William Blum

Madeleine Albright, ethically challenged

By William Blum

1) “Asked if it is not hypocritical to punish Burma for human rights violations while refraining from sanctions on China for similar actions, Albright replied, ‘We have consistent principles and flexible tactics’.” 1

The same “flexible tactics” (English translation: hypocrisy) are evident in the policies embraced by Albright toward Cuba, Libya, Iraq, et al, as opposed to the policies toward Turkey, Indonesia, Mexico, Peru, and Colombia.

2) Television interview, “60 Minutes”, May 12, 1996:

Lesley Stahl, speaking of US sanctions against Iraq: “We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And – and you know, is the price worth it?”

Madeleine Albright: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price – we think the price is worth it.” 2

At the Town Hall in Columbus, Ohio, Feb. 18, 1998, Ms. Albright was moved to declare: “I am willing to make a bet to anyone here that we care more about the Iraqi people than Saddam Hussein does.”

Though her logic may escape us, she may yet have some DNA molecules for compassion. On May 21 she signed an agreement between the U.S. and six Latin American countries to protect dolphins, declaring: “This is one of the strongest agreements ever negotiated to conserve marine life.”

3) Albright in Guatemala, talking to a group of impoverished children: “Why would [ I ] and the United States care about what is happening here? The reason is we are all one family and when one part of our family is not happy or suffers, we all suffer.” 3

Thus speaketh the leading foreign policy officer of the country directly responsible for bringing more than 40 years of poverty, torture, death squads, massacres and disappeared people to Guatemala, without even a hint of apology or restitution, ever.

4) “To a student who asked [Albright] whether the United States was not spending too much of its resources on being the world’s policeman and too little on more pressing domestic concerns, Albright asked him in return to estimate what share of the federal budget goes to foreign policy. When he guessed 15 or 20 percent, Albright pounced. ‘It’s 1 percent, 1 percent of the entire budget,’ Albright said.” 4

Her reply was conspicuously disingenuous. At best, she was referring to the budget of only the State Department, concealing what everyone knows, even the teenage student she browbeat – US foreign policy expenditures must include the Defense Department, the CIA, the National Security Agency, and a host of other government agencies. Together they consume more than 50 percent of the budget.

5) In February 1996, as UN ambassador, Albright reacted with righteous indignation against the Cuban pilots who expressed satisfaction after shooting down two planes of Cubans from Florida which were headed toward Cuba. “This one won’t mess around any more,” one of the pilots is reported to have exclaimed.

“I was struck by the joy of these pilots in committing cold-blooded murder,” Albright said, accusing the Cuban pilots of “cowardice”. 5

What, one may ask, does she think of the American pilots who, while bombing and strafing helpless retreating Iraqis in 1991, exclaimed: “we toasted him” … “we hit the jackpot” … “a turkey shoot” … “shooting fish in a barrel” … “basically just sitting ducks” … “There’s just nothing like it. It’s the biggest Fourth of July show you’ve ever seen, and to see those tanks just `boom’, and more stuff just keeps spewing out of them … they just become white hot. It’s wonderful.” 6

6) On October 8, 1997, in announcing the designation of 18 additional foreign political organizations as terrorist-supporting groups, Secretary of State Albright declared that she wanted to help make the United States a “no support for terrorism zone”. It could be suggested that if the Secretary were truly committed to this goal, instead of offering her usual lip service, she should begin at home – the anti-Castro community in Miami, collectively, is one of the longest-lasting and most prolific terrorist organizations in the world. Over the years they’ve carried out hundreds of bombings, shootings, and murders, blown up an airplane, killing 73 people, fired a bazooka at the United Nations, and much, much more. But Madame Albright will not lift a finger against them.

The State Department designates Cuba as one of the states which harbors terrorists. The United States can well be added to that list.

7) At the fabricated “Town Hall” meeting (in which the officials came not to listen, but to tell) held in Columbus, Ohio, February 18, 1998, concerning Iraq, Albright was heckled and asked critical, and perhaps uncomfortable, questions. At one point, her mind and her integrity could come up with no better response than to make something up: “I am really surprised,” she declared, “that people feel that it is necessary to defend the rights of Saddam Hussein.”

At another point, a besieged Albright was moved to yell: “We are the greatest country in the world!” Patriotism is indeed the last refuge of a scoundrel, though her words didn’t quite have the ring of “Deutschland ├╝ber alles” or “Rule Britannia”.

Finally, unable to provide answers that satisfied or quieted the questioners, she stated that she would meet with them after the meeting to answer their questions. But as soon as the meeting ended, the Secretary of State was out of their, posthaste. Her offer, it would seem, had just been a tactic to try and pacify the hostile crowd.

8) And here is Madame Albright at her jingoist best, on TV the day after the Town Hall meeting, again in the context of Iraq:

“If we have to use force, it is because we are America! We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall, and we see further into the future.” 7

9) Madeleine Albright, then UN Ambassador, informed the UN Security Council during a 1994 discussion about Iraq: “We recognize this area as vital to US national interests and we will behave, with others, multilaterally when we can and unilaterally when we must.” 8 Ms. Albright is thus stating that the United States recognizes no external constraints on its behavior, when it decides that a particular area of the world is “vital to US national interests”. It would of course be difficult to locate a spot on the globe that Albright and the United States do not regard as “vital to US national interests.

10) On more than one occasion while U.N. ambassador, Albright yelled at U.N. Secretary-General Boutros-Ghali that he must not publish the report about Israel’s bombing of the U.N.-run refugee camp in Qana, Lebanon, in April 1996, which killed more than 100 refugees. The U.N. report said that the attack was not a mistake, as Israel claimed. Albright – who has surrounded herself with alumni of Israeli and Jewish lobbies – warned the Secretary-General that if the report came out, the U.S. would veto him for his second term. The report came out, and so did Boutros Boutros-Ghali. 9

11) Madeleine the humanitarian: It is “not a good idea” to link human rights and trade issues. 10 A philosophy that could have been used to justify trade with Nazi Germany … or anyone else … or anything.

12) To Colin Powell, who felt that the U.S. should not commit military forces to Bosnia until there was a clear political objective: “What’s the point of having this superb military that you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?” “I thought I would have an aneurysm,” Powell later wrote. “American GIs were not toy soldiers to be moved around on some sort of global game board.” 11


  1. Washington Post, April 23, 1997, p.4
  2. “60 Minutes”, May 12, 1996
  3. Washington Post, May 5, 1997, p.20
  4. Washington Post, May 14, 1997
  5. Washington Post, Feb. 28, 1996
  6. Los Angeles Times and Washington Post, both Feb. 27, 1991, page 1
  7. NBC “Today” show, February 19, 1998
  8. Middle East International (London), Oct. 21, 1994, p. 4
  9. New York Times, Jan. 1, 1997
  10. Washington Post, March 1, 1999, p. 13
  11. Colin Powell with Joseph Persico, My American Journey (NY, 1995), p. 576

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America’s Deadliest Export: Democracy

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Killing Hope

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U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II

Freeing the World to Death

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Essays on the American Empire

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West-Bloc Dissident

A Cold War Memoir