Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
said "the United States will pay a price in the long run" if it abandons its role as a world leader to focus more on domestic issues.
"The United States cannot step back, lower its voice, and let others lead," Rice said in an interview with The WorldPost
. "Though we'd like to think that our democratic allies would replace us in such instances, we have instead seen the opportunity grabbed by extremists and dictators in the Middle East and nationalists like the Chinese and Russians."
Rice added that recent events in Ukraine "should be a wake-up call to all Americans" who believe that U.S. resources are spread too thin and should be focused on improvements here.
"I know we are tired and worried about our problems at home, but we cannot eschew the responsibilities of leadership and embolden those who don't share our values," Rice said. "The world is a pretty scary place when led by those who believe in different ideals."
Asked why she believes democracy is having such a difficult time taking root in places such as Africa and the Middle East, and is now threatened in Ukraine
, Rice said the United States had its own struggles and that democracy is still worth fighting for.
"I firmly believe that history has a long arc, and democracy takes time," she said. "If you look back at the history of the United States, we've been through many times of trial and turmoil. We fought a Civil War, we've had challenges with civil rights and equality, we've gone through the Great Depression. Democracy is not easy, and it's certainly chaotic at points, but it's the only form of government where people have the right to consent to be governed and elect their leaders."
Since leaving office in 2009, Rice has focused less on global issues and more on domestic and civic concerns such as education, citizenship, and reforming government in an effort to make sure "we lead from a position of strength and by example."
"America can only lead abroad if we are strong here at home," Rice said. "This means we must always look inward and make sure that our democracy is providing the same opportunities that we are promoting abroad. Whether it's good governance in Africa, human rights in the Middle East, or education and immigration issues here at home
— we must lead in these issues both here at home and abroad."
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