Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice faced a frank question last night while addressing a full house at the LBJ Library’s Lady Bird Auditorium. Joshua Tang, a senior in the Department of History, stood up after the lecture to ask Rice if she would “do the Iraq War over again.”
The short answer? Yes.
After taking a brief pause to collect a decade’s worth of thoughts, Rice candidly responded, “I would have overthrown Saddam Hussein again.” She reasoned that Hussein was “a cancer in the Middle East,” and that his presence in the current political climate of the region could have been catastrophic.
Her reaffirmation of the United States’ involvement in the Iraq War comes just two days prior to its 10-year anniversary, at a time when lingering questions are returning to the forefront of the American consciousness. The Iraq War, which formally drew to a close on Dec. 15, 2011, resulted in the deaths of 4,488 U.S. soldiers and the wounding of more than 32,000.
Rice lamented the lives lost, but firmly stated that “nothing of value ever comes without sacrifice, and I believe Iraq has a chance.” Her greatest hope moving forward, she said, is that Iraq and the Middle East will now transition “from freedom to democracy.”
The lecture, hosted by the LBJ School of Public Affairs, wasn’t entirely focused on foreign involvement. Rice—currently a professor in Stanford University‘s Graduate School of Business and Political Science Department—stressed the importance of issues like unemployment, K-12 education, and immigration policy in securing the U.S.’ future as a world leader.
“Comprehensive immigration reform is who we are as a nation,” Rice said. “We’ve always said, ‘It doesn’t matter where you come from, it matters where you’re going.’ I hope that continues to be true.”
Photo by Sasha Haagensen, courtesy Kerri Battles.