Susan Rice and Stephen Hadley on National Security

BRANDON DURAN: On Wednesday, the Lloyd George Centennial Fund hosted Debating the Future of National Security in Gaston Hall, featuring a conversation with two former national security advisors. Former national security advisor under President George W. Bush, the Honorable Stephen Hadley, and former national security advisor under President Obama, Susan Rice, joined Georgetown’s own Dr. Charles Kupchan in a discussion about national security. Here are three major takeaways from the event in case you missed it:

On China:

Both Rice and Hadley spent considerable time speaking about the future of U.S.-China relations. Hadley believed American presence in the Indo-Pacific region was going to be crucial in fighting China’s regional hegemony and prevent a “spheres of influence approach” from taking root. He added that the two major nations should become “strategic competitors and strategic cooperators,” indicative of striking a balance between ally and adversary. Competition cannot be the sum total of the U.S.-China relationship, Hadley warned.

President Xi Jinping’s legitimacy is directly tied to continued economic growth, so Hadley believes the U.S. and its allies have leverage to bargain with.

Beyond economics, Hadley emphasized that the U.S. could not afford to let China be the “monopoly player” in laying the digital infrastructure and norms of the 21st century, along with other high technologies that are emerging.

Rice spoke about possible areas of cooperation between the two countries, including areas such as terrorism, scarce resources, climate change, and nuclear security. From her time in government, Rice noted that issues such as Taiwan, Tibet, and human rights were almost irreconcilable. Contention lay in regard to the future of cyber and China’s Belt Road initiative.


The Trump administration’s approach to U.S. allies has been “fundamentally flawed,” Rice put bluntly. The administration’s unilateral approaches were condemned by both speakers. She added that America must “strengthen [their] hand” by stabilizing and further investing in our alliances globally to bring the country to maximum strength and prove its reliability and commitments.

Rice labelled Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iranian Nuclear Deal as a “historic strategic blunder,” a sentiment also shared by Hadley. Abandoning our European allies and strengthening hardliners in Iran weakens the American position, she later said.

Rice continued to emphasize the importance of alliances, saying that the next president would need to do plenty of repair work and bridge building to secure American power internationally.

Latin America:

Latin America has been too low on the U.S.’s priority list in the recent years, Hadley claimed. Rice chimed in, saying America needed to be more active and present in the region to fulfill its leadership potential.

China’s growing investment in the region should be a “wake-up call,” said Hadley. If the U.S. doesn’t invest more, China and Russia will fill the hemispheric void.

Brandon Duran is a freshman in the College from California and a Staff Writer for On the Record

Max Magid