Today's date:
Winter 2001

George W's Worldview

Condoleeza Rice is the new national security adviser to George W. Bush, the president of the United States. Rice served on the National Security Council as a Soviet expert and is formerly the provost of Stanford University. She spoke with NPQ editor Nathan Gardels at Stanford University in the Fall.

National Missile Defense
NPQ | The clear sense one gets from the George Bush foreign policy team is that a "national missile defense" (NMD) system should replace the morally troubling Cold War doctrine of "mutually assured destruction" (MAD) as a deterrent among nuclear powers. This sounds like Kosygin defending Moscow's missile defense system to Johnson in 1967 by saying "defense is moral, offense is immoral."
Does Bush propose to replace MAD with NMD?

CONDOLEEZA RICE | Since no missile defense system can stop thousands of nuclear warheads from Russia, deterrence based on mutual vulnerability will be with us for a while. But that is a given from the Cold War, not a choice we can make. What we are trying to say is that we should no longer embrace vulnerability as some kind of moral cause.

But the missile defense we propose is aimed at the much more limited threat of rogue states and, perhaps, unauthorized launch. Nobody is arguing that this is going to be a shield against the Russians.

NPQ | Except the Russians, of course, who fear it may ultimately evolve into a space-based system that might be effective against their arsenal, thus depriving them of their deterrent. What do you say to the Russians?

RICE | The first thing I would say to the Russians is that we have moved out of the situation in which we are enemies trying to deter massive nuclear strikes.
I used to do nuclear targeting during the Cold War. In those days we weren't worried that the Soviet general staff would get up one day and launch a strike out of the blue. We worried that our conventional inferiority in Europe could lead to an escalation of some European conflict that would trigger nuclear war. But all these scenarios in which we worried about this very finely tuned balance between the US and the Soviet Union have disappeared.

So, what we are arguing is that if you can put together both the missile defense idea and the nuclear offensive forces reduction, it is possible to build a new strategic relationship with the Russians that recognizes that the politics of the Cold War which led to scenarios of conflict are also dead.

NPQ | What would you say to the Chinese, who fear NMD will undermine their deterrent capability?

RICE | If the Chinese have no intention of threatening the US, then NMD is something that should not threaten the Chinese. Nuclear blackmail of the US is not something an American president should be willing to accept.
NPQ | So, Chinese and Russian opposition to NMD won't give a Bush administration pause to proceed as it has Clinton?

RICE | Gov. Bush has said he will engage in diplomacy. He will try to convince the Russians and Chinese that we are not trying to gain advantage through NMD but to defend ourselves against the emerging threat of rogue states or accidental launch. He is pretty confident in his ability to make headway, given that even (Russian president Vladimir) Putin has admitted there is an emerging threat.
In the final analysis, you have to do what you have to do. But that does not mean on day one in the White House we will say "too bad" if you disagree. Diplomacy will be given a chance, not just with China and Russia, but also with our allies.

NPQ | If Putin shares the Bush view of the threat, might a Bush administration share NMD with Russia?

RICE | There are certainly possibilities for sharing. The question is sharing what. Do we share information and warnings, or do we share the actual system? That is a matter for discussion.

Few people remember that, at the end of the Bush (senior) administration, there were incipient talks with the Russians about a global shared system. I would hope that we can look again at some of the ideas that emerged from those conversations.
The extent to which we can share with the Russians depends on their proliferation behavior. You can't share defensive technologies with the Russians if they are proliferating the offensive technologies to the very states that worry us.

World View

NPQ | How do you respond to the criticism that Bush has surrounded himself with people like you or Dick Cheney who are experts in the "last war"-that is, the Cold War and the Gulf War-but who don't understand the new world of virulent global capital flows, the Internet and, above all, the task of being the sole superpower that must manage the weakness of Russia, China and Japan, not confront their strength?

RICE | People move on. Dick Cheney has been CEO of Halliburton, which has been involved in ventures in Russia. I've been provost at Stanford, where we have had more than a little bit to do with the information revolution. And I am a director of several corporations that have a lot of business abroad.

I agree that the great danger from Russia is not its strength but its weakness. I don't think that is the case with China. The issue there is managing its emergence as a great nation, transforming both domestically and on the international front. A conflict with Taiwan could significantly destabilize the already bumpy road for China entering the world economy.

Without doubt, the overarching opportunity of this period is that most countries of the world are trying to find their place in the international economy. Some are going to be more successful at it than others because of the domestic structures. There is going to be a fairly large shake-up in international politics coming out of the shake-up in the globalizing economy.

One can imagine some countries that have been extremely successful in the old world, but that can't get it together to take advantage of the knowledge economy, will be greatly weakened. This could possibly be the case with Japan, though I think the Japanese will ultimately get there. I wouldn't bet against the Japanese. Europe, potentially, has the greatest problem.

And then there are emerging countries like India that we have tended to think of as only a nuclear problem. Yet, it is emerging as a potential power in the knowledge economy.

None of this means we can afford not to pay attention to rogue states, such as North Korea or Iraq under Saddam Hussein, most of which have no future in the bright new knowledge economy. But it does mean you pay a lot of attention to free trade and to Latin America.

The deck has been reshuffled.

NPQ | You have criticized the Clinton administration for its "911" (emergency call) policy of putting US troops at risk in far-flung places where the US interest is not clear.

As the sole superpower charged with keeping the global peace, what do you propose if, say, Burundi faces a genocidal conflict like Rwanda did?

RICE | The first option is better early warning. The real goal is to strengthen our relationship in working with regional powers. The key role of the Australians in East Timor is a good example, though it would have been useful to put such a force in place ahead of time, knowing well in advance that the results of referendum [on independence-ed.] would have been resisted. Training Nigerian troops for peacekeeping in Sierra Leone is also a good example. So, it is both early warning and working with regional powers.

United Nations
NPQ | Do you support the idea, as the Clinton administration did, of a permanent, well-funded, well-trained United Nations intervention force as UN Secretary General Ko… Annan has proposed?

RICE | I find it hard to believe that this idea will ever get off the ground. It is hard to imagine the UN mechanism working very effectively. By far the more effective alternative is regional powers willing to police their own regions.
This idea of a permanent peacekeeping force has been around for a long time. There are real reasons it has never gotten off the ground-mainly because very few countries are willing to cede that much capacity to the UN. And it is not clear what mechanism the Secretary General would use to deploy, or not deploy, especially given that most conflicts today are civil wars. The whole thing is overly complicated.

NPQ | The current US ambassador to the UN, Richard Holbrooke, says "the UN is flawed, but indispensable" and that "the US wants to reform the UN in order to save it." Do you agree?

RICE | Yes, that is right. I agree.

NPQ | What do you make of the so-called interventionist "Annan Doctrine" that "sovereignty is no longer a shield" if a country's leaders violate the human rights of their own people?

RICE | Sovereignty has not been a shield for human-rights violations for a long time. Look at what the Helsinki Conference and the old CSCE (Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, now OSCE) did going back nearly 30 years. Early on, there was an expectation that states in the Soviet bloc couldn't hide behind sovereignty if they mistreated their own people.

Today, though, there is a new arrow in the quiver of this argument: If a country is going to have a successful, modern economy that taps the creativity of its people, it is going to have to treat them well. You can't expect people to work if they are mistreated in their homes.

North American Common Market

NPQ | Bush has rejected, in the short term, the proposal by Mexico's president-elect Vicente Fox for an open border and the free flow of labor. In the long run, though, would a Bush administration support his idea of a North American Common Market?

RICE | Gov. Bush told Vicente Fox that he appreciates his optimistic vision about Mexico. What Fox is really talking about is getting to a point where income differentials are negligible enough that people don't have to leave home to feed their family. That is a vision Gov. Bush has talked about since becoming governor of Texas.

There are a lot of things the Americas can do together-Gov. Bush and Fox also talked about expanding free trade throughout Latin America and fostering microcredit loans to Mexico-that will provide many of the benefits of a common market without having to go through some of the bureaucratic headaches Europe has been through. We don't want to mimic that.

In the end, we should let private capital markets-in particular micro loans that very tangibly improve the lives of people-lead. We don't want to go back to an old-style European development model that transfers government funds from one region to another to try to achieve more equality.

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