The National Security Implications of Global Poverty

Susan E. Rice
Susan E. Rice Former Brookings Expert, Distinguished Visiting Research Fellow - School of International Service, American University

January 30, 2006

Good afternoon. I want to begin by thanking Virginia Gordan and my dear friend Michael Barr for the invitation to the Law School. I must confess I have never been to this great university before, and it is long past time to rectify that. So I am most grateful for your warm welcome and am glad to spend some time with you discussing what I hope you will agree is an important topic.

When Americans see televised images of bone-thin African or Asian kids with distended bellies, what do we think? We think of helping. For all the right reasons, our humanitarian instincts tend to take over. But when we look at UNICEF footage or a Save the Children solicitation, does it also occur to us that we are seeing a symptom of a threat that could destroy our way of life? Rarely. In fact, global poverty is far more than solely a humanitarian concern. In real ways, over the long term, it can threaten U.S. national security.