Former secretary of state and national security advisor Condoleezza Rice offered a spirited defense of democracy as the best and most stable system of government at the annual Daniel Pearl Memorial Lecture of the Burkle Center for International Relations on Feb. 27. "Democracies," she remarked, "are ultimately better guarantors — and their institutions, better protectors — of the human condition than any other form of government."
They are also, she argued, the best defense against the "hatred and evil" behind such events as the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, and the murder of Pearl, a journalist for The Wall Street Journal, in 2002.
Co-sponsored by the UCLA Burkle Center for International Relations, the Daniel Pearl Foundation and the Yitzhak Rabin Hillel Center for Jewish Life at UCLA, the event generated unprecedented attendance, with an overflow crowd served by a live broadcast feed in a separate auditorium. Rice’s speech was preceded by remarks by both Rabbi Chaim Seidler-Feller of the Hillel Center at UCLA and Judea Pearl, father of the journalist. President of the Daniel Pearl Foundation and Professor of Computer Science and Statistics at UCLA, Pearl asserted that the effect of his son’s murder on the 21st century had been to resurrect the idea of absolute right and wrong. He noted that the United States was respected abroad precisely because it has always defended this idea.
Rice argued that in order to respond to terrorism in the long run, the United States must address the "freedom gap" in nondemocratic regimes in the Middle East. "The United States made a supreme error for 60 years," she remarked, "by supporting stability at the expense of democracy [in the region]. And we got neither." Not only did U.S. policy shut out decent alternatives to authoritarian regimes, these regimes’ intolerance of political dissent caused radicals to organize in mosques and madrasahs. Rice said she was unsurprised by the chaos and messiness of the recent democratic revolutions in many Arab nations. "When rights are denied for so long, people have no option but to seize them," she observed, noting that she had urged former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to lead democratic reform in the region in 2005.
Read the complete story on the UCLA International Institute website.