Developed countries pay a price when they allow tensions to fester in distressed regions such as the Middle East or Mexico, former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said March 3, 2011, at Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, Arizona.
“Do not allow failed and failing states to remain failing states,” she said. “Failed and failing states have to be helped to heal.”
Rice spoke at Thunderbird to about 600 faculty, staff and students at the invitation of former Thunderbird Trustee Barbara Barrett, who served under Rice as U.S. Ambassador to Finland.
Rice said many viewed China as the biggest national security threat to the United States in 2001, when a U.S. spy plane collided with a Chinese fighter jet over the South China Sea. But she said war with China or any other military power was never a likely outcome.
The costliest attack in 2001 came instead from a terrorist organization embedded in the failing state of Afghanistan. Rice said failing states often breed terrorism and other problems such as arms dealing, human trafficking and drug trading.
Nearly 10 years after the attacks on Sept. 11, 2011, she said national security threats persist in the world’s most unstable regions. She pointed to recent uprisings in Libya, Iran and other Middle Eastern countries, along with escalating drug violence in Mexico.
“The northern border of Mexico is beginning to resemble a failing state,” Rice said. “If we do not heed the call of the Mexican government to help, we will pay the price.”
She said one way nongovernmental organizations and businesses can help in distressed regions is through education programs such as Project Artemis, a Thunderbird initiative that brings Afghan women entrepreneurs to Glendale, Arizona, for two weeks of intensive business training.
“Nothing can help more in the agenda for a more prosperous and peaceful world than to empower women,” Rice said. “Thank you for what Project Artemis is doing.”
While the United States and other developed countries must remain vigilant regarding external threats, Rice said they also must guard against internal threats to democracy. Among other things, she said this means fostering private sector growth and entrepreneurial spirit.
Rice said businesses drive creativity, innovation and healthy risk-taking in society, which leads to jobs and economic stability. “The government is a lot of things,” she said. “But creative, innovative and risk-taking — not so much.”
Rice, who served as Secretary of State from 2005 to 2009, is currently a professor of political economy in the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University. She also is the Thomas and Barbara Stephenson Senior Fellow on Public Policy at the Hoover Institution and a political science professor at Stanford.
Her Thunderbird presentation was part of the school’s Global Issues Forum series, which brings business and political leaders to campus throughout the academic year.