Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told a Jackson, Miss. crowd last night about the importance of America's role in spreading democracy globally in a speech that frequently, if not explicitly, advocated and defended Bush-era foreign policy. "The American spirit will lead the world," the moderate-conservative Republican said in ending her speech, which drew a standing ovation. "In its absence, the world would be a much, much worse place....If we're OK, everyone else will be OK, too."
Ms. Rice, whose speech was part of Union University's scholarship banquet, also got applause from the sold-out crowd for urging less federal involvement in the American economy, saying it should be driven by the much more "innovative" and "creative" private sector. The Obama administration has used massive federal spending to try and stimulate the American economy out of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. But she also lauded President Barack Obama's election as another astonishing step away from the turbulent and trying parts of the civil rights movement she saw in her early life in Alabama, noting that she was not the first black secretary of state. That was her predecessor, Colin Powell.
She referenced the civil rights movement in pushing patience with developing democracies such as Afghanistan. She described news that Afghan President Hamid Karzai has agreed to a runoff after an election marred by security troubles and charges of fraud as encouraging. "Democracy takes time," she said. Afghanistan's success is key, Ms. Rice said. She said the lesson taught by the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks was that problems caused by failed states now produce more dangerous threats to America's national security than those posed by successful, stable countries.