Condoleeza Rice discusses cancer, foreign policy

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October 26th, 2010

Condoleeza Rice was in Omaha to accept an Ambassador of Hope award from UNMC (Photo Robyn Wisch)

Omaha, NE – Former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice discussed her new book in Omaha Tuesday, and her views on spreading democracy and cancer research around the world.

Rice was in Omaha to receive the Ambassador of Hope award from the University of Nebraska Medical Center for her work promoting breast cancer research. Rice lost her mother to breast cancer when she was 30, after a long battle with the disease. She said during her time as Secretary of State, she tried to extend knowledge of breast cancer abroad, particularly to countries where women are oppressed. “We are so fortunate in United States that this is no longer an unspeakable disease,” she said, “But it is still an unspeakable disease in a lot of places.” She said he tried to promote health democracy during her time in office, and believes it was “one of the more effective things that we did.”

Rice’s new book – a memoir detailing the story of her mother, and her childhood as part of a black family growing up in Birmingham, Alabama – shows a softer side to the woman most known for her role as National Security Advisor to former President George W. Bush.  She served in that post during the lead-up to and invasion of Iraq, which became a lightning rod for criticism. But Rice has held on to her ideas of the vitality of freedom, and the positive change it can bring by spreading it abroad. Asked about the ongoing war in Afghanistan, she said she fully supports the United States’ mission, despite a report issued this week which lists Afghanistan and Iraq as two of the most corrupt countries in the world. “It’s… ahistorical to believe that corruption came to Afghanistan after the Taliban was overthrown,” she said. “The good thing is that in these newly democratizing societies, there are actually people in the country as well as out of the country who are willing and able to expose corruption.” The very fact that we can talk about corruption in these countries, the very fact that their governments are being held to account for corruption is in itself a step forward,” she said.

Rice said she thinks with a little patience, “we’ll get the job done” in Afghanistan, and advised Americans to consider their own path to democracy before they judge Afghanistan’s.  Asked if she would consider working for President Obama’s administration as he continues his efforts to wind down the nine-year war there, Rice said she thinks the President has everyone he needs, but she respects his office.  “It’s hard,” she said. “It’s a lot harder in there than it is out here, and we owe to everyone who takes on these very, very difficult responsibilities our respect and our gratitude.”

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