Condoleezza Rice talks foreign policy at Norwich - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Condoleezza Rice talks foreign policy at Norwich

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On a day when President Barack Obama released his plan for coping with mounting instability in Iraq, a former cabinet chief from the previous administration offered her thoughts to Vermonters. Condoleezza Rice served as secretary of state from 2005 to 2009 and served as a national security adviser in the four years prior to that. She helped shape much of the United States' foreign policy during the Iraq War years. That experience gives her a unique perspective on Thursday's news and caused controversy when she arrived on Norwich University's campus.

"I just met with my national security team to discuss the situation in Iraq," President Barack Obama said.

Thursday afternoon, the president told the country he'll send 300 advisors to Iraq as stability there erodes. A terror group composed of Islamist militants threatens to split the region along its ethnic divides. The president says the advisors will instruct forces and provide intel.

"American forces will not be returning to combat in Iraq but we will help Iraqis as they take the fight to terrorists who threaten the Iraqi people, region and American interests, as well," Obama said.

"Americans are not going to support boots on the ground," former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told students at Norwich University.

Rice told those in attendance that Iraq's serious security concerns grew when President Obama ordered U.S. forces to leave. She conceded to mistakes made under the Bush administration, and focused her remarks on what needs to be done to control the current terrorist threat from ISIS.

"You gotta knock them back. You do not want those people in a swath of territory the size of Indiana. That will be a real problem," Rice said.

Her suggestions mirrored the orders the president would later issue-- ruling out a full deployment, but threatening special operations missions and possible drone strikes.

Protesters sporadically interrupted Rice, calling her a war criminal for promoting the Iraq War, defending enhanced interrogation techniques and insisting Saddam Hussein held weapons of mass destruction.

"She lied us into an illegal war, she defended torture, she stands for everything this country doesn't stand for," protester Crystal Zevon said.

Rice deployed her diplomatic skills, ably handling the distraction.

Those in the crowd for the speech liked what they heard.

"The most important one is that democracy takes time," said Laura Heller, a military attorney.

Heller deployed to Iraq twice, tasked with helping to build a new nation. She appreciated Rice's reference to the messiness of democratic transitions and says it matches her experience.

"There's no one-size-fits-all solution for governments and especially for democracy," Heller said.

In handling the protesters, Rice said she's glad to live in a country where dissent is tolerated, not met with secret police.

Despite the public nature of the event, our cameras were only allowed to roll briefly and with no sound. University spokespeople say those rules came from Rice, not them.

Rice spoke harshly of Russia and China, and says the world is a scary place with major powers behaving badly. Domestically, she called for immigration and education reform.

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