Leftists should keep Albright's response in mind when they wail about civilian casualties as a consequence of Bush's war in Iraq. Iraq Body Count keeps track of these casualties, and they are less than one-fifth the number of innocent civilians (mostly children) killed in the aftermath of sanctions. Moreover, the sanctions policy was largely useless. Sanctions had no effect on Saddam or his henchmen, who didn't miss a meal. Rather, they hurt the most vulnerable members of Iraqi society.
These facts remind us not only of the shortcomings of sanctions, which are not likely to work better with Iran than they did with Iraq. They also remind us that bad things in the world must be measured not against utopia but against what came before. Bush's Iraq war has resulted in a steep reduction of Iraqi deaths compared to the 300,000 people Saddam deposited in the mass graves and compared to the even greater number of deaths that Clinton's policies seem to have produced.
Still, I come back to Albright's original dismissal of half a million deaths with the calm affirmation: it's worth it. Can you recall another secretary of state making a remark more shockingly callous than Albright's? There is something simply inhuman about speaking in this way, and that’s why I use the Frankenstein analogy. Many times I have thought how unfortunate it is that an unfeeling character like Albright became the first female secretary of state.
And it is this same person who would presume to lecture us on what we should now be doing with Iran. I don't think we need more advice from Albright. Rather, what we need from her is an apology, followed by an overdue withdrawal from public life.