Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told a crowd of more than 1,000 on campus yesterday that the Sept. 11 attacks were “crimes of the purest evil, wholly unjustified by any reason of politics, culture or faith” and demanded a firm and united response from the United States.
“I fully support President Bush”s decision to order a moderate and carefully targeted military strike on Afghanistan,” she said.
Albright, who is a distinguished scholar in the Business School”s William Davidson Institute, said she chose to forgo telling stories of her experiences as a female secretary of state to focus on the test facing the nation: striking back in the fight against terrorism.
She added that the United States is doing everything possible to minimize civilian deaths, combining military response with humanitarian help in an attack against those who commit and facilitate terrorists acts, not the people of Afghanistan or individuals of the Islamic faith.
“There was not a trace of religious commitment or social conscience reflected in the planning and execution of these crimes,” she said. “The perpetrators could not have been followers of Islam, for by their acts they have betrayed the most cherished tenets of that benevolent faith.”
She also commented on the fact that as lives on every continent have been changed by terrorism, it makes sense that people from many nations are ready to respond.
“From a foreign policy perspective, this might be one of the most fluid and dynamic occurrences since the Cold War”s end,” she said, alluding to the new alliances that have formed as other issues are put aside.
She called on all nations to work together toward ending the use of Afghanistan as a safe haven and training ground for terrorists. In the future, she said, nations should be willing to work with the United Nations and leaders of ethnic communities to develop a peaceful process for self-determination in Afghanistan so the people can live free from strife.
Albright also discussed the Middle East, where she said Israelis and Palestinians are living in fear Israelis fearing that every backpack they see could contain a bomb and Palestinians fearing they”re doomed to be without a homeland.
Although the scope and drama of the recent confrontation have led many people to conclude that everything has changed, Albright said she”s not sure they”ve really transformed the situation.
“They haven”t really created a new framework for looking at the world,” she said, recalling the past conflict between the United States and the Soviets, with democracy on one side and communism on the other.
But she warned against the danger of giving the terrorists the idea that they are on one extreme of a bipolar world.
“We kept score on the map of the world and we judged other nations mostly on where they stood in that fight. And it”s tempting now to think we”ve returned to such a world with the terrorists taking the place of the communists,” she said.