Condoleezza Rice Speaks in Sarasota and Criticized by Local Group
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02/08/10 Concetta DeLuco
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Former US Secretary of State under the Bush Administration, Condoleezza Rice, spoke at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Center in Sarasota this morning. She addressed several contemporary issues including the economy, terrorism and ongoing wars.

Hundreds filled the auditorium to hear the 66th Secretary of the State speak. One of the first topics Rice tackled was terrorism. She said each and every day terrorists plot to attack the United States.

The Van Wezel would not allow Rice’s speech to be recorded, but we did speak with a critic. Gene Jones is the executive director of Florida Veterans for Common Sense, a group formed by Vietnam veterans opposed to the Iraq War. In reference to the 9/11 attack, Jones said it was not just an “everyday” threat. Rice knew about the seriousness of the attack and should not have ignored it.

As the 5th poorest country in the world, controlled by Al-Qaeda, Rice described Afghanistan as the “quintessential failed state.” More “forces” need to be sent there to “counter insurgency” and help the people heal in the hopes of eventually establishing a democratic government. Jones disagrees with sending more troops to Afghanistan. He said the US mission there needs to be clarified.

The struggling U.S. economy was also addressed. Rice said she does not believe China poses a “real threat” to the U.S.’s position. China, for example, is afraid of the Internet, whereas the US thrives on a “creativity” and “ingenuity.” “We will triumph again,” she said. Jones is not so sure. He said if the US sends more troops to Afghanistan, we continue to undermine our economy.

Rice said North Korea has “crazy, not suicidal leadership-it won’t attack" South Korea. The country produces nuclear weapons, but its biggest offense is that it transfers them to dangerous hands. Yet, steps have been taken during the Bush regime and continued under Obama to prevent this from happening.

Rice described Iran as the poster child for “terrorism abroad.” But because she believes the current regime doesn’t have support from the people, safety will come when there is a change in government. Calling Rice a “propagandist,” Jones was happy to hear that the former secretary was not pushing the campaign against Iran.

Gene Jones said his real problem with Rice and the Bush administration is not that they made mistakes, but that they don’t admit to them.

Florida Veterans for Common Sense

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