Condoleezza Rice: 2017 National Book Festival

>>From the Library of
Congress in Washington, D.C.>>Carla Hayden: It is my
pleasure to welcome to the festival for the very first time the
former Secretary of State, former National Security Advisor
and Provost of Stanford University, who is also a two-time New York
Times’ best-selling author, the remarkable, amazing
Dr. Condoleezza Rice. [ Applause ] And Dr. Rice is going to be
interviewed for us by one of the best interviewers I know
who has his own show on Bloomberg, our National Book Festival Co-chair and very generous supporter
Mr. David Rubenstein. [ Applause ] Please welcome both of them. [ Applause ] And thanks and enjoy.>>David Rubenstein: Well,
thank you very much for coming.>>Condoleezza Rice: Thank you
very much for having me here. And welcome to everybody,
thanks for being here, it’s a great event, great event.>>David Rubenstein: So, it’s hard
to believe but you’ve now been out of government for
about nine years. So, just before we get into
your new book on democracy which I highly recommend and we’ll
talk about it in a few moments, tell us what you’ve been doing
since you left government other than writing three
best-selling books. This is the third. But, other than that
you’re teaching at Stanford and what else are you doing?>>Condoleezza Rice: Well, I’ve
gone back to what I consider to be my real profession. I had that digression into
Washington but I’ve actually been at Stanford since I
was 25 years old. I started there as an
assistant professor and so I’ve returned to Stanford. My appointment is in
the business school but I teach both business school
students and undergraduates. I teach a course in
American foreign policy. I’ve been able to do a little bit
of work in the private sector, a little consulting
in the private sector and I’m spending a lot more time
practising the piano than I did when I was in the government
because that’s really a great love and I’m trying to improve
my golf handicap, that’s a lot harder
than playing the piano.>>David Rubenstein: Well
speaking of your golf handicap, you were one of the first
two women to be elected to the Augusta National Golf
Club so was that an honor that you ever expected
you would get?>>Condoleezza Rice: I was stunned. In fact when a good friend who
was a member of Augusta came out to tell me that
I was being invited to join Augusta I just
sat there dumbfounded. And he said you are
going to say yes, right? And I said yes I am but I was
completely taken by surprise.>>David Rubenstein:
Well, just tell me, don’t. I won’t tell anybody but
what is your handicap?>>Condoleezza Rice: Well it’s
not really a state secret. So I am, for those of
you who are golfers, there’s something called an index
and you take that index and you go to different courses and
depending on the difficulty of the course you establish
your handicap. So my index is 11.6 which
means that on most courses I’m about a 13 or a 14 handicap.>>David Rubenstein: Okay, wow, okay
so if you ever, did you ever play with President George W. Bush?>>Condoleezza Rice: I have played
with President George W. Bush on a number of occasions. He plays speed golf. He plays really, really fast. You have to almost run to your
golf ball to keep up with him but yes, we’ve played together.>>David Rubenstein: Okay. And music, you did train to
be a classical music pianist?>>Condoleezza Rice: Yes.>>David Rubenstein: And
I have seen you perform with Yo-Yo Ma among
others, so do you do a lot of those concerts anymore or?>>Condoleezza Rice: Well, I
play at least one concert a year. I was fortunate to
play with Yo-Yo Ma at his music festival just
recently at the Kennedy Center for which you were such
a great leader David, but at least once a year I play a
concert with a professional quartet from the Boston University
called the Muir String Quartet. And we do a benefit for a charity that we started called
Classics for Kids. It puts musical instruments
in the schools because I’m a great believer,
look I believe like everybody that we need STEM, Science and
Technology and Mathematics, but I’m also a great believer
that we need the arts. Our kids need exposure to the arts. [ Applause ]>>David Rubenstein: So, I
want to focus on your book but I’ve heard some
people who may not know, there may be one or
two, your biography. Just, you were born and
grew up in Birmingham?>>Condoleezza Rice: Yes.>>David Rubenstein: And
it was a segregated South under the Jim Crow laws so when
you were growing up did you, how long did it take
before you realized that you were not being treated
the same as everybody else?>>Condoleezza Rice: Well,
I grew up in Birmingham. It was the most segregated big
city in the country at the time. It was the place where
the police commissioner, Bull Connor was well known for
his brutality toward Blacks and it didn’t take long to know that your parents were
a little embarrassed that they couldn’t take you to a
restaurant or to a movie theater. They were never people who let us,
this little community that I grew up in, which was mostly
school teachers. My parents were educators. They never let us feel in
any way that we were victims. As a matter of fact they always said when you consider yourself
a victim you’ve lost control so don’t ever consider
yourself a victim. They also said you’re going
to have to be twice as good. Now they didn’t say that as a matter
of debate, they said it as a matter of fact because education
was supposed to be your armor against prejudice. But I remember the very first time
that I, it really came home to me. I went to see Santa Claus. And you know how it works,
you take the little kid and Santa Claus puts
the kid on the knee and says what will you
have for Christmas? Well, this particular Santa Claus
was taking the little white kids and putting them on his knee
and holding little black kids out here to talk to them. And my father who was a former
football player, my dad was 6.3, 240, he said to my
mother Angelina if he does that to Condoleezza I am going
to pull all that stuff off of him and expose him as the
cracker that he is, he said.>>David Rubenstein: What happened?>>Condoleezza Rice: Alright
so, you’re this little girl and you’re five and it’s Santa
Claus/daddy, Santa Clause/daddy. How is this going to end up? Santa Claus must have read
my father’s body language because when it came to me, he
put me on his knee and he said, little girl, what would
you like for Christmas? But I remember that was the first
time that I thought this is really, really terrible and over
Santa Claus of all things.>>David Rubenstein: One other
thing that might have been unusual in your upbringing is you
had an unusual first name.>>Condoleezza Rice: Yes.>>David Rubenstein: Where
did that name come from?>>Condoleezza Rice: So,
Condoleezza is my mother’s attempt to Anglicize ‘con dolcezza’ which
in Italian means ‘with sweetness’. Now, I don’t know maybe
she missed the boat there but anyway that’s what it meant. And her name was Angelina
[assumed spelling] and I have an uncle Alto [phonetic]. I have an aunt Genova [phonetic] who since we’re Southerners
we call Genowa [phonetic]. But I think that she wanted
an Italian musical term. And she first thought about
[foreign language spoken] but that meant walking slowly. She thought that wasn’t so good. ‘Allegro’ meant fast, that
definitely wasn’t good and so she came up with ‘con
Dolcezza’ and Anglicized the ending.>>David Rubenstein: Okay. Ultimately your parents
move out of Birmingham. They moved to Denver.>>Condoleezza Rice: Yes.>>David Rubenstein: And you
ultimately went to school at the University of Denver?>>Condoleezza Rice: Yes.>>David Rubenstein: Where
you graduated Phi Beta Kappa?>>Condoleezza Rice: Yes.>>David Rubenstein: And
then you went to Notre Dame?>>Condoleezza Rice: That’s right.>>David Rubenstein: But you didn’t
get involved in the football, cheering or anything there,
you were a graduate student.>>Condoleezza Rice: I was
a FIA, I loved football. Are you kidding? [ Inaudible Comment ] Right, of course I went to
Notre Dame Football games as a graduate student,
everybody does.>>David Rubenstein: Alright,
alright so then you went back to the University of
Denver and you got a PhD?>>Condoleezza Rice: Yes.>>David Rubenstein: And
then you were recruited to Stanford, is that right?>>Condoleezza Rice: That’s correct. That’s correct.>>David Rubenstein: And your
specialty was Soviet and Russian?>>Condoleezza Rice: Eastern
European affairs, yeah.>>David Rubenstein: Now, why
did you happen to pick that? It wasn’t the normal thing that you
might say you might have picked.>>Condoleezza Rice: No, I
was a failed music major. I started in college
as a piano major. I studied piano from
the age of three. My grandmother taught piano so I
learned very young and about the end of my sophomore year
in college I went to the Aspen Music
Festival School that summer. And I met 12-year-olds
who could play from sight, everything it had taken me all
year to learn and I thought I’m about to end up you know
playing a piano bar someplace or playing while you
shop, or whatever. And so, I wondered back with
no major and I took a class in international politics. It was taught by a man
named Josef Korbel, he was Madeleine Albright’s
father and all of a sudden I knew
what I wanted to be. I wanted to study things
Soviet, East European, diplomacy, international and that kicked me
then into international politics as a major and ultimately
as a degree.>>David Rubenstein: And Madeleine
Albright is telling the story that her father once said that
his favorite student was you.>>Condoleezza Rice: Yeah, yeah.>>David Rubenstein:
And she was surprised that you had been his student, she
hadn’t known that for a long time.>>Condoleezza Rice:
That’s right, yeah, yeah.>>David Rubenstein: So you started
your academic career at Stanford and then ultimately you got involved in the George Herbert
Walker Bush administration.>>Condoleezza Rice: Yes.>>David Rubenstein: You served on
the National Security Council staff?>>Condoleezza Rice: Yes. I got involved and it’s
a really important story because there’s this notion that we sometimes have,
I got there on my own. Nobody gets there on their
own, there’s always somebody who is advocating for you, working
for you, and for me Brent Scowcroft who I had been national security
advisor to, to Gerald Ford, came out to Stanford to give a talk, and I was a second-year
professor at Stanford. And he got to know me and he said
I want to get to know you better. I like your work. I was sort of getting
known for my work on the Soviet military
of all things. And so he started taking
me to conferences like the Aspen Strategy Group and he
really mentored me into the field. And I often say there’s
another lesson in that. We also say you know you
have to have role models and mentors who look like you. Well, it’s great if you do but
if I’d been waiting for a black, female Soviet specialist role model.>>David Rubenstein: Right.>>Condoleezza Rice: I’d still be
waiting and instead my role models and indeed my mentors
were white men. They were old white men, those were
the people who dominated my field and so I always say to my students
now, your mentors just have to be people who believe in
you and who see things in you that you don’t necessarily
see in yourself.>>David Rubenstein: So he helped
you get a job on the Bush ’41?>>Condoleezza Rice: Yes, when George H.W. Bush was
elected he asked Brent to be his national security advisor
and Brent, I’ll never forget, he called me and he said. This fellow, this is 1988 remember, he said this fellow Gorbachev
is doing some interesting things in the Soviet Union. The president is going to need
somebody to help him sort it out. Do you want to come and be the
White House Soviet specialist? And as a result I got to be the
White House Soviet specialist at the end of the Cold War.>>David Rubenstein: So,
and do you speak Russian?>>Condoleezza Rice:
I do speak Russian.>>David Rubenstein: Wow, okay. And so after that administration
was over you went back to Stanford?>>Condoleezza Rice: I did.>>David Rubenstein: And then
when George W. Bush was running for president, how did you
get involved with that?>>Condoleezza Rice: Well,
I went back to Stanford. I was Provost of the university
which is the chief operating officer of the university and
a very happy academic. But George H.W. Bush called me one
day and he said you know my son who is governor of Texas is thinking
about running for president and I’d like you to come and talk
to him about foreign policy. I spent a couple of days down
at Kennebunkport with him and after a little while he asked
me to organize his foreign policy in the campaign and that’s how I
got involved with George W. Bush.>>David Rubenstein: So were
you surprised that he asked you to be the national security advisor at the beginning of
that administration?>>Condoleezza Rice:
Well, by the time we got to his election I figured I would
probably go into the administration and national security advisor. I’d been on the National
Security Council staff before. It seemed like a kind
of natural thing to do.>>David Rubenstein: How
many women had served as national security
advisor before you?>>Condoleezza Rice:
None [laughter]. [ Applause ]>>David Rubenstein: Okay. So let’s talk about
this book “Democracy”. Why did you feel compelled to
write a book about democracy?>>Condoleezza Rice: I think in many
ways I wanted to write this book for a long time because it is in some ways an expression
of my own life. I am a firm believer that
there is no other system that accords the kind of
dignity that human beings crave, than to be able to be free from the
knock of the secret police at night, to be able to say what you
think, to worship as you please, and most importantly to have those who would govern you have
to ask for your consent. And I think growing up in segregated
Birmingham where my parents and relatives were half-citizens
but still fundamentally believed in this American democracy. I relate one story in the book. I was with my uncle Alto and
he picked me up from school. And it was election-day in Alabama,
and I was sixish-years old or so. And I knew in my own
six-year-old way that this man George Wallace
was not good for black people and so there were long, long
lines of people going in to vote. And it was segregated of
course so they were all black. And so I said to my uncle, well,
if all these people vote then that George Wallace
man can’t possibly win. And my uncle said, oh no, no he
said we are a minority he said and so George Wallace
is going to win anyway. And I said to him, so
why do they bother? And he said because
they know that one day that vote will matter
and I never forgot that. And I thought as I wrote this
book of the extraordinary story of the United States of America,
this Constitution that was given to America by its founders, these
high-minded words about equality, and yet a country born with
the birth defect of slavery. But how this same Constitution
that had once counted in the compromise my ancestors
as three-fifths of a man, would be the same Constitution
to which I would take the oath of office, as the 66th Secretary
of State, under a portrait of Benjamin Franklin, sworn in by a
Jewish woman, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. And that for me is the
story of democracy. [ Applause ]>>David Rubenstein: You
point out in the book that you are African-American
but actually 40% of your bloodline is white?>>Condoleezza Rice: Yes, 40%
of my bloodline is European.>>David Rubenstein:
European, and 10% is Asian?>>Condoleezza Rice: Something
other, yeah [laughter] some other.>>David Rubenstein: So, by the
way in Birmingham the young girls that were killed in the bombing,
were they people that you knew?>>Condoleezza Rice: Absolutely. It was this, the Birmingham
black community, particularly this little
professional class black community was pretty small. And Denise McNair, one
of the four girls killed in the 16th Street Baptist Church
bombing in September of ’63 had been in my father’s kindergarten. I’d done kindergarten with her. There’s a picture of my father
giving her her kindergarten diploma. Her father was the photographer
at everybody’s weddings and birthday parties and so yes,
my, Addie Mae Collins had been in my uncle’s homeroom at Brunetta
C. Hill and I remember him saying that that day, that Monday when they
went back to school he just looked at her empty chair and
just cried, so yeah.>>David Rubenstein: When that
happened did your family say we should move out of here?>>Condoleezza Rice: No, no, I do remember the first time seeing
real fear in my parents’ eyes about what they could do to
protect me, but no, we stayed there. Birmingham began to change. You know again, it’s
the story of democracy, that same Constitution would be used
by the NAACP and Thurgood Marshall and others, starting all the way
back, by the way and I describe in the book with the Marlow
[phonetic] Report from 1937. And they would sit
there on Friday morning and they would decide what cases
they were going to take to try and break down segregation
and inequality. And that would eventually end up
in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and
the first time that my parents and I could go to a restaurant. Because, two days after the Civil
Rights Act passed my father said, let’s go out to dinner. And so we got all dressed up and
we went to this hotel for dinner and I remember the people sort
of looking up from their food and then maybe realizing
now it was okay. We had dinner.>>David Rubenstein: So
in your book you point out that we’ve had a birth defect,
slavery, but when slavery was ended in 1865 we went to Jim
Crow laws so how do you as an African-American woman
rationalize what our country did after the civil rights amendments
occurred in the Constitution? We still went through 100
years or so of discrimination. How do you say that democracy
is such a wonderful system and our country is so great when
you had to live through that? How do you rationalize that?>>Condoleezza Rice: Well
because there is no perfect system that human beings have
ever created, ever. And yet because of the institutions
that we were bequeathed, the Constitution, the
courts, independent judiciary, slowly but surely the rights of the
descendants of slaves would be won through those very institutions. When Martin Luther King and
others took on the struggle, Dr. Dorothy Height who was
a very dear mentor of mine, the only real woman among those
great civil rights leaders, they weren’t asking America
to be something else, they were saying America,
be what you say you are. Now you’re in a much
stronger position when you have those
institutions in place and you can appeal to
those institutions. And so in any system the bringing
of rights to people is a difficult and sticky and hard process and
ours has been extremely hard. But I look at how far we’ve come,
still with a long way to go, and I think we’ve actually done
better than I can think of any place in the world has done it.>>David Rubenstein: So today,
you’re a very accomplished person. You’re very famous. Do you feel any discrimination
anywhere in the world, anything that you do? Do you feel that you’re
discriminated against?>>Condoleezza Rice:
You know I always say if by the time you’re a
senior professor at Stanford or you’re secretary of state
and somebody treats you badly because of race or your gender
it’s your fault, not theirs.>>David Rubenstein: Right.>>Condoleezza Rice: You know, no,
I feel very strongly that I am able to achieve what I want
to achieve and I try to tell my students
to feel the same way. You know if you, it goes
back to what my parents said. If you consider yourself a victim
then somebody else has control of your life. Now we all know that there are
grave inequalities in our society and we know that our great
national myth, it doesn’t matter where you came from, it
matters where you’re going. You can come from humble
circumstances. You can do great things. That it isn’t true for all
of our people, so our goal, our job as citizens of
this democracy has to be to use these institutions to
demand of these institutions that they deliver on that
promise, not to shun them, because they’re still the
best option for getting there.>>David Rubenstein: Now,
did your parents live to see your great success
as a professional?>>Condoleezza Rice: I
lost my mother very young. My mother was only 61 years old. I was 30 when she died. But she did get to see me
as a professor at Stanford. As a matter of fact the Christmas
before she died I gave her my very first book which was not a
New York Times’ best-seller. It was called “The Soviet
Union and Czechoslovak Army”. It had been my dissertation. In case you don’t notice, neither of those countries
actually exists anymore. And so I gave her the book so
she saw me become a professor. My father knew that I’d become
national security advisor. He died shortly before
I left for Washington.>>David Rubenstein: You
were an only, an only child?>>Condoleezza Rice:
I’m an only child, yes.>>David Rubenstein: So am I and so you know the pressure
of being an only child.>>Condoleezza Rice: Yeah.>>David Rubenstein: Right, so.>>Condoleezza Rice: Yeah, you,
well that’s why I’m a sports fanatic because that was my father’s
passion and a music fanatic because that was my
mother’s passion. So when you’re an only child
you have to satisfy both.>>David Rubenstein: Please both.>>Condoleezza Rice: Both, right.>>David Rubenstein: So,
let’s talk about democracy around the rest of the world. Let’s say the United
States has a democracy. Maybe it’s the best in the
world, it’s not perfect. You talk about the
Soviet Union and Russia, obviously a subject you
know a great deal about. You point out that a couple of
times democracy broke out in Russia.>>Condoleezza Rice: Yeah.>>David Rubenstein: After
the Bolshevik Revolution and also briefly I guess after Gorbachev kind
of lost power perhaps.>>Condoleezza Rice: Yes, yes.>>David Rubenstein: Why did
democracy in both cases disappear from Russia, after the
Bolshevik Revolution, after Gorbachev lost power?>>Condoleezza Rice: Right,
well, one thing that I seek to do in this book is to dismiss
one of the explanations that you sometimes get about Russia, that the Russians somehow don’t
have the right DNA for democracy. Right, I just don’t believe that
there are any people on the face of the earth who aren’t
capable of democracy. And David you know that we
have used cultural arguments. So the Germans were once supposed
to be too martial for democracy. The Asians were too Confucian. But of course you’ve got
South Korea, you’ve got Japan. The Africans, well
they were too tribal, but of course you’ve got Ghana. You’ve got Botswana. You’ve got a Kenya that’s going through a very interesting
period in its own democracy. Latin Americans, well they prefer
caudillos, men on horseback, but of course now there’s
Brazil and Chile and Columbia. And by the way African-Americans
well they were too childlike to care about that thing called the vote. But of course we’ve had a black
president, a black attorney general. We’ve had attorneys general. We’ve had black secretaries
of state. So, I just reject this
cultural argument and with the Russians
you get it all the time. They just like strongmen. But really what the story is,
it’s the story of the failure of institutions to take hold
under enormous pressure. If you think about the collapse
of the Soviet Union and you think about the kind of rapid
effort to build capitalism, 50% of the Russian population fell
into poverty practically overnight. The country broke apart overnight and unfortunately their
first President, Boris Yeltsin who I admired
for a lot of reasons, but instead of strengthening
the institutions and working through them he starts
to rule by decree. He weakens the legislature. He weakens the independent
judiciary. Now, that presidency, really
strong presidency in Russia under Boris Yeltsin is one thing, but when Vladimir Putin
becomes president that same very strong presidency
is now in the hands of somebody with authoritarian instincts. So the Russian failure is a story
of the importance of institutions. You can’t depend on a single person, you have to depend
on the institutions.>>David Rubenstein: And
deep down you don’t see Putin as a Jeffersonian democrat?>>Condoleezza Rice: No, I don’t think you would
confuse him with a Jefferson. You know I know him pretty well. I spent a lot of time with him.>>David Rubenstein:
Does he speak English? When you talked to him?>>Condoleezza Rice: You know
he’s, he was learning English from the time that
we came into office and his English is now,
I understand passable. But, I would chitchat with him
in Russian but he really kind of liked me at the beginning I
think because I was a Russianist. But I remember once sitting with
him, toward the end of my time as secretary and he
said Conda you know us. Russia has only been great when
it’s been ruled by great men like Peter the Great and
Alexander the Second. Now you want to say, and do
you mean Vladimir the Great but you know you’re secretary
of state you can’t do that. That would be rude. And, but in fact that’s
who he thinks he is. He thinks he’s reuniting the Russian
people in greatness and I think that instinct has led him
to destroy all of the kind of institutional constraints
on the presidency, the independent judiciary, the free
press, civil society et cetera.>>David Rubenstein:
And you think the chance of his voluntarily
stepping down is slim?>>Condoleezza Rice: I think
so though you know relation, the thing about regimes like
that is they, they’re vulnerable. And you don’t know that they’re
brittle until something happens. We have to remember
that the only district that Vladimir Putin did not win in the fraudulent election
of 2012 was Moscow. That tells you about, something
about how he’s viewed in the cities.>>David Rubenstein: So, let’s
talk about another country that adjoins Russia that
you write about, Poland.>>Condoleezza Rice: Yes.>>David Rubenstein: Poland,
democracy did break out in Poland and what do you think the state
of democracy is in Poland today?>>Condoleezza Rice: Poland is a
story that we should try and emulate at its beginning because
what Poland is, is the story of having
institutions in place when what I call the
democratic opening comes. Solidarity, a nationwide labor union under Lech Walesa had actually been
underground from the declaration of martial law at the
beginning of the 1980s. It had been sustained by the
Vatican and village priests. The AFLCIO, which was
sustaining as the labor union, and Ronald Reagan’s CIA,
kind of an interest troika. Now, when Gorbachev comes to power and Eastern Europe breaks
free Poland already had that institutional
infrastructure in place and so the democratic
transition was easier in Poland than almost any place else. But now what we’re
seeing in Poland is that it’s still a young democracy. It has for the first time a very
strong, centralized executive and you’re starting to see a kind
of erosion of the independence of the judiciary, the
independence of the press but people are fighting back. Civil society is mobilized on social
media against these moves of the, what’s called the Law
and Justice Party which is the president’s
party, and the president, President Duda actually
ended up having to veto a law that he had sponsored, that
would have gone a long way to undoing the independence of
the judiciary so don’t count out Polish democracy just yet.>>David Rubenstein: No. Let’s go further south. You next write about Ukraine. Ukraine flirted with democracy. What would you say is the state
of democracy in Ukraine now?>>Condoleezza Rice: Yeah,
Ukraine is in many ways a kind of sad situation because if you
are trying to build a democracy with a very watchful and assertive
and aggressive neighbor that is in the process of taking
your territory and making the eastern half of
your country unstable it’s kind of hard to build democracy. But, they’ve made some progress. Poroshenko who is the
president now has launched an anti-corruption campaign. One of the great, one of the
great checks on democracy, one of the great challenges
for democracy is when you have corruption and they’ve
made some good moves on corruption. There are some young people there in
the Legislature who are determined to deliver democracy and it’s a
vibrant society in its Western part. The problem for Ukraine is that
with the troubles in Eastern Ukraine and you don’t read much about
them in the newspapers these days but people are dying every
day in Eastern Ukraine as these Russian separatists
who are supported by the Russian Armed Forces are
causing all kinds of problems. So Ukrainian democracy is
always kind of on a knife’s edge but it’s not an authoritarian
regime either and that’s something to celebrate.>>David Rubenstein: But as
long as Putin is in charge of Russia you don’t see Eastern
Ukraine all of a sudden going back to Ukraine and Crimea
going back to Ukraine?>>Condoleezza Rice: Well, Crimea,
I think it’s going to be very hard. But here’s one point
that I’d like to make. One of the reasons I wanted to
write this book also was to talk about the role America can
play in supporting democracies. We have a tendency, and I take
some responsibility for this, to associate democracy promotion with what happened in
Iraq and Afghanistan. Those were extremely
stressful situations where we had a security
problem and later on tried to help build democracies. But most of the time democracy
promotion is much simpler and much less complex. If you think about the way that
we dealt with the Baltic states, so the 45 years that they
were under Soviet occupation. David, when I was the
special assistant for Soviet affairs I had a stamp and it said ‘The United States
does not recognize the forceful incorporation of the Baltic
states into the Soviet Union’. And whenever you mention Lithuania, Latvia or Estonia you
stamped it with that. Now we couldn’t do
anything about the fact that the Soviets had enforceably
incorporated the Baltic states but, we stood for the principle. In Crimea we have to stand
for the principle even if we can’t do anything about it. We have to stand for the principle that the annexation of
Crimea was unlawful.>>David Rubenstein: You mentioned
Iraq and Afghanistan and I wanted to talk about the Middle
East and democracy there but before we do, where
were you on 9/11?>>Condoleezza Rice: Yeah, I was the
national security advisor on 9/11 and if you were in a position
of authority on 9/11 every day after was like September 12th. I was at my desk. My young assistant came in and said that a plane had hit
the World Trade Center. I thought well that’s
a strange accident. I called President Bush. You would remember he was in Florida
at an education event and I got him on the phone and he said well
that’s a strange accident, keep me informed. A few minutes later I was
having my staff meeting and somebody handed me a
note, it said a plane had hit, the second plane had hit
the World Trade Center and now we knew it was
a terrorist attack. And so I went into the
situation room to try to reach the national
security principals. Colin Powell was in
Peru at a meeting of the Organization
of American States. George Tenet, the CIA director
had gone already to a bunker. And they said we can’t
reach Secretary Rumsveld, his phone is just ringing
and ringing and ringing. We looked behind us on television
a plane had hit the Pentagon. And about that time they came
and they said, you’ve got to get to a bunker because planes
are flying into buildings all over Washington, D.C. Now, when the
Secret Service wants to escort you under those circumstances they
don’t actually escort you, they kind of pick you
up and they carry you. So I remember simply being grabbed,
kind of levitated toward the bunker, saying wait a minute, I
have to make a phone call. I called my aunt and
uncle in Birmingham. You have to know the Rices
and the Rays [phonetic], they would have made their way. And then I called President Bush
and I said you can’t come back here. The United States is under attack. And the rest of the day was
dealing with the reality that American security
would never be the same.>>David Rubenstein:
So, on Afghanistan, it’s been in the news lately,
it’s our longest war, 16 years. Do you see any solution
in the near term?>>Condoleezza Rice: I’m
worried about Afghanistan. I have always said that what, the
point that we have to get to somehow in Afghanistan was that the Afghans
were able to prevent the Taliban from an existential threat
against the Afghan government. I’ve always thought that you
were going to have remnants of the Taliban that would be kind
of hit and run terrorists here and there in the country. But as they’ve been able to
carry out bolder attacks closer to the capital, even in
the international zone, you have to wonder how
well we’re doing in getting to that place of stability. And so I think the decision by the
president and by Secretary Mattis to try to really stabilize
the military situation is one that I support. But eventually there’s going to
have to be a political solution in Afghanistan and I suspect that’s
going to have to involve Pakistan which is a really big
part of this problem because the Pakistanis
aren’t really convinced that a stable Afghanistan is in
their interests, and they’ve got to be made to help
stabilize that territory. And you know we’re talking about
democracy, look it’s very tough. Afghanistan was the fifth poorest
country in the world during the, at 9/11 but it is at least
a place now where girls go to school in large numbers. It is a place now where women are
not beaten in a soccer stadium that was given to the Taliban
by the U.N. It is a place where men are not lashed
because they don’t wear beards. It’s not a place that
harbors terrorists and so I think we’ve
had some achievements in Afghanistan but
yes, I’m concerned.>>David Rubenstein:
Now democracy in Iraq, do you think we’ve
made progress there? And what do you think really went
wrong after the invasion of Iraq? It didn’t quite go the way
you had thought it would. What went wrong?>>Condoleezza Rice: Yeah. Well, I talk a lot about
the Iraqi case because I lay out several different scenarios
of what the circumstances are when the democratic
opening comes right. Now the best is a place like Poland
where you’ve got institutions in place or Columbia where
you have institutions that were weak but were there. The worst situation is when
you’ve had a cult of personality, tyrannical leader where
everything had been at the service of that leader. That was Saddam Hussein. And so there were effectively
no institutions to think of or we thought underneath him. And so the distance
between people’s desire now that they’ve overthrown the dictator or that we’ve overthrown the
dictator and the institutions there to channel all of those
passions, there’s a great distance and you don’t have much time. I relate in the book that
we made a lot of mistakes. We undervalued the potential
for the tribes, the Sunni tribes to play an important role. We didn’t understand the tribes. When we got back with the surge
in 2007 the tribes were a big part of the reason that we were able
to defeat Al Qaeda in Iraq. I think we didn’t fully understand
the implications of the disbanding of the army which wasn’t
supposed to take place by the way and I describe that in the book. And so in the fog of
war a lot happens. But the one thing that I’d
like people to understand about Iraq was we did not go
to Iraq to bring democracy to Iraq, that’s an urban legend. I was in those meetings,
it doesn’t happen to have the benefit of being true. We went to Iraq because we
thought we had a security problem in a Saddam Hussein who had rebuilt
his weapons of mass destruction. I would never have said to the
president of the United States, use American military force
to bring democracy to Iraq, or to Afghanistan for that matter. But once you’ve overthrown
the dictator you have to have a view about
what comes after. And the president and his
advisors believed we had to try to give the Iraqi people a
chance to build their democracy. Now, a lot of bloodshed, a lot
of lives lost, that we’ll never. We’ll never be able to
bring those people back. I will say that as the
Iraqis now are on the verge of defeating ISIS you’re
beginning to see that the Iraqis do have some
democratic institutions. They have a prime minister
who is accountable to them. Their people protest and
they’re not shot in the streets. You don’t have mass
graves of the kind that Saddam Hussein put people in. Iraq’s big challenge is going to
be, can the country hold together with the Kurds who for
a long time have wanted to be an independent people? That’s the big challenge
for the Iraqis but they do have some institutions
that I think can help them.>>David Rubenstein: Now
the Arab Spring was supposed to produce democracy throughout
various parts of the Middle East. Talk about Syria, Syria doesn’t seem
to be having democracy anytime soon. What kind of solutions?>>Condoleezza Rice: And by
the way I would rather be Iraqi than Syrian right. The Syrians, Bashar al-Assad is
unfortunately, it’s going to be hard to get him out of power because
the Russians who have people on the ground, want him in power. Eventually if he’s going to go it’s
going to have to be the Russians who make the decision that he goes. The rest of the Middle
East, I’m not ready to give up on the Middle East finding its
way toward democratic institutions. You know we get very impatient
with people when they’re trying to find their way to democracy. And we say either they
just don’t get it or look at all those you know those,
the Muslim Brotherhood and all. And we forget as we’ve
just talked about David. Our own history of
democratization is a pretty long one and a pretty tough one. And so I would say use
the Polish example. Try to plant some seeds
for democracy. There are entrepreneurs
who are people on whom you might build
further democracy. There are civil society
groups, women’s groups. Tunisia is an example of
where a national labor union and women’s civil society groups
have actually managed to bring about something that looks like a
nascent democracy so I’m not ready to give up on the Middle
East just yet.>>David Rubenstein: Take
Egypt, after Mubarak, has there been a real movement
towards more democracy in Egypt?>>Condoleezza Rice: No, in Egypt
the Egyptian military rulers look an awful lot like Egyptian rulers
have looked for a while, Mubarak, Sadat et cetera. But underneath again there are
civil society groups that we ought to be supporting to try to help. You know what happens in the
Middle East is that at the moment when you have a chance for a democratic opening the
strongest institutions are often the radical Islamists. Now why is that? It’s not an accident. It’s because leaders like
Mubarak destroyed the foundation of more liberal institutions and
parties, people like Ayman Nour and others who might have been
a foundation of democracy. But they didn’t destroy these
radical Islamists who organized in radical mosques
and radical madrasas, so they were the best
organized when elections came. We have to help more liberal forces
be organized when opportunity comes.>>David Rubenstein: Okay. Talk about two other parts of the Middle East before
we go to the Far East. On the Middle East, Israel, there’s either a one-state
solution or a two-state solution.>>Condoleezza Rice: Yeah, yeah.>>David Rubenstein: If you
have a one-state solution, do you think you can
really have democracy?>>Condoleezza Rice: No. I think for Israel to remain a
democratic Jewish state it has to have a democratic
Palestinian state. I’m a believer in the
two-state solution and eventually they’re
going to have to get there.>>David Rubenstein: Alright. Let’s talk about the Gulf
states, the GCC states, the Gulf Cooperation
Council countries. You don’t think, I assume that democracy will break
out there or should?>>Condoleezza Rice:
No, these are monarchies and they have varying degrees
of liberalism toward issues like women’s rights
and varying degrees of liberalism toward the
marriage of religion and politics. But some interesting things
are happening there even in a place like Saudi Arabia right. So Saudi Arabia has really basically
now set a generational shift and most, and a majority of the
people studying in university in Saudi Arabia, in their
great university built by King Abdullah are women. Now they’re going to have an
interesting kind of test here. Can you educate women at this level and still tell them
they can’t drive?>>David Rubenstein: We’ll find out. So, let’s go to the
Far East for a moment. In your book you point out
that authoritarian governments, while not perfectly
Jeffersonian democracies, can actually have some
good democratic features and can have some good
pluses for the people. And you cite for example Singapore.>>Condoleezza Rice: Yeah.>>David Rubenstein: What do
you admire about Singapore?>>Condoleezza Rice: Well Singapore,
first of all it’s very small right. And what I really say is that
when people say authoritarians are sometimes better, they have two
examples, China, the largest country in the world and Singapore,
one of the smallest. And Singapore was fortunate. It had a wise man leader
in Lee Kuan Yew. It was at a time when democratic
values were not very obvious in most of Asia and he turned out to
be a truly wise, benign leader. But the problem with that
theory is then you’d better hope that the next one is benign
and then that his son is benign and that his son after him is benign
because you don’t always get lucky. The Singaporeans got very lucky. And we have this tendency to hold
democracies to higher standards than we do authoritarians. So there are all kinds of really
bad authoritarian leaders, just read Caracas in Venezuela, so the idea that authoritarians are
somehow better because they deliver for their people, the
Chinese have delivered, although that particular model is
kind of running out of steam now. Singapore delivered but there
are so many authoritarians that didn’t deliver that I think
we sometimes hold democracies to a higher standard.>>David Rubenstein: Now China, you don’t expect a
Jeffersonian democracy will break out there anytime soon right?>>Condoleezza Rice:
No, I don’t expect that Jeffersonian democracy
is going to break out there but I will tell you
something about China. China is also about to
have an interesting test. China’s economy grew rapidly. It lifted 500 million
people out of poverty. It’s a miracle what
they were able to do. But they did it with a heavy
export-led economy being the low cost of labor provider in
the international system. They did it with a kind
of command economy, a lot of state-owned enterprises. That model has run out of steam. They can’t get growth out
of that model any longer. Now they’re having to
free up market forces. When you free up market forces
there’s a kind of mismatch between those market forces and a top-down authoritarian
political system. And so the question is,
how long is it going to be before you have
a clash of those? So just as an example China had
186,000 riots over the last couple of years, 186,000 reported
riots, not because someone was out protesting for democracy
but because a peasant would find that a party leader and a
developer would seize their land. They have no courts to go
to so they go and riot. So even Chinese leaders will say
now well we need independent courts so that that doesn’t happen. How long is it before
independent courts become an independent judiciary? Now you’re starting
to get a difference in the institutional
landscape in China. And I’ll tell you one other story. I gave a lecture at Tsinghua
University, their great university. They affectionately call it their
cross between Harvard and Stanford. And I wanted to give a talk
that was not about U.S. /China relations so I decided to
give the same talk I would give to Stanford students,
find your passion, do something hard,
et cetera, et cetera. The questions blew me away. The questions were,
well I’m an engineer, why do I need to take literature? Suppose, what do you do
if your parents don’t like the major that you’ve chosen? I thought these are Chinese kids? They’re questioning in this way? How long is it, before
questioning your parents’ choice of your major becomes
questioning your government? And so I think there are
a lot of trends in China that may ultimately lead,
at least to liberalization, if not to democratization.>>David Rubenstein: And you
didn’t write about it in your book but I can’t help but ask
you about another place where I don’t expect
Jeffersonian democracy will break out which is North Korea.>>Condoleezza Rice: Ah yeah,
that’s a ways away yeah.>>David Rubenstein: Where, if you
were advising the president today, the current president of the United
States, or any president today, who would you, what would you
tell him to do about North Korea?>>Condoleezza Rice: Now, this is the most dangerous
situation that we face. When I was secretary we tried
to negotiate with Kim Jong-il, Kim Jong-un’s father to
denuclearize the country. We made some progress but
ultimately they wouldn’t live up to the agreements. We walked out of the talks. Ever since, they’ve
been on a rapid course of improving their bomb
design, harvesting fuel and increasing their, the range
of their delivery systems, no American president can tolerate
a somewhat unhinged North Korean leader because if he’s
not crazy, he is reckless. This is somebody who reached into
Malaysia, killed his half-brother who was under Chinese
protection so he’s reckless. I don’t think any American
president can tolerate that leader with the capacity to
reach the United States. And what the administration
is trying to do, and I support what
they’re trying to do, is they’re painting a very
bleak picture for the Chinese. That’s the only country with any
real leverage on the North Koreans. The Chinese have never really been
willing to use their leverage fully because they worry that
the regime could collapse. Then they’d have unstable
law and order and they would have refugee flows. But what the administration
is saying to them is, your choice now is
either we do something about the North Korean
problem or you do something about the North Korean problem. And hopefully that will
get through to the Chinese because the military solutions
here are not very pretty.>>David Rubenstein:
So, if a missile went and came near Guam would you
think we would still have to wait for the Chinese to do
something or are we?>>Condoleezza Rice: I think at
some point the American president and I’m not inside so I don’t
know what he’s being told about how long he has
but at some point, you know if you’re threatening
Guam and already firing missiles over Japan we’re getting
pretty close to a [inaudible]. We’re getting pretty close to the
president having to make a decision. I will note that when Kim Jong-un
came out and said he was going to attack Guam the Chinese
must have talked to him because within a few
days he came back and said maybe he wouldn’t
attack Guam so I think we do have the Chinese
attention, it’s a just a question of what are they willing to do.>>David Rubenstein: Now your
book covers two other parts of the world I’ll cover briefly. One is Africa and you
talk about Kenya and there’s an election
going on now. But let me ask you about South
Africa, you met with Mandela. You knew Mandela. Why do you think democracy
hasn’t worked as well after Mandela as it was expected?>>Condoleezza Rice: Well,
Mandela was a remarkable man. I don’t think I’ve ever met anybody who I was more inspired
of, found more impressive. In fact he said to George W. Bush
when President Bush asked him, he said so why didn’t
you run for another term. He said I wanted my African
brothers to know it was okay to step down from office. And on a continent that
had too many presidents for life this was really
an important statement. But it’s again a story
of institutions. It was a single, essentially
a single-party system under the African National Congress. Somehow Mandela’s great
authority was never transferred into institutions which
could then survive him and they’ve had considerable
trouble since, but the institutions
are still there. It’s just that it’s been hard
to really deliver through them. You know first presidents matter. The United States of
America was pretty lucky that George Washington
actually didn’t want to be king. I don’t know how many of
you have seen “Hamilton”, it is really a great, great
show but it becomes very clear that we got lucky with a particular
combination of founding fathers that we had and many places
haven’t been that fortunate.>>David Rubenstein: Now, you write
about Latin America and you talk about Columbia, how democracy
has made progress there.>>Condoleezza Rice: Yes.>>David Rubenstein: And
generally the military juntas of the 60s and 70s are.>>Condoleezza Rice: Gone.>>David Rubenstein: Gone. But what happened to Venezuela?>>Condoleezza Rice: Hugo
Chavez happened to Venezuela. You know you can get a really
bad leader who doesn’t, doesn’t get checked by those around
him, with considerable oil wealth. The oil curse is real. And when I was secretary
of state the price of oil went to $147 a barrel. It empowered people like
Chavez who then tried to buy elections across
Latin America. And he singlehandedly
step by step destroyed all of the really important
institutions, the opposition. He was succeeded by somebody
who is Chavez without charm and Chavez without, I think,
without Chavez’ street smarts. And Maduro has taken
the country down. I hope that this is one where the
Organization of American States, the Latin American states need to
be all over Maduro to do something because it’s sad to see
a middle-income country where people can’t find food
and they can’t find medicine.>>David Rubenstein: Now, we’ve
had an African-American president but we’ve never had
a female president and never had an African-American
female president.>>Condoleezza Rice:
Right [laughter].>>David Rubenstein: Have
you ever thought that? [ Applause ]>>Condoleezza Rice: Well,
thank you very much but no. You have to know your DNA. You have to know your DNA. And I was on the campaign
trail with George W. Bush. I’ll never forget. You know we’d go to
five campaign events. At the end of the day
he was rearing to go, I just needed to get
back to the hotel. You know there are people who
draw energy from the process. I don’t so much and I’ve never
liked politics particularly. I love, I do love policy. The other thing is, I am. My calling is what I do,
I love being a professor. I love teaching millennials. They are a challenge,
they’re wonderful. You know they come to me and
they say I want to be a leader and I say you know that’s
not a job description and it’s not a destination. Let’s talk about what you’re
going to learn and know so somebody will follow you. And then my other favorite line, I
want my first job to be meaningful. And I say, your first job is
not going to be meaningful, it’s going to be your first job. What will be meaningful is
somebody will pay you to do it for the first time,
that’s what’s meaningful, so I’ve got my work cut out for me.>>David Rubenstein: So, if you
don’t want to run for office, suppose some president came along
again and said you did a great job as secretary of state,
why don’t you do it again?>>Condoleezza Rice: You should
never try to go home again. I had an amazing alignment
of the stars. I had a president who told, would
tell leaders you know we grew up together he would
say because we started out when he was just leaving
the governorship of Texas, and he trusted me and I admired him. It was a time of consequence
for the country. I have great admiration for
people in public service. I don’t think we, we admire
enough people [inaudible] to public service. It’s hard. It’s hard work. And I just hope. I try so hard with my students not to let them be cynical
about public service. I served as secretary of state. The foreign service and the
civil service people who work in the State Department,
not to mention the more than 30,000 foreigners who staff our
embassies around the world are some of the most dedicated people you’ll
ever find, and so I was honored to lead them and I loved being
the nation’s chief diplomat. And there was nothing
like getting off a plane that said the United States of
America and thinking what can I do to represent this great country? But I’m done [laughter].>>David Rubenstein: So, when
you stepped down as secretary of state you handed the
reins over to another woman.>>Condoleezza Rice:
I did, Hillary yes.>>David Rubenstein:
Hillary Clinton. What was it like, one
female secretary of state handing the reins
over to another female? Were you saying we don’t
need these guys anymore?>>Condoleezza Rice: [Laughter]
well, you know and so Madeleine, colon, myself and then
Hillary, it had been 16 years since there had been a white,
male secretary of state and so we were saying mm-mm,
you know I don’t know. Maybe we’re going to have to do
a little affirmative action here and see what happened
but, no it was great. And it’s a nice little club,
the secretaries of state. We are. The dean of the secretaries
of state is George Shultz who is 97 years old and is
still one of my great mentors. I will tell you a little story
because you’ll appreciate it. He had a birthday party not too long
for Henry Kissinger who turned 94 and the two of them did a
20-minutes-walk around the world, no notes, completely coherent. I don’t know but I’m sure hoping
it was something in the water at the State Department
so just amazing people.>>David Rubenstein: As I remember,
because I heard from that party, George Shultz said something
odd, ‘to be 94 again’.>>Condoleezza Rice: Yes, he said. He said from his point of view Henry
was still a promising young man.>>David Rubenstein: So, as
you look back on your career which was extraordinary, what
would you say you’re most proud of having done?>>Condoleezza Rice:
Well, with the caveat that history takes a long time to
judge, I think I’m most grateful that we stood up for the right
of people to live in freedom. I know that there were a lot of
cynics about and a lot of criticism and some of it totally justified
about the freedom agenda and declaring that America’s, one of America’s most
important purposes was to, to work hard so that no
one would live in tyranny. But I think America is at its, is
at its best, its highest calling when it leads both from
power and principle. When we stand for the
proposition that the rights that we enjoy are indeed
universal and if they are universal that there are no people for
whom they shouldn’t be secured. And so I’m very grateful
that we were able to do that. When I think back on some of my
travels it was always when it was about people and a couple of
things stick out in particular. I went to China to Chengdu
after the great earthquake there and a little boy, couldn’t have
been more than 12 years old, walked up to me and he
said you’re that lady from the United States aren’t you? And I thought yeah, I am. And then just with the
people have asked me, what was it like to be a woman
representing the United States in the Middle East where women
were second-class citizens? And one story really
sticks in my mind there. I was, had a very difficult
meeting with a Shia cleric, a very conservative Shia
cleric who couldn’t touch me because I was a woman
outside of his family. And at the end of this meeting,
this very difficult meeting, it was in Iraq, he said,
will you do me a favor? He didn’t speak English. Through the translator, he
said will you do me a favor? I thought a favor, really? I said sure. He said my 13-year-old
granddaughter watches you on television and she loves you. And she and her mother are coming
to the States, would you meet them? And so on that day, this little
13-year-old girl runs, comes in, in a pink t-shirt that says
‘Princess’ and she walks up to me, in perfect English and says ‘I
want to be foreign minister too’. And I thought, you know there
was something in that moment because her very conservative
grandfather beamed when he thought about
this little girl. This problem, this progress that
we try to bring through democracy, through justice and equality
it’s a long, long, long road. And people have travelled
that road for a long time. America has travelled
it for a very long time and we’re still working at it. And so the thing I’m most
grateful for is that even with our own troubles here
in the United States we stood for the proposition that every man, woman and child should
live in freedom.>>David Rubenstein: Well,
I want to highly recommend to everybody here this book which I enjoyed very
much reading “Democracy”. [ Applause ] And I want to thank you for
your service to our country for over many, many
years, thank you.>>Condoleezza Rice:
It was an honor. It was an honor, thank you. [ Applause ]>>This has been a presentation
of the Library of Congress. Visit us at

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