Condeleeza Rice, who served as secretary of state and national security advisor to President George W. Bush, said Wednesday that the world’s interconnectedness means “America cannot afford to be tired” in its role as protector of free markets and free people “or our interests and values will suffer.”
Rice went on to describe several “great powers behaving badly” and other national security trends affecting the United States today to an audience of about 2,000 people on Wednesday at Pershing’s annual INSITE conference, taking place this week in Hollywood, Fla. And she explained that China’s actions over several disputed island and ocean territories, also claimed by Vietnam and Japan, require the U.S. to send clear signals.
“Signals that we are sending that the U.S. may not use military force or is constrained by using either hundreds of forces or nothing create a vacuum [in international security], and then that vacuum can be filled,” she said.
Instead, the U.S. “should make clear what is acceptable and what is not acceptable, and leave some ambiguity in terms of when we will act,” Rice added. “If we do not act, then our allies will make their own arrangements.”
She cautioned advisors and investors to keep in mind that the challenges of governing China are “growing,” despite the fact that the country has lifted some 500 million people out of poverty.
“The export-driven model may be running out of steam,” the Stanford professor said. But the United States should do all it can to support China’s exports and its economy for the sake of global stability.
“There have been several major shocks in the past several years,” the former national security advisor said, pointing to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
“Every day after Sept. 11 felt like Sept. 12,” Rice said of her time in office. “As a nation, we have not faced this type of situation since 1812.”
Since that day, she notes, ungoverned spaces — like parts of Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen — have become more dangerous and threatening to the United States than traditional rivals or strong states have been.
“Our conception of security would never be the same,” Rice said.
The second recent threat the ex-secretary of state pointed to is the 2008 economic shock “that nearly brought financial system to the brink.”
The crisis showed Americans that “housing prices can in fact fall, and that the long-term unemployed may never get a job again.”
Another trend Rice described is that of “great powers behaving badly,” and the chief example, she says, is Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
The Stanford professor, who has specialized in Soviet studies, has met with Putin multiple times. “He is a person who wants to intimidate …” Rice said. “And the bargain that emerged at the end of a Cold War was, he called it, was the greatest tragedy of the 21st century… mentioning that it has orphaned some 25 million outside of Russia.”