Each year the Center for Western Studies brings in an amazing and nationally prominent figure to discuss the issues of the day to Augusta Universtiy. This year we sent Peter Pischke to take some notes and get some reaction to the event. This years speaker was former United States Secretary of State Dr. Condoleezza Rice.
Peter Vaughn Pischke (Photo Provided)
This is a summary (what was to be quick)a write-up of the Condoleezza Rice speech at the Boe forum over at Augustana University on 3/20/2018.
I’m not going to pretend to be unbiased when it comes to the incredible legend that is Dr. Condoleezza Rice.
I’m a big fan, and this bio will tell you why.
A Quick Bio
She is a superstar in the worlds of policy, politics, history, and academia in general. Few in the western world know more about the middle east and Russia. She in person talked to Vladimir Putin and Mikhail Gorbachev (another BOE forum speaker).
Both Presidents Bush came to her for advice and guidance on policies across the board, both foreign and domestic. During the whole of the George W. Bush administration she was there to lean on, first as the National Security Adviser 2001-2005 (first woman to do so). Then she served as the 66th Secretary of State 2005-2009, the first African-American woman to occupy that position and the 2nd woman to hold it as well.
Since then, she has written definitive books and guides that still are used by members of academia, and is currently a rock-star professor over at Stanford Graduate School of Business. And to my eyes, she always looks like she is in her 30s, which is pretty good for a young 63 years of age.
So when my friend Robert said he needed to offload some tickets to hear her speak: it felt like I was getting to meet some iconic rock group like the Beetles or the Police.
I mean getting to hear the lady who was an essential guiding hand to our foreign policy following 9/11 is a can’t miss opportunity.
Why all the pain these days, some historical background info
If you want to know what American Conservatism is, you need only listen to this speech from Rice.
Rice started by telling that the reason for the tension and chaos that we are feeling in the United States and across the globe is because worldwide, nations are abandoning the systems put in after World War 2.
After World War 2, an open and free economic system was put together in the U.S. and the rest of the western world. This system was to be non-interventionist and to stay away from protectionism because it was these systems created and elongated the Great Depression. And to help growing nations with developing economies the World Bank and International Monetary Fund so that all countries had a chance to build economically.
These systems worked “remarkably well” and “lifted hundreds of millions out of poverty.”
We, the United States led the allied powers after WW2 into supporting free and independent democratic nations in Germany and later Japan.
“Free Peoples and Free Markets” With the protection of the “American Military power as the Halo on top of this head.”
The Modern Era for China and Russia
“Everyday after September 11th felt like September 12th. Now we face danger from ungoverned nations. There are new threats like cyber warfare, and Russia and China. (which) are two great powers misbehaving.”
Rice notes accurately how China is angrily expanding at an enormous in the South China Sea. However, China will still have to hold back because they are too integrated and dependent on the United States economy.
Russia is a different case. While China is a rising nation, in her opinion Russia is a declining power.
This next part reminds me of how awesome Rice is:
” I’ve met and talked with Vladimir Putin,” said Rice. Putin believes himself to be a great Russian leader like Peter the Great. I know because he told me “Rice you know us. You know Russia succeeds when a strong leader is in control”. In his eyes “he is turning back the humiliation of Russia.”
That is why he is willing to take Ukrainian land and push jet patrols over the coast of Sweden.
The 4 Horseman
Condoleezza then labeled the evil ideologies that are in opposition to Free Peoples and Free Markets.
Populism, Nativism, Isolationism, and Protectionism
Said Rice “for some globalization didn’t turn out well.”
Rice warned about the rise of these new so-called right-wing parties in Europe that are starting to take control of some governments.
Everyone these days decides to “play the blame game… for the left, it is big banks.”
So how do we begin to protect the liberal order?
Rice referred to when two people who speak a foreign language try to get each other to understand what they’re saying. How that people tend to “speak a bit louder, so they will understand” what they’re saying.
That is what it is like today communicating with people on the other side of politics from you.
To Rice the solution to save the liberal order is dire and straightforward: The United States must lead, or there is no chance for free nations and free markets to prosper.
Technology and Energy
Rice lives and works in Silicon Valley where the tech companies feel that they have the solution for everything. To Condoleezza, she believes that technology is neutral with the potential to be both for good and evil.
Her example is the splitting of the atom, which brought nuclear energy, medical scanning, and useful isotopes. But it also brought the horror of the atomic bomb.
In particular, the power of Online Learning is capable of transforming lives of children who live in poverty. Technology allows a kid from any walk of life the opportunity to gain an education.
Rice said with wisdom “Technology can be the answer to: Do you hear me now?”
She was working at the White House when the price for of a barrel of oil went to almost $145 in 2008. Russia decided to use this opportunity to wreak havoc and invade the Crimea and move forward other intense interests.
Russia didn’t use its energy resource and power for the global good. But we the people do.
“The United States can be the most stable energy platform in human history.”
So just imagine what good it could do?
The Millennial Generation
Condoleezza Rice is a professor and works with millennial students all the time.
“This is the most public-minded generation ever!”
She says a lot of her students then expect their first job too meaningfully. Don’t make this mistake.
“Your first job will not be meaningful; it’s your first job. Just do it and get it over.”
“We the People is never an exclusive policy.”
America is an inspiration. It doesn’t matter where you come from. Even if you were born in Russia, and immigrated to the US like the co-founder of Google.
“Sergei Brin, the co-founder of Google, would never have been able to create Google in Russia.”
But Rice is scared for the fate of many young Americans where this founding principle may become untrue.
“The Crisis in K-12 education may be the biggest National Crisis today!”
“8-year-olds that can’t read now will never be able to read.” She also added that only 30% of the military could pass the written basic training test.
Rice stated her worries that people would remain ignorant and thus scared and angry at each other due to a lack of proper education.
“Education is the armor against prejudice.”
With probably the best line of tonight, Rice said: “My Grandfather is a Presbyterian minister and college educated because of it. He knew it would transform generations of Rices.”
Education can provide “limitless horizons.”
Rice fears that the United States may soon exist as if we were like two countries, one that is educated and one that can’t read.
Rice still feels that America can thrive and that “There has to be a way out.”
Americans have the most ingenuity, innovation, and compassion than anyone else.
Solving today’s problems are hard “but no harder than our origins.”
Rice said our founding is profound considering the impossible trials before them. Washington defeating the most powerful nation on earth at that time, the end of slavery via the defeat of the Confederacy in the civil war, and the migration of so many over mountain passes to settle in the beautiful west.
The U.S.A to Rice has come far: “I took the oath of office for Secretary of State under a document that treats a black person as 3/5 of a man.”
Condoleezza Rice ended her speech by praising our great country.
We are the “most compassionate and freest country in the world.”
Boe Forum on Public Affairs Dr. Condoleezza Rice (Photo Provided)