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Remark at Young Global Leaders Policy Roundtable

Remark at the Young Global Leaders Policy Roundtable

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
East Auditorium
Washington, DC
April 19, 2007

(9:45 a.m. EST)

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much. Thank you.

Well, first of all, thank you very much, Klaus, for coming. We first met when I was the provost of Stanford University and Klaus brought the World Economic Forum to Stanford for an extraordinary session. It was a wonderful session. And you have done so much to bring people of the world together from many different walks of life. You have embodied a principle that I hold very dear, which is that peace and prosperity are not just the work of government, they are the work of all people from all walks of life. And so thank you very much for doing that and for representing that so well, and I'm just honored to have you here with us. (Applause.)

I'd also like to thank you very much, Karim, for being here. We've had a long association. And we are also joined by the current Ambassador of Jordan, Prince Zeid. Thank you very much for being here.

And I just want to underscore what Klaus has said. I'm very lucky to have Dina Powell working with me. She is exemplary of what it is to be American, really, someone who is from an Egyptian family who is fully and completely American, but I think with a very great deal of pride in her heritage. And so thank you, Dina, for what you're doing. (Applause.)

Now, I have to start by saying that you are one day going to experience something that I am experiencing now, which is that in the blink of an eye you go from being a young global leader to being an old one. (Laughter.) And I used to sit in many forums like this where I was considered to be an up-and-comer, and then all of a sudden one day you have come -- (laughter) -- and then I guess after that you go. (Laughter.) So enjoy being a young global leader now.

You are, though, very, very special people from all walks of life. I know that you are representative of entrepreneurs, some of you are academics. I understand that there are people here from civil society. There are people from all walks of life. And that's why I wanted to come and be with you. Because as I have said, we in government can do a lot, but we can't do everything. Indeed the desire for greater democracy, for greater freedom, for greater prosperity for all of the world's people has to come from the hearts and minds of all of us around the globe.

It is a time when those efforts are very much needed because the international system is going through a great historic transformation. And great historic transformations are difficult. They are by their very nature disruptive. They are by their very nature disconcerting. They are by their very nature somewhat frightening. And we are in one of those times when the international system is remaking itself. But I just want to say to you that at times like this it is important to focus, of course, on the great challenges that we face, but also to focus on the great opportunities because great opportunities for change do not come in times of the status quo. They come in times when change is underway.

I am very grateful that Klaus mentioned the efforts that we're making in the Middle East. President Bush is a firm believer that change in the Middle East is long overdue and that it can, in fact, bring about a more stable world if the Middle East itself is truly stable. Not false stability, but stability built on more open societies, more prosperous societies, the forward march of democracy, the belief that the non-negotiable demands of human dignity are such that every man, woman, and child deserves the right to be free, that there are no places in the world where tyranny is okay. Because wherever you are, you are human and human beings have a natural desire to be free.

I've heard people say from time to time, why is America trying to impose democracy? I say, we're trying to do nothing of the sort. You don't have to impose democracy; you have to impose tyranny. What you do with democracy is to support those who within their own indigenous circumstances are trying to bring about freer societies. I think if you talk to people around the world and you get away from abstract concepts like democracy and you ask questions like do you want to have a say in who will govern you? People will say yes. Do you want to be able to educate your children, your boys and your girls? People will say yes. Do you want to be able to worship as you wish, in line with your conscience not in line with the dictates of the state? People will say yes. Do you want to be free from the arbitrary, secret knock of the state at your door on any given evening? People will say yes. Do you want to be able to have the information that a free press can bring? People will say yes.

In fact, it's not a cultural issue; it is a human issue to want to have control of your own life. And America says this, I think, from a perspective not of arrogance, not that we have all done it right, but rather from a sense of humility in how long and hard our own democratic journey has been. In fact, when the Founding Fathers -- one of them Thomas Jefferson, my predecessor many times removed, the First Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson -- when that Constitution was written, that Constitution made my ancestors three-fifths of a man. Slavery existed still in this country for another more than a hundred years. And so from our perspective, we know that change is difficult and that high-minded principles don't always mean that you're living up to them.

In fact, it was not until -- it was still during my lifetime that in my native South of the United States, Alabama, in my lifetime that the vote was finally secured for all people. It was very difficult for black Americans to vote in the South until the Voting Rights Act of the early 1960s. So we know that it's hard, but it is very much worth it. And there is no place -- I am quite confident -- that people don't want freedom.

We've been through a long list of the world assuming, well, perhaps it really won't work in Africa because Africa is too tribal. But now if you look across Africa you see people exercising their democratic rights and, as a result, you see better and better leadership in Africa, governments that are emerging from civil war giving their people the vote and becoming more stable. It used to be said, well, it won't work in Latin America, a continent in which there were coups, juntas, the military in control. But now if you look at Latin America, in fact, the countries of Latin America -- with one exception, Cuba -- are, in fact, being governed by democratic systems and are having peaceful transfers of power.

It was even said at one point, well, of course, Russians don't really care about democracy. But they do, because to have a say in what you are able -- in who will govern you and how you will live your life, is a very human emotion. And so when we talk about the forward march of democracy and trying to support democratic processes, I think we're talking about something that is actually quite natural.

Now, it's not enough to have elections. Democracies have to be well governed, democracies have to have institutions, they have to be able to provide for their people, they have to have security; all of those things are true. But unless you start from the premise that well-governed democratic states are what we should be seeking, I think you'll be without a compass.

Now, we're going to continue our efforts in the Middle East. And one of the most important efforts that I think we're making is on behalf of the two-state solution to finally have the Palestinian people have their own state and to finally have the Israeli people have the security that will come from having a democratic neighbor. (Applause.) We will continue those efforts. I think we have an opportunity and it is an opportunity that we will fully pursue.

Let me just close by saying that sometimes in the tremendous upheaval that comes with great historic times, I'm sure it is easy to lose sight of the end point and to think to yourself will it ever happen that there will be a Palestinian state. Will it ever happen that the Iraqi people will live together in democracy and peace? Will it ever happen that Afghanistan, having overthrown the Taliban, will become a mature democracy?

Well, I am a student of international history and I recognize that so many things that seemed impossible at one moment, years later seem as if they were just inevitable. This building that you're in, this part of the building, is actually the part of the building in which George Marshall had his office. It's the part of the building in which people like Acheson and Nitze, the architects of American policy after World War II, worked. And on any given day after World War II, they came in and faced problems that must have made it seem as if democracy was in retreat. They faced in 1946 not questions about whether Eastern Europe would be communist, but questions about whether Western Europe would be communist, when the Communist Party won 48 percent of the vote in Italy and 46 percent of the vote in France. They faced questions about how to keep two million Europeans from starving in 1947, the genesis of the Marshall Plan. They faced in 1947 a civil war in Greece and civil conflict in Turkey. In 1948 the Berlin crisis divided Germany permanently. In 1948 Czechoslovakia, the last of the non-communist East European countries, fell to a communist coup. In 1949 the Soviet Union exploded a nuclear weapon five years ahead of schedule, the Chinese communist won and in 1950 the Korean War broke out.

Now, if you had told people at that time that just a mere 40 years later, a then-young global leader named Condoleezza Rice would be lucky enough to be the White House Soviet specialist at the end of the Cold War and to participate in the liberation of Eastern Europe, the unification of Germany, the beginning of the peaceful collapse of the Soviet Union, people would have said, "You're out of your mind." And so when people tell you what isn't possible in international politics, tell them to stay focused on what is possible. If you stay true to your values, if you see opportunity not just crisis, and if you are determined to make statecraft work for peace, prosperity and democracy, it's amazing what those outcomes can be.

So thank you very much and I'm happy to take a few of your questions. (Applause.)


SECRETARY RICE: Yes, yes, yes. Your Royal Highness.

PRINCE ZAID: Madame Secretary, thank you so much for meeting with us and for providing us such a thoughtful and compelling presentation. Eleven years ago in Bosnia, arguments were put forward for the partitioning of the country in the absence of what seemed to be a better political alternative and such was the violence in that country. Ultimately, these arguments were rejected both on practical and on moral grounds. Having said that, in Washington today there seems to be a renewed interest in this sort of argument where Iraq is concerned. And for those of us living in the neighborhood, it does make us nervous. Could you give us your reactions to these sorts of arguments.

SECRETARY RICE: Yes. Well, thank you. It's a very good question, Your Royal Highness. I do not see, first of all, that it is practical and secondly, since I don't see Iraqis who seem to be interested in such a solution, I don't think that it is moral. The Iraqis are having a very difficult struggle. They are struggling to overcome differences that have been beneath the surfaces, differences that have been suppressed, differences that have been dealt with by oppression or by violence and they're trying to find a way to deal with their differences politically. But they have set up institutions in which they can all act to overcome those differences as Iraqis. Whether as Sunnis or Shia, or Kurds or Turkmen, they come together within these democratic institutions. And already a lot of Iraqis showed tremendous fortitude and courage in voting 12.5 million strong to be one Iraq and to have those institutions. It is not for any outside power to say that they should not have a unified state. It would be bad for the region but most especially it would be bad for Iraqis.

Now, I know that there are violent people from all of the communities, extremists, who do not want to see the Iraqis have an opportunity to settle their differences politically. But it's my strong belief and I think it's the belief of the Iraqis as well that unless they have the opportunity to work within these institutions, they cannot settle their differences by any means other than repression. So it is -- if you say they shouldn't try all Iraqis within these institutions, then you are really saying, well, they'll have to go back to violence and tyranny and that just isn't.

Now, a lot of Iraqis have lost their lives and a lot of coalition. Americans, in particular, have given their lives in this struggle. But if we look first at what could be, an Iraq that has institutions, that will come over time to represent all Iraqis; it's not going to happen overnight. But the fundamentals, the foundation is being laid. Reconciliation will probably come first through laws, but it will come over time through social interaction of the people. This would be an Iraq that would make a fundamentally different kind of Middle East in which the model is for democratic change, not for repression. The final point is that of course for the region, there is a lot at stake because an Iraq that has a foundation for peace and democracy is an Iraq that can be a stabilizing force. An Iraq that is permitted to degenerate into chaos will have a terrible effect on the region. And I think that is why I look forward to the conference of neighbors that will take place in Sharm el-Sheikh at the beginning of May because it seems to me to speak to a recognition by Iraq's neighbors that this young democracy needs to be supported by the neighbors.


QUESTION: Thank you very much. I must start by saying that I'm from Zimbabwe. Adam Mutambara (ph). I'm one of the opposition leaders. I want to start by expressing our gratitude to the United States Government for supporting us, in particular last month when we were brutalized, tortured and arrested. But my emphasis today is to say we need more than democracy in Africa. In other words, democratic existence is a necessary but not sufficient condition for progress. We want Zimbabwe, for example, to be a peaceful, democratic and prosperous nation. What we want in Africa is African countries becoming knowledge economy driven, technology driven, globally competitive economies.

What policies are we putting in place to promote technology transfer into Africa, to promote free and fair trade between Africa and the U.S., to promote value-added manufacturing in Africa? When we are successful, Secretary, we would want Zimbabwe to be exporting IT products, technology products to the U.S. In other words, we are saying where are we committing a little bit of economic suicide on the part of the U.S. because we want to be competing against you and also being your equals in the long run.

SECRETARY RICE: That's good. Yes. Yes.

QUESTION: Thank you very much.

SECRETARY RICE: Thank you very much. That's great. (Applause.) Well, first of all, thank you for your courage as a member of the opposition in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is a story that I think the world should be more focused on. Particularly the countries of the region need to be more focused on what is going on in Zimbabwe. The people of Zimbabwe I think did not fight for independence only to find themselves in a position of repression. And so you will have our support and we have spoken out.

I'd love to have Zimbabwe as a competitor internationally. I think that the United States has always had a view that free trade is not a zero-sum game, that in fact you can grow all economies through free trade. And it's why the United States and this President, but really American presidents for decades now have been strong proponents of free trade. In Africa in particular, we have had programs that recognize that democracy is a necessary condition, but not sufficient to be able to deliver for people. And so we've begun to talk more and more about democracy and development.

We have through the African Growth and Opportunity Act made it possible for a product to come into the United States. And I have seen in some cases when I visited Africa how that's affected and helped promote small business. We have been very involved in education in Africa which after all with an educated population you can compete better in the international economy. The United States has almost quadrupled official development assistance to Africa over the term of this presidency because we believe that trade, aid and foreign direct investment have to go together to improve people's lives.

Finally, with the Millennium Challenge Account, which I dearly hope one day, if governance can be improved, that Zimbabwe would be a possible candidate for that kind of program, we have been rewarding governments that are involved in good governance, that are fighting corruption, that are investing in their people with really rather large development compacts that are -- you might be interested as members of -- some of you as members of civil society -- that are actually developed between the United States, the government and civil society as to how to help to alleviate poverty.

So I think in Africa, we've been working very hard to try to make the link between development and democracy because you're right, democracies perhaps even more than non-democratic forms of government have to be able to deliver for their people because when people cast their vote, they expect that the government is going to be able to deliver for them. And so this link between democracy and development is very important.

Yes, yes.

SECRETARY RICE: And I think they're going to -- do you have a mike?

QUESTION: Thank you, Secretary Rice. First of all, I'd like to applaud you on your great efforts to recognize and empower women worldwide and I thank you for that. I'd like to get your thoughts on what some of the greatest needs are worldwide for women, but I'd also like you to comment on the fact that the U.S., although we've come a long way, we still have a long way to go. Unlike many countries, we've never had a woman in our highest office and just this week, the Supreme Court dealt a severe blow to women's reproductive rights. So if you could comment on both of those things. Thank you.

SECRETARY RICE: Yeah. Well, look, we have a system for -- a democratic system for dealing with the most difficult social issues. And people are on different sides of these debates. And it is why we have a system that allows this to be worked both through legislation and through the courts. Americans will and can make their views known and will do so, I'm quite certain of it. I mean, I have my own personal views. But the important thing is that we have a democratic system in which these issues can be addressed. And that goes to the first part of your question.

First, women have to have rights. If you can't vote, you can't exercise your own -- on behalf of your own freedoms. You have to be able to vote. Secondly, you have to be able to run for office. And I do think in some countries now this is being recognized, I was in Kuwait recently and one of the nicest gifts I ever got was a t-shirt from the Kuwaiti women that said "Half a democracy is not a democracy at all," just after they'd gotten the right to vote. And it's very exciting. They were talking about running for office and they are going to run for office. And they ran for office. Some didn't -- none won, but they are organizing themselves now across gender lines to try and win votes. I think that's extraordinarily (inaudible).

It also takes change socially for women to be able to prosper. In too many places, even if education is available to girls, sometimes family attitudes are such that girls' education is not valued as highly as the education of boys. And so this has to be worked at the level of society too, which is why civil society groups are so important.

So yes, we have a long way to go, but I would start by giving everybody the right to vote. I would move toward making certain that people know they can hold whatever office they wish. I would make certain that women are being educated and that their families are supportive of that and that there are not barriers to women reaching and fulfilling their potential.

But it's a very interesting point; even though it's true we've not had a woman yet elected president and I now see women presidents in a number of parts of the world, parts of the country, I think it will happen. But do you realize that it has been 10 years, and if I go my full term it will have been 12 years, since the United States of America had a white male Secretary of State? We had Madeleine Albright, followed by Colin Powell, followed by me. (Applause.) So we're making progress.

STAFF: Two more --

SECRETARY RICE: Yes, two more quick questions, yes.

QUESTION: Fatima --

SECRETARY RICE: Yes, Fatima, yes.

QUESTION: (Inaudible.) I am from Iran. As you told about democracy, we wish democracy too, but my question is do you think America can bring democracy by war?

SECRETARY RICE: No. America cannot bring democracy by any means. Only people in the region can bring -- in the country can bring democracy. What we can do is to help support people who want to bring democracy, speak out for them, provide opportunities for training, opportunities for people to come and visit here.

Sometimes, as was the case in Afghanistan and also in Iraq, the overthrow of dictators presented those people with an opportunity to build democracy. And that can happen, but we can't even -- we can't deliver democracy in Afghanistan or Iraq or anyplace. That has to come from within.

But if I can just say a word about Iran; I really do look forward to the day when Iran and the United States can have good relations. The Iranian people are a great people, a great culture, a culture far, far, far older than that of the United States, a culture that has contributed so much to human knowledge and to human progress. We have been fortunate to have some people-to-people exchanges as of late. We had a wrestling team in Iran. We've had people here who are disaster relief workers. And it's important that our people -- because we respect greatly the Iranian people and we simply want for the Iranian people what we want for people all over the world, which is to have the ability to express themselves, to choose their leaders, to have women prosper.

And so I'm so glad that you're here and I hope that you know that whatever differences we may have with the Iranian Government, we want to work them out through diplomatic means. We would like to see the Iranian people have access to technology for a civil nuclear program, but in a way that does not cause proliferation risks. That is why the international community has been concerned about enrichment and reprocessing. But the Iranian people and the American people should be friends and I look forward to the day that relations between our governments permit that to take place.

Last question, yes.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, as someone who's not American but who loves America and who spent four years at Stanford, a place you know very well, I hope you can forgive me for asking you a frank question. I was very moved by your words about democracy in the Middle East and I think many of us who believe very deeply in the universality of democratic values were very moved by these words and also by what President Bush has had to say on a number of occasions, including his State of the Union address when he got reelected.

We've been very concerned, though, recently about whether the deeds of America match its lofty rhetoric in this regard because democracy, after all, and the support for democracy requires sacrifice. It requires tradeoff. Sometimes, it requires accepting people for a while who we don't like in order to allow democracy to de-legitimize them and de-popularize them and of course, we're all very familiar with how effective democracy is at doing that.

And also, recognizing that ultimately, the only way we're really going to defeat terrorism, as President Bush and yourself have indicated, is through liberating and modernizing societies in the Middle East. So my question to you is whether we really have what it takes to actually make those tradeoffs and take the difficult decisions and sacrifices that supporting democracy requires.

SECRETARY RICE: Yes. Well, thank you and we -- the United States under President Bush has been more vocal and more devoted to this cause than I think at any other time in our history, but we're not perfect. We're not always going to make the right decisions. We will always make decisions that we thought were right. And so we have to recognize that these are complicated times. I think our responsibility is to speak out for these principles, to support those who want to speak out for those principles, never to think that stability is somehow a tradeoff for democracy. Because I think the problem we've had in the Middle East in the past is that stability, or false stability, was really giving rise underneath to very bad circumstances, virulent extremism which was just underneath the surface, because healthy political forces didn't have anywhere to go in authoritarian circumstances, and so we have to work our way through those. I would never say that everything that we've done would -- has been good in this cause, but it has always been in good faith.

The goal, though, is going to have to be that people of the region will also take this up, and I think that's probably for me one of the most heartening aspects of this. When I go to countries around the Middle East and activists in those countries say to me, "Secretary Rice, you're not talking about democracy enough," I think that's great. That's what I want to hear, because people recognize that they have a responsibility themselves and that America can support that, but it is really their responsibility also to promote for democracy.

So I think it's going to be a generational issue, a struggle. But it is something that we have begun. It is something that should have been begun a long time ago and it is something to which America will remain committed, because people around the world who expect that of us need to be able to know that we will really be there and continue to advocate for those issues.

Thank you. Last question. Yes. Ukraine.

QUESTION: My name is Igor Sheshenkov (ph), from Kiev, from Ukraine, and I would like to bring some more European perspective to our discussion. In your strategic plan for 2007-2012, one of the priorities were this energy security in Europe.


QUESTION: And the diversification of sources, transparency and some other things. Do you have any particular plans how to do that?

SECRETARY RICE: Yes. Well, it's a very important issue -- energy security and energy diversification -- and it's important for a couple of ways -- reasons. First of all, no one should be in a position in which oil and gas can be used as a political weapon, and the only way to be sure that you're not is to have alternative sources of oil and gas. And so we are working with the Europeans. This is also something that Europe really needs to worry about -- not just Ukraine, not just Georgia, but Europe -- on energy security, on issues of energy diversification, extremely important for that purpose.

By the way, it's not aimed at anyone. I know that sometimes it is spoken that the United States is trying to deny Moscow, for instance. And no, that's not the point. Everybody should be able to have multiple sources. There is plenty of need for energy resources that we can have diversification of energy sources and it will serve us all well.

It is also important that that diversification not just mean diversification of oil and gas resources, that is, carbon-based resources, but also diversification to alternative fuels. Because if we are going to improve our environmental stewardship on something like climate change, we're going to have to have alternatives to a carbon-based economy. And so when President Bush was in Brazil just last month, he was -- and when President Lula was then at Camp David, they launched this bio-fuels diversification project, alternative fuels. Brazil has been a leader in ethanol-based energy supply. We're going to work with them, particularly in our own hemisphere, to make alternative fuels commercially available through technology, commercially viable through technology, and that will be extremely important to diversifying energy supply and to improving economic stewardship.

And so this area is one that to me is at the core of further economic progress, political independence for countries and harmony between countries. One of the issues that we will have if there cannot be alternative sources for China, for India, is no matter what the so-called developed countries do in terms of carbon-based fuels, we will never see an improvement in the environment because of the rapid growth of China and India. But we can't tell China and India don't grow; they have to be able to grow. So we have to make these technologies available. And the United States has something called the Asia Pacific Partnership on Climate and Energy with South Korea, the United States, Australia, China, India. There are others who are interested. We need more partnerships like that around the world so that diversification is both supply of oil and gas in the near term but also diversification to alternative fuels in the longer term.

Thank you very much, and thank you all for being here. It's been a pleasure to be with you. (Applause.)


Released on April 19, 2007


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