Miami University students were able to get a behind the scenes view into one of the prominent members of the George W. Bush administration when former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visited Thursday, March 31.
Rice’s speech focused mainly on the current American successes and what the United States needs to do to continue its longstanding tradition of leading the international community.
Rice said her struggles in dealing with issues as secretary of state were eased by a saying she often repeated to herself, an adage she thinks Americans need to remember during trying times as well.
“Today’s headlines and history’s judgments are rarely the same,” Rice said, admitting the headlines guide today’s conversation, but the actions taken will be judged differently later.
She said education may hold the answer to solving the nation’s biggest problems.
“The state of our K through 12 education is our greatest national security threat today,” Rice said.
Outside the borders, Rice said threats to America’s well being are made by failing states, not those that are thriving. She cited this as the reason the United States needs to be active in aiding states that are deteriorating, particularly those in the Middle East.
“This is a very tough battle, but it is one from which we cannot shirk,” Rice said. “We cannot turn away.”
Rice said the continuing call for democratization in the Middle East is crucial.
“We are going to see now contested politics in the Middle East, and it’s going to be rough and it’s going to be turbulent,” she said. “Once people are in the streets, it’s much, much harder to have a democratic revolution than before they are in the streets.”
Rice was also optimistic about the recovery of the United States’ economy and reiterated the necessity of immigrants in the nation’s success.
“It doesn’t matter where you came from, it matters where you’re going,” Rice said.
Many of the students, parents, alumni and community members in the estimated crowd of 5,000 at Millett Hall were impressed by Rice’s speech. Nearly all of them gave her a standing ovation upon her exit.
Senior David Miller appreciated Rice’s comment that she wished the intelligence had been better regarding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, but thought the speech was impressive overall.
“She was well-spoken,” Miller said.
LeeAnn Riggs, a sophomore at Brigham Young University visiting Miami, thought Rice carried herself well throughout the speech and felt hopeful after Rice’s discussion of changing majors.
“She gives her opinions very well and she backs herself up very well,” Riggs said.
Rice also met with a small group of selected students in the late afternoon in the Farmer School of Business for a question and answer session. During the meeting, Rice touched on various topics, including the current unrest in the Middle East, her own time spent in the White House, her views on women in academia and politics and her thoughts on decisions that have been made by the Obama administration.
Rice was chosen as the speaker for the Anderson Distinguished Lecture Series, an annual lecture funded through an endowment established by Jack and Rose Marie Anderson. Past speakers have included Gen. Colin Powell, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.