WASHINGTON & SANTA FE, NM (By Gregory J. Krieg, ABC News) August 30, 2012 — Rice Says Allies Shouldn't Have to Ask 'Where does America stand?'
Condoleezza Rice never addressed President Obama by name, but the former secretary of state delivered a sharp rejection of his foreign policy tonight, charging that the White House had forsaken past and potential allies, leaving the world to wonder, "Where does America stand?"
"When our friends and our foes, alike, do not know the answer to that question," she told the Republican National Convention, "the world is a chaotic and dangerous place."
Rice warned "if America doesn't lead, our adversaries will, and the world will grow darker, poorer and much more dangerous." Rice criticized the president for taking a backseat to NATO during the battle for Libya and not doing more to stop the bloodshed in Syria.
"We cannot be reluctant to lead," Rice told fellow Republicans, who welcomed her to the stage with enthusiastic applause. "And you cannot lead from behind. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan understand this reality, that our leadership abroad and our well-being at home are inextricably linked."
"Our adversaries must have no reason to doubt our resolve because peace really does come through strength," said Rice, who was secretary of state in President George W. Bush's administration.
Turning to concerns that a growing deficit could undermine American influence abroad, she focused on China.
"Just consider this," she said. "The United States has ratified only three trade agreements in the last few years and those were negotiated in the Bush administration. China has signed 15 free trade agreements and is in the progress of negotiating as many as 18 more. Sadly we are abandoning the field of free and fair trade, and it will come back to haunt us."
Working without a Teleprompter, Rice occasionally looked down at her notes, but mostly drove home her points with a fierce right hand.
And her speech did not stop at the shoreline as she touched on domestic issues, lines that won her some of her evening's most raucous applause.
"On a personal note, a little girl grows up in Jim Crow Birmingham, the most segregated big city in America," Rice said, talking about her childhood in Alabama. "Her parents can't take her to a movie theater or a restaurant, but they make her believe that even though she can't have a hamburger at the Woolworth's lunch counter she can be president of the United States -- and she becomes the Secretary of State."
That dream, she said was in doubt, as economic dislocation crushes opportunity in areas hardest hit by the slow recovery.
"Your greatest ally in controlling your response to your circumstance is in a quality education," Rice said. "Today, when I can look at your zip code and can tell whether you are going to get a good education. Can I really say that it doesn't matter where you came from? It matters where you are going. The crisis in K-12 education is a threat to the very fabric who we are."
It is an issue Rice knows well from her time as provost at Stanford University, which she returned to in 2010 to work as a professor.
Condoleezza Rice transcript
The following is a transcript of a speech that former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice gave at the Republican National Convention on Aug. 29, 2012.
RICE: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you so much. Good evening. Good evening, distinguished delegates. Good evening, fellow Republicans. Good evening, my fellow Americans.
We gather here at a time of significance and challenge.
This young century has been a difficult one. I can remember as if it were yesterday when my young assistants came into my office at the White House to say that a plane had hit the World Trade Center, and then, a second plane, and then a third plane, the Pentagon. And later, we would learn that a plane had crashed into a field in Pennsylvania, driven into the ground by brave souls who died so that others might live.
From that day on -- from that day on, our sense of vulnerability and our concepts of security were never the same again. Then, in 2008, the global financial and economic crisis would stun us. And it still reverberates as we deal with unemployment and economic uncertainty and bad policies that cast a pall over an American economy and a recovery that is desperately needed at home and abroad.
And we have seen that the desire for liberty and freedom is, indeed, universal, as men and women in the Middle East rise up to seize it. Yet, the promise of the Arab spring is engulfed in uncertainty, internal strife, and hostile neighbors our challenging the young, fragile democracy of Iraq. Dictators in Iran and Syria butcher their people and threat to regional security. Russia and China prevent a response, and everyone asks, where does America stand?
Indeed -- indeed, that is the question of the hour. Where does America stand? You see when the friends or foes alike don't know the answer to that question, unambiguously and clearly, the world is likely to be a more dangerous and chaotic place.
Since world war ii, the United States has had an answer to that question. We stand for free peoples and free markets. We will defend and support them.
We will sustain a balance of power that favors freedom.
Now, to be sure, the burdens of leadership have been heavy. I know, as you do, the sacrifice of Americans, especially the sacrifice of many of our bravest in the ultimate sacrifice, but our armed forces are the surest shield and foundation of liberty, and we are so fortunate that we have men and women in uniform who volunteer, they volunteer to defend us at the front lines of freedom, and we owe them our eternal gratitude.
I know too it has not always been easy though it has been rewarding to speak for those who otherwise do not have a voice. The religious dissident in China, the democracy advocate in Venezuela, the political prisoner in Iran.
It has been hard to muster the resources to support fledgling democracies and to intervene on behalf of the most desperate. The AIDS orphans in Uganda, the refugee fleeing Zimbabwe, the young woman who has been trafficked into the sex trade in Southeast Asia. It has been hard, yet this assistance together with the compassionate work of private charities, people of conscience and people of faith, has shown the soul of our country. And I know too -- I know too there is a wariness.
I know that it feels as if we have carried these burdens long enough. But we can only know that there is no choice, because one of two things will happen if we don't lead. Either no one will lead and there will be chaos, or someone will fill the vacuum who does not share our values.
My fellow Americans, we do not have a choice. We cannot be reluctant to lead and you cannot lead from behind.
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan understand this reality. Our well being at home and our leadership abroad are inextricably linked. They know what to do. They know that our friends and allies must again be able to trust us. From Israel to Columbia, from Poland to the Philippines, our allies and friends have to know that we will be reliable and consistent and determined.
And our foes can have no reason to doubt our resolve because peace really does come through strength.
Our military capability and our technological advantage will be safe in Mitt Romney's hands. We must work for an open, global economy, and pursue free and fair trade, to grow our exports and our influence abroad. If you are worried about the rise of China, just consider this -- the United States has negotiated -- the United States has ratified only three trade agreements in the last few years, and those were negotiated in the Bush administration.
China has signed 15 free trade agreements and is in the progress of negotiating as many as 18 more. Sadly, we are abandoning the field of free and fair trade and it will come back to haunt us.
We must not allow the chance to attain energy independence to slip from our grasp. We are blessed with a gift of oil and gas resources here in North America, and we must develop them.
We can develop them sensitively, we can develop them securing our environment, but we must develop them.
And we have the ingenuity to develop alternatives sources of energy. Most importantly, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will rebuild the foundation of our strength, the American economy -- stimulating private sector growth and stimulating small business entrepreneurship.
When the world looks at us today, they see an American government that cannot live within its means. They see an American government that continues to borrow money, that will mortgage the future of generations to come. The world knows that when a nation loses control of its finances, it eventually loses control of its destiny.
That is not the America that has inspired people to follow our lead.
After all, when the world looks to America, they look to us because we are the most successful economic and political experiment in human history. That is the true basis of American exceptionalism.
You see, the essence of America, what really unites us, is not nationality or ethnicity or religion. It is an idea. And what an idea it is. That you can come from humble circumstances and you can do great things, that it does not matter where you came from, it matters where you are going.
My fellow Americans, ours has never been a narrative of grievance and entitlement. We have never believed that I am doing poorly because you are doing well. We have never been jealous of one another and never envious of each others' successes.
No, no, ours has been a belief in opportunity. And it has been a constant struggle, long and hard, up and down, to try to extend the benefits of the American dream to all. But that American ideal is indeed in danger today. There is no country, no, not even a rising China that can do more harm to us than we can do to ourselves if we do not do the hard work before us here at home.
More than at any other time in history, greatness is built on mobilizing human potential and ambition. We have always done that better than any country in the world. People have come here from all over because they have believed our creed of opportunity and limitless horizons.
They have come here from the world's most impoverished nations just to make a decent wage. And they have come here from advanced societies as engineers and scientists that fuel the knowledge-based revolution in the Silicon Valley of California, in the Research Triangle of North Carolina, along Route 128 in Massachusetts, in Austin, Texas, and across this great land.
We must continue to welcome the world's most ambitious people to be a part of us. In that way, we stay young and optimistic and determined. We need immigration laws that protect our borders, meet our economic needs, and yet show that we are a compassionate nation of immigrants.
We have been successful too because Americans have known that one's status of birth is not a permanent condition.
Americans have believed that you might not be able to control your circumstances but you can control your response to your circumstances.
And your greatest ally in controlling your response to your circumstances has been a quality education. But today, today, when I can look at your zip code and I can tell whether you're going to get a good education, can I honestly say it does not matter where you came from, it matters where you are going? The crisis in K-12 education is a threat to the very fabric of who we are.
My mom was a teacher. I respect the profession. We need great teachers, not poor ones and not mediocre ones. We have to have high standards for our kids, because self-esteem comes from achievement, not from lax standards and false praise.
And we need to give parents greater choice, particularly, particularly poor parents whose kids, very often minorities, are trapped in failing neighborhood schools. This is the civil rights issue of our day.
If we do anything less, we can damage generations to joblessness and hopelessness and life on the government dole. If we do anything less, we will endanger our global imperatives for competitiveness. And if we do anything less, we will tear apart the fabric of who we are and cement the turn toward entitlement and grievance.
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will rebuild us at home. And they will help us lead abroad. They will provide an answer to the question, ``where does America stand?'' The challenge is real and the times are hard. But America has met and overcome hard challenges before.
Whenever you find yourself a doubting us, just think about all those times that America made impossible seemed inevitable in retrospect. Our revolutionary founding act as the greatest military power of the time, a civil war, brother against brother, hundreds of thousands dead on both sides, but we emerged a more perfect union. A second founding when inpatient patriots were determined to overcome the birth defect of slavery and the scourge of segregation.
A long struggle against communism with the soviets even -- the soviet union's collapse and in the aftermath of 9/11, the willingness to take hard, hard decisions that toward us and prevented the follow on attack that everybody thought preordained.
And on a personal note, a little girl grows up in Jim Crow Birmingham. The segregated city of the south where her parents cannot take her to a movie theater or to restaurants, but they have convinced that even if she cannot have it hamburger at Woolworths, she can be the president of the United States if she wanted to be, and she becomes the secretary of state.
Yes, yes. Yes. Yes, America has a way of making the impossible seemed inevitable in retrospect, but we know it was never inevitable. It took leadership. And it took courage. And it's a belief that our values. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have the integrity and the experience and the vision to lead us.
They know who we are. They know who we want to be. They know who we are in the world and what we offer.
That is why -- that is why this is a moment and an election of consequence. Because it just has to be that the freest most compassionate country on the face of the earth will continue to be the most powerful and the beacon for prosperity and the party across the world.
God bless you and God bless this extraordinary country, this exceptional country: The United States of America.