Condoleezza Rice tells students the importance of history

16 March 2006

U.S. Secretary of State Dr Condoleezza Rice has urged Australian university students to remember the lessons of history and to think about how they can help spread democracy.

U.S Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice accepts a gift from Vice-Chancellor Professor Gavin Brown
U.S Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice accepts a gift from Vice-Chancellor Professor Gavin Brown

Speaking this afternoon at the University of Sydney to an audience of more than 300 students from different universities across the state, Dr Rice said it was important to step back and look at the great sweep of world events.

“Growing up in Birmingham, Alabama with segregated schools, the KKK and white supremacists, it was hard for me to believe in democracy. But in my life the situation in Alabama and the USA has been transformed.” she said.

“Fifty years after the second world war in Europe, it is almost impossible to imagine there could be war between France and Germany.

“Similarly, I hope that in 50 years time people will also find it difficult to imagine there could have been war in the Middle East,” she said.

In a wide ranging address on foreign policy, Dr Rice demonstrated her skills as a consummate politician as she moved easily across a series of issues and took questions from the students for nearly an hour.

She canvassed Australian American relations, “an alliance of people who are rugged individuals”,  the emerging power and influence of China as a positive development but “we differ on human rights and their military build-up”,  the urgent need for democracy in Russia, “I don’t want to give up on them”; and inevitably the war on terrorism, “the war we have been thrust into”.

But it was the US invasion of Iraq which drew protests from several of the audience who interrupted Dr Rice’s comments.

“I am glad democracy is alive and well at the university, just as it is also alive and well at the University of Kabul and at the university of Baghdad,” she responded.

Returning to her theme, Dr Rice said it was too early to judge success in Iraq, but “I am confident history will demonstrate that it was the right decision.”

Condoleezza Rice chose the University of Sydney's Conservatorium of Music as the venue for today’s meeting with students because she was keen to hear the views of young people.

“I urge you to think about where democracy might spread, and the world you want to see and how you might make it a reality.”


Contact: Andrew Potter

Phone: 02 9351 4514, 0414 998 521

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