As previously advertised, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice showed up at Brigham Young University in Provo to deliver a speech in front of 18,000 people and participate in a forum co-sponsored by the Wheatley Institution and the David M. Kennedy Center. As expected, Rice defended the Bush Administration's robust foreign policy in the Middle East. KSL news video embedded below:
Rice defended America's continued involvement in Afghanistan by explaining that the United States has a job to help wounded states heal not just because democracy is morally right, but also because it's practical for the health of a global community. She believes that if people don't have a democratic alternative, they will inevitably resort to violence. Furthermore, she sets no time constraints on how long we must remain in Afghanistan nor effectively defines when Afghanistan will be considered sufficiently "pacified".
Meanwhile, while we continue to obsess with the Middle East, the situation on our southern border continues to unravel.
A Deseret News story provides even more details. Condoleezza Rice also criticized America's education system, claiming that our greatest national security threat just might be the disastrous state of our K-12 education system. Rice thinks there is too much self-esteem and not enough self-empowerment. She also thinks good teaching must be broad enough to include the arts, adding that things like music and drama provide life-long skills and create well-rounded students. Unfortunately, the primary teaching initiative in the Bush Administration, No Child Left Behind, has been characterized as sacrificing teaching for testing; in addition, many Federal mandates have forced school districts to hire extra administrators to cope with the bureaucratic workload. The Provo Daily Herald also picked up on the education theme. BYU Universe published both a story about Rice's speech and a story about the protestors.
Utah blogger Frank Staheli was also in attendance and provided a detailed account. He noted that, in deference to her hosts, Rice praised LDS culture because family is at its core. Katie also posted her observations HERE.
As they promised, 15 protestors organized by the Mormon Workers Collective showed up. No arrests or breaches of the peace resulted. The group's leader, William Van Wagenen, explained they were demonstrating against her policies, which they said led to an immoral and illegal war with Iraq. This is fine, but here's what sticks in my craw. Van Wagenen also "Iraq posed no threat to us, and so we feel like her war was criminal". KTVX Channel 4 reports that Van Wagenen also said “Condoleezza Rice typically gets paid $150,000 per speaking engagement, but it is going to be coming from tithing money. We don’t feel like it is good to use that money for someone who advocates torture and war, and is literally responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands of innocent people”. He provided no proof or paper trail showing that her fee came specifically from tithing funds, though.
In essence, Van Wagenen considers Rice to be a "war criminal", which crosses the line of propriety, decency, and sanity. While I also believe the United States should stop endlessly spending its strength and means warring in foreign lands, I will not countenance the idea that a former Secretary of State could be a "war criminal". Those of us on the right who prefer an "America First" policy cannot make common cause with those on the left who oppose American imperialism if they continue to refer to our officials as "war criminals" and question America's legitimacy as a nation, such as Van Wagenen does on the Mormon Worker website. Besides, Condoleezza Rice is a classy lady who defies the negative stereotypes about the Black community; with her brainpower, it's highly doubtful she became Secretary of State through affirmative action. Contrast her example to that of the present Secretary of State:
Fortunately, Hillary Clinton was neither injured nor did she require any medical treatment. Some of the comments posted at the YouTube site are somewhat less than sympathetic.
By the way, there appears to be a grass-roots effort to get Condoleezza Rice to run for President in 2012. A person commenting to my previous post reported the existence of a Rice for President Yahoo Group. Undoubtedly, Condoleezza Rice possesses imposing foreign policy qualifications, but she's probably too neocon to attract much support. The Tea Party will demand OVERT representation in a 2012 Republican Presidential ticket. This means a Romney-Palin ticket remains the most promising choice.