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Condoleezza Rice Honored Monday with Cleveland Council on World Affairs Global Impact Award

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Former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was honored this past Monday with the Cleveland Council on World Affairs’ Global Impact Award at the InterContinental Hotel.

The award recognizes individuals whose actions have had a positive impact and created greater and mutual understanding and cooperation among people and countries around the globe.

Richard W. Pogue, Member of the Board of Directors of the Cleveland Council on World Affairs, Senior Advisor at Dix & Eaton, Corporate Public Relations Firm and Managing Partner at Jones Day introduced Secretary Rice as the 66th Secretary of State, and highlighted her great accomplishments, referring to her as the second woman and first African American woman to serve as U.S. Secretary of State and the first woman to serve as National Security Adviser.

Mr. Pogue also talked about the major activities of the Cleveland Council on World Affairs, (CCWA) and its legacy in foreign affairs with the following major objectives in mind:  the Speakers Forum that invites 300 visitors and speakers a year, and the Educational Program that focuses on students who explore global affairs through a unique program called, “Model United Nations”, which explores global challenges and provide a most effective international academic perspective.

Following the award presentation, Secretary Rice was joined by Mr. Ronn Richard, President and CEO of the Cleveland Foundation, while he moderated the conversation about Dr. Rice’s new book, “Democracy:  Storiesfrom the Long Road to Freedom.”  National Public Radio recently described Secretary Rice’s book as “a full-throated endorsement of overseas engagement and democracy building.”

In her book, Secretary Rice explains what “these epochal events teach us about democracy.  At a time when people around the world are wondering whether democracy is in decline, Rice shares insights from her experiences as a policymaker, scholar, and citizen, in order to put democracy’s challenges into perspective.  When the United States was founded, it was the only attempt at self-government in the world. Today more than half of all countries qualify as democracies, and in the long run that number will continue to grow. Yet nothing worthwhile ever comes easily. Using America’s long struggle as a template, Rice draws lessons from democracy around the world-from Russia, Poland, and Ukraine, to Kenya, Colombia, and the Middle East. She finds no transitions to democracy are the same because every country starts in a different place.”

Moving to a very important issue that is close to her heart about women’s rights, Dr. Rice was very happy to talk about the recent rights of woman in Kuwait to vote in the elections. 

In response to a question about providing President Trump with a piece of advice, she responded by saying, “to become comfortable with the power of the Presidency, it should be known that the Presidency is bigger than the Presidents.. President Trump will get there, she added, as long as he respects the dignity of that office.”

Discussing current world events, Secretary Rice said the following about Russian President, “the United States needs to send this message to Vladimir Putin even before proving the Russian government meddled in the 2016 Presidential election:  “We know you did it.” We need to get to the bottom of it. I have a belief that Putin is kind of an eye to eye person.  In 2012 we called his election fraudulent—which it was.  So now he is going to show us that he can make our elections look fraudulent.”  “I know Vladimir Putin,” she said. “I spent a lot of time with Vladimir Putin.  At one point he kind of liked me because I was a Russianist.”  Rice offered an insight into what she believes is the motive for Putin.  “One day I am there with him, and he says, “Condi, you know us,” she said.  “Russia has been great when it has been ruled by great men like Peter the Great and Alexander II. And you know, there is that little voice in your head that wants to say, and do you mean Vladimir the Great? Of course you can’t say that.  You’re secretary of state, and that would be rude.”  He thinks he is uniting the Russian people in greatness.  He is avenging the end of the cold war and the collapse of the Soviet Union, which he has called the greatest tragedy of the 20th century, and he is re-establishing Russia on the world scene.

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Secretary Rice’s passion for democracy was evident when Mr. Richard asked her thought on the belief of some that not every country was ready for democracy.  “It is really very interesting to me that those who live in a democracy are the ones who say other people aren’t ready of it,” she said.  “who are we to sit here and with the right to say what we think and worship as we please and vote… and say, “you’re just not ready. You have too much ethnic conflict or your GDP levels aren’t high enough.  You just stay under a dictator.  We’ll live in freedom.”

Dr. Rice did not only receive an award from the CCWA.  Cleveland Browns great, Jim Brown, presented her with a 66th Browns football jersey.  Rice was the 66th secretary of state.  Rice grew up a Browns fan because her father, a football coach, was a fan.  He also was a Presbyterian minister on Sundays, “said Rice, who is friends with Browns’ owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam.  “When the Browns were playing on TV, he would end service just a little bit early, so we could get there for kickoff.  There was no greater hero in our household than the great Jim Brown.”

In conclusion, I chose to add some of the powerful remarks and comments about Dr. Rice’s view with respect to democracy and freedom as exemplified in her book, “While the ideal conditions for democracy are well known in academia, they never exist in the real world.  The question is not how to create perfect circumstances, but how to move forward under difficult ones. These same insights apply in overcoming the challenges faced by governments today. The pursuit of democracy is a continuing struggle shared by people around the world, whether they are opposing authoritarian regimes, establishing new democratic institutions, or reforming mature democracies to better live up to their ideals.  The work of securing it is never finished.”

 

By George J. Koussa

 

Public Relations Administrator and Arabic Translator

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