By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
October 13, 2007
On the topic of good democratic government, the comments of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice may be valuable.
Ms. Rice has been a passionate and accomplished student of government her entire life.
In 1974, at age 19, Ms. Rice earned her B.A. in political science, Phi Beta Kappa, from the University of Denver. In 1975, she obtained her Master’s Degree in political science from the University of Notre Dame.
She was a Professor of political science at Stanford University where she served as Provost from 1993 to 1999. During the administration of George H.W. Bush, Rice also served as the Soviet and East European Affairs Advisor during the dissolution of the Soviet Union and German reunification.
Fresh from an October 12 berating by Russian President Vladimir Putin on the topic of America’s failings, Secretary Rice had some ideas of her own on the topic of good government.
In a meeting with Russian human rights activists on Saturday, October 13, Ms. Rice emphasized that Russia is still in a transition toward democracy — and the cautioned against too much concentration of power in one man or one institution.
“In any country, if you don’t have countervailing institutions, the power of any one president is problematic for democratic development,” Rice told reporters after the meeting with human-rights activists.
“I think there is too much concentration of power in the Kremlin. I have told the Russians that. Everybody has doubts about the full independence of the judiciary. There are clearly questions about the independence of the electronic media and there are, I think, questions about the strength of the Duma,” said Rice, referring to the Russian parliament.
Rice said she hoped the efforts of rights activists would promote universal values of “the rights of individuals to liberty and freedom, the right to worship as you please, and the right to assembly, the right to not have to deal with the arbitrary power of the state.”
“To the degree that anyone can predict, it looks like it will be fairly stable,” she said. “But, I would just caution that change is change.”
Rice concluded the meeting with the human rights groups by saying, “If Russia is to emerge as a democratic country that can fully protect the rights of its people, it is going to emerge over years and you have to be a part of helping the emergence of that Russia.”