13 January 2011


Condoleezza Rice spoke at a campus-wide forum today.  Dr. Rice is extremely intelligent, articulate, and compelling.  After a rousing hour-long speech, she next fielded ten or so impromptu questions from students.  She had a clear, concise, and insightful answer for each question.  A few takeaways:

  • In the past, the world had to worry about conflicts between powerful states.  Now, however, it is weak, failed, and failing states that require the most concern and resources.  (Afghanistan is the world's 5th poorest country.) 
  • When people live in an authoritarian state, they will turn to violence because they have no other recourse.
  • The U.S, should devote its humanitarian resources to stable, democratic governments instead of pouring funds down "rat holes".  There need to be standards in foreign aid.
  • The northern Mexican border is America's most pressing international concern.  It is a failing state and the Mexican president, although very capable, needs help.      
  • China will never pass the U.S. as the world's foremost economic power because a country who is afraid of the internet cannot lead in today's knowledge economy.
  • A national myth is not necessarily a lie, but an enlarging of the truth.  America's power lies in its national myth- that people from any background can achieve greatness.  It is what fuels our country as the creative and innovative capital of the world.   
  • America needs to remember and send the message that ambitious and hard-working people from around the world will ALWAYS be welcome here.
  • Things that once seemed impossible (like the collapse of communism) eventually seem inevitable.
  • Today's headlines are rarely the same as tomorrow's history (Alaska as "Seward's Folly").
  • Presidents are elected from one of three pools: senators, governors, and victorious generals (there hasn't been one from this last category in a long while).  With the number of female senators and governors increasing, we are bound to have a woman president. 
  • The failing K-12 education system is the greatest threat to America.
  • If you're surrounded by people who always agree with you, find a new circle of friends.
  • She likes Hamilton more than Jefferson.

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