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Condoleezza Rice Urges America to Lead On Global Issues

Condoleezza Rice Gives Talk, Promotes Book In Washington DCFormer U.S. Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice can still turn heads with her pronouncements on the nation’s foreign policy, as she did over the weekend when she told an audience at a California Republican Party luncheon that the U.S. can’t afford to turn away from conflicts such as the one in Crimea.

“I know that people are tired. I know that after more than 10 years of war and terrorism and engagement abroad, and sometimes it doesn’t look like there’s light at the end of the tunnel, we can think, well, we’ll let someone else do it,” Rice told hundreds of delegates and guests at the San Francisco area luncheon, according to a story in the Los Angeles Times. “But the truth of the matter is, if we leave a vacuum, it will be filled by the likes of” Syria’s Bashar Assad, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, terrorists in the Middle East and nationalists in China.

“That is a world that will not be good to our interests, or to our values,” she said. “And so America has to lead.”

Republicans have criticized President Obama for not being more forceful in his dealings with Russian President Vladimir Putin, who is currently trying to decide if he will absorb Crimea back into Russia after the citizens voted overwhelmingly over the weekend to secede from Ukraine and become a part of Russia.

Rice is director of the Global Center for Business and the Economy at Stanford University. While many California Republicans have been hoping she would run for governor, Rice doesn’t appear to be interested. As the Times noted, Rice declined in her speech to criticize President Obama or California Gov. Jerry Brown.

A part of the speech that has received the most coverage is her statements about immigration, on which she encouraged the Republican Party to be more inclusive.

“We have a responsibility to those who do not yet have the liberties and the rights that we enjoy,” Rice told a cheering crowd. “We cannot abandon them … We were once them.”

She also wandered into the area of school reform, calling for school choice—the part of her speech that the Times noted got the loudest applause.

“We’re failing the poorest of our kids,” she said. “The greatest civil rights issue of our time is a high-quality education for every child, and if a parent cannot afford a house in Palo Alto or in Fairfax County, and a parent cannot afford a private school education, don’t condemn that parent and that child to a substandard education. Give that child a voucher, a charter school, a way out.”

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