[News] Madeleine “The Price is Worth it” Albright

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Fri Mar 25 09:38:03 EDT 2022


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Madeleine “The Price is Worth it” Albright (May 15, 1937 — March 23, 2022)
Prof. Hatem Bazian - March 23, 2022
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The passing of former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright earlier
today brought about the usual media coverage, which intensivly highlighted
her long academic and public service career, as well as being the first
woman to hold this position, which is expected. However, one glaring
omission in the coverage and, the most critical when it comes to historical
legacy, was Secretary Albright’s role in pushing for and implementing US
sanctions on Iraq, which caused the death of over half a million children
(the fact that we don’t know the exact number is part of the racist problem
of brown people dying).

Knowing that the media will be making Albright into a saint in the next few
days, I feel the need to speak and bring the death of Iraqi children to the
front. Also, considering all the current empathy expressed with Ukrainian
kids, rightly so and we must insist on it, then it is the right time to
center the suffering of the Iraqis. All human being deserve empathy and
their death and injury to be recognized and mourned but this has been
denied to the Iraqis and more so for their kids.

Let be very direct and clear, Secretary Albright failed the ethical and
moral test even though she might have been the first woman to hold the
office, but to what end? Is it a matter of just to do as men have done in
the past being in the same position! Where is the progress and where is
moral and ethical vision!

As a matter of fact, I and many others protested Secretary Albright back in
May 10, 2000, when she was UC Berkeley’s Commencement Speaker for the
graduation. A number of student, faculty, staff and community members
protested inside and outside of the Commencement with 59 being arrested by
the police as well as renting a plane to flying above the stadium to bring
attention to the then unfolding genocide in Iraq. Often, the defense is
that we did not know then what we know now, which is a weak defense since
all reports from the ground in Iraq pointed to the imposed sanctions
impacting the young, the old and the weak within the society and not anyone
in the top Iraqi leadership.

Actually, Secretary Albright was given the opportunity to redeem herself,
to take the higher ground and to possibly identify for a moment with the
Iraqi children dying as a result of the sanctions.

In one of the most shocking and numbing answers by anyone deemed to be a
diplomat and a university professor, the then Secretary Albright looking
straight into the 60 Minutes camera and stating, “We think the price is
worth it.” The interview aired on May 12, 1996, when Secretary Albright was
asked to address the sanctions on Iraq on a segment and Lesley Stahl asking
her, “We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that’s
more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth
it?” The highly educated, university professor and Secretary of State
Albright replied without a moment hesitation, “We think the price is worth
it.”

After the segment aired, Albright, her handlers and team went after 60
Minutes and attempted to discredit the piece by implying that his was an
Iraqi propaganda, a loaded question and or that the Secretary had “fallen
into a trap and said something [she] did not mean.” It was only in 2020,
that Albright finally apologized for her remarks but only for being
“totally stupid” comments and not the fact that the policy caused the death
of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, the old, the women and children. No
apology for the sanctions, no apologies to the families that lost loved
ones or recognition of the death of Iraqi civilians.

The 2000, Commencement Speech by University Medalist Fadia Rafeedie
<https://www.berkeley.edu/news/features/2000/05/11_fadia.html>, a
Palestinian American, brought attention to the genocide in Iraq and stated
that the protestors “dignified” the university for they reflected ethnical
and moral leadership. I include few lines form Fadia’s speech that is as
relevant today as the day it was delivered:

“I was hoping to speak before Secretary Albright, but that was also a
reflection of the power structure, I think, to sort of change things around
and make it difficult for people who are ready to articulate their voice in
ways they don’t usually get a chance to.

So I’m going to improvise, and I’m going to mention some things that she
didn’t mention at all in her speech but which most of the protesters were
actually talking about. You know, I think it’s really easy for us to feel
sorry for her, and I was looking at my grandmothers who are actually in the
audience — my grandmother and her sister — who weren’t really happy with
all the protesters, and I think they thought that wasn’t really respectful
of them, and a lot of you didn’t, I don’t think, because you came to hear
[Secretary Albright] speak.

But I think what the protesters did was not embarrass our university. I
think they dignified it.

Because Secretary Albright didn’t even mention Iraq, and that’s what they
were here to listen to. And I think sometimes NOT saying things — not
mentioning things — is actually lying about them.

And what I was going to tell her while she was sitting on the stage with
me, I was going to remind her and I was going to remind you that four years
ago from this Friday when we were freshmen, I heard her on 60 Minutes
talking to a reporter who had just returned from Iraq.

The reporter was describing that a million children were dying [died] due
to the sanctions that this country was imposing on the people of Iraq. And
she told her, listen, “that’s more… children than have died in Hiroshima
and Nagasaki. Do you think the price is worth it?” [Albright] looked into
the camera and she said, “the price is worth it.”

And I was going to tell her, “do you really think the price is worth it??!”
Since that time, 3 times that number of people have died in Iraq.”

As the coverage of the passing of Secretary Albright takes center stage, I
like to insist that the Iraqi children and their families get equal if not
more attention at this moment. Do we mourn their death or are they only
numbers and figures that careers and medals are collected on their behalf!
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