Madeleine Albright slams the Bush administration foreign policy
Even the president-elect has something to learn, according to former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. The three-time author and foreign policy expert paid a visit to the Sundance Resort on Saturday, where, among other comments, she called the war in Iraq one of the greatest foreign policy disasters in American history.
Albright visited Sundance as a guest lecturer in the Tree Room Author Series promoting her new book "Memo to the President-Elect: How we Can Restore America’s Reputation and Leadership." Personal friends with Robert Redford, the Sundance founder introduced Albright and said that he was one of the few people who knew her true age before she took the podium.
Albright wrote the book, she said, to cover the "nuts and bolts of setting up a presidential term." Warren G. Harding, she continued, once commented that he wished there was a book to explain the presidency, and her tome is just such a manual. This advice will be especially important as "the next president is going to have one of the most difficult presidencies of our lifetime," she said.
One of the greatest challenges facing either Senator Barack Obama or Senator John McCain, she said, will be restoring the "good name of democracy." The current administration has "undermined the concept of democracy" through their attempts to force the system on Iraq.
Albright praised the troops and their work in Iraq, but added that they act like "fly paper" attracting American detractors and militants. Ultimately, Albright would like to leave she cautions, but we must "figure out a way to disengage honorably."
Making matters worse, Albright does not see Iraq as the greatest problem in the region. For her, Afghanistan is still the biggest trouble spot. There are "more various detonations and deaths in Afghanistan than Iraq," she said. Activity in Afghanistan has also contributed to destabilization in Pakistan which has "every element that gives you an international migraine."
American foreign relations have other problems as well. "Hugo Chavez (President of Argentina) is making an anti-American Alliance," she said. The president must also find ways to deal with the emerging superpowers China and India.
Regarding internal American issues, Albright fielded questions about the attacks of September 11. "The Bush administration did not think that terrorism was going to take up that much of their time," she commented. She defended her decisions as well as those of the rest of the Clinton administration in their efforts to diffuse possible terrorist threats. She said that Bush adopted a policy of "ABC: Anything but Clinton."
The solutions to all of these problems, Albright promised, will not be easy. Even if Obama were to be elected she felt that he would enjoy a brief "honeymoon" period of good feelings before the pressure would fall on him to produce results. A Democrat who supported Senator Hillary Clinton’s campaign, Albright did not demonstrate a great degree of faith in McCain’s abilities. "McCain is a 20th century figure who looks at issues through a 20th century prism," she said.
In closing, Albright talked a little bit about her father. A professor at the University of Denver, he taught international relations. Among his students was a young lady majoring in music. Professor Albright convinced her that international relations would be a better field and the young lady ultimately got a master’s degree in the subject at the University of Notre Dame. Condoleeza Rice would have returned to Denver to get her Ph.D. with Professor Albright, but his passing stopped her plans. With a smile, Madeleine Albright said that her father trained two very different Secretaries of State.
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