As U.S. lawmakers grapple with how to respond to the crisis in Iraq -- and point fingers at each other for creating the deteriorating security situation -- former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is urging the U.S. to have patience with nations and people around the world fighting for democracy.
"There are those who say, that maybe there are just those who don't have the DNA for democracy... they're not ready for democracy," Rice said during a State Department ceremony where her portrait was being unveiled. "I think we Americans, more than any people, should perhaps be a little more patient with those who have thrown off the yoke of tyranny and are trying to find a stable democracy."
Rice did not directly address the turmoil in Iraq, where Islamic militants are fighting Iraqi security forces. Speaking in general terms, Rice said more than once, "Today's headlines and history's judgment are rarely the same."
She remarked on the United States' tumultuous evolution, noting that the original Constitution "counted my ancestors as three-fifths of a man." It was "that same Constitution to which I would take allegiance as the 66th secretary of state of America," she said.
Before her own portrait was unveiled, Rice spoke about the portraits of her predecessors that she had kept in her office. Along with secretaries of state Thomas Jefferson and George Marshall, Rice said she chose portraits of Dean Acheson and William Seward to remind her that history will rewrite today's headlines.
When Seward agreed to purchase Alaska from Russia in 1867, it was known as "Seward's folly," Rice noted. And "when Dean Acheson left these rooms [in 1953], the question was who lost China," she said. "Today, Dean Acheson is [known as] a founding father of the foundational institutions that led to victory in the Cold War like NATO."