In the most eloquent statement about the post 9/11 world we have read so far, Condoleezza Rice shows why she is the most consequential US Secretary of State since Henry Kissinger, and rapidly rising among the ranks of the luminaries who have occuppied that office, the senior Cabinet position, in the history of the Republic. Doctor Rice did not become a respected Soviet specialist and Stanford Provost by accident. Her brief column in the Washington Post is a masterful summary of the new world we face.
Here is her argument in summary:
1. Like her predecessor Dean Acheson, who was Sec. State at the beginning of the Cold War, "... we live in an extraordinary time —— one in which the terrain of international politics is shifting beneath our feet and the pace of historical change outstrips even the most vivid imagination."
2. Therefore,"we must transcend the doctrines and debates of the past ... What is needed is a realistic statecraft for a transformed world."
3. "Like the ambitious policies of Truman and Reagan, our statecraft will succeed not simply because it is optimistic and idealistic but also because it is premised on sound strategic logic and a proper understanding of the new realities we face."
4. "For the first time since the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, the prospect of violent conflict between great powers is becoming ever more unthinkable. ...To advance this remarkable trend, the United States is transforming our partnerships with nations such as Japan and Russia, with the European Union, and especially with China and India." [italics added]
5. "Together we are building a more lasting and durable form of global stability: a balance of power that favors freedom."
6. "Since its creation more than 350 years ago, the modern state system has always rested on the concept of sovereignty. ... Today, however, we have seen that these assumptions no longer hold, and as a result the greatest threats to our security are defined more by the dynamics within weak and failing states than by the borders between strong and aggressive ones."
7. "The phenomenon of weak and failing states is not new, but the danger they now pose is unparalleled. When people, goods and information traverse the globe as fast as they do today, transnational threats such as disease or terrorism can inflict damage comparable to the standing armies of nation—states. Absent responsible state authority, threats that would and should be contained within a country's borders can now melt into the world and wreak untold havoc."
8. "Our experience of this new world leads us to conclude that the fundamental character of regimes matters more today than the international distribution of power. Insisting otherwise is imprudent and impractical.
9. " The goal of our statecraft is to help create a world of democratic, well—governed states that can meet the needs of their citizens and conduct themselves responsibly in the international system."
10. "In one region of the world, however, the problems emerging from the character of regimes are more urgent than in any other. The "freedom deficit" in the broader Middle East provides fertile ground for the growth of an ideology of hatred so vicious and virulent that it leads people to strap suicide bombs to their bodies and fly airplanes into buildings."
11. "Though the broader Middle East has no history of democracy, this is not an excuse for doing nothing. ... We are confident that democracy will succeed in this region not simply because we have faith in our principles but because the basic human longing for liberty and democratic rights has transformed our world. "
12. "... cynics ... were once certain that 'Asian values,' or Latin culture, or Slavic despotism, or African tribalism would each render democracy impossible. But they were wrong ... democracy is the only assurance of lasting peace and security between states, because it is the only guarantee of freedom and justice within states."
Read it, it's terrific. And it reflects well on the wisdom of President Bush in appointing Dr. Rice. Like Harry Truman, George W. Bush is a politician, not a scholar. But like Truman, he has a spine of steel.
We are amazingly lucky to have the right combination of character and wisdom in place at a crucial turning point in our history. Let the Left sneer up a storm. This is world history in the making.