Rice Town Hall Meeting With University Students
Remarks at Town Hall Meeting With University Students
Secretary Condoleezza Rice
March 16, 2006
SECRETARY RICE: Well, Chancellor Santow, thank you for that extraordinary and wonderful introduction and for the warmth that you've exhibited. I want to thank the Vice-Chancellor for being here and I know that Ambassador Richardson is here, and also to the director of this wonderful institution and to you, the students of university.
I always thought that when I was on a stage like this it would actually be to play the piano, not to speak, because I did indeed go to college intending to be a music major. I could read music before I could read. I started to study piano at age three. And it was only the understanding at some point in my college years that I was a pretty good musician but not a great musician and that I was going to probably end up teaching 13-year-olds to murder Beethoven, not playing Carnegie Hall, that led me to look for another career.
Fortunately for me, and I hope for you, I found another career in international politics. But if there's any lesson from that, it is if you haven't found exactly what you're interested in yet, keep searching and maybe, like me, you can play the piano on Sundays and do foreign policy during the week, which is what I do. (Laughter.)
One of the things I like to do on my trips is to talk to young people like you, and so I would like to keep my remarks pretty short because I would like us to have a dialogue. I want to hear from you. I want to hear your questions. I want to hear your comments. And so I'm going to leave plenty of time for questions and discussions, so start to think now of what you might want to ask me.
But I am delighted to be here in Australia. Such a beautiful country. And it's a country with which we Americans share a deep connection and it really is one that just isn't a connection between governments; it's an alliance of peoples. Australians and Americans share a lot. We share a spirit of rugged individualism. We share a spirit of frontier independence. We both play contact sports with a good conscience. My favorite sport, American football, is played with helmets and pads. Australia rules football is not, which may say something about the difference between our countries. Our football and yours are played by ruffians and gentlemen. And tomorrow I'm going to have a chance to enjoy another great sports tradition in Australia. I'm going to go to the Commonwealth Games and I'm very excited about that. I'll go with my colleague, Minister Downer.
This alliance of people then stems not only from our individualism, our close ties, but from the fact that we all have a strong sense of community as well, a spirit that grows and is nurtured in our neighborhoods, and in our sports clubs, and in our churches, and in our schools and indeed in our universities. It's that kind of community that brings us together in times of challenge.
And it is the enduring ideal of our community -- that is, freedom and equality, democracy and opportunity --
ATTENDEE: Condoleezza Rice --
SECRETARY RICE: Sir, do you have something you'd like to say?
ATTENDEE: Iraqi blood is on your hands and you can't wash that blood away. Iraqi blood is on your hands and you cannot wash that blood away.
ATTENDEE: Iraqi blood is on your hands and you cannot wash that blood away. Iraqi blood is on your hands and you cannot wash that blood away.
ATTENDEE: Iraqi blood is on your hands and you cannot wash that blood away. Iraqi blood is on your hands and you cannot wash that blood away.
ATTENDEE: Iraqi blood is on your hands and you cannot wash that blood away.
SECRETARY RICE: I'm very glad to see that democracy is well and alive here at the university. (Laughter and applause.) I'm also especially glad to note that democracy will now also be alive and well at the University of Kabul and at the University of Baghdad. (Applause.)
Now, in times of challenge we need to remember that freedom and equality, democracy and opportunity, human dignity and individual rights are at the core of who we are. They make us greater than our small selves, and they summon us to defend our way of life whenever that way of life is attacked.
In every major conflict for the last century, Americans and Australians have fought together, and sacrificed together, and even given their lives together. In two World Wars, we sent brave soldiers into battle against tyrannical regimes trying to dominate free peoples.
Whether in the Coral Sea or Le Hamel, we tested the mettle of our alliance, and found it unyielding, so we formalized it in the ANZUS Treaty. And when communism threatened the growing freedom and prosperity of Asia, the United States and Australia fought to contain it in places like Korea and in Vietnam.
America and Australia are both Pacific nations, tied to the peoples of Asia through common bonds of culture, and trade, and exchange, and immigration. Because of our commitment to the success of the Asia-Pacific, millions of Asians are leading this region in a hopeful new direction -- toward greater peace, and greater opportunity, and greater freedom. Asia is still transforming, and to this day, our alliance remains a strategic anchor in this dynamic and changing region.
We both have every interest in encouraging a positive, and open, and rule-abiding role for China as it rises in the international system. And because the United States and Australia share a vision of Asia -- one in which all people have an opportunity to cooperate peacefully and trade freely, we are working together to realize a vision in which all of the states of Asia are included, a vision that is sometimes realized through our bilateral alliance and sometimes through multilateral institutions like APEC or the ASEAN Regional Forum. In fact, I know that I'm going to have a chance to return to Sydney because APEC will meet here in a ministerial and President Bush will be here next year.
Now, in this rapidly changing Asia, new democracies are also emerging as regional partners. I have just come from Indonesia, a remarkable country, the world's largest Muslim-majority nation, where a bold democratic leader is committed to securing his country from violence and terror, advancing economic reform, and strengthening the foundations of a free and tolerant society. Indonesia today has great potential to succeed not only as a modern and thriving democracy -- but also as a voice of support for people across this region who seek to complete peaceful democratic development.
A young democracy like Indonesia is the kind of principled partner that the United States and Australia must increasingly seek out, and help out, and with whom we must work more closely in this century. Nations like ours must build strong partnerships -- not just regional ones but global partnerships -- rooted in our shared democratic principles. And we must use our democratic partnerships to confront today's global threats threats like the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, narcotics trafficking, and environmental degradation, and of course, transnational terrorism.
In the falling towers of September 11th, and in the Bali bombing of October 12th, both Americans and Australians saw the true nature of the new terrorism. But we also saw the true character and strength of our nations and of our alliance. Prime Minister Howard was in the United States on September 11. And in the days that followed, when our Australian friends invoked the ANZUS treaty for the first time in history, you showed a shaken America that our tragedy was your tragedy.
Our two nations, and other democracies like ours, are now engaged then in a long struggle -- a struggle of many decades that will require patience, and courage, and yes, sacrifice. Like every other war that our alliance has waged, the war on terrorism must be fought with the force of arms when necessary -- but it will not be won by force of arms alone. As in our struggles against communism, and Nazism, and militarism, it is the force of human freedom that will ultimately defeat an ideology of hatred and violence.
Once again, Australia and America are fighting shoulder to shoulder, not just to defeat an evil threat but to promote a greater good -- the promise of peace that comes with democracy. This fight continues in Afghanistan, where our diplomats, and aid workers, and soldiers are working alongside a broad international coalition to help the Afghan people build a future of hope and freedom. And of course, this fight continues also in Iraq.
Tomorrow, I will visit the Victoria Army Barracks and personally thank Australian soldiers who have served in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and in the tsunami relief missions. But here today, on behalf of President Bush and the American people, I want to express America's overwhelming gratitude to the Australian military families who have sent their sons and daughters into harm's way on behalf of freedom. We honor all Australians who have given their lives in the defense of freedom around the world. We will never forget their sacrifice, or the sacrifice of their families and of their nation.
It was almost three years ago today that our servicemen and women helped to liberate 25 million Iraqis from one of the worst regimes in history. The Iraqi people now have a hope for a better life, but theirs is an incredibly difficult journey. For nearly all of their history, Iraqis have settled their differences through coercion, and oppression, and violence. Now they are attempting to live together peacefully, and to resolve their disputes through compromise, and negotiation, and deliberation. Iraq's difficult democratic enterprise is made even harder by terrorists who would murder innocent Iraqis and fellow Muslims.
I know how hard it is to see past the violence to an image of hope. I know that we see on our televisions images that are hard to take, hard to fathom, and where it's hard to see any sense of progress. But we must show confidence that Iraqi patriots will triumph. Because in the face of extremely difficult odds, the Iraqi people are trying to expand the realm of what people think is possible in that part of the world. They voted, then wrote and ratified their own constitution, and then they voted again. And now their freely elected leaders are debating, and arguing, and compromising in other words, they are engaging in a process called democracy.
Now, I am confident that the Iraqis will triumph, that we will win in Iraq. But we must be patient with these people, and patient with the course of democracy -- whether it is in the Broader Middle East, or here in Asia, or anywhere else for that matter. We who enjoy freedom's blessings must take the side of democratic patriots everywhere, just as others supported us in our time of need. We must always remember how hard it has been --
ATTENDEE: You've spilled blood on your hands. What freedom are you talking about for the Iraqi people? What freedom are you talking about? What freedom are you talking about?
SECRETARY RICE: The freedom of the Iraqi people, the freedom of all people, is something that we must defend, just as others supported us in our time of need. We must always remember how hard it has been for us to live up to our ideals of democracy and how much work we still have to do.
The United States and Australia do not support the cause of democracy because we think ourselves perfect. To the contrary, it is because we know ourselves to be imperfect, with long histories of our own failures and false starts in our quest for just and perfect democracies.
I want to say a word to you as young people just beginning to make your impact on the world. It is true that sometimes when you look at the grand sweep of history you have to step back and you have to remark at how much has happened. When you get as old as I am, you have a grander sweep of history to look at, and that's an advantage.
I was born in Birmingham, Alabama in the South of the United States at a time when my family couldn't go to a restaurant or stay in a hotel, when I went to segregated schools. I didn't have a white classmate until we moved to Denver when I was in tenth grade. I was born into the Birmingham of police dogs and church bombings and of white supremacists and of the Ku Klux Klan and crosses burned on lawns.
It was a time when it was perhaps hard to believe in democracy in America, let alone democracy anyplace else in the world. But in my lifetime Birmingham transformed, America transformed and I stand before you as a black Secretary of State, something that I think 30 or 40 years ago would have thought to be impossible. Now it seems perfectly natural. In fact, in the United States, if I serve my term completely, it will have been 12 years since a white man was Secretary of State of the United States. (Applause.)
I would therefore ask you to think about what might happen in your lifetime. Think about in your lifetime where freedom may spread. Think about in your lifetime the peoples who will finally escape from tyranny and have the dignity that comes with democracy. Think about in your lifetime the world not as you see it now but the world that you want to see. And think about in your lifetime what you can do to make that world a reality.
Thank you very much and I'm happy to entertain your questions. (Applause.)
MODERATOR: Dr. Rice has generously agreed to answer some questions, so over to you and she will pick the questioner. And just raise your hand or would you like me to --
SECRETARY RICE: No, it's a heavy responsibility. I'll do it. Thank you.
MODERATOR: Thank you.
SECRETARY RICE: Okay. Where do we have questions? All right, I see right on the end here and the young man standing next to you. Yes.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, thank you very much for coming and speaking this afternoon. My name is Daniel Crocknow (ph). I come from the University of South Wales. My question is: How does the Administration counter charges that the drive for democracy in the Middle East will bring to power unpalatable regimes such as Hamas in the Palestinian territories or President Mahmoud Ahmedi-Nejad in Iran?
SECRETARY RICE: Yes, well, thank you. First of all, we cannot have a policy that says you can hold elections as long as you elect a government that we like. The principle that free men and women have the right to choose those who then are going to govern them is one that those of us who are fortunate enough to have that freedom have to defend.
Now the Middle East has been for 60 years or more devoid of reasonable channels for political discourse because in authoritarian regimes those channels have been suppressed. And what is becoming clear now is that the only places in which that political discourse has taken place is on the edges of the political system, and I think that is why you're seeing some results toward more radical regimes.
I believe that over time you will see that as authoritarianism is removed or pushed aside that you will see the development more and more of civil society, the development more and more of moderate institutions. As the rule of law becomes the dominant force in political systems, people will have the protections from government that allow them free assembly and allow them to organize themselves politically.
But I would be the first to say that I think that we are going to see some results that we would prefer not to see. My only point is that I don't think that we can retard or delay democratic progress, that we can retard or delay free choice, in fear of what might emerge. Indeed, I think I could argue that having people have to compete at least openly for the vote of the people can in and of itself have a moderating impact.
The international system though has to hold fast to two principles. The first is that if you are elected, you have to govern democratically. In other words, being elected and then starting to subvert democratic institutions is not acceptable.
Secondly, if you are elected, you have an obligation to recognize that you can't have one foot in terrorism and one foot in the political process. In other words, the gun and the ballot can't go together. And that is the discussion, that is the requirement, that is being placed before Hamas at this point.
Everybody agrees that the Palestinian elections were free and fair and we congratulate the Palestinian people on that. But Hamas now has an obligation in its governance to be able to deliver the promise of a better life for the Palestinian people, and that means living up to the obligations the Palestinians have undertaken over the decades, recognizing the state -- recognizing the right of Israel to exist because you can't have a peace process if you don't recognize the right of the other party to exist, agreeing to disband militias, and perhaps most importantly renouncing violence.
So we have to have elections. We have to have institution. But the international community I think also has a right to demand of those who are elected that they govern democratically and that they renounce violence, which is simply incompatible with democracy.
I see a young lady all the way there in black.
QUESTION: Hi, my name is Danielle Donnegan (ph). I'm from Australian National University. Thank you for coming today. I'd just like to know, is democracy the conditions under which we would see the end to a global war on terror?
SECRETARY RICE: Yes. Well, it's a very good question. We are of course going to have to do what we're doing, which is rooting out terrorists, fighting them where we must and through law enforcement and good intelligence. But if you think about their roots, if you think about what they are really drawing recruits from and the pool from which they live, the sort of biomass that sustains them, it is the hopelessness and the absence of freedom that gives them an opportunity to speak in "the speak," and I put that in quotation marks, in these extreme ways on behalf of the disaffected.
If instead people who are disaffected, people who have concerns, people who have complaints, people who have been disadvantaged in one way or another, have legitimate channels through which to go to address their grievances, I cannot believe that it will be more popular to make your children suicide bombers than to send them to university. I just don't believe it. Human beings in that sense are the same. They have the same hopes for their children. And it's got to be the depths of hopelessness and the depths of a sense that there is no way out for a mother or for a father to see a child blow himself up and blowing up innocent people in the process. There's something desperately wrong that that's the case.
And just as we have defeated other ideologies of hatred by giving people a better idea, which is that you can have freedom and liberty and the chance to chart your own course and your own life, we will defeat this ideology in the same way.
Now, democracy is, as the Chancellor was saying, more than just having elections. It's also institutions. It's also rule of law. It is also the ability of democracies to deliver for their people. The President has been a very big proponent of foreign assistance. The United States has increased by half its official development assistance over the term of this Administration. We have tripled assistance in Africa and doubled assistance in Latin America, and in the President's Emergency Plan on AIDS taken on the pandemic. There is a very deep commitment in this Administration to making life better for the poor and for those who live still in poverty.
But it can only really take place in the context of accountable governments and democratic governments because we know what happens when that assistance goes to those who don't govern wisely. We know what happens when that assistance goes to those who are corrupt. We know what happens when that assistance goes to those who are not accountable to their own people. And so democracy and development go hand in hand and that's how we see the fight to defeat this ideology of hatred that breeds terrorism.
Right next to you there's a woman, then we'll come back down here.
QUESTION: Hi, my name is Tarin (ph). I'm from Macquarie University. I'm also with the Oaktree Foundation and part of the Make Poverty History Coalition. I just would like to first of all congratulate or encourage the United States for what they have done with the aid for AIDS prevention and the like. I'd just like to encourage perhaps that the United States looks at increasing their foreign aid to what the Make Poverty History is putting out, the .7 of GNI by 2015. Currently the United States is ranked as one of the lowest OECD nations as far as foreign aid goes and we believe that if the United States were to hit that .7 mark, .7 percent mark -- sorry -- they would be a real leader for the rest of the world to then follow. And I'd just like to know what your idea is on that.
SECRETARY RICE: Well, thank you. As I said, the United States has been -- this Administration has really actively increased American development assistance across multiple fronts. Not only have we increased development assistance just through normal development aid, but we've also created new vehicles to do it. Thank you for what you said about the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS. That plan, which is $15 billion over five years, is treating people who would not have been treated. It's dealing with orphans who would not be dealt with. It is allowing for prevention and education in communities and it's working in partnership with governments so that they can sustain the capacity to do this.
We don't want to be in the business -- any of us -- of just creating dependencies of people for foreign assistance. We want governments to be capable, accountable, non-corrupt and transparent. And that's why the President created the Millennium Challenge Corporation, an account with which I just had discussions with the Indonesians about, where we are rewarding governments that do engage in good governance, that do invest in the health and welfare of their people, that do fight corruption, with very large assistance packages to help them develop.
I believe that we -- we are increasing the input a lot on development assistance. I don't believe that a specific target is really the appropriate way to think about this. Rather, what is it we're trying to do? Let's increase development assistance as much as we can. The United States is really doing this. We're really increasing it. But let's increase it in ways also that have an impact and a long-term impact. One of the reasons that it is sometimes hard to get congresses or parliaments or other bodies to support increased development assistance is that we went through a period of time where an awful lot of development assistance was wasted and nothing got better. So we have to do something more and we're working with other donors, we're working with the World Bank, we're working with governments to make sure that development assistance is being routed in a way that is actually going to make a change.
QUESTION: My name is Luth Prise (ph). I'm also from the Australian National University. Thank you very much for coming, Dr. Rice.
You recently said that Australia and the U.S. have responsibility to ensure conditions for the rise of China to be a positive force in international politics. However, from Beijing's perspective, could trilateral talks between Australia, the U.S. and Japan, as well as U.S. negotiations with India to develop nuclear capabilities, be seen as a form of soft containment which would have a negative rather than a positive effect on China's rise?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, thank you. First of all, we have a very good relationship with China itself and so we are engaged with China in trade and economic development. Sometimes we are engaged with China in managing difficult problems like the North Korea problem with the six-party talks. We have our differences on human rights and religious freedom. We've been concerned about the Chinese military buildup.
But these are things that we talk directly to the Chinese about. There's no secret here. When I sit and talk with my Chinese counterpart or the President talks with President Hu or Premier Wen, it's very clear to the Chinese what our concerns are and what our hopes are. They, by the way, are not shy about making clear their concerns to us about American policy either, and that is as it should be between two very big powers, one of which is rising in influence in the international system.
What we want is for China to be responsible, to be a responsible stakeholder in the international system, because a positive and responsible China is going to be terrific for the world -- not just good, terrific.
Now, when we have discussions with Japan and Australia, it's only natural. These are two of our oldest and deepest allies. We share values. We have shared responsibility for defense of the Pacific over the years. And so I would hope that the Chinese would see that these also are transparent discussions. We're democracies. I can assure you that it's not -- it wouldn't be very easy, if we wanted to have secret discussions about what we might do, we wouldn't have them. It would be in the Australian or the New York Times. That's what transparent societies do. They talk about their foreign policy course. And our relationship with Japan and with Australia is a deep one but it is one that is trying to encourage a Pacific region that we would all want to inhabit, including China.
And then finally on India. India is a remarkable story. You know, when you go to India you see this enormous -- I mean, a billion plus people from all kinds of ethnic groups and religious groups. And somehow in this extraordinary place, democracy works. And you see in India that as India is changing its policies toward the world and toward the world economy, it's also a rising economic power. So when the President goes to India and says to the Indians we want to help you develop civil nuclear power to deal with your energy needs, it's also quite transparent. India is a country that's going to have massive energy needs over the years, as is China, and we don't want everybody to be in constant search of hydrocarbons. First of all, it's a scarce resource; and secondly, for the environment it will be better to have clean sources of energy like nuclear energy.
So this is all in the course of taking these relationships on their own terms, using all of these relationships to try to build a broader framework for a peaceful Asia, and recognizing that with some states like Japan or Australia or indeed with India we do share something very special, which is common values and a commitment to democracy.
Let's come down here. The gentleman right here. Yes.
QUESTION: Thank you, Dr. Rice. My name is Russell Avery (ph). I'm at St. Andrews College at the University of Sydney. I just had a question regarding the controversy over extraordinary rendition and the abuses that have occurred at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib. Does this not undermine what America stands for and also what America is fighting for?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, let me start by separating these. I understand that they're often -- often come together when people talk about them. Abu Ghraib was a disgrace. What happened there made me sick to my stomach. It was not in accordance with the way we would expect any American personnel to behave. The Secretary of Defense testified about it. The President addressed it. The big difference between a democracy when something like that happens and a dictatorship when something like that happens is this was actually first and foremost a young soldier who first exposed it to his commanders, and secondly that it was dealt with openly in the American press and so we could deal with it. And people have been punished for Abu Ghraib. Abu Ghraib was a disgrace.
The Guantanamo -- we have a dilemma. We're in a long war with very dangerous people, many of them picked up on various battlefields in Afghanistan or in some cases in battlefields in cities, where the intent was clearly to kill innocent people. Let's be very clear about the nature of this terrorist threat. These are not people who kill civilians as collateral damage. These are people who go after civilians, innocent civilians, a Palestinian wedding party in Jordan, a metro stop in Madrid, a metro stop in London, a World Trade Center in New York, a club in Bali. And these are people who intend to kill innocent civilians.
And so you don't have the luxury of only using law enforcement techniques, waiting until they commit their crime, because if you wait until they commit their crime, 3,000 innocent people are dead. And so you have to have intelligence. You have to try to stop them before they commit their crime. And the President has made very clear that within our legal obligations domestically and within our international legal obligations, we'll do everything that we can to stop them.
But I want to emphasize and underscore within our international obligations and within our domestic legal obligations because the President made very clear from day one that he would not condone torture and he doesn't condone it from any American personnel.
Now, the practice of rendition is something that's been practiced way before September 11th when extradition isn't an option because sometimes you have to take people off the streets. So that brings me back to Guantanamo. We have no desire to the world's jailer. We would be more than pleased if we had some other way to deal with dangerous people. But I can guarantee you that the day that they're let out on the street and commit another crime, the question will be quite different. And indeed we have encountered some of the people that we released from Guantanamo. We've released hundreds of people from Guantanamo. Some of the people that we've released from Guantanamo we have encountered again on the battlefield. Many of them have made quite clear that they will try to kill Americans or others again.
And so I recognize that these are hard issues and that we as democracies are struggling with how to deal with the war that we've been thrust into within our values and within our laws. And it's not easy and it's not hard, but the one tradeoff that we're not going to make is between our laws and our values and the war on terrorism. On the other hand, the President has an obligation to do everything that he can to protect Americans. And by the way, we don't just protect Americans with our intelligence and our activities, but people worldwide because this is a global war against innocent civilians, not just against Americans.
How about in the middle here?
QUESTION: Hi there. My name is Andrew Holmes (ph) from the University of Wollongong. I hope you enjoy your stay in Australia here.
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you.
QUESTION: I would like to know what you feel are the most important things that the U.S. has to gain from its relationship with Australia.
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. Well, the first thing is just the bonds of friendship. You know, I was saying a little bit earlier that it's good to have friends in good times; it's especially good to have friends in bad times. When you're under challenge or under threat or when you've experienced the kind of trauma that the United States did on September 11th, when you're having to fight a tough enemy in parts of the world or when you're having to struggle to try to bring a broader and more peaceful freedom to a difficult region like the Middle East, it's really important to have good friends and Australia is that kind of friend. I mean, we have been together -- every time freedom has been under threat, Australia has been there with the United States. And there is nothing that can replace that.
Particularly, you know, the United States does carry a lot of responsibilities globally. We carry a lot of responsibility. And having a good and faithful friend like Australia makes a big difference. Of course, we enjoy other things. We have excellent economic relations. We have a free trade agreement that will benefit both economies, allowing for the creation of more jobs in each country, higher-paying jobs, the openness of our economies to each other's product. We enjoy the exchange of peoples. One of the wonderful things about being a university professor is that when I'm at Stanford I'm usually standing in front of an audience of -- a classroom of students from all over the world and very often students from Australia. And so our exchange of people is also a great benefit.
And of course we also enjoy with Australia the responsibility to see that this great region, which is the most dynamic region in the world -- there's no doubt that East Asia is the most dynamic region in the world. Dynamism brings with it great promise. Dynamism also brings with it great challenge. And managing the economics and the politics and the evolution of this region with Australia and with other good friends is extremely important. So you know, I don't like to think that we sit and try to add up a ledger -- is it good, is it bad -- but I have to tell you, if we were adding up a ledger, this is an extraordinary relationship for us that is of great importance.
Over there, maybe in the black on the end. Yeah, right there.
QUESTION: Hi, my name is James Feldman (ph). I'm a student at Brown University but I'm on exchange.
SECRETARY RICE: Oh, okay. Speaking of exchange. Yes, right.
QUESTION: Yes. Madame Secretary, what do you believe will be the global legacy of the recent American foreign policy?
SECRETARY RICE: Well, I'm enough of a historian and smart enough to know that if you try to write your own legacy you're going to be in trouble because nobody really knows where history is going to turn.
I'll tell you what I hope. When I was in the government the last time, it was 1989 to 1991. I hate to think how old most of you were at that point. But from 1989 to 1991 I was the White House Soviet specialist at the end of the Cold War. It doesn't get much better than that. I got to participate in the liberation of Eastern Europe, the unification of Germany, the beginnings of the peaceful collapse of the Soviet Union. These were things that I never thought I was going to see, let alone have a chance to participate in.
But when you stand back and you actually think about it, you realize that you were just harvesting good decisions that had been taken in 1946 or 1947 or 1948. And when I walk through the halls of the State Department sometimes, I think about the people who were confronted with the challenge after World War II, people like Acheson and Truman and Nitzhe and the people who took a shattered world after World War II and laid a foundation for peace. It must have been extraordinarily difficult because you know it wasn't easy. In 1946, the communists won 46 percent of the vote in Italy and -- 46 percent in France and 48 percent in Italy. In 1947, there was civil strife in Turkey and there was a civil war in Greece. In 1948, Germany was permanently divided by the Berlin crisis. The Czechoslovak -- a small democracy fell to a communist coup. In 1949, the Soviet Union exploded a nuclear weapon five years ahead of schedule and the Chinese communist won.
These weren't little setbacks. This was a terrible time. And yet somehow they managed to create institutions like the North Atlantic Treaty Organization that where it was able to rearm Germany without sending France and war to Germany, the great Bretton Woods institutions like the IMF and the World Bank. And some 50 years later, I was able to see a Europe come together that was whole and free and at peace, something that I think they maybe never thought was going to happen but they laid the foundation for it.
That means that if I look out beyond my lifetime, I would hope that somebody would look back and say it's extraordinary that America and Australia and Great Britain and Poland and countries like that laid the foundations for peace in a Middle East that was deeply troubled, a Middle East that had extremism right at the fingertips, right at the top, and they laid a foundation for peace that now has led to an Afghanistan that is prosperous and democratic, an Iraq that has overcome its sectarian tensions.
And just as in 2006, it's now impossible to imagine war in Europe. Impossible to imagine war between Germany and France. Just think about that. It wasn't always the case. I would hope that when people look back on this period, they'll say now it's impossible to imagine. What are people talking about, that Middle East that was producing terrorists, that Middle East where authoritarian governments reigned, that Middle East where Iran was threatening to have a nuclear weapon? What Middle East are they talking about?
Because again, based on our values and our faith in them, we would have been successful in laying a foundation so that people of that region can pursue what I know is their aspiration, which is to be able to choose those who are going to govern them, to be able to speak freely, to be able to worship freely, to be able to educate their children, both boys and girls. And if at some point, probably long after I'm gone, people can look back and say that that's what we left through the bold and sometimes difficult decisions that we'll take, we've taken, I'll smile down.
Yes, right here. This young lady right there in black. Here.
QUESTION: Hello, Dr. Rice. My name is Kate McLaughlin (ph). I'm from Macquarie University. I was just interested when you were talking about the close of the Cold War, and in terms of Russia currently, and some people have described the government as increasingly Stalinist, I was wondering what your thoughts were on that in line with your policy of continually moving for democracy and growing with democracies to one that perhaps gone towards democracy, only some people are viewing as kind of receding.
SECRETARY RICE: Yes, thank you. Well, indeed I think there are reasons to be troubled by what is going on in Russia, but let me start out by saying, you know, this is not the Soviet Union. I first went to the Soviet Union as a student in 1979. I can assure you Russia is not the Soviet Union.
But it did make a bold move toward a more pluralistic system and it does seem in many ways to be swinging back in the other direction. I think we have to be concerned about the centralization of power in the Kremlin. I say to my Russian colleagues very often that no democracy survives without checks and balances and countervailing institutions, whether it's a strong parliament or an independent judiciary or political parties. A single strong presidency with no countervailing institutions is a danger to democracy. This is not to say that President Putin himself is authoritarian or a danger to democracy. It's to say that by its very existence a presidency that is strong without countervailing institutions can be subverted, can subvert democracy.
And so we've been trying to encourage the Russians to allow civil society to develop, to allow political parties to develop, to allow a freely press -- a truly free press, to have an independent judiciary and to have a parliament that has an independent say. And you know, the progress is not even and there have been some setbacks and some reverses.
That said, we have good relations with Russia and we work together on a wide variety of issues. But particularly as a Russianist, it is really my hope that the Russian people, who do have greater individual freedoms than probably they've ever had, who are growing in wealth -- there is a developing middle class, will find their voice to demand accountable, transparent institutions and to demand the ability to organize themselves to petition their government and, if necessary, to change their government peacefully through democratic process. After all, that's what the essence of democracy is.
So I know that there are those who want to give up on Russian democracy, want to say, well, it's all over, it's now gone completely the other way, we ought not have them in the institutions like the NATO-Russia Council or the G-8. My view is that I see no circumstance in which excluding Russia from institutions in which these values are paramount is going to have a better impact on what is admittedly a very difficult and shaky path right now for Russian democracy. I do think we have to continue to speak loudly for the development of Russian democracy and to say to Russia that that is what is expected of a country that is a great power and that at least has started down this road.
QUESTION: Thank you.
SECRETARY RICE: Oh my, so many hands. How about right here in the front?
QUESTION: My name is Joan (ph). I'm from Sydney University. You've spoken a lot -- I'm sorry, my question relates to an international poll conducted by the U.S. Foreign Policy Magazine last month. It found that more than 60 percent of Australians had a predominantly negative attitude towards the U.S. and this number is 12 percent higher than the previous year. A separate poll in Australia conducted in 2005 revealed that 57 percent of Australians were concerned with the direction of U.S. foreign policy, and that's the same percentage of people who are concerned about Islamic fundamentalism.
How do you feel knowing that such a dramatically negative shift in the Australian people's opinion of your country and its foreign policy has occurred on your watch?
SECRETARY RICE: Thank you. Well, I know that there are many who disagreed with the policies that we have carried out. That's only fair. And I know that the President and the Administration have had to do some very difficult things.
In the wake of September 11th the United States had to take a decision. What was the meaning of September 11th? It might have been that the meaning was to simply try and deal through police activity, through intelligence, through law enforcement, with the narrow band of terrorists, the organization al-Qaida that was directly responsible for the bombing of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. That might have been one course.
But much as the defeat of fascism in Germany and imperial Japan gave way to a policy in the United States that believed that the only permanent peace would be through the establishment of democratic institutions, the President and those of us who were involved believed that the only way that you would defeat terrorism permanently was to remove threats before they materialized and to lay the foundation for a more democratic Middle East.
And that has led us to do some things that I know were not always popular. I'm quite aware that there are those who disagree about the decision to overthrow Saddam Hussein. I'm quite aware that there are those who believed that he should have been given more time, who believed that we could contain him. But after multiple, multiple resolutions and a sanctions regime that was very, very tough on the Iraqi people but, by the way, it turns out not that tough on the Iraqi regime, thanks to scandals like Oil-for-Food, and that it was not that -- yeah, I mean, look, the Iraqi regime was doing pretty well playing this game, and that Saddam Hussein had attacked his neighbors and attacked his own people, that it was time to deal with that situation.
Similarly, I know that there are those who didn't like the President's call for a democratic government in the Palestinian territories and that Yasser Arafat was no longer serving the interests of the Palestinian people.
So yes, the President has done some tough things, some of which were not popular. But as I said to the young man in answer to his question, I think that the outcome, the judgment of all of this, needs to await history. I'm a student of history. I know very well that things that seemed like brilliant strategies one day or maybe for one week or maybe for one year or maybe even for five years turned out to be disastrous strategies in terms of history. And I know that strategies that seemed at the time to be fraught with mistakes and fraught with errors turned out to be very good for human history.
And so I understand that when you read the newspapers every day or you look on television every day and what you see is the violence and you see the turbulence that goes along with big historic change, that it is easy to say, well, the United States has made policies that have made the world less stable. But I would just ask: Does anybody really think that the Middle East was more stable or was stable in 2000 or in 2001, when there was enough malignancy in the Middle East to produce al-Qaida, when Syrian forces were deep into the heart of Lebanon and the Lebanese people had no chance for freedom, when the Palestinian people were under a government that was corrupt and did not have their interests at hand, when Saddam Hussein was putting people into mass graves and attacking his neighbors and gassing his own people and gassing his neighbors? It wasn't a very stable Middle East.
And so it is not as if the Administration's policies have somehow upset a pristine and stable Middle East that was marching toward progress. In fact, it has overturned 60 years of policies that turned a blind eye to the freedom gap in the Middle East that turned a blind eye or responded weakly to terrorist attack after terrorist attack after terrorist attack. And I know that that's hard, but I believe that history will demonstrate that it was the right decision.
QUESTION: Only one more?
MODERATOR: There is time for just one more.
SECRETARY RICE: All right. And it's going to be you in the blue in the middle.
QUESTION: My name is Jeremy and I'm from the University of Sydney. Dr. Rice, throughout your speech this afternoon you've mentioned the word "freedom" quite a lot. I'm a bit puzzled as to what you mean. Is this the same freedom that people in your own country are enjoying under the Patriot Act or perhaps is the freedom that we're enjoying under these anti-religion laws, or is it the freedom that people in Guantanamo Bay are enjoying as they get held without charge and outside of the power of the Geneva Conventions? Would you be able to expand on that for me, please?
SECRETARY RICE: Sure. Of course. (Applause.) I'll gladly expand.
You're right, the people in Guantanamo are not enjoying freedom. They're enjoying being detained. You're absolutely right.
Now, I don't think that's the same as the people in the United States or the people in Australia. The people of the United States, the people of Australia -- you -- didn't go out and commit acts on behalf of al-Qaida. You didn't fight on the battlefields of Afghanistan trying to kill American soldiers or Australian soldiers. So yes, the people in Guantanamo are detained. They are detained under -- because of the wars of law, they are detained. And because of the President's decision, even though we did not grant to al-Qaida, to terrorist organizations, Geneva protections, the President said that they should be treated in accordance with the Geneva Convention.
And I would urge -- we have urged people to go and see Guantanamo. Yes, it's a detention facility. But we have tried very hard in Guantanamo, for instance, to make it possible for people to carry out their religious practices, making prayer mats available to them, making it possible to direct them toward Mecca. We've tried to give religiously sensitive meals in Guantanamo. People are trying to treat the people of Guantanamo humanely because that's who we are.
Now, as to the efforts that we have had to make as democracies to root out terrorists in our countries, we have democratic systems. The United States Congress just reauthorized the Patriot Act. There, our -- Americans' -- own elected representatives, which is the course of democracy, debated it. It took a lot of debate. It took some changes. But they reauthorized the Patriot Act. That is the course of democracy.
And the reason that they reauthorized the Patriot Act is because every American wants to be sure that its government is doing everything that it can legally to prevent another attack on innocent Americans. I'll tell you, I sat before the 9 /11 Commission that looked into the question of whether or not we had done everything that we could to prevent the attack of September 11th. And those of us with responsibility in government at the time of the September 11th attack of course asked ourselves had we done everything that we could to prevent an attack.
In that sense, the experience of those of us who were responsible for American security at the time is somewhat different than the experience of our fellow citizens. I think everyone would tell you who's has that experience that within our laws and within our values we are going to do everything we can to make sure that it doesn't happen again.
Now, the fact is that we may not succeed because the terrorists have to be right only once. We have to be right 100 percent of the time. And that's not a fair fight. But we are working within our democratic systems to deal with this new kind of war and we've needed new tools and new laws.
But what sets us apart from the terrorists, what sets us apart from dictatorships, is that we debate those issues openly, we discuss them openly, people ask questions about them; some people agree and some people disagree. But we have a democratic process that brings us to an answer.
We believe that the long-term answer to the terrorists who attacked us on September 11th, or Bali on October 12th or Madrid on March 13th, that the answer to those terrorists is to spread the ability and, yes indeed, the freedom of people all over the world, wherever they may reside, to have those same debates, to come to their same -- to their own answers about how they're going to govern their affairs.
Sometimes when I talk about freedom and liberty, I am reminded that there is sometimes a view or there seems to be sometimes a view that we have freedom and liberty but, you know, others, well, maybe they aren't ready, or maybe it's too hard, or maybe they'll elect the wrong people. And I am reminded that there were times when that was said about almost every peoples in the world. It was certainly said about Russians. It was certainly said about Asians; Asian values were somehow incompatible with democracy. It was said about Latin Americans; well, they couldn't get over their military juntas. It was said about Africans; well, it was their tribalism. In fact, it was said about black Americans; you know, they were too childlike, they really didn't want to govern themselves.
So as you think about the struggle that we're in and you think about the decisions that are being made, whether you agree with them or not, I ask you to keep in context the difference between those of us who operate in democratic societies and in a democratic context and those who would by force and by terror and by killing of the innocent try and take that opportunity not just away from us but from those to whom we are trying to spread it.
Thank you very much. It was great being with you. 2006/T8-8
Released on March 16, 2006