Leadership in a Changing World


The following are excerpts from a lecture given by Condoleezza Rice, Chief Foreign Policy Advisor to George W. Bush at a Wilson Center Director's Forum on 27 April 2000.

...I want to talk a little bit about leadership and American leadership in particular in this volatile world... What does it mean to lead? What does one have to do in order to be able to lead? Clearly the United States leads simply by virtue of its overwhelming power and influence in the world today... The United States also finds itself, along with its allies, in a position of leadership in the world because the other great paradigm for the organization of human history--that is the Soviet Union and the notion of communism and central planning--has collapsed.

...But it is one thing to say that you find yourself in a position of leadership and quite another to lead... Leadership requires, first and foremost, diagnosing the challenge before you and diagnosing it properly... What is the challenge before us? The word that is most out there is the concept of "globalization."...I like to think of [globalization] ...as a train that is moving down a track, and that track is pretty clear ahead for those whose values and institutions, governmental structures, and economic structures are more or less aligned with the demands of this new environment.

...When that other [Soviet] alternative collapsed, the game became to find your place in this single international economy in which your economy has to be transparent, your banking systems have to be strong, you have to have rules of law and rules of the game in which private capital can play on an even playing field. You have to have something that attracts it, because... private capital can go anywhere, and it has no strategic sense. It doesn't go to a country because it is important in strategic terms, it goes to a country because it can make money. That means that the demands, the draconian demands, to get your house in order, to be a part of this system is causing earthquakes around the world, particularly for those countries that are not aligned with the demands of private capital. And as much as we talk about IMF funding or as much as we talk about the World Bank, it is a drop in the bucket compared with the size and scale and scope of private capital.

So if you think of this train, you have the United States sort of out there conducting. You have a whole host of capitalist economies already on board, in varying degrees capable of being that open, that transparent. You also have a lot of countries that have kind of one foot on the train, because they know that it is the only train running. One could talk about, to a certain extent, the Russians or perhaps the Chinese who know in their heart of hearts that this is the only train and they are trying to find a way on it. You have another host of them that don't have particularly good assets for getting on the train but are trying to find their ways. Then you have... the Iraqs the North Koreas of the world that have no useful place on the train so they are intending to blow it up instead.

...If you use that image and you say our best interest... is to keep that train running, to get others onto that train--what then must we do in order to seize the opportunity that we find when the rules of the game are increasingly clear to everyone?...One is you have to keep the peace. And to keep the peace, you have to be aware that there are big challenges and small challenges. The big challenges are to deter war in places that matter to the global balance.

...Secondly, you have to try to spread the benefits of prosperity... because I can assure you if this period of globalization creates circumstances in which you have big winners and big losers--which will happen--if some of those big losers are also important countries, the Chinas, the Russias of the world, then you have a potential for 1930s-like instability.

...Russia [is] a declining power, trying to find its identity, and a country that has managed to take concepts of the market, private capital, and privatization and mutate them into something else. We in the United States, unfortunately, certified that there were reformers doing some of this when in fact it turns out that some of these "reformers" were actually stealing the country blind. This is a problem for us. You have to tell the truth about these places because capital will sniff it out, capital will know. And right now investment in Russia shows that capital understands the true picture in Russia. It is up to the Russians to figure out how to get a tax code that does not tax small business at 120 percent of income if you pay all of their overlapping taxes. We can't fix that problem, the Russians can...

Finally I would suggest that we have a bit of a challenge as Americans in figuring out how we intend to press the case for democracy in the world.... Individual liberty, individual responsibility, freedom of press, freedom of religion, the need for electoral systems that allow people to chose those who will rule them--clearly [are] very important. But we have other values in the United States that also need to be pressed: ...our ability and propensity to take risk, our willingness to allow failure, and around that a set of communitarian values that say there is a civil society that cares about those who can't quite make it on their own. [Another] reason the United States will always lead is it can tolerate difference better than anyplace in the world. That, in a time when difference is a license to kill in much of the world, is an important message.


Upcoming Events

Experts & Staff

Contact the Kennan Institute

Tel: (202) 691-4100
Fax: (202) 691-4247

Kennan Moscow Project
Россия 119034 Москва
Хилков пер., д. 2, стр. 5
(+7 495) 927-0275

Kennan Kyiv Project
Україна 04071 Київ
вул. Костянтинівська, 4, офіс 2
тел/факс: (+380 44) 425-36244