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Remarks With Aspen Institute President and CEO Walter Isaacson

Secretary Condoleezza Rice
Aspen, Colorado
August 2, 2008

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PRESIDENT FLETCHER: Good afternoon. I'm Alan Fletcher. I'm President and CEO of the Aspen Music Festival and school. It is my great pleasure and honor to welcome you to 2008's Words and Music collaboration with the Aspen Institute.

When we at the Music Festival and School first heard that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was to come to the Institute, we immediately reflected on the fact that she is an alumna of the Aspen Music Festival and School. As a teenager, she came to us as a piano student, and spent a wonderful summer here. And it occurred to us that this would be a rare opportunity.

The Words and Music collaboration has been going on for a couple of years now. It was established by our good friend Tom Friedman, in order to bring together programs of the Institute and the Music Festival and School. But I think, arguably, we have never had a more completely tied together program than to have the same person be the words and the music. And it's a great opportunity, I think, because whereas we know at the Music Festival and School, that some of our students will go on to be the Sarah Changs and Joshua Bells of the future, we also know that many of them will go on to distinguished careers as lawyers and bankers and doctors. And some of them, therefore, will be the Condoleezza Rice or the Madeleine Albright of the future, and we are proud of every single one of them.

I would like to say just a few words about our work together with the Institute. We are so grateful to Walter Isaacson and to his entire staff for their visionary leadership of the Institute.

We also know at the Music School that we could not accomplish the things we accomplish without the support of this great city of Aspen, and the great people of Aspen. And we know that Aspen would not be what it is without the inspiration of the Aspen idea, body, mind and spirit, and that that idea would not exist without the richness of both athletic life, and the ski (inaudible). And the anchor of the life of the mind in Aspen is and has always been the Aspen Institute. So we are very proud to think of ourselves as the Institute's sibling and partner.

Before I make the - my introduction, which is my real reason for being here today, I'd like to mention that Secretary Rice and her colleagues, who are students at the Aspen Music Festival and School, have changed the order of the program. So after the conversation between Secretary Rice and Walter Isaacson, there will be the briefest of pauses while we reset the stage. Then there will be some music from students of the festival while Secretary Rice prepares, and then she will come out. But she will play first a selection from the Brahms piano quintet in F-minor, Brahms first, and then a selection from the Dvorak piano quintet in A-major. Brahms first, Dvorak second. They're making this change because they can, so - (Laughter.)

Now, it is an especially great pleasure for me to introduce to you one of the great thinkers of our time on issues of diplomacy, policy, and society; a member of the board of the Aspen Institute, and one of our great friends of music and Aspen, Madeleine Albright.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much, Alan.

There is no place I'd rather be in August than Aspen, except perhaps - (applause) - except, perhaps, the Arctic, which is where I just visited. I can report that the scenery in the Arctic is spectacular, and not all the ice has yet melted. And I was completely beyond the reach of cell phones, blackberries and cable news. What struck me most was the food chain. It seems that everything there is always hunting something, which I took both as a lesson about life, and a warning to watch where I stepped.

The Arctic is unique, but so is Aspen. Up north, there are polar bears. Here, there are fun-seekers of a different sort. People who share ideas, cherish the arts, and actually enjoy thinking. And there is no better master of ceremonies for such an event than Walter Isaacson, who is without peer as an expert on world affairs, and beyond challenge as an arbiter of culture. He is the Benjamin Franklin of our time, except with somewhat more hair and much less credibility when it comes to early to bed, early to rise.

Walter's partner today and our guest of honor is ideally cast for an occasion that celebrates both the joyous discipline of music, and the art of diplomacy. I think it's safe to say that our charismatic Secretary of State plays the piano better than any other foreign minister, and that she is a far better foreign minister than any other pianist. (Applause.)

That is, however, the least we can say. The truth is that when Secretary Rice assumed her current position, she said that the time for diplomacy is now. And she has been true to her word. In Iraq and the Middle East, in North Korea and Europe, we see a renewed emphasis on dialogue and on the energetic pursuit of agreements designed to safeguard our national security. Whether the issue is nuclear nonproliferation or the defeat of terrorism, Secretary Rice works every day on our behalf. We pray for her success, and we're delighted that she has found time to be with us this afternoon.

On a personal note, I can tell you that the last time I shared a podium with Secretary Rice was this past April in a ceremony at the State Department, where my official portrait was unveiled. That was definitely a first. It may have taken more than 200 years, but since the millennium began, fully two-thirds of American Secretaries of State have been women. (Applause.)

And then I have a very, very personal connection with Secretary Rice. My father, Joseph Korbel, was the Dean of the Graduate School of International Studies. And he died in 1977, and there were many tributes. And among them was a wonderful ceramic pot in the shape of a piano, with flowers and leaves. And I asked my mother, "Who sent this?" And she said, "It's your father's favorite student, Condoleezza Rice."

It is a real accident of history that Condoleezza Rice, who went to the University of Denver as a music major, took international relations from my father and became an international relations and Soviet expert. She did her master's at Notre Dame and was working on her Ph. D. with my father when he died. She wrote about the role of the Czechoslovak military and the Soviet Union.

In 1987, when I was collecting advisors for Michael Dukakis, I thought, "I'll call her." A Soviet expert, a woman, teaches on the West Coast, so I got on the phone and I said, "Condi, how would you like to be an advisor to Michael Dukakis?" And she said, "Madeleine, I don't know how to tell you this, but I'm a Republican." (Laughter.) And I said, "Condi, how could you be? We had the same father." (Laughter.)

I think what is remarkable is that a Czechoslovak émigré taught two Secretaries of State, and I am delighted that Condoleezza Rice is my sister. Condi and Walter, welcome. (Applause.)

PRESIDENT ISAACSON: Madame Secretary, welcome back to Aspen.


PRESIDENT ISAACSON: Tell us about the first time you came at age 17.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, the first time that I came at age 17, I was an aspiring piano major. I had studied piano from the time that I was three and a half. You see, my grandmother taught piano, and I stayed at her house while my parents worked. And so I could read music before I could read. And I was absolutely certain that I was going to end up playing at Carnegie Hall. I studied hard, I worked hard, and then I was accepted here to come to the Festival, one of the workshops here at the Festival. And after listening to some of the 11 and 12 year olds play, who could play from sight everything it had taken me all year to learn, I thought, "you know, you're going to end up playing at Nordstrom or a piano bar, but not Carnegie Hall." (Laughter.)

And I have to admit, I went back. I had a conversation with my parents that went something like the following: "I'm changing my major." "To what are you changing your major?" "I don't know." "You're going to end up a waitress at Howard Johnson's." "I'd rather be a waitress at Howard Johnson's than try and teach piano." And so thank goodness I wandered into a class in international politics taught by Joseph Korbel. And I found my passion.

But I have to say that when I drove into the school yesterday to practice with the wonderful young musicians with whom I'm going to play a little bit later, it all flashed back to me. I was 17 again. (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT ISAACSON: And you had some connections to the Aspen Strategy Group, too. So you've been on both sides of this.

SECRETARY RICE: Yes. In fact, I was a member of the Aspen Strategy Group in the 80's. I was invited to join by Brent Scowcroft, who at the time was one of the chairs of the Strategy Group, with people like Sam Nunn. And what was great about it was it really was, and still is a great bipartisan forum, in which people can share serious ideas, have serious discussions. Brent was someone who was a real mentor to me - still is, in many ways. And the Strategy Group sessions were always tremendously stimulating and interesting. It was also very nice then to spend the afternoon doing something nice in Aspen.

PRESIDENT ISAACSON: Well Brent and Sam Nunn are back tomorrow morning to start off the Strategy Group. In fact, the topic they're taking on are institutions. You know, you look back - in the 1940's, they created a whole array of institutions when they faced a new global struggle. What the Strategy Group is going to look at this week is, what new institution should we have, now that we're faced with a new struggle?

As you reflect on being Secretary of State, what institutions, when you go back to Stanford University and have a white board and you can just add a (inaudible), what would you invent?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I don't know that we are going to create again the kind of grand international institutions that characterized the end of World War II. It's a very different time and a very different distribution of power.

I do think that some of the institutions - we may underestimate the degree to some - the degree to which some of them have been reformed and transformed. And I would just cite two. NATO, which, of course, was the great institution created at the end of the 1940's, 1949. NATO - when the Cold War ended and the Soviet Union collapsed, I remember very much the conversations as to whether or not NATO was needed any longer. After all, the Warsaw Pact was gone, its work was done. It had the stand-off against the Soviet Union and managed to defeat - helped to defeat communism.

But instead of going out of business, NATO re-found or found again it's key missions of not really dealing with the security threat from the east in the same way, but the mission that had been there, to provide an umbrella under which democratic states would find peace with each other, became extremely important again as Eastern Europe emerged from the tyranny of the Soviet Union. And so now it's an extraordinary fact that of the 26 + 2 - there are two states that will soon become members of NATO - 12 - 12 - were captive nations.


SECRETARY RICE: And so this is an organization - now, when you sit at the table with Estonia and Poland the Czech Republic, or you go to the NATO-Russia Council and sit with the Russians, you realize that NATO has tremendously transformed itself. And of course, it's ironic that NATO never fired a shot during the Cold War, but it now is in Afghanistan, of all places. We've put aside all of these arguments about out-of-area that we used to have about NATO, and it's most important mission is in Afghanistan. So some of these institutions are transforming.

I also think, Walter, there's room for regional institutions to emerge and strengthen. The United States has been very supportive of the efforts of the African Union to become more capable. The President appointed the first U.S. Ambassador to the African Union. We believe that the Organization of American States can be more capable. These regional institutions -- like the Gulf Cooperation Council, where we now meet with the Gulf Cooperation Council plus Jordan, Egypt and Iraq, to deal with matters in the Middle East.

There are some very important regional institutions -

PRESIDENT ISAACSON: Would you like to have a NATO for the Middle East?

SECRETARY RICE: I don't think that a - I don't think you'll get an Article 5 kind of commitment. But in effect -

PRESIDENT ISAACSON: Meaning a mutual defense?

SECRETARY RICE: Mutual defense treaty. But in effect, the increasing cooperation and coordination on security matters, on political matters, means that you do have habits of cooperation, I think, that are emerging there.

The one place that still has relatively weak institutions is Asia.


SECRETARY RICE: Some of them, like the Asia Pacific Economic Council, very strong, but not all of the states of Asia are in it. We have found that the Six-Party Talks that we are engaged with Russia, China, Japan, South Korea and North Korea - when you think about it, the North Korean nuclear issue could have been a source of conflict. It's become a reason for cooperation among the states. And there is an anticipation or an expectation that the parties will, at an appropriate time, create a northeast Asia peace and security mechanism.

PRESIDENT ISAACSON: Yeah, that's interesting.

SECRETARY RICE: So institutions are emerging. I don't know that you're going to have the kind of grand re-design that we saw at the end of World War II.

PRESIDENT ISAACSON: What about a civilian response corps? Something where people who want to get involved in helping America around the world could do so?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, that's the kind of institutional change that is very important. I don't think it's a great secret that we have had a rather ad-hoc approach to the fact that increasingly, when you're in a conflict area, it's not war and peace. It's a continuum. If you're in Afghanistan or in Iraq, or even when you were in the Balkans in the 90's, very often you were trying to make peace at the same time - with military forces - that you were trying to rebuild and reconstruct states. And we've learned that we have to work much more closely with our military colleagues. But they can't have the primary responsibility for building civilian institutions, for training police forces, justice system, city planning -


SECRETARY RICE: Stock market. They - we really need civilian capacity to do that. And we will never be able to have, in the State Department - or, for that matter, in the U.S. Government - all of the skill sets that are needed for post-conflict environments. And so the President, in the State of the Union a couple years ago, announced the creation of the Civilian Response Corps. We've just - just put it into place. It is - it has three parts. One is a kind of active reserve. These are people - or active corps. These are people in the government who, within 24, 48 hours, can go to Haiti or hopefully Sudan, one day, to help with rebuilding.

There's a larger group of people in the government who are a sort of standby corps, who could get there within a few weeks. And then there will be an appeal to the citizenry as a whole. If you are a prosecutor in, let's say, Arizona, and you'd like to take a year and train and give time to go and help with rule of law issues in Afghanistan or in Liberia or Haiti, then you could be mobilized, in a sense, or mobilized from the reserve, the civilian reserve. These people would train together. It would look a lot like the way that the reserve and guard work on the military (inaudible).

PRESIDENT ISAACSON: And maybe even, occasionally, like the Guard, it could help after a Katrina or something to get institutions back up.

SECRETARY RICE: Absolutely. Absolutely.

PRESIDENT ISAACSON: What about a league of democracies?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, Madeleine and her colleagues started the Community of Democracies, which is still in place. And there is probably more that we could do.

I, myself, understand the impulse and the attractiveness of having a strong set of democracies that can act in the common interest. It very often happens anyway. It will not supplant the Security Council. And we have to simply understand that. First of all, because you do have to find a way to incent Russia and China to cooperate. Whether it is Sudan, or - we were less successful with Zimbabwe. We've been relatively successful on Iran. We've been very successful on North Korea. You have to have the other permanent five states cooperate.

Secondly, I think it would be a mistake to assume that the - the immediate or tactical interests of democratic states are always identical. It is true that strategically, we all share the same goals and we all want to see the spread of democracy. But it is not true that we always see the tactics for doing that the same way. So I think there are limitations on what you can do through a league of democracies.

PRESIDENT ISAACSON: Speaking of China and Russia helping us with the six-nation talks on Iran, this weekend is sort of the deadline for when you sent Bill Burns over, with the other nations, to talk with Iran about freezing their nuclear capabilities. They haven't quite answered. What's the next step?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I think it's charitable to say they haven't quite answered. (Laughter.) I think that their - their response at Geneva was unfortunate. And I think that Iran will - we will see. We will see what the - whether they can give a clear answer. And just so everyone knows exactly what we're talking about, the Iranians are reprocessing - enriching and reprocessing uranium. This is a dangerous technology that can be used for civil-nuclear power, but it can also be used for a nuclear weapon. The world has gotten together and told Iran it needs to stop enrichment and reprocessing.

This is not a question of their right to civil-nuclear power. We are prepared, through the Russians and others, to provide civil-nuclear power for Iran. The problem is they need to stop the development of the technology that can lead to a nuclear weapon.

Now, last weekend -- they had been given back in June a very, very generous package about civil-nuclear cooperation, about trade and economic incentives, about political dialogue. And they were asked to answer. For almost two months, we heard nothing. Then they said they were ready. They needed to come and say, we are prepared to freeze our programs where they are now, if you will freeze your sanctions. And then, for six weeks, we can create a framework for negotiations so that we can deal with the issue of enrichment and reprocessing.

This was already generous on the part of the six parties. We've been at this since May of 2006; the Europeans, long before that. The Iranians did not give a clear answer. If they don't give a clear answer, then I think we will have no choice but to begin again to prepare sanctions resolutions for the Security Council. Now, given the calendar of August and then the General Assembly, I don't think this is something that we can expect in the next few weeks, an actual resolution. But we will begin working with out partners on the Security Council Resolution.

PRESIDENT ISAACSON: Do you expect an answer from Iran in the next few days?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, it would be nice. You know, if you're asked a question, at some point you have to give an answer.

PRESIDENT ISAACSON: You know, the Israelis have talked about running out of patience, and the Deputy Prime Minister was in Washington saying, this is - may need to be settled in a military way. There may be a military strike. Are we in close consultation with Israel on that issue of a military strike?

SECRETARY RICE: We are not - we don't either plan or say yes or no to Israeli operations. And to be very well understood, Israel is a sovereign state. But what we are in very close consultation about, very, very close, is our view that this can be resolved diplomatically, and that that is the best course for all kinds of reasons. It is the best course.

The President doesn't take his options off the table, and you don't want the American President to do that. But this President, President Bush, is absolutely committed to a diplomatic course. We believe that through strong diplomacy that has both incentives and disincentives for Iran, that we can convince reasonable - I didn't say reformists, I didn't say moderates, I didn't say liberals - just reasonable people in Iran that the kind of isolation that they are enduring, isolation that is affecting their economy, isolation that is making it very difficult for them to use the financial system, because we have - the United States has designated a number of their banks. And when we designate a bank, it makes it difficult for anyone, worldwide, to do business with that bank. We have Security Council resolutions.

Iran is isolated. And I would hope that there are reasonable people who don't want to live that way.

PRESIDENT ISAACSON: And from what I heard, you were pretty strong in just now saying that the President is committed to a diplomatic solution, rather than exercise - letting Israel or consulting with Israel to exercise a military option now.

SECRETARY RICE: Well the President, on behalf of the United States, keeps our options on the table. But what we are consulting, and not just with Israel. We're consulting with the Gulf states, and states in the Middle East which are very worried about Iranian aggression. And one of the real unintended consequences or a downside of Iran's nuclear pursuit would be to see other states in the Middle East pursing nuclear weapons as well, or at least the technologies to give themselves an option.

So we're in very close contact. But the President believes this has a diplomatic solution.

PRESIDENT ISAACSON: And just from what you said about other states in the region, the most obvious state in the region is Syria, (inaudible). But President Assad is there today, saying he wants to talk Iran out of nuclear weapons. Could it be in Syria's interests to push Iran back, and maybe get a broader peace?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I would hope that it would be in Syria's interest. It is unclear to me whether Syria has made a strategic choice one way or another. We know that Syria has extremely close relationships with Iran, a strategic relationship with Iran. But Syria, from time to time, also tries to make certain that it is not isolated from the Arab world. And clearly, the quickening pace or the intensifying pace of peace negotiations in the region, including the opening of a track between is real and Syria, may give Syria some incentive to think differently about its options in the Middle East.

PRESIDENT ISAACSON: That would be an amazing transformation if they broke up.

SECRETARY RICE: It would be. It would be. We'll see.

PRESIDENT ISAACSON: But do you think there's a possibility of an Israeli-Syrian peace soon?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, it's - it's not easy. None of these undone peace deals are easy. I often say that if people had been able to solve it, they would have done it by now, you know. These are hard.

But we believe that this is going to have to be a comprehensive peace, ultimately. It's why Syria was invited to Annapolis. But I - the state of relations - the state of negotiations, I don't know. We stay in close contact with the Turks, with the Israelis. I hope it works.

PRESIDENT ISAACSON: And the other great negotiations, between the Palestinians and the Israelis. You spoke of Annapolis. You said you hope to have a framework by the end of the year - we're about halfway there. What are the remaining hurdles, and how do you see the possibilities?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, if you remember, Walter, the - Annapolis had three tracks. One was Roadmap implementation. The parties undertook, in 2003, a number of obligations to try and move the process forward, kind of on-the-ground obligations. And so, for instance, the Palestinians said that they would dismantle the infrastructure of terror. The Israelis made some representations about dismantling outposts.

It's a slog, to be quite frank.

PRESIDENT ISAACSON: Is that a diplomatic term?

SECRETARY RICE: Yeah, that's a diplomatic term. (Laughter.) And we keep working and working on that track.

The second track is the one that you know well. And let me right here stop to thank you and the Aspen Institute which, through its Middle East Strategy Group, really launched some very good programs for the Palestinians, including a loan guarantee program with OPEC. I see Senator Feinstein down there, who was really very important in spearheading this in the Congress. And Jane Harmon, Congresswoman Harman there.

Aspen has made an impact. I see Bill down there, Bill Mayer, down there.

It's - the other thing, though, of course, Walter, you have spearheaded for us a public-private partnership for the Palestinians, to try to help them improve their economic conditions, because you really do want to have better conditions on the ground. And so the Bethlehem Conference, the projects that you are spearheading with a number of corporate sponsors, to do everything from community centers for Palestinian children so that they have a place to go at night instead of a radical madrasa, up through investment in housing or investment in the Palestinian economy; these are very important programs.

The third track is the political track. And I still believe they've got a chance to get an agreement. It's obviously complicated. But there hasn't been an uncomplicated time in the Middle East, ever. And so while it's difficult, you just have to keep pressing. The parties - I had five hours with them on Wednesday, first with - well, I guess with the Palestinians the night before, then with the Israelis, then with them together. They're negotiating seriously. And they are negotiating intensely. I cannot tell you that they are close to an agreement, but they are working at it very hard. They're trying to do it out of the glare of the media. It's sometimes forgotten that the most successful negotiation that the Palestinians and the Israelis ever had was Oslo, and nobody even knew, in 1993, that they were negotiating. Because the minute that somebody has to talk about a partial agreement, they're exposed politically at home. If they can wait until something is broad enough to cover everybody's interests, they'll be better off. So the absence of public movement is not necessarily evidence of the absence of movement.

PRESIDENT ISAACSON: Well, that's good to hear.

The process and decision making leading up to the invasion of Iraq had, in retrospect, many problems, including the post-war planning problems and the amount of troop problems, and just the way the whole decision itself was made. Looking back on it, what would you change or reform in the decision making process?

SECRETARY RICE: Look, it was a very extensive decision making process that went on for a very, very long time. And I - I just have to tell you. The one thing - I'm not usually given to much of a fit of temper, you know that. But the one thing that does get under my skin is the notion that we somehow just wanted to go to war. Nobody wanted to go to war. Nobody wants to go to war. The efforts to deal with Saddam Hussein in other ways went back through the Clinton Administration and, in fact, through the - through President Bush 41's Administration. And we tried a lot of other things before deciding to go to war.

That said, the process that lead to the military operation to overthrow Saddam Hussein, I think, was successful. What was harder was recognizing, first of all, how incredibly broken Iraq was as a society. We had an assumption, for instance, that you could take the top layers off the civil bureaucracy, and you would still have civilians there who could run the Ministry of Oil, or run the Ministry of Finance. And I personally remember standing in my office and saying, "Where are the oil workers?" It just completely evaporated, because these were very, very weak institutions.

Secondarily, I do not think that we had the right structures, the right institution for this. Frankly, in the Balkans, we had tried civilian reconstruction through the UN. Didn't work as well as it might have. In Afghanistan, it was adopt-a-ministry. The Germans got one ministry, the Italians got another minister. And while it was good for buy-in, for the international community, frankly, we're still living with some of the incoherence of that effort.

Then, in Iraq, we tried giving it to a single department - the Defense Department, because you wanted unity of command. And they really weren't capable of doing it. And it really speaks to where we started on the Civilian Response Corps. We need a permanent institution that knows how to do this, and how to do it in conflict circumstances.

Finally, I think we were not attentive enough to the possibility that there was too much emphasis on Baghdad, and not enough emphasis on the provinces. One thing that has really improved both the security situation, the political - and the political situation, as well as the economic situation, is the creation of these Provincial Reconstruction Teams, which are Foreign Service Officers with - embedded with military officers, USAID embedded right alongside them. They're out in the provinces. They're doing governance programs. They're doing economic development programs. And they're giving a stake to the provincial and local leaders who are able to work closer to the people. If I had anything to do over again, I would start there, and less in Baghdad.

PRESIDENT ISAACSON: Do you have comment on the intelligence reports of Pakistani intelligence agencies cooperating with Taliban militias in Afghanistan?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, I'm not going to comment on the intelligence reports. Let me just say that, obviously, the situation on that border and in the region - it's called the FATA, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas - has got to improve. It has got to improve and it's got improve quickly. It has become a region where efforts to forge peace agreements with the militants, I think, are frankly not working. And instead, the militants are finding a place that they can train and equip.

And by the way, they're not just a danger to Afghanistan. They are a tremendous danger to Pakistan. The Baitullah Mehsud organization, which is widely understood to have been behind the assassination of Benazir Bhutto, is believed to operate there. So it's extremely important that Pakistan do something about that. It's going to take all elements of Pakistan's power, national power, as well as some of ours, to improve that situation. But it's a dangerous situation.

PRESIDENT ISAACSON: Do you see global warming as a national security threat?

SECRETARY RICE: I certainly see global warming as a threat and a threat to our well-being in the future and yes, in that sense, a national security threat.

I think that we recognize that it has a strong human element, but then the question becomes, what do you do about it once you've said that? And the piece that I think has become more important and, perhaps, we're finally getting some traction over the last year or so, but you could really see it at the G-8 this year in Japan, is that there is a strong recognition that if China and India are not a part of a framework agreement, nothing that the developed world does to lower or reverse greenhouse gas emissions is going to matter. Because China and India, with their rapid growth, with their rapid growth with dirty sources of energy, principally coal and other hydrocarbons based sources, is really a problem.

PRESIDENT ISAACSON: But is that diplomatic and foreign policy issue that you now must raise with India and China?

SECRETARY RICE: Oh, and we have repeatedly. And in fact, the Chinese and the Indians, I think, want to do the right thing. But, you know, when you talk to the Chinese, for instance, they have to create something like 25 million jobs a year in order just to keep pace with their population. They are not going to take down their levels of growth in order to address the problems of the environment. And so you have to find a formula by which they can continue to grow and protect the environment and can find reliable sources of energy. And so the President has promoted a clean technology fund that would make new technologies available to developing societies so that they don't have to go through the same energy intensive, carbon intensive development in the economy that we have.

PRESIDENT ISAACSON: Before I turn to the audience and get some questions, let me ask a very important question that might relate to a job that I know you may want to have in the future. What would you do with the Brett Favre - Green Bay Packers situation? (Laughter.)

SECRETARY RICE: Oh, I'll tell you. It may be dangerous to talk about Iran; it's even more dangerous to give advice to the Packers on this one.

Brett Favre is a great, great player. And I hope if he wants to find a way to play, that he'll find a way to play.

PRESIDENT ISAACSON: It'd be good for the fans.

SECRETARY RICE: It would be. But I'm not touching that one. (Laughter.)

PRESIDENT ISAACSON: Should we go back to Iran, the easy questions? (Laughter.) Is there anybody who wants - questions, please.

Yes, sir. In the middle, back there.

QUESTION: Thank you. My name is (inaudible). I come from Bangladesh and I work for an international institute for environment and development based in the UK, where I head the climate change program.

Secretary, I'd like to ask you to elaborate a little bit about the statement you made about India and China being part of the framework, because it's a bit confusing to me. The UN Framework on Climate Change, the U.S., India, China, are all members of. The Kyoto Protocol, China and India have signed up, and now with Australia signing up, too, the U.S. is the only country that hasn't signed up to. Everybody else has signed up to it - over 180 countries. So in that sense, it's the U.S. that is the rogue nation in this.

PRESIDENT ISAACSON: All right. Secretary?

SECRETARY RICE: Yeah. Yeah. Well, first of all - (applause) - let's remember that China and India were not originally in the Kyoto Protocol. In fact, the Kyoto Protocol set aside India and China to another stage. It is really only through the Bali framework negotiations that China and India have been brought in. And there is still, frankly, an underlying disagreement as to what it means for having China and India having been brought in. Because as you well know, China and India that - we have a formula which talks about common responsibility but differentiated response. You will recognize that formula.

Now, for the developed world, the common responsibility tends to be the emphasis. And for the Chinese, the Indians and others, the differentiated response tends to be the emphasis. So I don't think this is just a done deal, just yet. I know that at the 11th hour in Bali, this thing almost blew apart. And it was the United States that stepped back and said, all right, we can accept this formula, that saved that framework agreement.

So I think we have to be more precise, if you don't mind my saying so, about what China and India really are signed on to.

Now, I believe that the way that they will do this is that the differentiated response will mean not that they get softer goals or that they get more time to deal with the problem, but that perhaps they get access to technology more quickly than they might otherwise do it if it were simply left to the market. That's one way to deal with differentiated response.

Another reason for differentiated response is that countries are simply different. One of the big energy demands for the United States - you can go right out here on 70 or 225 or 25 and you'll see it. The United States is overwhelmingly dependent on its trucking industry for interstate commerce. This is a huge country that depends heavily on its roads and therefore, unfortunately, on hydrocarbons. And so finding a way to deal with that problem - you're not going to deal with that problem through either wind or solar, obviously.

And so we have a real challenge ahead of us. And I don't think that there are any rogue nations in this. I think what you have is that nations are trying to find a way to balance economic growth, energy security and the environment. And that package has to go together. I fundamentally believe that the technologies are - some of them are already there. I come from the Silicon Valley. I know that a lot of the venture capitalists, who three, four, five years ago it was all IT investments, are now overwhelmingly going towards alternative energy.

We'll solve this problem. But we're not going to solve it with a framework that attempts to disguise the fact that countries have different problems, and therefore are going to have to have different responses. (Applause.)

PRESIDENT ISAACSON: Any questions? Yes, sir. Way back, with the plaid shirt, standing out. Yeah, you. You. Stand up, shout.

QUESTION: I wanted to ask a question about U.S. leadership in nuclear weapons. And we've had some well-publicized failures recently, B-52's flying (inaudible) weapons and, I think, missile crews that are being held accountable for failures. Does - do those types of incidents and the publicity about the U.S. nuclear program pose challenges for you in terms of influencing behavior internationally, in convincing sovereign nations not to use nuclear arms as an instrument of their defense policy?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, these are some rather serious matters. And I think you probably know that Secretary Gates has moved to not just hold missile crews accountable, but he's made changes in the Air Force, in the structures as well as in the staffing of those.

It's not an issue that comes up so much in terms of the U.S. continuing to have nuclear weapons. It does remind us that even the most robust systems for accounting for and dealing with nuclear weapons can have problems. And it leads me, at least, to be more vigilant and more insistent that the nuclear states of the world pay a lot of attention to nuclear safety and security.

Walter mentioned that Sam Nunn will be here tomorrow. Sam Nunn and Dick Lugar had a very extensive program, the Nunn-Lugar program, that tried to help the Soviet Union, or the Russians in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union, to deal with issues of nuclear safety and security.

It's sometimes hard, because states believe these are sovereign issues. But you cannot be in a situation in which there isn't good confidence that people are dealing with problems like the transfer of warheads or weapons from one place to another, or accounting for them. So it doesn't necessarily make it harder to make the case about having nuclear weapons in the arsenal, but it is fodder, to my mind, for the argument that you really need to have the most robust systems possible to ensure safety and security.

PRESIDENT ISAACSON: Yes, sir. Shout it out - we can't get a - you've got a good voice, I know.

QUESTION: Madame Secretary, as the conventions get closer, have you been vetted as Senator McCain's VP yet? (Applause.)

SECRETARY RICE: No. I don't need another job in government. I really don't. (Laughter.) I just have to tell you, there's something to be said for fresh blood. The - Senator McCain is a tremendous patriot. He would make a wonderful president. He has a great array of people who can serve as Vice President, and I'm sure he'll make a good choice.

But I also know that - well, two things. First of all, I didn't run for President of my high school council. I have a lot of admiration for people who do that; I'm probably not one of them. And secondly, I'm quite serious about new blood. It - this has been the greatest experience of my life, and I think Madeleine can probably tell you - George Shultz told me once, Madeleine, there's no better job than Secretary of State. And he was right about that, because you get to travel and represent this great country. And I love this country. This country is extraordinary. (Applause.)

You know, as you go around the world, you realize that what is admired about America - I fully admit, they may - people may not always like our policy. But what's admired about America, deep down inside, is that this is a country that brings people and attracts people from every walk of life, from every country in the world, from every color, from every nationality. And we live here, not just tolerating each other, but thriving together. And in a world in which difference is still a license to kill, that's just really extraordinary.

And moreover, it is also a country where, for the most part, it really doesn't matter where you came from; it matters where you're going. Circumstances don't have to be an impediment to success. (Applause.)

So when I go back, I really - and I will go back. I belong west of the Mississippi, and being here has reminded me of that. When I go back, I really will spend some time thinking about and worrying about and being concerned about, frankly, some of the things that kept me going before I came. Those are what I'll call the fundamentals of America's strengths - our need to continue to attract people from all over the world and to integrate them here. I'm deeply worried about our immigration policies. I think we will do ourselves great harm if we start closing ourselves off .

I will - (applause) - I will go back and I will be very concerned about the state of education in this country. Because you know, what holds us together is the multi-ethnic - (applause). What holds us together as a multi-ethnic democracy is that if you're not doing all that well, you really do believe your children will.

And every country in the world has a national myth. And a myth is not something that isn't true. It is a way of defining yourself. It's a way of thinking about who you are. It's a tradition, an oral tradition. And ours is the log cabin, that you can grow up in a log cabin and you can be President. And you know, for so many Americans, that has been, in fact, the case. When I stand in front of a Stanford class and right there is a Stanford fourth-generation legatee, and the next kid next to him is an itinerant farm worker's son, then I know we're doing this right. And I worry that if we don't do something more about the state of public education, about higher standards for our children, about not warehousing these kids who can't read. You know, if I have any envy of anybody, it's my colleague Margaret Spellings, because she gets to get up every day and think about those issues.

We've got to get this right, and right now it's not right. And ultimately, if the United States of America is not confident in its fundamentals, its ability to integrate people's from all over the world, and the log cabin myth that is, in fact, true -- if we're not confident of that, we're not going to lead. We're going to turn inward. We're going to be fearful. We're going to be protectionist. We're going to shut other people out. And that will be a tremendous, tremendous danger for the world. So that's what I care about these days.


PRESIDENT FLETCHER: Madame Secretary, I can't think of a higher note upon which to launch you towards Dvorak and Brahms. I want to thank you, personally, for being here with us.




Released on August 2, 2008

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