Frankenstein's back, with a resounding endorsement of Barack Obama. I refer, of course, to the reemergence in public of former Clinton Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
Albright chastized Bush and defended Obama's statement that he would be happy to talk to Iran and other enemies of the United States. Albright blasted the current approach to the Middle East and made the anodyne point that it is just as important to communicate with one's adversaries as it is to communicate with one's friends.
I realize that some conservatives have a big problem with America talking to the bad guys. They become very indignant at the idea that we might even converse with anyone who is implicated in terrorism. I don’t share this view. I don’t have a problem with talking to anyone, as long as you go into the meeting with a lot of loaded guns.
In other words, my problem is not with talking with folks like Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. The problem is: who is going to do the talking? Certainly a President McCain has the experience and resolve to sit across the table with the bad guys and not fall for their deceptions or give in to their pressures. With an unseasoned guy like Obama, whose global experience may be confined to an occasional visit to the International House of Pancakes, who knows?
With Albright too it is credibility that becomes an issue. After all she was a stalwart member of the Bush cabinet. Let’s remember Bill Clinton’s insistence, in his interview with Chris Wallace, that he spent four years trying to get Bin Laden. Yet between 1996 and 1999 Bin Laden was a public figure. He granted interviews to author Robert Risk, to Peter Arnett of CNN, to John Miller of ABC News, to a freelancer for Time magazine, and to the Pakistani journalist Abdel Bari Atwan. He even held a press conference near Khost. So how come all these journalists could find Bin Laden but not the Clinton administration? We are forced to conclude that Clinton simply wasn’t serious about going after the guy who not only declared war on us but engineered massive strikes against our embassies in Africa and against the U.S.S. Cole.
Now let’s focus specifically on Albright. On May 11, 1996 this woman was asked by a television interviewer for "60 Minutes" whether she was troubled by the fact that Clinton-supported sanctions had resulted in the death of 500,000 Iraqi children. "It's a hard choice," she replied, "but we think it's worth it."
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.
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