Susan Rice, the White House National Security Advisor and former U.N. Ambassador, addressed the opening ceremony at the Aspen Ideas Festival Sunday, an event co-hosted by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic, commenting on a number of recent world events, including the following:
- On the Orlando nightclub shooting, she declared that acts of lone wolf terrorism will continue to be with us, whether “motivated by extremists from the outside or views that may be of an individual nature,” adding that “what we must do is take the fight to the extent that we can to the terrorists abroad.” She named Iraq, Syria, Libya, Afghanistan, and Yemen in particular.
- On the security implications of the British exit from the European Union, “there’s a lot we don’t know,” Rice said, emphasizing that Britain remains “the closest of allies.” And it remains a core member of NATO, she continued, “so the security architecture that binds us along with our European allies... all of that remains very much the same and arguably will be strengthened as a result of this, because the need to stay lashed up will be greater."
- Asked when ISIS will no longer control territory in Iraq and Syria, she said that she’s learned not to make predictions of that sort, adding that a 66 country coalition against ISIS is making territorial gains at present, with an emphasis is on seizing territory that is tragically significant, not the total land they control.
- On visiting Rwanda after the 1994 genocide, she said, “The genocide was still on full display. Bodies were everywhere. We visited a churchyard. And all through the church, all through the yard, all through the school, there were bodies decomposing. We couldn’t walk around without stepping over them. I couldn't speak for some hours after that, and frankly, I don't think I've ever seen anything so horrific.”
- On Syria, “the president’s judgment has been that as horrific as what is happening in Syria has been, it would be a greater mistake that would have done more damage to our interests” to intervene in the civil war, despite the mass atrocities. “Just because we can’t intervene everywhere doesn’t mean we shouldn’t intervene anywhere,” she said, adding that the U.S. has a special obligation in instances of genocide, but even then it may not be wise to intervene in every instance. But debate about whether to intervene should always be had, she said.
Rice was interviewed by David Bradley, the owner of The Atlantic.