Susan Rice on Tough Love: 'My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For'

January 20, 2020 1:26:00
Kaltura Video

Ambassador Susan Rice and Michael Barr, Dean of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, discuss Ambassador Rice's distinguished career and her book, "Tough Love: My Story of the Things Worth Fighting For." January,  2020.


    >> MICHAEL BARR: I'm Michael Barr, I'm the Joan and Sanford Weill Dean of Public Policy here at the Ford School. 
    Welcome to all of you who are watching online. 
    I know we have a number of people next door in the Betty watching, across the hallway, in our other classrooms, and many people are around the country and around the world are actually tuned in right now. 
    So welcome to all of you here to sunny but very cold Ann Arbor.
    It is just a absolute delight to be able to welcome you for this conversation with Ambassador Susan Rice, whom I'm going to say a little bit more about in just a moment. 
    First, I'd like to acknowledge just our wonderful university leadership. 
    We have our President, Mark Schlissel, here in the room with us. 
    I want to thank him for his leadership of this great institution.
    >> MICHAEL BARR: We have Regent Kathy White here.
    >> MICHAEL BARR: I want to thank her for her leadership as well. 
    We also have a number of great university leaders from around the school that I'm not gonna call all of them out, but just thank you for being here. 
    I really appreciate your presence and your support. 
    This is an event that is part of our Weiser Diplomacy Center, a speaker series, which has featured many distinguished diplomats and policymakers. 
    I want to thank U of M Regent Ron Weiser and his wife, Eileen Weiser, for their generosity and their vision. 
    Unfortunately, they couldn't be here right now for this event, but they'll have a chance to be with Susan later today. 
    And I just wanted to have us all pause and thank them for their support for our program.
    >> MICHAEL BARR: I have a great honor of now introducing our featured speaker. 
    Ambassador Susan Rice is one of the nation's foremost experts in national security and international affairs. 
    She served on the National Security Council staff and as an Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs in the Clinton administration. 
    She served as US Ambassador to the United Nations and National Security Advisor under President Barack Obama. 
    She is the author of the recently released book, Tough Love: My Story of Things Worth Fighting For, that we're going to be talking with her this afternoon about.
    Copies of Tough Love are available for free here today for all of you who are in the audience and watching in the adjacent classrooms, and we're very grateful for Ambassador Rice's generosity in making that possible. 
    Please be sure to pick up a copy of what is really a terrific, engaging, and inspiring book. 
    Today is, of course, the celebration of the legacy and impact of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 
    In her book, Susan mentioned several times the well-known quote of Dr. King, "The arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards justice." 
    President Obama, in fact, had that quote woven into the carpet in the Oval Office. 
    Dr. King first spoke these words in March 1965 in Montgomery, Alabama.
    Later that same year, he repeated the phrase in a speech in New York, where he encouraged his listeners not to be discouraged in their fight for freedom and equality. 
    He said, and I quote, "If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition that we now face will surely fail. 
    Before victory is won for brotherhood and justice, some more will have to get scarred up a bit, but if this is the price that some must pay to free their children and their white brothers from a permanent death of the spirit, then nothing can be more redemptive. 
    Yes, we shall overcome, and we shall overcome, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice." 
    I think this message is one we ought to pause and reflect upon today as we honor his memory.
    Ambassador Rice's career of public service and commitment to international diplomacy exemplifies the spirit of action and compassion modeled by Dr. King. 
    I found Dr. Rice's book inspiring. In it, you'll learn about her early life, her impressive career, the time she spent in President Obama's cabinet. 
    Perhaps most admirable, however, is her willingness to discuss the missteps she made along the way, and how she strove to recognize and to correct them. 
    No matter the stumbling blocks, Susan has remained steadfast in her commitment to making the world safer and promoting human rights through international cooperation.
    You will find her full biography in the program, so I won't tell you all the details, but let me just say, Ambassador Rice's 25-year career of public service is impressive. 
    She has served at the highest levels in the United States government. She's developed expertise globally around the world. 
    She's deeply versed in national security policy and economic development and cyber security. 
    After finishing her Doctorate in International Relations at Oxford where she was a Rhodes Scholar, Ambassador Rice held a series of staff positions at the National Security Council, and as I mentioned, later served as US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. 
    In 2002, she joined the Brookings Institution as a Senior Fellow. And in 2008, she returned to public service, first, as US Permanent Representative to the United Nations, and later as National Security Advisor.
    Now, let me just say a word on format. 
    I'm gonna talk with Susan for a while, and then we're going to have some time for questions from the audience. 
    Two Ford School students sitting right here, Amy Turner and Victor Retang, with Professor John Hanson, will sift through your question cards and pose them to Ambassador Rice. 
    For those who are watching online, please tweet your questions using the hashtag #policytalks. 
    I hope you'll join me once again in welcoming Ambassador Susan Rice.
    >> MICHAEL BARR: You got a good audience.
    >> SUSAN RICE: Thank you all for coming out. Good afternoon.
    >> SUSAN RICE: I can't let you get away with that introduction.
    [ laughter ] 
    >> MICHAEL BARR: You want to start, what do you want to say? 
    >> SUSAN RICE: That's a garbage introduction.
    >> MICHAEL BARR: Well, what should we talk about? 
    >> SUSAN RICE: The most important thing you left out is that we have been friends and colleagues for 30 years.
    >> MICHAEL BARR: That is true.
    >> SUSAN RICE: It was like, I know he's gonna get to that, right? 
    >> MICHAEL BARR: We're gonna get to that in the Q&A.
    >> SUSAN RICE: Yeah, alright, I just thought it was only fair that the audience know what the deal is.
    >> MICHAEL BARR: We met... Many of you in the audience are in graduate school, and we met in graduate school a couple of days ago at Oxford.
    >> SUSAN RICE: Yeah, when we were both...
    >> MICHAEL BARR: Young.
    >> SUSAN RICE: Young, impressionable.
    >> MICHAEL BARR: Yeah.
    >> SUSAN RICE: Working on our Master's degrees. Yeah, we were in the trenches together and then we actually had our first quasi-policy jobs together, so you should explain that.
    >> MICHAEL BARR: I wouldn't have said quasi.
    >> SUSAN RICE: Well, it was quasi 'cause it was a campaign. We weren't making real policy.
    >> MICHAEL BARR: We didn't know what we were doing but it was a real policy job.
    >> SUSAN RICE: Michael and I were graduate students together at Oxford, Master's students. I was one year ahead of him but we were in the same cohort and then we both worked on the painful and ill-fated Democratic presidential campaign of 1988, when the Democratic nominee was somebody most of you probably have never heard of, named Michael Dukakis. And that was my first of three campaigns and my most stark exposure to what a losing campaign feels like.
    >> MICHAEL BARR: What failure looks like.
    >> SUSAN RICE: Yes.
    >> MICHAEL BARR: Yeah.
    >> SUSAN RICE: So that's...
    >> MICHAEL BARR: It was humbling.
    >> SUSAN RICE: To say the least, yes.
    >> MICHAEL BARR: Part of that campaign, as I recall, involved Governor Dukakis riding around in a tank with a hat that made him look like Snoopy.
    >> SUSAN RICE: Yes.
    >> MICHAEL BARR: But you didn't suggest that.
    >> SUSAN RICE: I had nothing to do with that, and I'm here to say nor did you.
    >> MICHAEL BARR: Nor did I.
    >> SUSAN RICE: Alright, I just thought it was important for you all not to be snowed by that...
    >> MICHAEL BARR: Introduction.
    >> SUSAN RICE: Ridiculous introduction, yes.
    >> MICHAEL BARR: It was, it was. And we have also in the crowd, Lisa Cook who is also...
    >> SUSAN RICE: Who is also our friend and colleague.
    >> MICHAEL BARR: Also our friend and colleague from that era and today. So I want to start by talking about the title of your book, Tough Love. 
    You can think of tough love... A lot of people say tough love is kind of a strategy, like you deploy tough love because you want somebody to get better at the thing that they're doing in some way. 
    And reading your book, I was struck by the fact that it seemed to me that tough love was just a fact in the book. 
    Like a lot of the love that you got was tough, a lot of the love that you gave was sometimes tough, you're very tough on yourself to the extent that you love yourself, you are very tough about yourself. 
    Help us understand as an audience, why you called the book Tough Love and what it means to you.
    >> SUSAN RICE: Well, first of all to me Tough Love means loving fiercely but not uncritically. 
    It means that when you care deeply about somebody, you care enough to give them your unvarnished truth. 
    And you do it from the vantage point of somebody who has their best interest at heart. 
    And that's how my parents raised me and my younger brother John. 
    They were fierce defenders and supporters of ours, but always willing to tell us when we could do better, and when we had fallen short. 
    And it came from the perspective of parents who had our best interests at heart.
    That's how Ian and I have tried to raise our own kids. 
    It's how I've led my teams in government, both inviting that kind of feedback when I needed it most, but also being willing to give it to others. 
    And frankly, also it's how I've tried to serve our country. 
    I love this country passionately but I believe we have and do and will make mistakes. 
    And we need to be willing to acknowledge those and to learn from them. 
    And so Tough Love is I wrestled with the title of the book as I think so many authors do. When it hit me, it really encompassed so many aspects of my personal and professional life. 
    And it seemed fitting, and maybe it is a fact of my experience, but it's a fact I'm deeply grateful for, because I think too often, we're shy about sharing what needs to be said, and what we need to hear, and what we need to convey. 
    Worried about ruffling feathers, or being hurt, or offending, and yet that kind of loving where you care enough to share what's important, I think is a huge gift.
    >> MICHAEL BARR: That's great. One of the things that students often ask is: How can you be successful at this or that job? 
    And I say to them among other things, something that surprise us, I said, "Love your team." 
    And I was struck by that. I crashed dinner with Susan and Ian a few weeks ago, she was supposed to be having dinner with her former staff.
    >> SUSAN RICE: With yeah, a group of them.
    >> MICHAEL BARR: And I just showed up [chuckle] but I was...
    >> SUSAN RICE: Well, actually... Okay, I won't tell the whole story.
    >> MICHAEL BARR: You could tell the whole story but it's not that interesting.
    >> SUSAN RICE: We were supposed to have dinner the next night. 
    Michael got confused. 
    And he was sitting alone in the restaurant across town waiting for me to show up, and sending me these frantic texts...
    >> MICHAEL BARR: You were uncharacteristically late.
    >> SUSAN RICE: Worried that something had happened to me, and then I realized what the mistake was. 
    And so he came and joined the dinner that I was actually supposed to have that night.
    [ laughter ]
    >> MICHAEL BARR: That is true, but the point of my story was that it was evident that you love your team.
    And that was really wonderful to be able to see.
    It is an important part of being an effective leader is building that love with the people you work with.
    And it is a word that I think people are scared to use: love.
    The "tough" part and the "love" part.
    >> SUSAN RICE: Yeah, well, this is one of the things I learned as I describe in the book over the course of my career.
    I started in government very early at age 28.
    I was very fortunate to have a job on the National Security Council staff at the very beginning of the Clinton administration.
    They called it the director level.
    The National Security Council staff is actually quite flat.
    Directors are the day-to-day policy experts with discrete portfolios.
    My responsibility was the United Nations and peacekeeping.
    >> MICHAEL BARR: A small little topic.
    >> SUSAN RICE: But you can imagine when I ran the Africa office, for example, we had a small staff of three or four directors at the peak and one would do southern Africa one would do east Africa, west Africa, etc.
    These are the substantive policy experts.
    And it was in that context that I first had the opportunity to serve and have the opportunity to be part of a talented team early in my career.
    I made some -- as I moved up particularly in the course of my years in the Clinton administration.
    After two years, I ran the Africa office on the NSC.
    Then, at age 32, was named by President Clinton to be an assistant secretary of state for African affairs.
    >> MICHAEL BARR: Beating the record previously set by Richard Holbrooke for youngest assistant secretary of state ever.
    >> SUSAN RICE: Apparently yes.
    >> MICHAEL BARR: He did not like that.
    >> SUSAN RICE: Are we going to get to that? 
    >> MICHAEL BARR: I will do that later.
    >> SUSAN RICE: The point is, I got these jobs early.
    And I was substantively, relatively well prepared but in terms of leading teams and managing people and particularly when I got to the state department at 32, I was an African-American woman who just had a baby, a breast-feeding mother, and my colleagues and particularly those senior colleagues, who were the ambassadors and deputy assistant secretaries and the like who worked with me, served under me, were 20 to 30 years my senior.
    And predominantly white male diplomats.
    So figuring out in that context how to lead and manage teams when frankly many of them thought I did not deserve to be in the job I was in, it was a real challenge and I made some mistakes and I talk about them in the book.
    Where I tripped up on what I learned and how I was fortunate to have colleagues and friends who took me aside and gave me the kind of tough love I needed to grow.
    But it was in that context that I learned eventually that leading a team is not a solo sport.
    Leadership is a team sport and that means you have to inspire people to want to join together and join you in a common cause.
    And to achieve that they have to feel that they matter.
    That their voices are heard.
    That their inputs are valued.
    And that as human beings, they are valued.
    The glue of a team is mutual respect, but it's also caring. 
    And I would not shy from using the term love.
    >> MICHAEL BARR: You just described the early arc of your career which involved a rapid ascent at the highest levels of government. 
    And you think back to that stage, how do you think you had the courage to empower yourself to be effective in that context? 
    How did you have the confidence? 
    We are going to talk about too much confidence later, but how do you have the confidence to even get started on that path? 
    What do you think you drew on to be able to do that? 
    >> SUSAN RICE: To an extremely large extent, as I spent time talking about in the book, the core strength I had, the confidence I developed, my ability to enter unfamiliar environments and to be prepared to do my best and hopefully excel really came from my parents and all that I was taught in my childhood and growing up and it came from their experiences.
    And I don't know if you want to go there now but I think it is important.
    >> MICHAEL BARR: Let's talk about your family.
    I do think it is an important part of who you are and the path you took, the path you chose.
    >> SUSAN RICE: I have two very different parents who came from different backgrounds.
    My mother's parents were immigrants from Jamaica that came to Portland, Maine in 1912.
    And as you can imagine…
    >> MICHAEL BARR: Huge Jamaican community there.
    >> SUSAN RICE: Exactly.
    [ laughter ] 
    >> SUSAN RICE: Yeah. 
    Maine is not the most diverse state today even though it is much more diverse than it used to be.
    Back then in 1912, he probably could count on a couple of hands the number of families who were of people of color.
    My grandparents had no education.
    My grandfather was a janitor.
    My grandmother was a maid and a seamstress.
    Like so many immigrants, they came to this country with the dream of being able to have a family and educate their children and enable their children to live much more professionally successful and gratifying lives.
    And they did.
    They scraped and saved.
    They had five children.
    And they sent all five of their kids to college.
    My mother was the youngest of five.
    She had four older brothers.
    They all went to Bowdoin College in Maine.
    My grandfather was the first man to have four sons attend Bowdoin College even though the closest is he ever got to go was attending it events on the weekend there.
    Two of my uncles became doctors.
    In fact they lived and worked many years in Detroit.
    That is where they practiced.
    One became a university president having been in English literature professor in the fourth and optometrist.
    Along comes my mother who was 11 years younger than her youngest brother and they did not know where she should go to college because girls at that point couldn't go to Bowdoin College.
    She ended up as her high school valedictorian and president of her student body and national champion debater and attending Radcliffe college which as you know.
    >> MICHAEL BARR: Not before your grandfather tried to get Bowdoin to change the rules.
    >> SUSAN RICE: He did try but didn't succeed.
    Many years after that women were admitted to Bowdoin.
    My mom graduated from high school 1950.
    This is the timeframe.
    She went on to Radcliffe and had very successful academic career there, was president of the student body.
    Again a place where in her class of 1954, there were three women of color and yet she excelled and went on to be instrumental in the establishment of the Pell Grant program.
    Her whole emphasis professionally was on access to higher education for low income and minority students because she barely was able to attend college herself.
    A longer story I tell in the book, my grandfather having sent the older kids to college, right before my mom was supposed to go, he fell down an elevator shaft at the music store where he was a janitor and broke his back and legs and was in the hospital all this time for many months.
    All of their savings was sapped, and she almost didn't get to go attend Radcliffe College because she was denied the scholarship, the state of Maine, Radcliffe committee was supposed to give her as valedictorian.
    She was denied it because she was black.
    The rule was, the recipients of the scholarship were supposed to come back to Maine and move in the proper circles to raise money for Radcliffe and because she was black, by definition she could not move in the proper circles.
    So she was denied the scholarship.
    Her high school principal and debate coach appealed directly to Radcliffe and they gave her the money.
    So having realized how important that financing was to her and so many others, that is why she devoted her career to trying to create opportunities through the Pell grant program.
    When she passed in 2017 she was known as the mother of the Pell grant.
    That Pell grant program has enabled 80 million Americans to attend college in this country.
    [ Applause ]
    Of course, it's under assault today.
    But it endures.
    And I think we will continue to grow.
    My mom was this vanguard herself as an African-American woman in environments where she was not expected to be much less thrive or succeed.
    She went on to be a corporate executive in the sit on 11 corporate boards.
    So she was an incredibly powerful role model for me, a working mother in a time that many of my peers mothers didn't work.
    And who wasn't afraid to be a pioneer.
    My dad came from a very different background.
    He was the descendent of slaves, born in South Carolina.
    In 1920 and the height of Jim Crow and the KKK, all of that.
    And yet his background was fascinating.
    He was third-generation college-educated.
    My great-grandfather who had been a slave in South Carolina, he fought in the union army during the civil war.
    After the war, an officer who had supervised them, a white officer from Massachusetts, invited him to Massachusetts to get a basic education, to get primary education.
    He went back to South Carolina and began teaching school.
    This is during reconstruction.
    And then got driven out of South Carolina by the Ku Klux Klan and he fled to new jersey and he got his college degree added divinity degree at Lincoln University.
    Just years after having been enslaved.
    And then he went on, my great-grandfather went on to found a school in New Jersey called the Warden Town school.
    It was found in the late 1880s and it endured until the mid-1950s.
    It educated generations of African-Americans, in not only vocational technical skills but also college preparatory skills.
    And so Albert Einstein, in Mary McLeod Bethune, Eleanor Roosevelt, they visited the campus and it was a really important education institution.
    Along comes my dad, two generations later.
    Again the expectation was he was supposed to go into the ministry or something like that.
    He had no interest in that.
    He ended up getting his BA in New York City at City College of New York in economics and then got an MBA.
    But then he was drafted into World War II.
    And that turned out to be an incredibly formative it experience for him.
    He served at Tuskegee with the Tuskegee airmen.
    Rather than viewing that experiences as some great opportunity to be part of proving that African- Americans could fly and fight as well as anybody else, he really deeply resented the notion that African- Americans had to prove anything to white America.
    And deeply resented the idea of fighting in segregated military for the freedom of everybody but his own people.
    And he was a proud American.
    He was a patriot, and he was proud to serve.
    But he was painfully aware of the dichotomy of and irony of that experience.
    And profoundly offended by the racism he endured all through his upbringing and indeed into his adulthood.
    He ended up leaving Tuskegee.
    He went to the University of California at Berkeley and became a PhD in economics.
    He was a professor at Cornell for many years.
    And then worked in the treasury department at the World Bank and then ultimately became a governor of the Federal Reserve.
    His big struggle was figure out how to fulfill his potential.
    How to become what he knew he could be in a society that was telling him at every turn he couldn't.
    He could not get a job on the west coast in academia, he couldn't get a job in the private sector.
    He got his first job out of graduate school at Cornell because they did not know he was black until he showed up.
    And they thankfully did not put him out.
    In the end the opportunity to grow.
    My dad taught me so much.
    I speak a lot about the lessons he taught us in the book, but one of the most important things he taught us was to believe in ourselves.
    And to recognize that we were going to encounter racism, we were going to encounter bigotry and all those things were extremely real barriers.
    Many of which we may not be able to control, but we did have control over how we viewed ourselves.
    And he taught us that bigotry is to a great extent a function of the bigots own insecurity.
    As the recipient of that bigotry, you have a choice: you can either let the other person's definition become your own or you can sort of develop the muscles to perform a psychological ju jitsu and push that insecurity back on them and understand your own self worth. 
    Not let anybody else to find you for you.
    That is how we were raised.
    >> MICHAEL BARR: He had an pithy expression for that.
    >> SUSAN RICE: He had two pithy expressions for that.
    One was, don't take crap off of anybody.
    He told us this over and over again, if somebody -- if somebody is trying to dismiss your dog or your bully you, you don't take it.
    You push back and you stand up for yourself. 
    The other thing he understood as he got older.
    What he taught us, summarized his perspective on race.
    And that was, if my being black is going to be a problem, it will be a problem for somebody else, not for me.
    [ Applause ]
    >> SUSAN RICE: In other words I have to know who I am and if they don't think I belong, that is their problem.
    Fast-forward fast forward to when I am a young African-American female assistant secretary of state, breast-feeding a child 
    [ Laughter ]
    I arguably don't belong.
    At least not yet, at least not then.
    And I was very aware of other people's perceptions of me 
    >> MICHAEL BARR: uh-uh (affirmative).
    >> SUSAN RICE: But I realized I had two choices.
    Either to let them define me for me. 
    In other words to believe that I did not belong and to act like I did not belong.
    Or to say to hell with it.
    I'm capable, I’m qualified.
    I might be young, I might make mistakes, but I can do this job and I do belong.
    And they're going to have to get used to it.
    >> MICHAEL BARR: It worked.
    >> SUSAN RICE: Many of them did. 
    [ Laughter ]
    Some didn't and some became and remained committed detractors.
    That's okay. That's fine.
    >> MICHAEL BARR: So you're coming into this -- the story of your parents is amazing.
    The mother of Pell grants on one side, second African-American Federal Reserve board governor on the other, real forces that shaped you.
    I think you tell that story beautifully in the book.
    You also talk a lot in the book about missteps you made along the way.
    I want to focus for now on when you were younger, the first experience in the government of the Clinton administration.
    Broderick Johnson served with us under President Clinton and President Obama.
    I think you would agree you and I had maybe shared a little trait when we were younger of maybe a little excessive arrogance.
    >> SUSAN RICE: You think? 
    >> MICHAEL BARR: Maybe pushed a little bit too hard.
    >> SUSAN RICE: Wait a minute.
    [ Laughter ]
    How about an abundance of self-confidence? An abundance of self-confidence.
    >> MICHAEL BARR: Which is very useful.
    >> SUSAN RICE: Arrogance implies dismissing other people and I don't.
    >> MICHAEL BARR: But sometimes you made a mistake. You talk in the book about that. 
    I want you to talk a little bit about maybe one of the mistakes you made that came out of the abundance of self-confidence.
    And you had some schooling in that, and I think it would be useful to talk about that.
    >> SUSAN RICE: Well, I describe a number of experiences in the book which were growth experiences.
    But I think the one that is most stark, in some ways was early, in my tenure as assistant secretary of state for African affairs. 
    I had probably been in the job for a year.
    So was 33, maybe close to 34.
    1998 was my first full calendar year in that role and we had -- and that year, in addition to President Clinton's first extensive trip to Africa -- he went to six countries in 10 days, a highly successful trip.
    But after that, the wheels came off the bus.
    The war broke out between Ethiopia and Eritrea, war resumed in Angola. In Congo, six countries got involved in the Congolese civil conflict.
    It became known as Africa's first world war.
    Liberia blew up -- I'm getting there.
    Liberia blew up.
    Libya and South Sudan, they were at each other's throats.
    And then in August 1998, al qaeda attacked two of our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
    Killing 12 Americans in Kenya, over 200 Kenyans, and wounding thousands.
    End of the death toll was lower in Tanzania, and no Americans were killed, we lost Tanzanian colleagues who served in the embassy.
    It was a devastating experience for all of us.
    These were our colleagues in the African bureau.
    And yet, through all of this we had to support the families.
    We had to support the FBI and the FBI investigation.
    We had to do all these things that come with a crisis like that, and a terroristic attack and it was consuming and overwhelming.
    And the only way I knew how to deal with that is just to stay focused, forge forward, do not get overwhelmed by emotion, but just to charge through it.
    And at the same time, in addition to what we had already suffered, we had a constant stream of threats that were credible threats targeting other embassies on the African continent.
    We were playing whack-a-mole.
    We were dealing with the threat streams without the ability to do the reconstruction that quickly that was necessary to harden our embassies at a time when many of our embassies in Africa were situated in vulnerable places and had old-school construction.
    My leadership style in that context, as I said, was just hard ass, nose to the grind stone, just charge through it.
    And I was incredibly fortunate to have a colleague at the end of that year ask me out to lunch.
    This was but you man who may have been known to some of you here. 
    A man named Howard Wolpe. Howard Wolpe was a congressman from Michigan.
    He was the former chair of the house of Africa subcommittee for many years and extraordinarily brilliant, kind, funny gentleman.
    And at that point, he was serving as President Clinton's special envoy for the Great Lakes region of central Africa, working with me in the African Bureau.
    He took me out to lunch.
    I thought it was just supposed to be a social lunch it was one of these mediocre chinese restaurants near the state department called the Magic Gourd.
    I'm waiting for them to sue me because I don't treat them nicely in the book.
    >> MICHAEL BARR: They're not going to be the first one in the book to sue you.    
    [ Laughter ]    
    >> Susan Rice: They may be the only ones left standing to sue me.
    Anyway, we got to lunch and were barely into the meal when he says to me, you know, Susan, you're going to fail in this job if you don't dramatically change course.
    You are smart.
    You've got the support of the secretary and the president.
    You have the vision, you have drive, but you are too impatient.
    You are not sufficiently to think inclusive of your colleagues.
    You're not taking on their advice and experience.
    You're making them feel excluded and not valued.
    And if you don't change the way you lead, you're going to lose them.
    And you're going to fail.
    And I was not expecting that.
    But as soon as he started talking, I realized he was saying something important.
    And I realize he didn't have to do this. 
    He could have just let me fail.
    And a lot of folks would've been happy.
    But he cared and was coming from the perspective of having my best interest at heart.
    I saw that immediately and I listened carefully and I didn't argue. 
    I asked questions and tried to understand to the best I could where I was messing up and what kinds of things I could do better.
    And I took the time over the Christmas break to think through and absorb what he said and I was able to change course and to do better and to become a much more effective leader of teams and people.
    And I think quite honestly, if he had not intervened and told me the hard truth I needed to hear, giving me that tough love, I probably would not have been able to do the jobs that I was asked to do subsequently.
    I probably would not have been asked.
    It would not have been deemed ready for that.
    So it was an extraordinary gift.
    I’ll always be grateful to him, not just for that, but for so many other things as well.
    I've tried as I've got more senior, where I see younger colleagues with real potential and great skills with something that I thought was holding them back.
    To be as candid with them as Howard was with me.
    >> MICHAEL BARR: I want to fast forward the story a bit to 2007.
    Your decision to throw your hat in with candidate Obama.
    That was a risky decision at the time for you? You have been very attached to the Clinton administration. People early on did not expect President Obama to defeat Hillary Clinton.
    >> SUSAN RICE: Not just early on, but for a long time.
    >> MICHAEL BARR: And it cost you personally and professionally. It was hard to make that choice.
    So how did you go about making the decision? How did you make that choice?
    >> SUSAN RICE: It was not a hard choice at all.
    First of all, I was extremely proud and grateful to have served under President Clinton for eight years in three different roles and I had and still have great admiration and respect for him and for then Senator Clinton who became my colleague in the Obama administration.
    But I had worked with her also while she was First Lady.
    She took trips to Africa and our work intersected.
    So my choice in 2007 to join with Obama was not a choice against the Clintons in any way, shape, or form.
    It was a choice in favor of Obama.
    And for me, I had gotten to know Obama a bit when he was running for the senate in 2004.
    I was working for another failed democratic presidential campaign.    
    [ Laughter ]    
    this time the John Kerry campaign much better than the Dukakis, but unsuccessful.
    It was in that context that I first met Barack Obama and then later, when he came to the senate and began to serve on the senate foreign relations committee and got engaged in international issues, he called on me and we met. And I tried to provide perspectives of briefings, and he asked me to work on the foreign-policy chapter the second book "The Audacity of Hope" and so that is when we really got to begin to know each other.
    And then in 2007 when he decided to run for president, he asked me co-lead his effort to establish a pool of outside national security advisors -- or foreign-policy advisors and be a surrogate advisor and do debate prep and all that stuff.
    And the reason why it was not a hard choice is because Obama, for me, represented the future.
    Remember, this is 2007.
    He represented my belief and my hope for what this country could be.
    And for the first time in my lifetime, in my experience, I had found a leader of my generation who also happen to be African-American, whose policy views and instincts I shared almost entirely.
    And whose victory, if it could be achieved, I thought would be a powerful statement of our country's ability to grow.
    And so, I recognized that he may well not win.
    I think I gave it a little more -- the prospect of him becoming president a little more credence and so, but it was a huge long shot.
    When I was warned by my friends and colleagues working with secretary Clinton and then senator Clinton, that if I start with Obama, I should expect not to return I think the term was that it is likely to be a career ending move.
    I did not take that as a threat.
    I do not think it was intended as a threat but it was a statement of fact in their judgment.
    And, I just did what I thought was right.
    I knew it was right for me.
    And I was prepared -- prepared for whatever consequence.
    that turned out to be a good choice.
    it turned out to be a good choice.
    you then go on to be -- president Obama named you ambassador to the un you become international security advisor.
    I'm going to go on the substance of that in a minute want to spend a little time talking about your Sunday shows.
    before we do that, I just want to acknowledge that the great, congresswoman debbie dingell walked in 
    [ Applause ]
     this being her district.
    so this is one of the many ways you know that susan rice is a professional master and diplomat 
    [ Laughter ]
    she can pay 100 percent attention to me and also know everybody in the audience.
    not everybody.
    Anyway, I wasn't trying to.
    divert attention, but.
    well that's an interesting word you just used.
    There is a lot of criticism.
    He went on the Sunday shows after a tragedy that a Benghazi diplomat facilities attacks -- on the facility, not the embassy.
    Chris hill -- chris hill, thankfully, still alive.
    I'm sorry 
    [ Laughter ]    
    and three other Americans passed away.
    And you are asked to go on Sunday shows.
    You going to do Sunday shows and that turned out to have been just a disastrous mass.
    Can you describe why that matters? Why did it matter to go out on the Sunday shows? What happened? What did you do with your career? so, I read about this -- there's a chapter in the book on Benghazi.
    And I begin by explaining how it all came about.
    And that is -- it was a friday afternoon.
    The terrorist attack occurred on a tuesday.
    And it also came in the context of several of our dramatic facilities in Africa, the middle east, south asia, facing protests and demonstrations.
    Many had turned violent.
    All in a wave.
    But what happened at Benghazi turned out to be qualitatively different.
    It was the only place where it was a straight up terroristic attack and we lost lives.
    I was asked right after by the white house if I would be willing to go on a Sunday shows to represent the administration and discuss what had happened.
    They had already asked secretary Clinton.
    She had declined.
    And I -- and I assume others, perhaps, too.
    And I had some understanding, quite frankly, going back to my experience with our embassy bombings in east Africa of what kind of emotional, physical and psychological toll losing your colleagues, takes on a senior policymaker.
    I did not question her reasons for not wanting to go on the shows.
    I just assumed it was enough already.
    And I said, this is not what I was planning to do on the weekend.
    I was actually -- forgive me for saying this here, but I was taking my two kids to Ohio State 
    [ Laughter ]
    to watch Ohio State play Berkeley.
    you are a big risk taker 
    [ Laughter ]    
    it was my kids first big football game.
    That was my plan for the weekend, to go on five Sunday shows.
    But I said I would.
    And that evening, as I was driving home from work, I stopped -- by the way, I'm un ambassador now.
    So I’m living and working in New York most days.
    I come home when I can on the weekends my family is still back in washington.
    I stopped by my mother's house.
    At this point, my mom is quite frail and ill.
    She had had five cancer surgeries.
    She had a stroke following her last surgery.
    She was weak physically, recovering from the stroke.
    But mentally still quite sure.
    And I went to check on her my way home because I did not get to see her every day since I'm not living in town.
    And I walk into her kitchen and as usual, she's got cnn blaring on the television.
    And she says what are you doing this weekend? And I say well I'm taking the kids to Ohio State and then I'm going on the Sunday shows to talk about was happened this week and she looks at me and she goes why you? And I'm like I explained what I just said and she says I smell a rat.
    Don't do it.
    I’m like mom, don't be ridiculous.
    I've done this many times before.
    It will be fine.    
    [ Laughter ]    
    it turns out your mother is always right.
    I could have titled this book always listen to your mother 
    [ Laughter ]
    that would have been appropriate as well.
    But what my mom was thinking, which was not what I was thinking, she was thinking about me.
    She was thinking about what is good for her daughter.
    And she just felt intuitively that it was a risky venture to go and be one of the first people out of the box on national television to talk about a tragic terroristic attack that was already becoming politicized in the middle of a hot campaign.
    I wasn't thinking about that.
    I was thinking about being a member of a team we had suffered a tragedy.
    Someone had to speak and I said yes.
    So I go on a Sunday shows and I use the information that had been provided to me by our intelligence community -- the so-called talking points, the unclassified talking points, the conveyed our current best knowledge of what had happened.
    And I stuck to them faithfully.
    I knew them to be up-to-date and accurate because I consume that intelligence every day.
    I received and read the president's daily briefing and just the Saturday morning before I got on the plane to take the kids to Ohio State, I had my briefing.
    And so I knew that what I was being asked to say was indeed, what we knew to be the case.
    But, not long after I shared our current best understanding, the information we had evolved and it turned out long story short, that in about 10 days after I went on the shows, the intelligence community came out and put out a public statement saying that the information they had given me a members of congress and other policymakers had been updated and revised it was inaccurate in a few certain respects.
    Fast-forward, after all the investigations and all of the reviews of the information, the talking points I used turned out to be wrong in one critical respect.
    There was no demonstration outside of a compounding gambit -- Benghazi.
    But the other aspects actually overtime ended up holding up.
    But in the meantime, I was branded a liar.
    I was -- congressmen were calling for my head.
    Certain senators, incompetent or untrustworthy.
    It was a steady stream of attacks on my character, my integrity and my intelligence for months.
    And it continued all through the election campaign.
    And it was very upsetting to my mother who could not turn off the television on the one hand and couldn't stand it to see my character attacked.
    It was hard on my family as well.
    And yet, I had assumed that when the election was over, that the politics would die down and that I could go back to doing my job as un ambassador.
    I was also in that same time being considered by the president as one of at least two people for secretary of state in his second term.
    After the election, to my surprise, the drum beat among republicans in congress, particularly in this intensified rather than diminished.
    And their aim was to try to prevent president Obama from nominating me to become secretary of state or nominated get difficult for me to get confirmed in.
    This intensifies.
    The bottom line is by mid December, I made the judgment that rather than -- if the president were to select me and I had no inside knowledge of what his thinking was, that was best for my perspective to withdraw my name for consideration.
    That's what I did.
    I was thinking of my family but also frankly, even more so, I think my family probably could have hung in there with me, thinking about the president's agenda and the many things he had on his plate to do.
    He wanted to take on immigration reform and many other things.
    And I thought that even though I was likely to be confirmed, we had a democrat majority in the senate at that point it would've been a long, ugly battle that would've distracted from what we needed to get done and so, made the judgment that I should withdraw my name.
    And I did.
    And I continue to work as un ambassador.
    And then, about six months later I was named national security advisor not a bad job.
    no thought about job at all.
    So, for my personal vantage point, I feel extraordinarily privileged and blessed to have been able to serve both in the cabinet at the un and then subsequently at the white house as national security advisor.
    I don't feel as if, you know, I lost out in that regard.
    But what I do feeling what I'm right about his being part of the motivation for writing the book, was that for years, on cable television, depending on what station you listen to, I was characterized as a villain or victim or a vanquishing heroin.
    All these crazy characterizations that had no resemblance to who I am and where I come from and what motivates me.
    And yet, as a public servant, representing the united states, speaking on behalf of the country and the president, I was not and could not and should not be speaking on my behalf in telling my own story.
    And so part of why I wanted to write tough love was not only to share what I had learned through the experience of my family growing up in my service in government, but also to do what my father always taught us, which is define yourself for yourself.
    Which I couldn't do while I was serving.
    So this is my best effort to tell the story of who I am and where I came from and the forces that influence me what I learned and where I screwed up and where I think we got it right.
    And hopefully, to do it in a way that is helpful to others that will impart some of this learning in a fashion that can be utilized by others.
    I think you very much do and one of the a very important theme in the book in your life is your family.
    One of the interesting things in your family is that you have an encapsulation of some of the political struggles you are going through is a country inside your family.
    I loved susan's children, mary is who is here her daughter is here and jake is at stanford.
    And jake is a republican leader on campus.
    And how do you -- how would you describe how you, as a family navigate these very different politics inside your own home? well, ian and I tried to raise our kids to think for themselves, to be independent-minded, but to have the courage of your convictions and unfortunately, that's what happened.    
    [ Laughter ]    
    Mary is -- I won't characterize her views in front of her, but let's say her views are at least as progressive as ours and probably more so.
    And jake's are substantially to the other side and they will they weren't always so and I'm proud of them both.
    I love them both.
    I disagree a lot with jake on issues and substance and sometimes those disagreements get heated and sometimes the dinner discussions get lively but I'm blessed to have two, smart, committed kids who care about public issues.
    And they are prepared to stand up for what they believe.
    So it's not easy.
    I mean, there are times when it strings the fabric of our family.
    At the end of the day, you know, we made a conscious decision that what we share as a family and that love and bond is more important than politics or policy.
    And that we are going to fight to keep our family intact.
    We did not talk about another aspect of my upbringing, but I talked about my parents and how wonderful they were.
    And all that is true, but they had no business of her being married to each other.    
    [ Laughter ]
    and they had a horrible marriage and a very ugly protracted divorce and custody battle.
    My brother and I endured from basically age 7 to 15.
    And that was a power of fully formative experience that was painful and challenging, but it taught me resilience.
    And you know, one of the things that I'm committed to having lost by -- the integrity of marriage and family even though thankfully, had two parents were very much in my life and involved in my life.
    They just weren't able to live under the same roof.
    I'm going to fight to keep my current family whole.
    And it's not always easy, but it's important.
    And the good news is, I think we all share the commitment.
    am going to ask susan one last question, in turn it over to the students to take your questions.
    We are here celebrating martin luther king day and in your book, you repeat his phrase the ark of the moral universe but it tends towards justice.
    And add but no one is going to do the hard bending if not you and me.
    So, what advice can you give to our students about how to begin that task of bending? well, first of all, I spent the last chapter of the book, the chapter called bridging the divide talking about the challenges we are facing today is an issue.
    I start with the family talk about you know how, within the four walls of her household we are facing the challenges of political division.
    But then talk about my very strong view that our domestic political divisions are now our greatest national security vulnerability.
    And I believe that for many reason preventing us from getting important things done like competing optimally with rising china.
    It's giving our adversaries like the Russians, a very easy opening to exacerbates our divisions and pour salt in the wounds of our divides about race or immigration or gay-rights or guns and their aim is to weaken and divide us from within, supplant our global leadership and do it without ever firing a bullet by virtue of exacerbating which they do every day on social media.
    Not just by the way, interfering in our elections is concerning is that is, but every day, all day, Russian controlled entities are playing on both sides of the issues pitting us against each other and causing us to distrust and even hate each other.
    We've got to confront that.
    And so, I say -- I offer a number of paths to confront those divisions and try to heal them from how we educate ourselves and our children and how we engage with one another on a personal and human level.
    How we structure our political system, you know, our voting systems, there are all kinds of things how our media is organized.
    And yet, at the end of the day, we get to decide who's representing us, who is leading us, who is governing for us.
    And we can't afford to sit on the sidelines and either be disengaged or complain.
    We each have to get in the arena and participate.
    Minimally, we have to register and vote.
    But more importantly, hopefully, we will be encouraging others to come into the arena.
    We will engage ourselves.
    Perhaps running for office ourselves.
    But ensuring that our voices the voice that carries the day.
    And obviously, the place is as important as the state of Michigan, you know, the call to each of us to exercise and insist on a right to vote and express ourselves is more important than ever before.
    And so, there are many ways that we can each be part of bending that arc of the moral universe.
    But if we think it's somebody else's problem or somebody else will vote or my vote doesn't matter or my engagement in our -- and issues of the day and activism, in whatever it is that moves whether it's guns or climate or, you know the criminal justice system or immigration reform.
    Whatever it is, you've got to be involved.
    You cannot be a bystander.
    And what we stand by, stuff happens to us rather than for us or on our behalf.
    of the oscar students to begin audience questioning.
    good afternoon madam ambassador.
    Thank you for being here today.
    My name is amy turner on my first year master of policy student interested in economics trade and security issues.
    We discussed today that you rose quickly to high-ranking positions in the U.S.
    What do you believe are the one or two traits that most helps you stand out in your early career and would you recommend that to our graduate student especially women and women of color hoping to succeed in government? well I think that I was fortunate in a number of regards.
    One, I have a education.
    And very strong academic foundation that I carried with me into my early career.
    Having been able to have my doctorate early my work -- I guess by the time I was 25.
    Whether I was 25 or 30, that degree -- I think certainly some advanced degree on top of a strong undergraduate foundation is really important.
    Being a -- hard-working and prepared.
    You can't mail it in these days.
    Any day, really.
    You've got to be as good as you possibly can be and take the time to be maximally prepared.
    I think that's important for women and for people of color.
    Because you're not going to be cut any slack.
    You're not going to get a second chance to make a first impression.
    And so, that preparation is vital.
    And then I guess I would say -- and I try to underscore this to my kids as well -- being able to express yourself effectively, succinctly, with confidence both in writing and orally is usually important.
    I mean the business of government, particularly of foreign policy, national security diplomacy is often the business of analysis, of assessing various courses of actions and their implications and being able to express those assessment and analysis effectively.
    Being able to communicate and make an argument.
    Nb persuasive to senior people who will ultimately have to take on board your views, your inputs, recommendations.
    And so, those skills are vitally important.
    So I would start with education, preparation, and those written and oral mediation skills.
    And then I guess I would also say take it to the extent you possibly can, be open to the wisdom and the feedback of seniors, of mentors.
    I was very fortunate early in my career jobs men and women -- mostly, actually, white men, who were my early bosses, who took an interest in me and thought I had some potential.
    And helped be to gain the skills and experiences that I needed to step up and do the next thing.
    and mentors come in all flavors shapes and sizes, but being willing to embrace the wisdom of people who are prepared to share it is also something I learned to be extremely valuable.
    thank you.
    My name is Victor.
    First year student.
    Interested in international policy.
    My home country is Kenya which is one of the topics in your book.
    The question I have is the united states diplomacy under the trump administration has burn bridges with our allies in organizations like the United Nations.
    What steps should we take to restore the united states role in the national -- international community.
    That's a question of the moment.    
    [ Laughter ]    
    Well first of all, we have to change leadership 
    [ Applause ]
     secondly, we need a congress that is fulfilling its responsibilities.
    Because -- and I -- you know, the leadership in the white house is obvious if were talking about how we repair and restore our critical relationships with allies and partners that have been undermined by a transactional america first army first or whatever you want to call it kind of leadership style.
    But, I think among the many things that have rattled our allies and partners around the world is that those things that we always took for granted -- I think many of our former partners took for granted as the guardrails of our democracy, have shown how fragile they are.
    You know, it turns out that much of what we have come to expect as normal, appropriate behavior is a function of norms, not rules or laws.
    There's no law that says that we are supposed to have a white house press secretary who gives a daily briefing.
    There is no law that says that that person is supposed to tell the truth.
    There's no law that says that the president of the united states are members of his cabinet have to tell the truth.
    There is no law actually, even after watergate, where the norms were changed that the white house is not supposed to interfere with the business of the justice department except through proper channels very limited cases.
    And, the separation of powers and the checks and balances, the role of the court who had largely stood up but also the role of congress has proved to be inadequate to the moment.
    In particular, leadership that is unwilling in the senate, notably to provide oversight to uphold their constitutional responsibilities.
    Beyond that, I think, has totally freaked out -- all those things of freaked out our allies and partners because what it reveals is that the supposedly -- one of the longest standing continuous democracies in the world that has prided itself on for better or worse being a model this is a pretty fragile enterprise.
    And so, I think our partners are looking to a reassertion not only of a different type of leadership in the white house, but also, the other two branches, demonstrating their strength and independence.
    So that something.
    But the other thing I want to stress that it is not going to be at all easy or automatic to regain the trust and confidence of our allies and partners around the world.
    I don't think one can overstate the amount of damage done, the amount of confidence lost.
    And it ranges from -- it used to be that if united states made an agreement, with other countries, and it was a formal agreement, if not a treaty, even treaties, for that matter, that the successor administrations of whatever party would honor those agreements.
    The reason we used to do that is because why would any country on any issue or any group of countries make an agreement with united states if their expectation is that in two years, four years, eight years, is going to be undone? That's not how the world has worked.
    So now the world has to wonder, even if there is change in november, escaping from it from flipping back the other way again? What's keeping us from being completely unpredictable and unconscious.
    It's going to be the work of more than one president, even more than one two-term president.
    To restore the confidence.
    This is a long-term endeavor.
    When you think about how so many of our institutions and government have been hollowed out, hemorrhaging talent.
    The state department, the justice department, the intelligence community, that's just on the national security side of the ledger.
    We lost talent and knowledge and experience in that, too, is going to take many years to recoup.
    So this is a long-term project and we will have to recognize that you have to approach it with patience, with humility.
    And with a recognition that we have a lot of collective work to do.
    the state department seems like such a massive bureaucracy.
    Do you have tips for managing the department for someone looking to enter its key.
    when you enter, you don't have to manage it.
    That's good news 
    [ Laughter ]    
    but you do have to find your way.
    First of all, just for context, as big as the state department may feel is not that big.
    Compared to many other agencies.
    I mean you a big go to the defense department.
    That's big.
    But the state department is a culturally unique institution.
    It evolves.
    It's more diverse or least it was.
    not nearly as as much as it should be, but there was a time when women and African- Americans were filing class-action suits against the state department was real reason.
    So, -- and I can tell you it is a different place -- it was a different place in 2016 that it was in 1993 when I started in government.
    But it's also a culturally conservative place small see conservative meaning that it doesn't reward easily the outspoken, the squeaky wheel, the revolutionary.
    But it does allow for talent to show itself and to develop and to rise.
    The challenge with a career in the state department -- and I highly recommend government service, public service, including the foreign civil service.
    But the challenge is that it is a long career trajectory and they haven't figured out yet -- and this is something they need to do -- how to make service in the state department attractive even if you're not prepared to be there for 25 years, long enough to become an ambassador.
    How we get that talent and utilize the skills that would be so beneficial and make it a meaningful experience for three years, five years, seven years? That's going to require lots of changes.
    But, it is a place where knowledge and experience is valued.
    In a place where you get extraordinary opportunities to serve not only in washington, but overseas and important and interesting places.
    And a lot of what you get out of those foreign tours is what you put into it.
    If you want to state your computer you know, behind the blast walls of the embassy and never get out, you can do that.
    You will be a good reporting officer, or you can actually, to the extent possible, in the security context get out and really engage the country, the people, the society and make you much more valuable asset to the enterprise of the state department and to our decision-making in washington.
    so the question is this: what is the appropriate policy response to Russian interference in the U.S.
    collection system? too prevented to the extent we can.
    I write in the book -- in the chapter called the fourth quarter, about how we wrestled with this challenge in 2016.
    When, in august, it became obvious that the Russians were at the highest levels actively trying to interfere in our elections, in our democratic process.
    And I write about how we confronted that information, how we tried to respond in terms of shoring up the integrity of our electrical systems, the challenges we face where we could not get bipartisan leadership to agree on the challenge of the challenges we face.
    I talk about what we tried to do at the state level, to encourage the states to harden their systems the punitive responses we had readied the efforts that we made to communicate the challenge to the American people and the things that came our way as we did it.
    And we were especially concerned then with what we thought would be the most egregious Russian interference if they chose to go this far, which was the fear that you could somehow manipulate the physical loader talents, either change votes, which is very hard to do because our systems, thankfully, for the most part are not connected to the internet but not impossible.
    But more likely instill deeply worrying that they could corrupt the voter registration records and take people off the rolls, and people on, shop the polls in your debt and you don't exist or what have you.
    We were most concerned about that.
    and I think we, for joy, in 2016, prior to the election as much as we were looking for that, but what we were insufficiently appreciative of is the extent to which the Russians beyond the potential to physically manipulate the voting process was getting in the heads in the minds of the American voter themselves.
    Through social media.
    Through the means I described of taking on using bots playing on both sides of every debate discouraging African- Americans from coming to the polls.
    Only sorts of things and that was something that we didn't fully grasp the gravity of and -- we were behind the curve in responding to that.
    Now we know it.
    Now we see it.
    And yet, because we can't move legislation through two houses of congress to address this adequately, some of these vulnerabilities remain inadequately addressed.
    So we have to insist on, first of all, there is legislation pending on the hill, sitting on the senate majority leader's desk that would take our preparedness to confront foreign electrical mandates sanctions against anybody, and interfering.
    There whole variety of steps and not legislation.
    And it's mind-boggling that on something that affects everybody on the ballot, whatever your partier state, whether you are a local official or running for president comments think we all should care about.
    It's mind-boggling that we have not been able to do it.
    And there are other steps, how we approach social media, truth in advertising on social media.
    There are all kinds of things that involve the tech companies why think, sadly, have not, for the most part, stepped up as they should.
    But it's all geared toward the imperative of making it as difficult as possible and to met out punishment is appropriate when it happens.
    But it's also about educating ourselves.
    This is a huge important piece.
    This is where we get some measure of control as citizens.
    We are the consumers of information on our social media.
    You all get to decide what is fact, what is fiction.
    What you believe? Are you going to be educated, thoughtful, rigorous consumers of information or you’re just going to believe anything that's on your social media feed because of who had sent it to you? we have to be much better prepared as citizens and voters for this environment.
    unfortunately this will be our final question from the audience.
    balancing ambitious and pragmatic objectives seems to be an important part of the diplomacy.
    How did you go about balancing those in your diplomatic career? there's so many ways I could go with that question.
    I'm not sure where to take it, but I think -- let me talk it from the point of view of policymaker.
    It may not be exactly what the question is getting at, but to me, the challenge of making policy particularly at high levels where it is intent.
    how hard you push? well what was going to say is you can be extremely busy every day of the week managing your inbox, the crises, the things that are coming at you that you have necessarily any control over, but that will keep you extremely busy.
    And so for us, in the Obama administration, it would be things like Russian interference or the Russian invasion of Ukraine, where the outbreak of an ebola epidemic, or the resurgence of ISIS.
    These are all big, huge problems that you have to deal with.
    You don't get to ignore.
    But the challenge, in my judgment is, how do you not just manage the inbox and the crush of crises? How do you actually, at the same time, pursuant ambitious affirmative agenda, the things that you came into set out to do that you think would make united states our relationship to the world, the world itself a better place? And so, this balance of the necessary, the crises, the things that are in your inbox with the ambitious affirmative agenda that you want to pursue, and being able to do both? That's a huge challenge.
    And so in the Obama administration, what were the things that we did not have to do that we aimed to do, the paris climate agreement, the transpacific partnership trade agreement, the opening treaty to the nuclear deal, the opening to Cuba, I could go on you know many of our development initiatives in Africa, power Africa, the young leaders initiatives globally.
    The future.
    Which was an agricultural initiative, what we invested in healthcare in the global healthcare security agenda.
    There is a litany of things, some of which you have never heard of, some of which the trump administration has not yet undone 
    [ Laughter ]
    you have to maintain a little sense of humor otherwise it's hard quickset really add up to positive important impact.
    One of the things I had to learn early on going back to my time working on Africa, same kind of challenge.
    Tons of crises but things we wanted to do that made a lasting, positive difference.
    You have to be able to figure out how to manage both simultaneously.
    And what I learned, particularly by the time I became national security advisor where you don't get to opt out of the crises, but you don't want to be unable to pursue the affirmative stuff is that you have to rely on your team and empower your team to be doing all these things simultaneously.
    I had a team working on ISIS.
    I had a team working on you know, how do we -- establish a global health security agenda so the next time there is an outbreak of pandemic flu or zika that countries around the world have greater capacity to detect and container.
    The team working on the Iran deal or opening Cuba was working with my guidance and oversight parallel to the folks who were wearing about how we organize sanctions against Russia because they invaded crimea in Ukraine.
    You have to walk and chew gum at the same time.
    And you do that at every level of your experience, even when you are a desk officer in the state department.
    Same thing.
    There are lasting positive changes you want to work on is the same time that you dealing with the necessities.
    If you have that duality in mind and a conscious determination to do both, I think it becomes much more effective, but it will be much more gratifying.
    well, a wonderful discussion of a great range of topics.
    [ Applause ]
    Thank you all very much.
    [ Applause ]