In her recent address at the Heritage Foundation, former Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice explained how the United States can act upon global events and must work to challenge authoritarian leadership. She says there is a need to promote freedom through democracy.
Rice explained that idea of democratic capitalism and its success should be recognized. Recent years have put that notion of capitalism to the test. She says that the terrorist attacks of September 11, the shock of the global economic crisis in 2008, and the rise of the Arab Spring are all events that have influenced U.S. leadership in the world.
September 11, she says was, “The day that every day after would become September 12.” The United States would have to constantly work to ensure that their security and role in the world would remain strong.
These global events have altered the power and prosperity in certain countries. But Rice pondered that as these shifts take place, will there be an American impression on the balance of power. “We have had a view of how human history ought to unfold,” Rice says, since the beginning of the country’s conception. She explained that over the years, we have seen both freedom and dissonance. She also acknowledged that through the years, the country has not lost sight of liberty. Therein lies what she indicates is the difference between the world that merely seeks stability and the one that seeks democracy.
“The states that don’t respect the rights of their people are dangerous,” Rice said. For example, “Chinese leaders’ legitimacy based on prosperity may be difficult to attain because people have different things they would like,” she avers. They say authoritarian capitalism is the way to go,” she notes of China’s leaders.
But Rice indicates that this in unsettling. “We are a Pacific military power unmatched,” she argues. There are multiple ways, she suggests, this position can be maintained. . Attention should be given to “the wonderful alliances” that do exist with countries such as the Philippines, South Korea, and Australia.
She also suggests looking at free trade as an avenue to secure the future. “Free trade is one of America’s greatest assets in helping the markets and free people.”
“We should do everything we can to build the North American platform for oil.” This can best be done, she thinks, through the way we interact with other countries. She says we need to, “Move from the tactical response to a more strategic view.”
Rice called for an “American Imprint” in the Middle East. She acknowledged the unrest that exists but thinks that it can be overcome. It can only be overcome, she explained, by “recommitment to our friends in the region.” One of the best ways to do this is to continue our relationship with Israel. We can also press for reforms in places like Egypt and have a good relationship with Turkey. Each of her suggestions roots back to the idea of democracy. Another important duty of the country is to challenge Iran. She says they “use their tentacles to create problems… harbor terrorists and Hezbollah.”
The former Secretary of State acknowledged the complicated relationship with Iraq but says there is still a need for free engagement.
“Now, it’s a pretty big agenda to react to,” Rice acknowledged. But she says, “We can handle this challenge only if we hold on to our core values.” Her vision is one that is deeply rooted in American exceptionalism.
“We cannot ask Americans people to make sacrifices for leadership if we have nothing special to offer.” In her eyes, leadership and exceptionalism are intertwined.
“I know that people are tired,” she says of hearing about the ongoing global conflicts. But, “Human potential is key today… America is good at tapping into it.” She says that we are a nation of immigrants and therefore our interactions with the outside world are critical to ensuring a prosperous future.
“I’m optimistic,” the former Secretary of State said, “because I’ve seen the U.S. do it before… America has a way of making the impossible seem inevitable.”
Jocelyn Grecko is an intern at the American Journalism Center, a training program run by Accuracy in Media and Accuracy in Academia. Jocelyn has spent the past four years in the nation’s capital as a Media Studies undergraduate student at The Catholic University of America. She will graduate in May 2012.
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