By Condoleezza Rice

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In this young century, the 9/11 attacks, the global financial crisis and the unrest in the Arab world have struck at the heart of vital US interests. If Americans want the tectonic plates of the international system to settle in a way that makes the world safer, freer and more prosperous, the US must overcome its reluctance to lead. We will have to stand up for and promote the power and promise of free markets and free peoples, and affirm that American pre-eminence safeguards rather than impedes global progress.

The list of US foreign policy challenges is long and there will be a temptation to respond tactically to each one. But today’s headlines and posterity’s judgment often differ. The task at hand is to strengthen the pillars of our influence and act with the long arc of history in mind.



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In the Middle East we must patiently use our aid, expertise and influence to support the creation of inclusive democratic institutions. The fundamental problem in the region is the absence of institutions that can bridge the Sunni-Shia divide, and protect the rights of women and minorities. Even as we make necessary immediate choices – including arming the Syrian rebels – we must insist upon inclusive politics. The US cannot afford to stand aside; regional powers will bring their own agendas that could exacerbate confessional divisions.

As we work with reformers across the region, we should not forget that Iraq has the kind of institutions that are meant to overcome these divisions. Given its geostrategic importance, the chaos engulfing its neighbours and Iran’s destructive influence, our re-engagement with Baghdad is sorely needed.

The US needs to turn again to the development of responsible and democratic sovereigns beyond the Middle East. The George W. Bush administration doubled aid spending worldwide and quadrupled it to Africa. It channelled assistance to countries that were investing in their people’s health and education, governing wisely and democratically, building open economies and fighting corruption. Ultimately, these states will make the transition from aid to private investment, becoming net contributors to the international economy and global security. US tax dollars will have been well spent.

We must also not lose sight of how democracy is solidifying in the western hemisphere. US assistance and trade policy can help democracies in Latin America to provide an answer to populist dictators. At the same time, we must speak out for dissidents – from Cuba to Venezuela to Nicaragua. Mexico needs attention across a broad agenda that includes the devastating security challenge that threatens both it and the US.

The US “pivot” to Asia (a region that had hardly been abandoned) has focused heavily on security issues. America should remain the pre-eminent military power in the Pacific. But consider this: China has signed free-trade agreements with 15 nations over the past eight years and has explored FTAs with some 20 others; since 2009 the US has ratified three FTAs negotiated during the Bush administration and it has continued – but not concluded – talks on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which began in 2008. One of the US’s best assets in managing China’s rise is its regional economic engagement.

A robust free trade policy will strengthen our economy and influence abroad, as will developing our domestic resources, such as the North American energy platform. High oil prices empower Venezuela, Russia and Iran. We are developing alternative sources of energy but they will not replace hydrocarbons for a long time. It is a gift that much of our demand – possibly all of it – can be met domestically and in co-operation with US allies, Mexico and Canada.

Most important, we need to reassure our friends across the globe. The rush to court adversaries has overshadowed relations with trusted allies. Our engagement with Europe has been sporadic and sometimes dismissive. Strategic ties with India, Brazil and Turkey have neither strengthened nor deepened in recent years. Hugo Chávez and the Iranians have bitten off the extended hand of friendship. There is no Palestinian state because it will only come through negotiation with a secure Israel that is confident in its relationship with the US. The decision to abandon missile defence sites in Poland and the Czech Republic, to “reset” relations with Russia was pocketed by Vladimir Putin who quickly returned to his anti-American ways. Friends must be able to trust in the consistency of our commitment to them.

Finally we cannot forget that strength begins at home. Global leadership rests upon a strong economy built on fiscal discipline and robust private sector growth. Ultimately, our success depends on mobilising human potential, something the US has done better than any country in history. Ours has been a story of possibility, not grievance and entitlement. Ambitious people have come from all over the world to seek out the opportunities America provides. The absence of a humane and sustainable national immigration policy threatens this great asset.

Our talent has historically come from every part of American society, without regard to class and economic circumstance. But when a child’s zip code determines whether she will get a good education, we are losing generations to poverty and despair. The crisis in US education is the greatest single threat to our national strength and cohesion.

The American people have to be inspired to lead again. They need to be reminded that the US is not just any other country: we are exceptional in the clarity of our conviction that free markets and free peoples hold the key to the future, and in our willingness to act on those beliefs. Failure to do so would leave a vacuum, likely filled by those who will not champion a balance of power that favours freedom. That would be a tragedy for American interests and values and those who share them.

The writer is a former US secretary of state

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  1. Report Mriverside | July 27 12:42am | Permalink
    To. Governor Romney, I am a conservative pro-life Republican, and I strongly believe Dr. Rice should be your VP candidate. She has much more foreign policy experience than anyone else presently being floated, and certainly much more than our current President. While the pro-choice stance may be troublesome for some on the far right, a communication that if something was to unfortunately happen to you during your administration she would remain consistent with your own pro-life views should be sufficient to keeping them on board. She is an intelligent and supremely talented woman, and seen as someone who is above the partisan bickering that has so divided our country. Dr. Rice should be your pick, the right will rally around her particularly after some assurances around abortion and she would be immensely popular with independents.
  2. Report csm | July 27 12:28am | Permalink
    How can the US lead on the world stage when we don't address the problems in our own house such as the deficit, the economy, jobs, health care, violence and infrastructure?
  3. Report steve0210 | July 27 12:14am | Permalink
    I feel so emotion after I read propaganda. It pushes all my emotional buttons.
  4. Report EmWoo | July 27 12:14am | Permalink
    Bless you, Dr. Rice. America never got anywhere by thinking small.
  5. Report ObamaIsGodAwful | July 26 11:42pm | Permalink
    Well, Ms. Rice has grand and noble aspirations for America and its people, but she fails to necessarily prioritize the Federal government activities when our finances and domestic balkanization has brought us to the brink of civil war.

    We must first put our own house in order. That includes a return to fiscal sanity and Constitutional government. We can worry about the rest of the world when we no longer have to worry day to day about our own country's survival.

    Ms. Rice is correct about our education system. It breeds ignorance, immorality, and liberalism, i.e., it is poisoning the civil ordered society with its defective and destructive influences on those we cram through it.
  6. Report yellamoon | July 26 11:41pm | Permalink
    Leading and bullying/hectoring aren't the same thing, and I'll take the leadership of this administration including Clinton as Secretary of State over "leading" men and women needlessly into an unjustified war and trashing the good name of the U.S. globally any day... No one who advocated the war in Iraq should be heard from until/unless they apologize to the American and Iraqi dead and wounded.
  7. Report Joesockit | July 26 11:20pm | Permalink
    Ms. Rice is no doubt brilliant but this fluff piece shows why America is even less than another country right now. Obama can do the same type of babble abeit with the help of his trusty teleprompter. To lead you must be clear and blunt as time has almost run out for the US. WE'RE BROKE FOLKS! And we're in a depression whether or not anyone wants to admit it. The best thing for the world right now is a strong US. The way to do that is to channel all our resources into America so we can re energize our economy and be the biggest market in the world again. That's what made us, The US, the most desirable place in the world. #1 Develop our oil and energy resources immediately so we don't need to deal with the middle east for anything, Fix trade policy, If the politicians think that the American worker can compete with slave labor and no regulation then I suggest we pay them the same salary as the politcians in say, Vietnam.,$100 month. Get rid of affirmative action, the Constitution says all men are created equal, There should be no doubt about what they meant. If you collect from the government you must be required to work AND be taking some type of training to make yourself employable or NO CHECK. Your Check is also based on your education level, if you don't graduate from high school you are not eligible for welfare, unemployment, nothing, you are provided with that opportunity, use it, or you are on your own, why should we help you if you don't help yourself. Along that line, if you have kids while collecting a govt check, both the mother and the father see Dr. Stop or no check.
    Personal responsibility people. If your company ships jobs overseas, the tax bracket of the entire management of the company doing it rises, alot... IF we have to come into a foreign country because you harbor terrorists, don't plan on us rebuilding you, it's a waste of time and our resources, tough love folks. I could go on, My point, The PC stuff is stupid and it is destroying us, enough fluff people, we are out of time for that game.
  8. Report 3685248 | July 26 11:20pm | Permalink
    LOL!! America is FINISHED as a country! Thank your GOVERNMENT for RUINING it!
  9. Report JoKe2020 | July 26 11:16pm | Permalink
    We need Condi Rice on the GOP ticket. She is both experienced and articulate, a very rare trait today.
  10. Report Humperdink of Humberton | July 26 11:14pm | Permalink
    Sorry, but I beg to differ. I have zero interest in incurring greater and greater debts for our country and my children. Nor do I have any interest in my teenage sons being sent to fight an insurgency in some foreign country, to die or be maimed. It is time we pull our troops back to the Homeland. Close our overseas bases. Let the rest of the world be. If other countries want to effect 'regime change' somewhere, let their governments, people, and economy bear that brunt. And, yes, I am American. And, no, I will not be voting for Obama this time around.
  11. Report PAUL MYERS | July 26 11:12pm | Permalink
    Wonderfully uplifting. It's great that the FT re-published Ms Rice's speech. To just which high school graduating class did she deliver it?
  12. Report Jeannick | July 26 11:06pm | Permalink
    An obvious and lead footed bid for the VP ticket ,
    including some supporting chorus,
    for shame FT for shame
  13. Report WildWorldOutThere | July 26 11:04pm | Permalink
    If you think America is just another country, you have been successfully indoctrinated by the left. American is a beacon of hope and light for the world. America has done more for human rights and quality of life than any nation on earth. Liberty and human rights had no meaning before 1776.
  14. Report ricgf | July 26 11:04pm | Permalink
    Ms Rice:

    You don't have any right to lead anything, much less tell other countries what to do. Your foreign policy administration was a TOTAL disgrace to the civilized world, and you should be ashamed to write another article perpetuating the same lies that led us to hundreds of thousands of deaths over nonexistent WMDs. Moreover, your claim of "exceptionalism" is exactly why we are mired in so many deep crises right now. You are just a country like ANY other, so get off your high horse and accept something you have never swallowed before: HUMILITY.

    A "populist dictator" like Chávez has never caused as many deaths of innocent people as you and the lackeys under your helm did - please, FT, do NOT let such people write here anymore. It is simply pathetic.

    Now where is RON PAUL where we need him?
  15. Report Paul B. | July 26 11:03pm | Permalink
    Flawed as she is, she could run SecState circles around Hillary, even if Hillary wasn't burdened with executing obama's "follow from behind" fecklessness.
  16. Report NotAFanOfObama | July 26 10:53pm | Permalink
    "The George W. Bush administration doubled aid spending worldwide and quadrupled it to Africa."

    yeah you did. Lot of good it's done so far. Another chance? I hope not.
  17. Report CameronC | July 26 10:39pm | Permalink
    Good speech! Just one question, can you afford it?
  18. Report Beaecb | July 26 10:31pm | Permalink
    The heart of the US strength was built on entrepreneurship, coherence in a multiracial society, and a positive, cooperative attitude with intelligent curiosity towards new ideas, habits and insights. Over its existence, immigrating foreigners with brains and skills have strengthened the character of the US and its international position.
    Today, the US makes its citizens believe that the rest of the world is a threat that has to be fought. Has the US perhaps been hijacked by German-Ashkenazi central bank families who are since 1913 printing the US dollars and making money on wars? According to Thomas Jefferson, the FED is unconstitutional. Eustace Mullins in his explanatory book "The secrets of the Federal Reserve" explains that the US is indeed economically hijacked and that wars and crises are created. The effects? Now that 911 is brought-up, unfortunately it is hard to lay aside the many analyses of the 911 attacks that make it impossible to believe the 'official story'. Perhaps this article uses the press to falsify history.

    I find it hard to be emotionally touched by the 'aid' of the US to the Middle East, Africa and Asia. The best aid would be to discontinue government support to central bank-owned energy, agribusiness and pharma to invade these regions, and to stop disrupting and impoverishing these regions by systematically polarizing and militarizing the vested interest groups, be it the ME or elsewhere. Apart from lives overseas, it also costs American lives.

    What triggered my response today was the sympathy card drawn for this article. Such misleading argumentation is also used to make foreign electorates accept constitutional changes. This is for example the case with India and the non-democratic, supra-national institute of the Jan Lokpal Bill that is supported by world bank and IMF, and perhaps also BIS. In terms of its introduction, positioning relative to the vested regulative framework, and the lack of checks & balances, this bill bears the same signature as fed act, homeland security bill, patriot act, lisbon treaty: it effectively aims to get India controlled by central bankers while circumventing India's legislative framework, social structure and province differences. If successful, the bill could prevent India from consolidating the region around it to form the differentiating global interest block of in the pool with the US, China, Russia and Europe. The misleading argument in the lokpal case is 'anti-corruption'. Everyone will be 'anti-curruption'. However, to understand these tactics of crushing a country's nobility under the heading of 'anti-corruption', Macchiavelli's "The Prince" explains the effects of nobility with their prerogatives on national cohesive strength, to give corruption in the Lokpal Bill / central bank case a different perspective.

    The current diversity in our world with its colors, mentalities, habits and nature is a basis for freedom of opinions and questioning, and for you and me a reason to travel and see new faces. This as opposed to the bankers' move towards a world government that is hegemonic, dictatorial, flattening and a threat to the personal development of individuals. Because a society is the collection of individuals, it is a threat to the development of the global society.
  19. Report Neely | July 26 10:15pm | Permalink
    Her comments are mostly revisionist platitudes. Also, the notion that there's no Palestinian state because Israel is unsure of the depth of support from the U.S. is just plain wrong.
  20. Report NickV | July 26 10:12pm | Permalink
    What pretty, floral language.

    I might disagree with Pat Buchanan's piece the other day ( ), but UNLIKE this one, was at least: 1) Honest, 2) A clear discernable point of view, 3) Actionable
  21. Report outlaw222 | July 26 10:12pm | Permalink
    How does one say it? Breathtaking, Schutzpah!

    So the do nothing Secretary of State, who helped lead the world into the lie of Iraq writes from her vast record of accomplishments, which I seem not to remember except "Axis of Evil", accompanied by her leading our child idiot, W, in gospel sings in the White House while young men died for their hubris or immaturity.

  22. Report ZFE | July 26 10:08pm | Permalink
    Ms. Rice - I hate to break it to you but the U.S. is just another country. What was once a global superpower has now been transformed into a nation that is too paralyzed by fear to play a role in global geo-politics. One thing is clear - while the U.S. may have historically played a leadership role, the balance power has shifted to the East and this is a good time for us to put our own house in order. We have a fiscal deficit that has eroded our ratings, persistent unemployment, an educational system that is failing to turn out intellectual super stars and a press system that lacks the ability to inform the American people about the world outside the borders of this country. We are just another country today and we must resolve our own challenges before our ethnocentricity leads us to lead where we might wish to follow. There was a time when the U.S. was not just another country and that time can come again. But as you have rightly said - strength begins at home. Lets put our own house in order before we rush to save the world please.
  23. Report Realist 49 | July 26 10:07pm | Permalink
    He she running for something?
  24. Report Diderot | July 26 10:05pm | Permalink
    As Kipliing wrote to Theodore Roosevelt:

    ”Take up the White Man´s Burden
    Sent forth the best ye breed –
    Go bind your sons to exile
    To serve your captives´ need;
    To wait in heavy harness,
    On fluttered folk and wild –
    Your new-caught, sullen peoples,
    Half-devil and half-child”
  25. Report PfromG | July 26 10:01pm | Permalink
    This from the woman who brought Americans the disgrace of Iraq. Shameless and blatant electioneering, jockeying for power as VP. Yuck.
  26. Report cmyk | July 26 9:58pm | Permalink
    "In the Middle East we must patiently use our aid, expertise and influence to support the creation of inclusive democratic institutions."

    This coming from the world's leading supplier of weapons and military training to Saudi Arabia and various other Arab dictatorships; the country that gave Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak $1.4 billion dollars in military aid per year. Does Thomas Friedman know Condoleezza Rice is stealing his best jokes?
  27. Report SSL | July 26 9:58pm | Permalink
    I believe the citizens of the USA realize they are not just 'anybody' and as in the past will provide leadership toward meaningful and constructive goals on the world scene. This is not new to the American people, nor do they need reminding.
  28. Report JohnnyCash | July 26 9:47pm | Permalink
    I love the US!
  29. Report johnsreid | July 26 9:45pm | Permalink
    If this article is indeed representative of Ms Rice's thinking, and of the quality of policy she produced as Secretary of State then it's little wonder the US is in the mess it's in today.
  30. Report Rufus.T.Firefly | July 26 9:22pm | Permalink
    History is starting to show that the US is just like any other country and like them it has its rise in power a stable phase and then a demise. It is just starting to see its demise and for the generations that have been brought up to believe that the US could not fail, it's a shock.
  31. Report आकिञ्चञ्ञ | July 26 9:20pm | Permalink
    Notes from a parallel, zero-EQ universe.
  32. Report JeanDoe | July 26 9:18pm | Permalink
    "Hugo Chávez and the Iranians have bitten off the extended hand of friendship. There is no Palestinian state because it will only come through negotiation with a secure Israel that is confident in its relationship with the US. The decision to abandon missile defence sites in Poland and the Czech Republic, to “reset” relations with Russia was pocketed by Vladimir Putin who quickly returned to his anti-American ways."

    It's breathtaking that someone who was so close to power could be so deluded. Our only hope is that Ms Rice actually knows how things really are and that here she is merely an advocate who doesn't believe a word of her brief.
  33. Report Apostle C | July 26 9:07pm | Permalink
    Romney-Rice could be a competitive ticket.
  34. Report Blanche Also | July 26 9:05pm | Permalink
    This person needs to be ignored.Seriously.
  35. Report Houston Observer | July 26 8:58pm | Permalink
    This woman would be a magnificent choice as Romney's V.P. Let's hope he has the good sense to pick her over some Casper Milktoast choice like Pawlenty or Portman.
  36. Report bb822 | July 26 8:56pm | Permalink
    Ironic. With the long arc of history in mind, the US *is* just another country.
  37. Report KMR | July 26 8:55pm | Permalink
    Free markets do not mean free peoples necessarily ma'm! Just ask those who have been Bangalored or Shezhened!
Brophy Thursday 26 July 2012 - 7:08 pm | | Brophy Blog

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