NORTHFIELD -- Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday the United States must continue to lead the world because it represents an ideal of democracy.
Rice -- one of the architects of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq -- told a crowd at Norwich University the United States should use counterterrorism operations, including the possible use of attacks with aerial drones, to keep the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant from making territorial gains.
"We do not want these people in charge of a swath of land the size of Indiana," said Rice, the former National Security Adviser and Secretary of State under George W. Bush.
But Rice also noted the country's appetite for military operations in Iraq is not strong.
"I understand Americans are not going to support boots on the ground," she told the crowd, many of whom are military officers attending an on-campus residency as part of Norwich's College of Graduate and Continuing Studies.
Rice said the invasion of Iraq was not meant to promote democracy, but to prevent Saddam Hussein from using weapons of mass destruction, even though none were found. In retrospect she said it was a mistake for the United States to try to rebuild Iraq from Baghdad outwards after Saddam Hussein was toppled.
Rice was initially shouted down by protesters before they were removed from the venue.
"Democracy is noisy," Rice quipped.
She said the United States has to lead, not just because of its military and economic might, but because of its democratic ideals.
"Democracy takes time," she said. "We more than anyone need to be patient" with those who are embarking on the path to self-governance.
She called Russian President Vladimir Putin "a humiliator and an intimidator" who is using all means to restore Russia to the greatness of the now-defunct Soviet Union. The danger is Putin's actions could collide with the interests of countries of the former Soviet Union the United States is now committed to defending.
"He has to be stopped," Rice said of Putin.
Norwich University spokeswoman Daphne Larkin said after the event that eight protesters were escorted from the field house. No one was arrested.
Crystal Zevon, of Barre, said she was one of the people escorted from the event.
"We feel that Condoleezza Rice led us into one illegal war and had that not happened, we wouldn't be beating the drums of war that are being beaten right now to go back into Iraq," Zevon said.