don't recognize through third parties, for instance. Maybe that's one way. We've put ourselves in a position where we have to talk to them because we still have Americans and Afghan allies who got to get out of the country, and I'm hoping too that we can find ways to mobilize the international community to moderate some of what they will do to their own people. But recognition, I just don't see it. I've heard people say, well, we eventually recognized Vietnam. Yes, that was a very different war and very different circumstances. This was a war that they brought to us through their alliance with al-Qaeda. I don't see why we would ever give them that legitimacy.
  • Well, David, it's very hard to say because, as you know, what you know today can affect what you do tomorrow but not what you did yesterday, and so it's completely speculative. What if we had known? It would, of course, depended on what we knew, and the fact is when you have an opaque regime like that that wants to hide weapons of mass destruction or their production, it's very hard to know. And the intelligence certainly supported the idea that they had them. Now, I still think that Iraq, people of Iraq, the world, the Middle East is better off without Saddam Hussein, and Iraq is a fragile but increasingly stable friend of the United States. Yes, they have to deal with the Iranians, but we also have a presence there that can help us deal with the Iranians and their Shia militia allies. I think you will see Iraq more and more integrated into a Sunni community of states that is itself changing, changing in its relationship with Israel, as we've seen with the Abraham Accords, changing even in a degree of liberalization that--domestically that we are even seeing in places with all of its problems and all of the problems with the leadership that we're even seeing in Saudi Arabia, and so that Iraq is a different Iraq than it would have been under Saddam Hussein, and I think it's a more positive force in the Middle East. Before 9/11, the Bush administration was accused of not having connected the dots before that attack. The dots that we were presented around Iraq said this is a mortal enemy of the United States whose tyrannical leader is not only destroying his own people but breaking out of UN sanctions, shooting at our aircraft every day, and, oh, by the way, reconstituting his weapons of mass destruction, and President Bush decided that it was time for the international community to act. We will see in time whether the United States in the Middle East is stronger as a result of that. I would say that the early returns are we are getting to a different kind of Middle East, particularly among the Sunni states.
  • The lesson is that despite our vast oceans on both sides and peaceful neighbors to the north and south, we learned the hard way that our security is inextricably linked to others, and that security is not just a matter of external relations. It can be internal. I think we learned that lesson the hard way, and it means that however much we might like to be Fortress America, we're not. And so an active, engaged America with its allies in the world to try to make it a more peaceful place, to try to make it a more prosperous place, and, oh, yes, if we overreached in hoping that we would help to bring others a more democratic and freer life, that's an overreach I will defend, because there's one other thing that we know. Failed states that oppress their own people are the cesspool in which terrorism grows, and so America is always best when it acts from power and principle. That's what we try to do. We made our share of mistakes because Afghanistan was always going to be very, very hard, but September 11th didn't happen again, hasn't happened yet, and I think that says that the last 20 years and the many, many sacrifices have been worth it.

Free Expression (February 2022)Edit

Transcript by Washington Journal (14 February 2022)
  • Yes, well, I think that his strategic objective and it really has been strategic objective for some time is to reassert Russian authority over what was the former Soviet Union and as far east, as that can go. He was one who believed that the end of the Cold War and the way that it ended was a humiliation to the Russian nation, to the Russian people. He's a sort of self appointed person to right that wrong in his own thinking. And he's really systematically, over the last decade and a half or so, tried to assert that those who lived within the Russian sphere first, the Russian Empire, and then the Soviet Union, essentially don't have a right to self-determination. They have to be a part of the Soviet or Russian Block. And that led for instance, to the invasion of Georgia in 2008. It's led to unrelenting pressure on Ukraine, of course, the annexation of Crimea and so this is a geostrategic view that sees Russia as returning to its primacy in the areas that it once occupied and at least influenced.
  • Well, I do think that our vision of Europe and his vision of Europe are pretty irreconcilable at this point. For instance, the only way that he rebuilds that level of influence is to make certain that there is no further movement of Ukraine for instance, toward the west. And our view is, and I think this is the correct view, and it's certainly the view of the Biden Administration that countries have a right to choose their own alliances, to choose their own friends. If Ukraine wants to move to closer relationship with European union, with NATO, that should be the case. Now to be very clear, I don't think that membership in NATO for Ukraine has been on the table for a very long time, but NATO has an open door policy, which says we would never declare that Ukraine could never be a member of NATO. That's essentially what Russia wants to hear, but more importantly, he wants to roll back some of the expansion of NATO, which is why he talks about moving forces back from places like Poland and the Baltic states. So these are fairly irreconcilable views. It doesn't mean that there has to be war tomorrow. We will see, but the view of Europe where Russia reasserts it's a tho it's block, its sphere of influence in the old balance of power terms and a view, which is the Western view, that this needs to be an open European system. Those are irreconcilable. The sad thing is administrations going all the way back to the administration of President Clinton have really tried to bring Russia into an open Europe. It seemed like that's what Gorbachev was talking about or Yeltsin was talking about. Putin has really rejected that notion of an open Europe because he sees it in blocks. He sees it in spheres of influence.
  • It's hard to imagine that you would see that movement to actual membership in NATO. You may remember that in 2008, the Bush Administration really advocated for what was called Membership Action Plan, which is a sort of roadmap, if you will, to eventually get ready for NATO membership, because there are a lot of requirements for NATO membership that Ukraine would not currently meet. Since NATO operates by consensus, it's hard to imagine that every member of NATO would want to see a Ukraine, particularly a divided Ukraine as a member of NATO. But the principle is important here. And that is that you don't foresaw that possibility by some kind of deal Yalta like deal with the Russians. You leave open that possibility. Ukraine is a functioning democracy becoming more democratic and more stable. And by the way, I think one thing that bothers Putin is that despite the fact that he halved off Crimea, annex Crimea, has caused untenable problems in Eastern Ukraine. Has really made mess of the area around the Donbas with his separatist movements and the like. Despite all of that, Ukraine has managed to prosper. It's had growth in the 3% or so range, economic growth. It has continued to move closer to the European Union. It's president has managed to gain some modicum of popularity. People do talk about a Ukraine that is becoming less corrupt. And so part of Putin's frustration is despite everything he's done, Ukraine is actually prospering.
  • I would give the Biden Administration credit for what I think has been a midcourse adjustment for just the reasons that you have been talking about. Early on there was a lot of talk about crippling economic sanctions. There were even people floating the idea that perhaps we would sanction the Russian central bank, take the Russians off the swift system so that they couldn't engage in dollar denominated transactions. There was talk about potential sectoral sanctions against the oil and gas, and that was going to go nowhere because as you have noted, the Europeans have really, particularly the Germans, have put themselves in a very vulnerable position in terms of dependence on Russian natural gas in particular. It is by the way, an object warning for why it is really important as much as we want to, to do something about hydrocarbons, it's an object warning of why you don't do this prematurely in the transition to a different energy future and leave all of the oil cards in the hands of Vladimir Putin and the Russians. I was secretary when oil went to $147 a barrel, and that gave Putin all kinds of validity to threaten Eastern Europe and they're even more now, the Germans, dependent on the Russians. There's of course the north stream pipeline. So this energy dependence and the fear of what would happen to energy markets, not to mention what would happen for instance, the price of gas in Ohio probably made some of those threats less than credible. And what the administration did was to subtly shift to what I'll call a more, a reinforcement and deterrence strategy by moving forces, including alert American forces into places like Poland and the Baltic states arming the Ukrainians. I think belatedly, I think we should have of them much more aggressively and frankly, with more sophisticated, offensive weaponry, but give them credit for that subtle shift. And now Putin finds himself in a kind of strange dilemma. He keeps saying that he wants to push NATO back west and away from Russian territory. And really all he's done is cause the reinforcement of NATO. And that was something that I think the allies were much more capable of getting behind than economic sanctions. I don't think we can rule out economic sanctions if in fact Putin does move with those forces. But this seems to me to have at least been a strategy that has United the Alliance rather than dividing it.
  • Oh, I think there's no doubt that Afghanistan is the dominant metaphor here in some ways for Vladimir Putin or analogy, rather that if we weren't going to stay put and stick it out in Afghanistan, which after all was the sight of the attack on the actual territory of the United States, then why would we do anything to support or defend Ukraine? And, I have to say, I suspect that Xi Jinping is also reading the tea leaves about this crisis in Ukraine to see just how tough the Biden Administration can be. But it may be that Putin underestimated a little bit, the degree to which NATO would hang together, particularly on the more on the military side than on the economic side. After I think a very shaky start, I do think the administration's begun to get its footing here. The President made that one gaff in the press conference and it's just a reason you don't stand for an hour and 49 minutes with members of the press. You're going to make mistakes sooner or later. And he did when he talked about, well, if it's something more limited, but after some stumbles, I do think Putin may be a little surprised at how quickly we've done things like move forces. Now I probably would not have taken the military option off the table in quite the way that they did. Nobody really believes that the United States is going to go to war with Russia over Ukraine. But there are things that we could do militarily.
  • There's plenty of room for diplomacy. He may still be hoping for a cheap victory that he could get the Ukrainians to say something about Ukraine voluntarily never wanting to be a member of NATO or something like that. That would have real cost for Zelensky at home. I think, and from Putin's point of view, nothing better than to get that concession and have Zelensky weakened at home. But if he doesn't get something, then the options of the military option, I think at some point he has to exercise some portion of it. Now it doesn't mean that he has to launch an all out invasion of Ukraine. In fact, I think that kind of massive invasion from Belarus on one side from Eastern Ukraine, with air power and the like, that would be pretty hard to pull off and the further west, you get the Ukrainians will fight more and more. But he has options in Eastern Ukraine. That's already an area in which Russian paramilitaries operate. In which Russian special forces operate. In which cyber attacks are possible. In which one could hive off parts of Eastern Ukraine, perhaps even as far as the Dnieper River. So I think there are options short of let's make our way to Kyiv that if he doesn't get some concession diplomatically, he's probably going to have to exercise. And by the way, they're laying the groundwork. They're laying the pretext by saying that they fear for the lives of Russians in the Donbus region and Eastern Ukraine, by moving their own embassy personnel out of Ukraine because the things that we the west are doing threaten Russians. So they're setting up this pretext that they may have to defend Russian populations, perhaps by having some of the separatist in (inaudible) areas like that declare their desire to join Russia and inviting Russians forces. So he has options short of the big invasion. He might also calculate that would keep the west from reacting in the strongest possible ways. About that, I'm not sure he would be right.
  • Oh, I think there are risks. First of all, Ukrainians, particularly the farther west you go, they will fight. And you know, he doesn't need pictures of dead Russians. So now there is an option that I think has fewer risk and it's a little bit the Georgia playbook, which is that if you can occupy separatist territory rather than pushing too far, then maybe you can stabilize the situation in an area like the Donbas. It doesn't have to be by the way declared Russian, it has to just be not Ukrainian. That becomes then an embarrassment for the government in Kyiv. You continue to try to destabilize that government. I wouldn't be surprised for instance, if there have been threats against Zelensky and his people that have been delivered quite clearly about their own personal safety. So this could be a longer game for him if he decides to try to lure his risk of a really massive military invasion. There's one other thing to say about all those forces that he's got on the border. He's going to run out of time as to when to move forces along the ground, if that's what they decide to do because in about six weeks or so, this is going to be mud. And as Hitler and Napoleon learned, you don't really want to move military equipment under those circumstances. So I do think though, there are risks for him. There are certainly risks. There are already risks in that he's huffed and puffed so far, and all he's gotten is a NATO response to move closer to Russia. That is something that I think he has to undo.
  • Well, first of all, just to be clear, I had left the Bush Administration by the time of that speech and I actually, George H.W. Bush was a great diplomat. I think that speech may have been misread by even the Russians. As to the post Cold War era, I think every administration tried to bring Russia in. I do not think anybody tried to humiliate them. You know, we tried everything. We tried the NATO Russia Council. We tried bringing the Russians into the OSC, into a reformed organization, security and cooperation in Europe. I think what really happened is that when it became clear that the countries around Russia, particularly, or Ukraine, Georgia, and few others actually wanted to be democracies and wanted to lean west, the Russians willing to accept that ultimately. Vladimir Putin wasn't willing to accept that ultimately, but ask yourself the other question. Would it have been aligned with our values to say, well, you'll just have to stay in the Russian sphere. I don't think that it would've been aligned with our values. And I think when you think about how far Ukraine has come, when you think even more so what has happened in most of Eastern Europe, Hungary, not withstanding, you have relatively stable democracies that are western leaning. And so that was valuable. The Russians did not take advantage, I think, of the many efforts that everybody from the Clinton Administration through the Bush Administration, through the Obama Administration and even the Trump Administration tried to have a hand of friendship to the Russians. And increasingly with Vladimir Putin, he just bit it off. He was not prepared to do that.
  • Well, let me just say, first of all on Afghanistan and Iraq, I don't think anybody ever expected a quote "quick victory and on Iraq, at least Iraq is the place that is not putting its own people in mass graves. And as to Afghanistan, it's interesting, our longest war was actually not Afghanistan. It's Korea. We are actually in an armistice in Korea, which has made the Korean peninsula stable for more than 70 years. And I think that's the argument that got lost about Afghanistan and that speaks then to what can American power do and what can American power not do? American power can't transform other countries. That's not the point. It can give to those who want the opportunity, particularly after we have deposed a tyrant for security reasons, and let's remember deposing the Taliban was not to make Afghanistan democracy. It was to get rid of a security threat. And similarly with Saddam Hussein, although I will be the first to admit that the intelligence there was somewhat misleading. Now, when you think of it in those terms, that our job is to through support for those who wish to build more decent societies, ones that won't have child soldiers, ones that won't Harbor terrorists ones that won't degrade women, that we believe that that is a balance of power that favors us, then American needs to have a role. I doubt very seriously that we will see again, a major military operation of that kind. I hope that conservatives who do believe that America is an idea, that America stands for individual freedom and for liberty will recognize that if that is only within our shores, we are seeding the global environment to those who don't share those values. Those who don't have that belief. And ultimately we will pay a price for it as we did with our attempt to be. Isolationist after World War I and ending up back in a major war in Europe in World War II. And so I do think you're right. I think there's a reckoning, a very important conversation going on in the conservative movement. But if you honestly believe that human beings are best in conditions of liberty, then you'd better have a foreign policy that has that same set of views. We may disagree on the means for achieving that, but if the rest of the world, we decide that we're going to simply seed the rest of the world to those who don't share those views, especially the most powerful like China and Russia, we're going to rue the day.
  • Well, I do think we have a problem of, let me call it ideological diversity, in our universities. And that means that when people exercise the right to say things that are not popular or that are not a part of the orthodoxy, they don't always find a very hospitable environment. One of the things we do at the Hoover institution is provide some of that ideological diversity. Actually, although we are within ourselves,
  • Well, actually, about two thirds of our senior fellows are actually jointly appointed at Stanford. And we have a lot of, of students who come to our mist. I think that it's really important if you're going to, as the Stanford president says, search for truth, you're going to have to do that in a way that people get to raise arguments that might be uncomfortable. And we have gone to a place where we talk so much about the comfort of one group or another, that we forget that the purpose of education is to stretch your mind, to stretch the limits, to make you engage ideas that you may find hard and to do it in a way that makes you defend the views that you hold. I tell my students all the time, if you find yourself constantly in the company of people who say amen to everything you say, find other company. Just because you think it, it's not necessarily so. In a university more than any place, we have to hold to that principle that we are going to present our arguments. We're going to argue civilly. And we're going to try to come to conclusions. If we disagree, that's okay too, because that's how knowledge moves forward. I think we're making a little progress. We have had a lot of calls around here at Stanford for opportunities for civil discourse. The Hoover Institution continues to bring people to campus from a wide variety of views. And I'm hopeful that our students who after all are the ones that we most need to hold this principle for, that our students feel that they can develop intellectually without a repressive environment in which they feel that they can't say certain things because it would not be tolerated. That would the death of a great university and by the way, the death of democracy. And so I think we're making progress.
  • No. I actually don't think that much of the leadership has been strong enough in this regard. You know, I would call out University of Chicago here, and a lot of people are now starting to follow and look at these Chicago principles. You know, I had one colleague say that the way that he thinks we should think about it is that if students want to come to a place where they're just going to hear themselves echo, maybe we should tell them to find another place because that's not our work. That's not our job. And I do like it when university presidents make it very clear that that's where they stand as well.

The Guy Benson Show (October 2022)Edit

Transcript by Fox News (5 October 2022)
  • It matters a lot to have a place that is dedicated to the mission that Herbert Hoover set up for us. It was to improve the human condition through an understanding of the importance of free markets and private enterprise, limited government and individual liberty. And that’s still at the core of what makes a great democracy. And so, here at Hoover, we work on the problems that are confronting that great democracy, whether they be problems abroad like how to deal with a rising China, how to leverage a relationship with India, or problems here at home — how to make sure that every child had a K-12 education that is worthy of the name education and, increasingly, issues of state and local governance and, for us, technology and governance. We sit in the Silicon Valley, and we think we have some things to say about that. But the thing I’m most excited about is that we just created a new center for the revitalization of American institutions. Because these great institutions that we were bequeathed by our founders have served us well, but they’re under attack from people who say that they’re not worthy because they were born of slavery, to people who say they’re not worthy because they only serve elites. And we believe that, yes, these institutions may need reform, they may need revitalization, but they are precious. And here at Hoover, we want to find a better way to defend them.
  • BENSON: One of those institutions is the Department of State, which you lead under President Bush. I saw, over the summer, some advertisements for a master class that you taught with a previous secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, who passed away earlier this year. I did want to take the opportunity to ask you just about your relationship with her across party lines and her legacy. Because it’s got to be pretty cool to have forged that relationship as two female secretaries of state, albeit from opposite sides of the political spectrum.
RICE: And that relationship goes back a long time, because Madeleine’s father was the person who saved a failed piano major and taught her international politics at the University of Denver.
BENSON: What a small world.
RICE: A very small world. And I remember when he said, I have this daughter, you have to meet her. Her name’s Madeleine. And so, we finally did meet. Madeleine was really just a fierce fighter for the values that we espouse, for liberty for all, for standing up to tyranny. She’s maybe best known for her decision that we had to find a way to help intervene in the civil war that was taking place in the Balkans in the ’90s. But Madeleine was just somebody who believed in these values, she fought for them. She was fierce as they come, and I miss her. She was also a very, very good friend.
  • When we believe in a rules-based international order where large countries don’t simply decide to make smaller countries extinct, which is what Vladimir Putin is doing, we have to support them. And I fully support the military assistance we’re giving them. We’ve really been helping to train them since the end of the Crimean events in 2014. The military of the Ukraine is turning out to be quite effective and we need to keep supporting them. Now, what should we not do? I hear a lot of people talking about off-ramps for Vladimir Putin. Well, it’s Vladimir Putin who keeps shutting off the off-ramps. You don’t annex your — legally annex your — illegally annex your neighbor’s territory and then want to negotiate. So Vladimir Putin who got himself into a war that he thought was going to be easy, now has to mobilize young men in Russia to fight this war. They’re fleeing the country rather than fight. I read that one of the most searched elements — articles on the equivalent Google, is: how do I break my own arm? That says something about who’s willing to fight in this.
  • Yes. I can’t say that the chances are zero — I probably would have said that months ago — maybe it’s 10 percent, that’s pretty scary. But you can’t self-deter under these circumstances. And you just have to keep reminding Vladimir Putin that to use a tactical nuclear weapon, which would have no battlefield value really for him. His military is doing poorly, not because they don’t have tactical nuclear weapons but because they are badly trained, badly equipped, the logistics is terrible, and they have low morale. He’s not going to fix that with a tactical nuclear weapon. Secondly, I’d say to him, winds blow east, you’re going to contaminate your own country. And finally, you really will be a pariah forever. And so, I think telling him that there would be catastrophic consequences, not defining them, is the right way to deal with this. And so, don’t try to push the Ukrainians into some kind of negotiation. Give them the upper hand on the ground first. And then, if Putin — realizing that he’s losing this war — wants to negotiate, they go to the table in the strongest position.
  • It does. If ever we had a wake-up call about the need to fully develop the North American platform from Canada to Mexico through the United States, the gift that it is to be able to be energy self-sufficient and oh by the way, to produce enough energy to export to other countries. If ever we needed a wake-up call, Vladimir Putin has given it to us. And there’s a second jingling of that call by what OPEC has done. I have to say I’ve always known the Saudis to do what they need to do for their budget, so I wouldn’t read much into this from the point of view of the Ukrainian events. I think this is really the Saudis saying, here’s where the price of oil needs to be for us to do what we need to do. Do you really want to be dependent on the Saudis in that way? Do you really want to be dependent on the Russians and the Iranians? Or would you rather have U.S. be the source of those hydrocarbons? I know everybody who believes that climate change is a problem — and I do believe that it’s a problem — wants to get as much as we can to a cleaner set of sources of energy. That would be called natural gas. And it would also say that that transition is going to take some time. You are not going to be able to get rid of hydrocarbons in the near term. I would rather those hydrocarbons come from the United States and stable places like this. And you can’t send mixed signals to the producers of oil and gas who have long-tail investments. I was a Chevron director in the ’90s. The investments that these companies have to make are long-tail investments. So don’t tell them, well, produce for seven years and then we’re going to move onto renewables. They have to have some predictability.
  • BENSON: Madam Secretary, in your first answer you referenced a rising China. Let’s talk about China and that challenge for a moment. I’m sure you get many questions about Iraq, and the legacy of Iraq and the Bush administration, and the decisions made leading up to that war. I wonder if you get as many questions about the Bush administration’s policy vis-a-vis China. And it’s not really unique only to Bush. It’s numerous administrations across both parties that I think some critics would say now were perhaps too sanguine about China’s intentions and what their designs were. Based on what you know now, what you’re looking at now, looking back on your time as Secretary of State, what do you think your administration and others got right about China and maybe not right?
RICE: I would just say, what was the alternative? Was the alternative to try and isolate 1.4 billion people with an economy that was growing rapidly? Yes. We and others before us took a chance after Deng Xiaoping. And that was the view that if you could integrate China into the international economy, the international economy would grow as a result — which, by the way, it did —
BENSON: It did.
RICE: And you would begin to change the nature of Chinese policy. I never was one who believed you were going to democratize China as a result of this, but I did expect that they would respect intellectual property. I did expect that they would be — that their markets would be more open. And we fought for that every single day. I can’t tell you how many conversations I had with Hu Jintao, you’re stealing intellectual property, open your markets. And so, it’s not as if people were naive about what was going on with China, but that the — I do think there was a change with Xi Jinping, and that was that he is essentially gave up on any sense that China has responsibilities to the international system and began to just take, take, take to enhance China’s growing authority in the international system. And that meant challenging the United States on technology. We’re going to surpass you in A.I. and quantum computing. And oh, by the way we learned that we were way too dependent on supply chains through China for everything from pharmaceuticals to our overdependence on semiconductors.
BENSON: They’re stealing our stuff and then we’re so reliant on them.
RICE: Exactly. And that was maybe we — maybe people were sleeping on that a bit, and I give some credit to the Trump administration for raising and to my friend, Mike Pompeo, for raising that as an issue. I think we’re now reacting in a better way toward that, and at core it means that we have to get our own act in order. It means we have to make the investments in technology here in the United States because I don’t have authoritarian envy. The Chinese can lay out their plans. Authoritarians make terrible mistakes because it’s a single point of failure with one man. You know, that zero COVID thing’s not working out so well. That one-child policy didn’t work out so well. We’re now hearing that their policy to be indigenous in what they do in terms of chip development isn’t working out so well. So if we do what we need to do, I’ll bet on American democracy and I’ll bet on our distributed innovation rather than what China is doing.
BENSON: But are you worried at all about American and western companies becoming, in some ways, addicted to Chinese money and that huge market far from perhaps turning the Chinese government in our direction. It seems like in some ways the Chinese government is able to manipulate American companies because they don’t want to lose access to the market. Is that an overblown fear?
RICE: Well, I think it depends on what — what companies you’re talking about. I really think — I tell companies all the time, if you have technology and China in the same sentence, don’t go there. Because whether it’s the Chinese wanting to be more indigenous in their development or the American government rightly being concerned about the transfer of sensitive technologies and then ending up with the PLA. The technology sector is going to decouple, and I have no problem with that. You know, if — if Chinese young people want to buy iPhones, I don’t really have a problem with that and I will say something about it. You know those Chinese leaders who have those young princelings who kind of like western goods. When the NBA was in the crosshairs because of what the general manager in Houston had said about Hong Kong, I did tell Adam Silver, I said you know Adam, they’re not going to kick the NBA out, you know why? Because those young princelings, those only children are not going to watch the Chinese national team play the Kasha (ph) national team, they want to watch the NBA. So I don’t want to cut off an entire generation of Chinese consumers from what America can produce but I don’t want to — to transfer the jewels of technology either.
  • It counts. It — in some ways it’s full circle. So I was the daughter of a football coach who thought he was going to get a boy and who planned to have this all-American linebacker and I’m an only child. So I jokingly said, I think my father’s probably saying, again he’s gone to the Lord, but finally, she can have an important job. You know she’s a football — she’s an owner of the Denver Broncos. I actually went to high school in Denver. So my Denver contacts go — Denver connections go back even further than that. I love it. I love the sport. I know it has a lot of challenges from player safety to how to think about the relationship to an intercollegiate framework that’s changing every — every day. But it’s a really quite American sport. You know we’re impatient, so we want a clock. They’re not that many things that bring the CEO and the shop steward (ph) and the intern together because they’re all wearing that Denver Bronco stuff. So I love the sport and I’m just grateful to the Walton-Penner group for the opportunity to be a part of the ownership.
  • I think the league has done a lot over the last years. I happen to know some neuroscientists who are working with the league on brain injury and how to prevent it. I think teaching people to tackle differently — the rules. These are all important things to do. But when you have an incident that may or may not be questionable, I think you review it. And I read that the Player’s Association is going to review the circumstances. I think that’s a good thing. I hope the league will review the circumstances because everybody needs to get better at this. Player safety has to be the highest priority because, without the sense that player safety is (ph) taken seriously, football won’t last. And so, I think we all have an obligation to make sure that it’s right in the forefront. And I think the league has tried over recent years to do that. You have to keep — it’s one of those things that you have to keep reminding yourself every day.

Quotes about Condoleezza RiceEdit

  • In February 2005 the American secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, came to Paris to consolidate the improvement in relations between the White House and the Élysée a er the crisis over Iraq. Speaking at the Institut d'études politiques, in the heart of the Saint-Germain-des Prés quarter of Paris, she referred to the mission of the democracies, which is to spread freedom and bring down tyrannies: “We know,” she said, “that we have deal with the world as it is, but we do not have to accept the world as it is.” The French press was astonished and suggested that she had gotten carried away, gone to extremes. This was a strange amnesia, since with these simple words Rice reminded the French, who had forgotten it, of the message of the Revolution of 1789. In this sense, America, although we constantly demonize it, still defends the democratic treasure that we have repressed or relativized.
    • Pascal Bruckner, The Tyranny of Guilt: An Essay on Western Masochism (2005), Oxford University Press transl. Steven Rendall, pp. 199-200
  • Conflict of interest? Not to the Bush White House, where it was business as usual...Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice served on the board of Chevron for a decade. She has the distinction of being the only cabinet member to have had an oil tanker named after her.
    • Amy Goodman Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times (2008)
  • Condoleezza Rice, the former secretary of state, is now the director of the Hoover Institution. Which is why out of all of the wrongheaded things she said during her appearance on “The View” on Wednesday, the worst was: “It’s time to move on in a lot of ways” from the domestic terrorist attack at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6. She was suggesting we should move on when we have judges with Jan. 6 cases receiving “all kinds of threats and hostile phone calls,” according to U.S. District Judge Reggie Walton. Move on when right-wing mastermind Steve Bannon gives the House select committee investigating the events of Jan. 6 the middle finger and 202 House Republicans side with him. Move on when the political organization of Donald Trump paid more than $4.3 million to Jan. 6 organizers and we still don’t know who knew what when. It seems to me, if the purpose of the institute Rice leads is to support our "method of representative government," she should be advocating that Americans lean in to investigating the promoters and inciters of the insurrection, not move on. The House committee is just beginning to follow the money trail of a domestic terrorist attack that left more Americans dead than the Benghazi attack in 2012.
  • I intend to oppose Condoleezza Rice's nomination. There is no doubt that Dr. Rice has impressive credentials. Her life story is very moving, and she has extensive experience in foreign policy. In general, I believe the President should be able to choose his Cabinet officials, but this nomination is different because of the war in Iraq. Dr. Rice was a key member of the national security team that developed and justified the rationale for war, and it has been a catastrophic failure, a continuing quagmire. In these circumstances, she should not be promoted to Secretary of State.
  • Had Dr. Rice and others in the administration shared all of the information, it might have changed the course of history. We might have discovered that there were no weapons of mass destruction. The rush to war might have been stopped. We would have stayed focused on the real threat, kept faith with our allies, and would be safer today. America is in deep trouble in Iraq today because of our misguided policy, and the quagmire is very real. Nearly 1,400 of our finest men and women in uniform have been killed and more than 10,000 have been wounded. We now know that Saddam had no nuclear weapons, had no weapons of mass destruction of any kind, and that the war has not made America safer from the threat of al-Qaida. Instead, as the National Intelligence Council recently stated, the war has made Iraq a breeding ground for terrorism that previously did not exist. As a result, the war has made us less secure, not more secure. It has increased support for al-Qaida, made America more hated in the world, and made it much harder to win the real war against terrorism, the war against al-Qaida. Before we can repair our broken policy, the administration needs to admit it is broken. Yet in 2 days of confirmation hearings, Dr. Rice categorically defended the President's decision to invade Iraq, saying the strategic decision to overthrow Saddam Hussein was the right one.
  • Dr. Rice also minimized the enormous challenge we face in training a competent Iraqi security force. She insisted 120,000 Iraqis now have been trained, when the quality of training for the vast majority of them is obviously very much in doubt. There was no reason to go to war in Iraq when we did, the way we did, and for the false reasons we were given. As a principal architect of our failed policy, Dr. Rice is the wrong choice for Secretary of State. We need, instead, a Secretary who is open to a clearer vision and a better strategy to stabilize Iraq, to work with the international community, to bring our troops home with dignity and honor, and to restore our lost respect in the world. The stakes are very high and the challenge is vast. Dr. Rice's failed record on Iraq makes her unqualified for promotion to Secretary of State and I urge the Senate to oppose her nomination.
  • In parliamentary systems it is not uncommon to turn a political nomination -- or even a relatively insignificant bill -- into a way of expressing a lack of confidence in the government or in a major policy. In the United States that is far less common, but 12 Senate Democrats (plus the independent Jim Jeffords) have done precisely that over the nomination of Condoleezza Rice as secretary of state. They have used it as a vehicle to stake out their opposition to the Iraq war. They are likely to pay a heavy political price. In this country, it is customary to allow the president to choose his own Cabinet so long as the nominee is minimally qualified. Rice is superbly qualified, and everyone concedes that. So it is mildly shocking that the Democrats mustered more votes against this nomination for secretary of state than have been cast against any since 1825. Indeed, secretaries of state are generally approved unanimously. This is the first nomination in a quarter-century to have earned even a single dissenting vote. It is certainly legitimate for senators to use whatever instrument they wish to make a political point. But it is not very smart. Because of her race, her symbolism and her personal story, Rice is not a run-of-the-mill appointment but a historic one. Which makes some of the more vitriolic charges against the first African American woman ever chosen for the office once held by Thomas Jefferson particularly wounding and politically risky. Mark Dayton of Minnesota accused her of lying in order to persuade the American people to go to war -- a charge that is not just false but that most Americans don't believe. Rice was not a generator of intelligence. She was a consumer -- of a highly defective product. Nor was she the principal architect of the Iraq war. That distinction lies with the president and vice president. To pin so much of the war on Rice, as her Senate opponents needed to do in trying to sink her nomination, seems unfair and disproportionate.
  • ...the idea that she belongs in front of a war tribunal is not something I can dignify with a response. Miss Rice presides over a wide range of choices, a wide range of policies. She's handled that vast duty with dignity, with honor.
  • As convention speeches go, Paul Ryan’s remarks Wednesday night are likely to get high marks for their effectiveness, even if the address took too many liberties with the facts. He did what he was expected to do: He offered plenty of red meat, played attack dog for the campaign and delivered a few zingers that will keep everyone talking at the after parties. (One of his most memorable lines: “College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life.” Ouch.) But it was former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s speech that was by far the most presidential. Statesmanlike, stirring and secure (she spoke from notes and reportedly didn’t use the teleprompters), Rice delivered a “serious speech about big things — better than red meat,” as former Reagan speechwriter David Gergen tweeted. Amid one of the ugliest campaigns in memory, during a convention filled with speakers bashing the president and Democrats, Rice managed to (mostly) float above the fray. Whatever you may think of the Bush administration, or the role Rice played in its foreign policy, most would have to agree we could use more speeches like this one from our leaders.
  • There are two things people really want to know about the cartoonist Aaron McGruder. The first is precisely what he said to Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, at an awards ceremony three years ago. Rice and McGruder, 32, were both being given an award by the National Association for the Advancement of Coloured People, the oldest civil rights organisation in the country. Beforehand, McGruder had told anyone who would listen that Rice was a mass murderer (it was not long after the invasion of Afghanistan) and that he would have no qualms about telling her so to her face. With McGruder's help, rumours about their subsequent exchange became legend. "I was never as cavalier with her as I sounded," he says now. "I had a brief encounter with her and I knew I had to say something. I said something like: 'I don't want you guys to kill me so I'm just going to mind my own business.' I was eminently aware when I met Condi that she could make my whole family disappear. I have never been fearless. I've always had a healthy fear of this government."
  • Rice remained pretty embarrassed – in the end she didn't end up voting in favor of a resolution she organized.
  • Condoleezza Rice serves an administration that has trashed the basic values of academia: reason, science, expertise, and honesty. Stanford should not welcome her back.
  • Gates and Rice contend that their proposed course of action is the best way “to avoid confrontation with Russia in the future.” Which raises the question: Why should we trust their judgment? Gates and Rice have a track record over the last two decades--and it is not that good. During the Bush 43 administration, both Gates and Rice supported the endless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the Global War on Terror that distracted the United States from the rise of China and China’s growing strategic partnership with Russia. Gates is on record initially doubting the wisdom of NATO expansion, but later opining that NATO expansion was a major defeat for Russia. Rice was and is an exuberant supporter of NATO expansion, including for Georgia and Ukraine as early as in 2008. Rice not only ignored George F. Kennan’s 1997 prophetic warning that NATO expansion would result in a revival of Russian militarization and imperialism, but also ignored William Burns’ warning directed to her in 2008 which said: “Ukrainian entry into NATO is the brightest of all redlines for the Russian elite (not just Putin),” and “In more than two and a half years of conversations with key Russian players . . . I have yet to find anyone who views Ukraine in NATO as anything other than a direct challenge to Russian interests.”
And Gates as Defense Secretary in 2007, said that he did not view China as a strategic adversary of the United States. China, he said, is “a partner in some respects, its a competitor in other respects, and so we are simply watching to see what they’re doing.” What China was doing was engaging in a massive military buildup in both conventional (including naval) and nuclear forces. But Gates’ view was that “its very important for us to engage the Chinese on all facets of our relationship as a way of building mutual confidence.” Four years later, Gates said that China and the United States can cooperate on defense matters, and expressed optimism that U.S.-China military ties were headed in the right direction.
Rice’s crystal ball on China was no better than Gates’. In 2005, Rice reported on President Bush’s talks with Chinese leaders, and noted the areas of cooperation between the U.S. and China, including “a number of strategic issues that we share in common.” She also expressed the administration’s hope that China would move “toward responsible integration into the international system” and “be a force for peace and stability.”
The harsh truth is that on their watch, the United States fought two futile and costly wars in an effort to spread democracy throughout the Middle East. On their watch, the United States engaged in a reckless expansion of NATO that fueled Russian militarism and imperialism. On their watch, China became a hostile peer competitor of the United States even as they both assured us that China was not our strategic adversary. On their watch, the U.S. distracted itself in peripheral wars while its great power adversaries joined in a strategic partnership to overturn the U.S.-led global order. Both Gates and Rice could use a dose of humility. And we should think twice before following their recommendations about Ukraine.
  • They are welcome to all the money I have in America. Rice should take half of it to improve the way she looks. She should have her teeth straightened and her face fixed, and should make herself look nice. I donate what is left to George Bush, because I know he will soon be admitted to a mental asylum because of his policies.

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