Protesters at the entrance. The Telegraph Ave. bumper sticker guy attended as well.
The following summary is based solely on notes I took at the event.
Commonwealth Club Speech and Q&A
Davies Symphony Hall
May 27, 2005
There was a high level of security outside of the event; one street next to Davies Hall was blocked off by police. There appeared to be about 40 to 60 protesters, though these protesters seemed especially dedicated; most were far more dedicated than the average Berkeley protester. No cameras were allowed inside the hall. Ushers collected written questions from the audience before and during Secretary Rice’s speech. She was introduced by Rose Guilbault, the Chairperson of the Commonwealth Club Board of Governors. Ms. Guilbault delivered a brief opening statement to the audience in the auditorium before they began recording the radio presentation. She reminded the audience that the Commonwealth Club is a non-partisan organization and requested that the speaker be allowed to give her speech without interruption. The broadcast introduction began shortly after, interrupted once by broadcast staff requesting Ms. Guilbault to begin again. In the introduction Rose Guilbault mentioned Secretary Rice’s 2000 Distinguished Citizen award, awarded by the Commonwealth Club of California. She also talked about Secretary Rice’s previous aspirations as a concert pianist, and her time at Stanford University as a professor and as one of Stanford’s “most effective Provost” in the university’s history. Rose Guilbault also outlined Secretary Rice’s previous government service as Special Assistant to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and as National Security Advisor. Forbes naming Condoleezza Rice as the “world’s most powerful woman” was the final distinction listed in the introduction before Condoleezza approached the podium to a standing ovation.
The following are notes from Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s Speech.
She joked that she had previously dreamed of playing Davies Symphony Hall as a pianist. Rice also joked that besides the weather she didn’t miss anything about California except for the culture, the wine, the people, the coast, PAC-10 sports and the bay [not necessarily in that order.]
Rice used San Francisco’s historic role in international politics to segue into a discussion of foreign policy, identifying two events that occurred in San Francisco:
· The signing of the United Nations charter 60 years ago.
· George Schultz outlining a vision of “democracy sweeping the world” that would later be call the “Reagan Doctrine.” Four years later the Berlin Wall fell.
The Soviet implosion changed the world fundamentally, and according to Rice it was glorious for some and for others it was shattering. Among the examples of nations that were shattered by the Soviet fall, Rice named Afghanistan. She went on to say that the events that occurred on 9/11 exposed the nature of this new world and “showed us our international interdependence.”
Bush set a new course after 9/11 of the “highest ideals” that Rice associated with the bold ambition of Roosevelt and Reagan. It was at this point that Secretary Rice came to what would be the theoretical foundation of her speech:
“The best hope for the security of the United States is the spread of freedom.”
It was also about at this point two people in the audience cloaked in black with pointed hoods stood on their chairs performing the “Abu Ghraib” pose. Rice continued speaking as a few audience members shouted for them to “sit down” and a rank of police officers filed down the aisle toward the protesters. The protesters did not resist their removal by police, though they began chanting as soon as police made physical contact with them:
“Stop the war! Stop the killing! U.S. out of Iraq!”
[update] C&L has a video clip from CNN of this protest.
Several audience members clapped when the protesters began chanting. As the first two were being led out a similar disturbance occurred on the other side of the hall, none of the protesters deviated from the scripted slogan:
“Stop the war! Stop the killing! U.S. out of Iraq!”
Moments after the second disturbance began the audience spontaneously gave a standing ovation to Rice until the protesters were removed, apparently to drown out their slogan. Protesters could be heard shouting the slogan intermittently throughout the speech in the lobby outside of the auditorium.
After underscoring her view that “freedom and democracy is the only answer for U.S. security” once again, Rice went on to speak about what seemed to be the featured administration policy of her appearance: the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA).
According to Rice, CAFTA is “a top priority” for the administration. CAFTA will promote freedom and help Latin American nations to “dig out” of an economically troubled past. Rice addressed the value of free trade generally; “[free trade policies] liberate the entrepreneurial spirit of society.” Ultimately free trade holds the promise of “democratic stability” to participating nation, which makes the U.S. safer.
A 2000 Bush administration initiative called the Millennium Challenge Act (MCA) was an additional policy that Rice described in her speech. She singled out Honduras and Nicaragua as two Latin American nations benefiting from the MCA, and Rice stated that the MCA is “helping the march of freedom in Africa” as well. According to Rice 18 African nations are eligible for MCA aid and Madagascar will be receiving $110 million in aid this year. In the last four years U.S. aid to Africa has tripled, but Rice pointed out that there are limitations to value of foreign aid to U.S. foreign policy: “aid cannot transform a nation.” The African Growth Opportunity Act (AGOA) is an additional African aid initiative named by Rice as a tool in encouraging economic growth and freedom. Rice measured the success of AGOA in terms of trade with the U.S. The countries benefiting from AGOA produced $26 billion in exports to the U.S. last year, 90% of the implementation of AGOA.
Asia was the third region Rice discussed. She believes that Asia is being positively transformed through global trade, and that pessimistic estimates of Asia’s political future were based on false assumptions. Rice stated that analogies between Europe in the early 20th century and Asia in the 21st century are not valid. “There is no reason that Europe’s past will equal Asia’s future.” Rice sees “openness” as the factor which makes Asia’s political prospects unique. She believes Asia is largely democratic, “with one very big exception,” that being China. [editorial note: Laos and Vietnam are not democratic; Burma is one of the worst regimes on the planet; if Cambodia is a democracy then I’ll take dictatorship; Singapore is a stable, city-state ruled by one party in a one-party system that does not tolerate political opposition. She must have meant East Asia, but China--the “very big exception”--governs one out of every three people on the planet and the vast majority of East Asia's population, and North Korea could not be any less democratic.] Rice anticipates that the leaders of China will realize that openness is politically necessary. Although China will shape Asia, “Asia will also shape China.”
In the closing remarks Rice again emphasized freedom. “We reject the premise of ‘imposing democracy’…because unlike tyranny, democracy need not be imposed.” People want freedom, and Rice named Afghanistan and Iraq as examples where the universal human desire for freedom can be observed. Rice quoted Thomas Jefferson in justifying her conviction that all humans have a right to freedom: “the God who gave us life, gave us liberty at the same time.” She followed that quote by pointing out that Jefferson was a slaveholder, but that the people of the U.S. have nonetheless been able to move forward through history closer to fulfilling the ideals of the Founders.
Finally, Rice linked the ideals of the Founders, the universal rights of all humankind and the present mission of the U.S. in foreign policy. “Freedom is a birthright, we proceed upon this assumption…Freedom is the greatest calling of our time.”
Secretary Rice answered fourteen questions during the Q&A. The following is a summary of the questions and highlights of her responses.
· The Bolton nomination
o Rice supports Bolton
o UN needs reform
· Vacant Ambassadorships
o Appointment process takes too long
o “We are working on it”
· King Fahd’s health and Saudi relations
o Great relationship with Crown Prince Abdullah
o Saudis aggressively seeking terrorists
o Administration expects further political reform
· Conflicts between freedom mission and national security
o Freedom and security inextricably linked
o Long-term there is no conflict
· The Millennium Challenge Act
o Basic description of MCA
· Progress in Iraq
o Standard articulation of the administration's current position with one interesting point on Iraqi progress: “to date they have not made any tragic compromises [in establishing the new government and constitution] like we made in 1789 that established my ancestors as 3/5 of a man.”
· The timeline for withdrawal from Iraq
o “Timeline for success” not a timeline for departure
o Gave self-sacrifice anecdote of “Sabrina,” a heroic Iraqi security force member who lost a limb protecting an official
· Human rights in Egypt and China
o Human rights for all their citizens without condition (Rice mentioned sexual orientation among the “without conditions”)
o U.S. concentrating on human rights in talks with Egypt, China
o Annual Human Rights reports
· The role of the Secretary of State in individual human rights cases
o “I do raise individual cases”
o Stanford Professor being held in China
o Cases are important
· France, Great Britain and the EU Constitution
o U.S. favors strong, united EU
o Rice was cautious; did not want to be “perceived as trying to influence the elections”
· Immigration, Enforcement, Mexico and Minutemen
o Immigration policy needs reform
o U.S. must enforce the border
o Enforcement is the job of the U.S. government alone
o Must recognize economic realities
o Policies must be humane
o Temporary worker policy
o “Smart Border Initiative”
· The Non-Proliferation Treaty
o Reprocessing and enrichment capabilities must not be widespread
o Proliferation Security Initiative
o Must secure materials and resources
o AQ Kahn network shut down
o Some violators may need to be brought to international community for judgment
· What to do in the case of a nuclear Iran
o “Enormously dangerous if it happens”
o Iran is the largest state sponsor of terrorism
o “We will do everything we can to prevent a nuclear Iranian state”
· What Secretary Rice would like to have as her legacy
o Democratic Middle East