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Kennedy Political Union (KPU) Event with Condoleezza Rice and Philip Zelikow

Condoleezza Rice and Philip Zelikow discuss their book and foreign affairs at KPU event

Former Secretary of State shares importance of principles, partnerships and practicality in foreign policy

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her co-author, former Counselor of the Department of State, Dr. Philip Zelikow, discussed their new book, “To Build a Better World,” at an event hosted by the Kennedy Political Union, the School of International Service and the Sine Institute on Sept. 12. 

The book, which moderator and University President Sylvia Burwell sees as an examination of the role of “changemakers” in foreign policy, explores how the Cold War shaped the world today, examining historical trends and effects in an attempt to explain many current conflicts. 

Zelikow said the book is “an insider’s perspective on how to unpack the choices, step by step, on how people can change the world in a more peaceful way.” 

The pair also answered questions from the audience about current foreign policy, trade and domestic affairs, including the U.S.’s complicated relationship with nationalism, how China’s technological advancements should be addressed and what Brexit’s effect on the EU might look like. 

Rice also spoke about her hopes for the future, inspired by her students at Stanford University, where she teaches political science. 

“We should be hopeful because we’re the most innovative country on earth,” Rice said. “This generation is the most public-minded I’ve ever taught…my only admonition is to take your time...really make sure of the arguments you’re making, and do your homework.” 

Rice and Zelikow stressed the three main pillars of their book: principles, partnerships and practicality. 

Rice also spoke at length about the dangers of comparing the Cold War to the current relationship the U.S. has with China.

“This should not be viewed as Cold War 2.0,” Zelikow said. “Watch out for seductive analogies for the Cold War and for containment-- it’s just not very helpful for making you think about the future.” 

Rice drew applause from the audience when she acknowledged not understanding the conversation about immigrants, saying “without that lifeblood of immigration, the United States will begin to look like… a sclerotic Japan.” 

Rice ended the event by encouraging students to take their time as they move through the world and learn as much as possible from every professional position they occupy. She explained that without her experiences during the Cold War, she would have been completely helpless after the attacks on 9/11.

Instead, she helped coordinate public statements from the State Department and set up a channel with President Vladimir Putin to avoid military escalation between the superpowers. 

“As you move up the ladder, experiences may benefit you in ways you might not even know,” she said. “Milk it and mine it in every way you possibly can.”

Kelsey Carolan contributed reporting to this article. 

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