Speaking before an auditorium filled with hundreds of Business School alumni, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright lectured Friday on the importance of democracy and cautioned against rushing into a war with Iraq.
“We are preparing for a second war before the first one is done,” said Albright, a distinguished scholar at the Business School’s William Davidson Institute. She noted that while the United States has helped rebuild Afghanistan, “today there is no question we are threatened by al-Qaida and the followers of Osama bin Laden. We haven’t finished the job in Afghanistan.”
Still, Albright said America must remain mindful of the threats posed by Saddam Hussein.
“Saddam Hussein is a menace and a serial liar,” she said.
Although Albright supports the war on terror, she has reservations about President Bush’s resolutions against Iraq.
“I understand the why, but not the when or what,” she said.
In recent weeks, many government officials have denounced those questioning the war, but Albright said, “It’s our patriotic duty to ask questions.”
Looking back on her own days in the Clinton White House dealing with Iraq, Albright said the Clinton administration attempted to address too many issues dealing with the situation. But compared to the Bush administration, she said, “We did have a broader view about what American foreign policy is all about.”
She also expounded upon the importance of having support from international allies, stating, “We need them.”
After the failure of the Kyoto Treaty, European nations “have a sense that they don’t matter and that we aren’t interested in partnerships,” Albright said.
She also focused on the importance of democracy around the world.
“Democracy is the strongest path to progress,” she said. “We must be serious and consistent in supporting democratic ideals … we must stand for a return to true democracy.”
“It is wrong to suggest democracy and Islam are not compatible,” Albright said, pointing out that polls have shown Arabs approve of United States freedoms, but not its policies.
“We are not concerned enough about what creates this anti-American feeling,” she said. Americans need to “let them know we support their aspiration for freedom.”
Despite predictions by some that Arab and Muslim groups would protest outside Hale Auditorium, where Albright spoke, no such action occurred. In the middle of the lecture, a woman wearing a Business School alumni tag stood up and held a sign reading “no more murder no more war no more tax $$$ to Israel.” Event security was investigating whether or not she was actually an alum.
The event was part of the Business School alumni reunion weekend and was open to alumni only. Maureen Martin, a 1988 alum, said she came to the speech because she was very impressed with Albright’s speech at the Business School last year.
“She was incredible. She’s very candid and thoughtful and smart,” Martin said.