AI: Madame Secretary, I've got ten questions for you today, and the first is this: We assumed during the Cold War that strong states were the source of most international security problems. Nowadays, a lot of people argue that weak and failing states are the larger source of problems, because they leave room for non-state bad guys to plot and plan. Do you think that's really true? And if it is true, is it a passing blip, or is this a real structural change in world politics that you sense?
Rice: Well, first of all, I do think it's true at this particular point in time. While there are strong states that have conflictual issues from time to time, there are no really underlying conflictual interests that would drive them to the kind of animosity that we had between the Soviet Union and the United States during the Cold War, for instance. And so if you look at most of the great powers out there, they actually have perhaps more in common than they have in conflict.
Now the really interesting question is: Will that last over time, or is this a sort of structurally epiphenomenal period after which you will see the re-emergence of great state conflict? I happen to think that because international politics is partly about agency, not just grand events moving or grand forces moving, that if we're smart about it we can probably get to a place where you would not see great power conflict for years, decades, maybe even longer to come. If you go back to the President's September 2002 National Security Strategy, it essentially foreshadows that, saying that you could come to a time where great power conflict doesn't exist and wouldn't exist again long into the future.
Now, the flipside of that is the weak state theory, which I think is clearly true for the time being: the inability of states to engage in what people have called "responsible sovereignty", to do things like guard their borders, to have police forces or border guards that are not corrupt, to manage their internal affairs in a way that does not permit the growth of terrorist cells and the like, the ability to manage trade and flows of people so that you don't get the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction...