Former U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright says she's gratified to see nations around the world coming together in opposition to terrorism. Albright talked about the September 11th attacks and offered support to the Bush administration Monday during a speech at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul. She also defended her own record as a diplomat.
Albright, who also served as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, called the attacks "a deadly assault on American society and its values," but she warned the country cannot now abandon its own ideals. Listen to a portion of her speech. (MPR Photo/Tim Pugmire)
Albright's two-day visit to the Twin Cities included speeches at the House of Hope Presbyterian Church and the University of St. Thomas. Both appearances were part of the Vaclav Havel Civil Society Symposium, named for the president of the Czech Republic.
Organizers say the two-year-old symposium is aimed at cultivating "a sense of joint destiny and responsibility, to find unity in diversity to find spiritual common denominators and to establish commonly held human rights."
The former U.S. Secretary of State during the Clinton administration told the capacity crowd that the goal was never more timely. "Twenty days ago, we were assaulted by an outlaw force that utterly rejects the idea of joint destiny and responsibility. The terrorists who destroyed the World Trade Center and attacked the Pentagon, want above all else to turn one culture against another. And needless to say, they don't recognize human rights," she said.
Albright, who also served as the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, called the attacks "a deadly assault on American society and its values," but she warned the country cannot now abandon its own ideals. During a news conference after the speech, Albright said she doesn't think there will be a clear victory in the war on terrorism. She said Osma bin Laden is clearly at the center of the problem, and his power and reach must be eliminated.
"I think that we have to be very careful however, in terms of determining how widely we decide to pursue a struggle with other countries that support terrorism, because I don't think we need more enemies. I think what we need to do is to work with moderates in various Arab and Muslim states to try to help in this war against terrorism," she said.
"Why are you providing a well-funded platform to a woman who has stood against human rights?"
- Marie Braun
Albright also reiterated her desire to see Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein removed from power. She says she's always regretted the Gulf War didn't end differently. But Albright's long held views on Iraq continue to rile many peace activists.
Outside the auditorium, members of Veterans for Peace, Women Against Military Madness and other organizations held signs and handed out fliers claiming postwar sanctions against Iraq have resulted in the deaths of 5,000 children a month.
Demonstrator Marie Braun says she's angry that the University of St. Thomas paid Albright to share her views. "Why are you providing a well-funded platform to a woman who has stood against human rights? Obviously denying the Iraqi people food and medicine and other basic necessities, chlorine to purify their water, is a denial of basic human rights," she said.
Similar criticisms surfaced inside the auditorium during an audience question-and-answer session. Albright sternly responded that there's never been a ban on shipments of food and medicine to Iraq. She said she's been wrongly blamed for starving Iraqi children when the blame, she contends, rests with Saddam Hussein's inability to feed his own people.