Appearing on CBS' Face the Nation on Sunday in order to promote her new book, Democracy: The Long Road to Freedom, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made a salient point about the progression of democracy, and how promoting stable democracies abroad is in our own national interest:
Most of democracy promotion is really about supporting those within their countries that want to have the simple freedoms that we have — the right to say what you think, to worship as you please, to be free from the knock of the secret police at night; places like Liberia and Ukraine, and other places that are trying to get there.
Now, Americans should recognize that, of course, we're going to defend our interests, but in the long run, our interests are better served when we have democracies that don't hire child soldiers, that don't harbor terrorists as a matter of state policy, that don't traffic in human beings, that don't start wars with one another.
The quintessential example of this is that we took a risk after World War II that a democratic Germany would never threaten its neighbors, that a democratic Japan would never threaten its neighbors. And now, not only have they not threatened their neighbors, they are firm allies, and they are pillars of international stability.
Democracy takes time. One of the points that I make in the book is it took us a long time. That first American Constitution counted my ancestors as three-fifths of a man. That first American Constitution didn't provide my father the right to vote in 1952 in Birmingham, Alabama.
But I took an oath of allegiance to that same Constitution as a black woman Secretary of State with a Jewish woman Supreme Court Justice swearing me in. Democracy takes time, and we have to be a little bit more patient, and a little bit more helpful in speaking out for those who are still trying to get there.
We need more people as well-spoken and willing to thoughtfully engage in debate as Condoleezza Rice. One may disagree with her viewpoint, but one cannot argue that she is foolhardy or thoughtless. In our current political climate, calmness and rationality as they pertain to policy is a rare and precious thing.