For 60 years, my country, the United States, pursued stability at the expense of democracy in this region here in the Middle East — and we achieved neither. Now, we are taking a different course. We are supporting the democratic aspirations of all people. … We know that different societies will find forms of democracy that work for them. When we talk about democracy, though, we are referring to governments that protect certain basic rights for all their citizens — among these, the right to speak freely. The right to associate. The right to worship as you wish. The freedom to educate your children — boys and girls. And freedom from the midnight knock of the secret police.
I was impressed too by the unexpected humility with which Rice discussed the US’s slow progress to universal suffrage and democracy. What the speech lacks, however, is any sense of what will change on Monday morning, when Rice gets back to the office. If we are now backing democracy instead of stability, what is going to be different in US relations with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan? We shall see.