Albright talks about future of Middle East

BY ADRIAN CHEN
Daily News Reporter
Published March 10, 2004

Protesters, a security entourage and video cameras gave the
impression of a White House press conference to former Secretary of
State Madeleine Albright’s timely lecture on U.S. policy in
the Middle East yesterday.

In yesterday’s speech, titled “Prospects for
Democracy in the Middle East,” Albright reflected on the
possibility of democracy in the Middle East, the Bush
Administration’s work toward achieving democracy and the
obstacles it faces.

The Bush administration is presented with many challenges as it
strives to fight terrorism through its “curious”
roundabout method of attempting to “transform the entire
Middle East” by bringing democracy to the region, Albright
said. By focusing on democracy in the Middle East as a tool to
quash terrorism, Albright said Bush has expanded the fight from the
terrorist cells of al-Qaida to an entire region, including
Iraq.

About 40 people gathered in the Business School’s Davidson
Hall to hear the former member of the Clinton administration speak.
Present in the audience were six students who were protesting
Albright by holding signs with slogans such as “United States
Foreign Policy is Terror.”

Albright agreed with the Bush Administration’s notion that
a democratic Middle East is necessary and good.

“(It is) essential that the Arab world moves towards
democracy.” But, she suggested that this is form of
government is not a perfect solution. For example, she said the
Bush Administration, is trying to use democracy as a substitute for
meaningful discussion on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“Democracy will not, by itself, change Palestinian views
about the rights and wrongs of history,” Albright said.

But Carmel Salhi, one of the SAFE members attending the speech,
thought Albright skirted the issue when it came to the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“I think Madame Albright spoke like a true politician
today. She didn’t address any of the pertinent issues, for
example the US support of the dictators that she vaguely
criticized.”

Albright did not neglect the issue of women’s rights
around the globe — a field in which she has long been active.
In her speech, Albright disapproved of using religion to oppress
women. She said many Middle Eastern countries use Islam—as an
excuse to discriminate against and undermine women. But the Koran
does not state that it is forbidden for women to drive or vote,
Albright noted.

Although her speech did not include any substantial criticism of
the Bush administration’s actions in Iraq, during the
question-and-answer session following the talk, Albright said she
has “agreed with almost nothing with how this administration
is carrying out its Iraq policy.”

In the same session, Albright touched on North Korea’s
nuclear threat, Syria’s rejection from the United Nations
Security Council and nuclear proliferation.

As the Institute’s “distinguished scholar”
Albright gives speeches, participate in forums and represents the
Institute in Washington, DC where she is a professor of political
science at Georgetown University. She is also the author of a new
book, Threats to Democracy: Prevention and Response.
Yesterday’s speech was the first of two; Albright will be
giving a talk today titled “UN, WTO, IMF: Time for a
Change?” at 4:30 pm in the Hale Auditorium.