The UV: How did going to an all-girls high school affect you?
Dr. Rice: I am very glad that I went to an all-girls school, because I think that the danger sometimes at a certain age group, when you are 13, 14 years old, is that there are a lot of pressures for gender identification. Some of that’s fine. I mean, I love to shop and I like to buy clothes; I have a lot of things that you would associate with being a girl that I continue to do, but what you don’t want gender identification to do is to enter the classroom at all, where girls somehow get subtle [hints] just that maybe they are not so good at math or at the sciences.
[But] I didn’t have some of the advantages that you now have. When I was at St. Mary’s Academy, there was actually one sport and it was field hockey. I went out for field hockey and I got hit with a stick the first day, and I decided I’ll find something else. I was a competitive figure skater, but I did it outside the school.
The UV: If you could serve under any President, who would it be and why?
Dr. Rice: Well, I kind of liked [President] George W. Bush, you know, the one who I did serve under. [laughs] If I could go back in history, I would have served under Harry Truman. Harry Truman doesn’t get enough credit for turning the entire country’s view of what role the United States ought to play in the world. People want to attribute that to Roosevelt, but Roosevelt died, of course, before World War II was over. Harry Truman decided to recognize Israel. Harry Truman insisted on a democratic Germany and a democratic Japan. He also, by the way, insisted on the integration of the armed forces. It was Harry Truman that had to make difficult decisions about the founding of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and committing the United States to the defense of others with the single clause: an attack upon one is an attack upon all. Ironically, the only time that [this clause], Article 5 of the NATO treaty, has been broken was in 9/11, in our favor.
The UV: When do you think President Obama should begin to consider a war in Iran? Do you think that the Republican candidates are taking the possibility of one seriously enough?
Dr. Rice: I think that the President has some difficult choices to make, because he is right when he says that we can’t allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon. I don’t think that we are at that point yet, where we have to decide to use military force, but military force has to be a possibility, and the Iranians have to believe that it’s a possibility. And so, I think in the next, I don’t know exactly the time because I am not inside anymore, but the next nine, ten, 11 months, [Obama] will face some very difficult decisions about whether the Iranians are going to the point of no return. And, the Israelis, if we don’t make that decision, may make it, and the Israelis don’t ask for permission. So this is a very hard problem, but right now I think that we still have time to make very tough diplomatic sanctions work, and so [Obama is] also right to say, “Let’s give the sanctions time.”
The Republican candidates are doing what candidates do, you know. They [act as though] they have all the answers, but I guarantee you, just like when President Obama got there and realized, oh my goodness, he actually didn’t have all the answers, the same thing will happen if somebody’s elected. [laughs] The minute you walk into the Oval Office, your priorities are different, and your information base is different, and your responsibilities are different. So I rarely ever listen to the specific answers of what [Presidential candidates say they] will do. I just listen to, how does this person think about America’s role in the world, how do they think about American power, how do they think about the principles that we ought to operate under.
The UV: How do you think that your life has changed as a result of being National Security Advisor and Secretary of State?
Dr. Rice: I’ve met people and been a part of decisions that I never dreamed I’d be a part of, and I have a lot more respect for people who have to make those decisions. It’s a lot harder in there that it is out here. I have had the chance to put into practice some of the things that I have learned as an academic, but now I have a chance to put into practice, as an academic, some of the things that I have learned as a policy maker. I love being back as a professor at Stanford, and I taught my last class yesterday for this quarter. It’s called “Challenges and Dilemmas in US Foreign Policy,” and we talked about the Arab Spring, and I was able to relate what it was like to go and talk to President Mubarak in Egypt and try to convince him to take on reform before his people were in the streets.
Click here to see Dr. Rice’s presentation to the school: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLA39211E6A009B7F5&feature=plcp
Click here to read more about Dr. Rice’s visit: https://www.theultraviolet.com/wordpress/2012/03/former-secretary-of-state-visits-school-addresses-students/