Madeleine Albright speaks about what new commander-in-chief will have to accomplish
Dr. Madeleine Albright walked both on and off the stage to standing ovations Wednesday evening at the Coors Event Center. Peering over her reading glasses, the first female secretary of state spoke to a crowd of engaged students, faculty and community members, offering up pointers for the next president of the U.S.
“There is a dangerous amount of ineffective leadership across the globe,” Albright said. “As a result, the winner of this year’s presidential campaign will face headaches unmatched since the war in Vietnam.”
Albright identified four “dangerous” trends she said the president elect will immediately face. The first, she said, was terror and the rise of anti-Americanism in the Arab and Muslim world.
“Let’s be clear,” Albright said. “Terrorists are murderers, not warriors. They kill indiscriminately, including children and unarmed civilians. And this makes them both hypocrites and heretics.”
She said terrorists can be defeated by driving a wedge between Al-Qaeda and possible recruits.
The second trend Albright spoke on was the possibility that nuclear weapons will fall into the wrong hands, citing examples of India, Pakistan and North Korea. She said in order to avoid this, the president must uphold the principal that there will be no more nuclear powers in part by creating a broad coalition so that extremists are isolated. She also said the U.S. should safeguard nuclear materials, work to strengthen international law and reduce reliance on nuclear weapons.
Albright said the third issue is the possibility of a world-wide trend of democracy sliding into reverse.
“A loosely organized block of governments have emerged, with little in common except disdain of the social and political rights of its own citizens,” Albright said.
The fourth trend Albright presented was a gathering backlash against globalization, which creates a widening gap between the rich and poor.
“There are those among us who romanticize poverty, and others just try not to think about it,” Albright said. “But make no mistake, extreme poverty is a jail in which all too many of our fellow human beings are sentenced to life. And half the world lives each day on less then what we pay for a cup of coffee.”
A handful of protestors stood outside in the snow flurries with a sign reading, “No war criminals, no Madeline Albright.” The people were protesting a controversy dating from 1995, when The Lancet, a journal of the British Medical Society, asserted that U.S. sanctions were responsible for the deaths of over 500,000 Iraqi children.
Boulder community member Benjamin Whitmer was one of the people protesting Albright’s appearance.
“In 1995, a study by Lancet showed that 500,000 Iraqis under the age of five died in result of U.S. imposed sanctions and continued infrastructure bombing,” Whitmer said. “Madeline Albright was asked about that in 1996 on ’60 Minutes’, whether she considered those 500,000 dead Iraqi babies worth the price of U.S. foreign policy objectives. She said, ‘Yeah, I think it’s worth the price.'”
Whitmer said he was shocked by Albright’s response on the program.
“I want to know how she arrived at the conclusion that exterminating 500,000 children is worth the price of anything,” Whitmer said.
In a question and answer session after Albright’s speech, a young man directly asked Albright to comment on the issue. The former secretary of state responded saying that she cannot justify the death of 500,000 children. She said sanctions always exclude food and medical supplies, and the fault falls on the head of Saddam Hussein, who denied the supplies Iraqi children.
Albright expressed regrets for her comment on 60 Minutes.
“It was the dumbest statement I’ve ever made,” Dr. Albright said. “And if there’s anyone in this audience who has never said anything they regret, I think you should stand now. It is something I regret deeply.”
Kate O’Flaherty, a junior environmental studies major, said she enjoyed the speech.
“I thought she did an excellent job,” O’Flaherty said. “And I was impressed when she admitted when she made mistakes.”
The speech was sponsored by the Distinguished Speakers Board, a board comprised of students and a staff adviser. Brittany Gibson, a senior environmental affairs major, acts as the secretary and public relations contact for the board.
“I think she’s a very wise woman,” Gibson said of Albright. “She’s been through a lot of conflicts in the 90s that are playing the consequences out now. And so it’s really interesting for us to get a perspective of a woman in a male-dominated field, and issues that we are going to start to deal with as emerging citizens participating outside of college.”
Albright ended the night by reiterating her commitment to human lives.
“I believe that the only way to deal with the issues we have in the world is to recognize the importance of the individual, and to make clear that every life counts,” Albright said.
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Monica Stone at Monica.firstname.lastname@example.org.