Yesterday, Ambassador Susan Rice delivered remarks at Howard University. Ambassador Rice said:"Today our world — the world you will inherit — is more interconnected than at any point in human history. Increasingly, we rise or fall together. If Somalia is forsaken, violent extremists can find their way to our soil. If horrific violence in Guinea or the Democratic Republic of Congo is left to rage on unchecked, all of our consciences are shamed. If disease festers anywhere, pandemics can affect us everywhere. We face an extraordinary array of transnational security challenges that cross borders as freely as a storm. By definition, they cannot be tackled by any one country alone, even one as powerful as our own.
But just as our perils are shared, so too are our opportunities. To seize these opportunities, the United States needs to help grow the ranks of capable, democratic states — states that can deliver on both their responsibilities to the international community and to their own people. Capable states are those that control their territory, govern justly, provide security and essential services, protect their citizens’ rights, and offer their people hope for a better future. When a country cannot — or will not — perform these core functions, when a nation is wracked by war, when a state becomes a shell, its people suffer immediately. But over the longer term, a fragile state can also incubate global trouble that can spread far beyond its borders.
It is not enough simply to build up the corps of capable, democratic states. We need states with both the capacity and the will to tackle common challenges. As we have been reminded in recent years, we cannot take that will for granted, even among our closest allies. If we want others to help combat the threats that concern us most, then we must help others combat the challenges that threaten them most. For many nations, these are first and foremost the things that afflict human beings in their daily lives: corruption, repression, conflict, hunger, poverty, disease, and the lack of education and opportunity.
When the United States joins with others to confront these challenges, it’s not charity. It’s not even barter. In today’s world, more than ever, what is good for others is often good for us too. When we manifest our commitment to tackling the threats that menace so many other nations; when we invest in helping protect the lives of others; and when we recognize that national security is no longer a zero-sum game, then we increase other countries’ will to cooperate on the issues most vital to us.
We build that will by demonstrating responsible leadership. We build will by setting a tone of decency and mutual respect rather than condescension and contempt. We build will by abiding by the rules we expect others to follow. We build will by pursuing pragmatic, principled policies and explaining them with intelligence and candor. And in the broadest sense, we build will when others can see their future as aligned with ours.
A fundamental imperative of U.S. national security in the 21st century is thus clear: we need to maximize the number of states with both the capacity and the will to tackle a new generation of transnational security challenges. We need a modern edifice of cooperation, built upon the foundation of responsible American leadership, with the bricks of state capacity and the beams of political will."
Read the Ambassador's full remarks here.