|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Remarks at Tennessee State University
Nashville, Tennessee, February 19, 1998
As released by the Office of the Spokesman
U.S. Department of State
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SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much. Thank you all. President Hefner and Mrs. Hefner, Representative Bob Clement, officials of the university, members of the faculty and students of Tennessee State, good morning.
I do like being called "Doctor", and I haven't been called Doctor in a while. I like it because it's my qualification to talk to all of you. And I'm very glad to be back in a classroom, and I feel right at home as a former professor. I hope very much, after I make a few opening remarks, that we can really have a good session and question-and-answer session. It's great to be here.
I have been wanting to come here, frankly, for some time, not just because of the incredible number of former students who've gone on to excel in everything from business to medicine and law; not just because Vice President Gore told me this was a terrific place; not just because Oprah Winfrey first fell in love with literature here; and not even because your Director of Athletics is a woman, which is about as rare as a woman Secretary of State. (Laughter)
I came here because Tennessee State is a place with a proud tradition, an accomplished present and a laser-like focus on the future. The university is training you all to live global lives which, given how the world is developing, is essential, and the importance of understanding what happens from Beijing to Baghdad or Jakarta to Johannesburg, because what you're learning here will affect us tomorrow, not only n Nashville but around the country.
When I was your age, the world looked very, very different. In fact, the map -- and if you look at the map of the whole world, most of it was kind of in pink and the empires were out there. I'm not as old as I look, but the map did look different.
I have enjoyed very much traveling around the globe. When I last testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I said that Americans have a tendency to see the globe this way, and that is, with the United States and the Americas centered right there, and you'd think the world revolves around us. What happens, if you look at the globe that way, you completely forget what's on the other side, which is a very large land mass. I think Americans really got used to looking at the globe in that way and didn't realize that there was this huge land mass of Eurasia behind it and that a great deal of what is happening in that part of the world is affecting what we are dealing with today.
Also, I grew up in an era when the world was pretty simple, believe it or not. It was dangerous but simple. There were the communists, run out of the Soviet Union, and there were us; the good guys and the bad guys. Our foreign policy was based on the fact that what we were trying to do, both sides, was to get countries to be our allies. We were very much in a zero-sum game, and who was with them was not with us and who was with us was not with them. It was fairly easy to understand. I have to tell you, your predecessors in class had a lot easier time.
But because of the nuclear arms race, we knew that the success or failure of U.S. foreign policy would determine not only what kind of a future we would have, but whether we would have a future at all. So it was a very dangerous time, but it was much simpler. We now have an entirely new kind of world to deal with.
When I was teaching, people would say, "All right, describe the purposes of foreign policy." The purpose of foreign policy is really very simple. It has the following goals: first of all, to protect the US land mass; then to protect our citizens; and then to protect our way of life.
Now the land mass has not changed. The last time I looked, we were still behind two oceans and fairly well protected. But our borders to the north and the south have changed a lot. They are very porous; lots of people coming back and forth, a lot of good things going across the borders, but a lot of bad things also. At the same time, we have to be concerned about our borders from top and bottom in terms of what is happening on threats to our environment.
On protecting people, our people do not sit still. I imagine that all of you are going to, in your lifetimes, do a great deal of traveling abroad, investing abroad, dealing with situations outside of the United States. It is the duty of American foreign policy to protect all of you as you travel around.
And then there's our way of life. Our way of life depends on having other countries that are democracies and free-market systems that we can trade with and feel comfortable with, and also make sure that they follow the same kind of rules we do. So it is a very exciting world. The possibilities are great. We are not stuck in Cold War blocs. We have many challenges, but the perils remain.
What is needed above all is American leadership. We are the only superpower and, as a result of that, we have many responsibilities and privileges. We stand tall, and therefore we can see further into the future. I think that, therefore, we do have a very special role.
When I went up to New York to be ambassador to the United Nations, there were when I got there 183 countries in the UN. Now there are 185. Being a professor, I tried very hard to give it some kind of conceptual framework. I know you've all heard that when you write papers: "Where is the conceptual framework?"
Well, I decided that the best way to describe what I saw was that basically countries in the world were divided into four different national groups. The first group is the largest, and composed of countries who understand the rules and to follow them -- the rules of the international system -- to get value out of the fact that they're part of a regime, and that there are ways to protect their territory, people and way of life.
Now, we don't agree with everything that their governments do, but we do agree for the most part that there should be some international rules.
The second group are what I call countries in transition -- those that have been parts of empires who don't have all the structures in order to be part of this first group, but who would like to be there.
The third group are the rogue states -- those that not only do not have a part in the international system, but whose very being involves being outside of it and throwing, literally, hand grenades inside in order to destroy it.
And then there are, basically, the basket cases -- countries that have no structure whatsoever, who can't participate at all.
The long-term goal of American foreign policy and international policy, I think, needs to be to bring everybody into that first group; to do what we can to help the societies in transition to be good members of the first group; try to isolate the rogues and then try to reform them so that they can be a part of it, and also do what we can to help those cases that are the worst. That is the long-term goal. So I hope very much that as you look at foreign policy, that you see that and understand that that is our overall goal.
Now, that brings us to the confrontation with Iraq. Iraq clearly falls into the rogue state group. Saddam Hussein is one of the worst actors on the world stage at this point. He has invaded another country; he has, when he was there, sought to destroy its environment by setting oil wells on fire. He has taken prisoners; he has stolen the historical treasures of Kuwait. He generally was not just another dictator, but somebody who did what is unforgivable in the international system -- to invade another country.
He also has used chemical weapons, not only against his neighbors, but against his own people. He has done it ten times. So this guy is a repeat offender, if there ever was one. And we all know from our experience, whether it's in a classroom or out in the stores, that if you break the law -- if someone cheats or robs a bank, and they get away with it, they will try again. Given the stakes -- and the stakes are weapons of mass destruction -- the world cannot allow Saddam Hussein to try again.
Now, that is why we are now demanding that the inspectors of the UN, known as UNSCOM, have the ability to go in and check up on what Saddam is doing. At the end of the Gulf War, he signed a cease-fire and agreed with -- I'm sure you all remember, "Stormin' Norman", General Schwarzkopf, who in fact was there to sign this agreement, and at that time Saddam Hussein's people agreed that they would get rid of their weapons of mass destruction, and they would do it within 15 days. It is now seven years later and they have not done it.
But the method that was established was for the United Nations to send in professionals -- not diplomats, but professionals who are there to examine whether chemical, biological or nuclear weapons or remnants of them or the ability to remake them are there on the ground. They are doing meticulous work, and have done so for all this time. As a result of their work, they have destroyed more weapons of mass destruction than were destroyed during the Gulf War. So they have done great work.
Now, last fall they were obviously beginning to get close to the crown jewels, otherwise Saddam would not have gone ballistic. What he did was say that they could not get into these very special sites. He calls them residences and palaces. Now, you know that the United States is the most powerful country in the world and we have the best economy in the world. We have a White House and a Camp David. He has 70 palaces. When he talks about the residences and the palaces, it's not just a small area; it is the size of Washington, D.C., and may be the size of -- I have to admit, I don't know exactly the size of Nashville, but it is a large area. It has nothing to do with residences; it has to do with the fact that there are many, many buildings where he hides things and moves them around, and he has said these are simply off-limits and the inspectors can't go into them.
So that is where we are. What we are trying to do, through diplomatic means, is to make him let those inspectors back in. They should go in, not people who know nothing about it, but people that really know their business, be allowed to go back into those palaces. If he has nothing to hide, then why is he so scared?
So the bottom line is that we need to make sure that UNSCOM is -- this group I know you've all heard about, it sounds like UN gobbledy-gook, but it is basically the UN inspectors -- that they be allowed to go in without conditions and to inspect as freely as they can.
Now, the Secretary General of the UN has just left on a mission where the permanent members of the Security Council have given him some guidelines about what he needs to do; and he is there now. We hope very much that he gets a real solution, not a phony one. The worst thing would be if he got a phony deal. It's like going to a doctor who tells you you're well, and he doesn't tell you you've got some sort of a disease, and then you die of it. So we cannot have a phony solution here.
We will work for that peaceful solution as long as we can. But if we cannot get such a solution -- and we do believe that the time for diplomacy is running out -- then we will use force. We will do it in such a way it will be a substantial strike in order to diminish the weapons of mass destruction threat and diminish Saddam's ability to threaten his neighbors.
So that is where we are. We can talk a lot more about that, and I hope you'll ask some questions. But I don't want to leave you all with the impression that our whole foreign policy centers around Iraq, because it doesn't. Within the past year, I have been to every continent except Antarctica, and America has interests everywhere. The world is a fascinating place; and there's no better way to learn about it than to be a diplomat. So let me pause for a little recruitment activity here, and that is to day I hope some of you think about having foreign service, being a diplomat as part of your career. It's very exciting. We need a lot of smart, young people to join us in this great work. I can tell you from personal experience, there is nothing better than representing the United States of America. So, you all come, and I'd be very glad to answer any questions that you have.
This is the captain of the women's ice hockey team that just won a gold medal. Cammi, this is Madeleine Albright, and I am here to congratulate you on behalf of all Americans, especially young American women who are very excited.
Let me also tell you this, it's kind of personal. I am the mother of a goalie who was on the women's team at Dartmouth, and I gather some of your friends there are also from Dartmouth. But we're very, very excited for you. I'm very proud of you, and I would like to invite you to come to the State Department so we can show you off. You are our best ambassadors, so we're very, very proud of you.
Please give our best to all your teammates, and I just can't tell you how proud we are.
Okay, thanks, Cammi. Bye-bye.
QUESTION: Madame Albright -- (inaudible) -- seems to me that -- (inaudible) -- Saddam Hussein -- (inaudible) -- air strikes, non-invasion -- (inaudible). Is the American Government going to guarantee to its citizens that their sons and daughters would not be fighting any Vietnam type of ground war, which guerrilla warfare and chemical warfare will be used -- (inaudible)?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: First of all, I think we could probably spend a lot of time talking about how this country came to be, but I can honestly tell you that I don't think the world has seen, except maybe since Hitler, somebody who has quite as evil as Saddam Hussein.
Let me just say this. We do not want to have any -- (inaudible) -- last time in the Gulf War was that there had been an invasion of another country. Please sit down, it's okay -- (laughter) . And the role there was to get them out of Kuwait, and the goal of that Administration was not to get rid of him. They had 500,000 troops on the ground, and they did not do that because that was not what the purpose of that war was.
We would look forward to working with a regime other than Saddam Hussein; and I know that the Iraqi people would. We feel really more sorry for the Iraqi people than I'm sure Saddam Hussein does. So our goal here is, as I said, to diminish his ability to threaten with weapons of mass destruction and to threaten his neighbors. There is no plan to use ground forces. There are some ground forces in the region in Kuwait, and they are there in order to repel in case Saddam should decide to move south again. But believe me, we have no intention of doing that, nor do we ever intend to shed American blood for purposes that are not achievable. So that is -- I appreciate your question.
QUESTION: What I was concerned about is where does opposition forces in Iraq stand right now? And what, if any, influence are they going to have on any particular combat that we might face?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I know people have asked a lot about the opposition forces in Iraq. We have obviously thought and talked about them a lot ourselves. During the Gulf War, there was some hope or idea that there was going to be some revolt so that something would happen; and in fact, they were waiting for American support and it didn't come. So it's a very difficult situation .
I know that there are those people who are suggesting that we should somehow support these opposition forces; and we have been working with opposition forces and we'll continue to do so. But they are a very complex group. We have looked at a lot of maps and have thought about where they are located. They all have different agendas, and it is not as simple as one might think that there is a unified opposition group. There are Kurds and Shias and various other kinds of groups, and it's very hard to see it organized. Do you want to follow up?
QUESTION: I would wonder, then, if that be the case, would this not essentially upset the balance of power in the Gulf region in terms of who's going to assume the power of Iraqis taken out of that position?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, we are committed to the territorial integrity of Iraq. But I have to tell you, it's pretty hard for me to imagine anybody worse than Saddam Hussein.
QUESTION: Muslims from around the world will make a pilgrimage to Mecca for worship at the sacred mosque beginning March 26. Can we be resigned to allow prayer and the intercession of God to resolve that which man cannot, or must the pilgrimage of 1998 be one of sorrow forever burned in the hearts of mankind? Might not Saddam be better served and contained if our country delivers humanitarian supplies and not death to the people of Iraq?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me say -- and I kind of started on this point with you -- we care more about the people of Iraq than Saddam Hussein. He is the one who has gassed them, tortured them and kept them under very tight control. Everybody who's out in the street in Iraq or who's going to be asked to be a human shield is terrified and is doing this because they are scared to death of Saddam Hussein.
I think there's always been a misunderstanding about the fact of how the sanctions work. Humanitarian and medical assistance has been able to go in. It is the United States who actually created the program whereby oil could be sold so that humanitarian goods and medicines could be distributed to the people. That was done even originally after the Gulf War; and for five years Saddam refused to put this process in place because he wanted to make sure that whatever came into the country went to his cronies and not to the ordinary people. A couple of years ago we tried again with a different kind of program, and we have that in place now; and I'm talking even about expanding it.
But I talked about these palaces, and everybody thinks that we are making Iraq poor. The palaces -- 48 of which have been built since the end of the Gulf War -- cost $1.5 billion. So the problem is that Saddam Hussein is the one who has created the problem, not the United States and the United Nations. Saddam Hussein is the one who is starving his people, not the United States and the United Nations. And we would like to see the Iraqi people live the kind of life that they're entitled to. We obviously respect Muslim religion. We understand the importance of pilgrimages to Mecca and have made exceptions for people to be able to go there. And it sure would be nice if prayer could resolve it; but I'm afraid that that is not the kind of thing that Saddam hears.
QUESTION: Dr. Albright, I'm a freshman and I'm from Tuskegee, Alabama. What I'm concerned about is about two or three days ago, President Clinton held a press conference from the Pentagon, and there he related our situation in Iraqi right now to a slogan for Mrs. Clinton. That slogan was "Remembering the past and imagining the future." When I remember the past, we had a UN Resolution that mandated our actions and also we had specific interests in oil in Kuwait. Now that Americans are forced to imagine the future, could you please shed some light on what you might imagine as the worst possible scenario and our outlook on support should we need it?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you; what a good question. I think the worst scenario is that Saddam could actually break out of the box that we have kept him in for seven years. I hope it was clear in my remarks that we have managed to contain him for seven years, and that the UN has managed to destroy huge amounts of his weapons of mass destruction.
One of the really bad scenarios is that he breaks out and that he is able to actually move through the Middle East and move into Saudi Arabia and really destabilize the entire region and seize energy supplies. Another scenario is that he could, in fact, somehow use his weapons of mass destruction. Another scenario is that he could become the salesman for weapons of mass destruction; that he could be the place where people come and get more weapons. Also another very bad scenario is that other -- there are other bad people in the world, but they would get the wrong message out of this; that we do not stand up in order to make sure that the first group of countries, those that follow the rules, are the ones that run the world and not the rogues.
So there are very bad scenarios. I just did some talk radio, and we were talking about what the lessons of this century are. And there are a lot of lessons, but for me some of the most important ones are that if you don't stop a horrific dictator before he gets started too far, then he can do untold damage. To the young man who said we're not going to shed blood -- send Americans out again, if the world had been firmer with Hitler earlier, then chances are that we might not have needed to send Americans to the Second World War.
So my lesson out of all of this is deal with the problem at a time when you can, and don't stand around and wait, thinking it will go away. I think that's the lesson from that. And I know it's very hard for people to think, why should we care about this horrible person on the other side of this globe? But the truth is, within this world, when you're all connected, we turn a blind eye at our own harm. There are more scenarios, I don't want to scare you all to death. There are more very bad scenarios, which is why we think that we need to be determined. And who will be with us? I'll bet you that in the end, if we have to use force, the countries will be with us, because they know that we are there to help them.
I can also tell you this, and it may be the next question. I went to the Middle East; I talked to a lot of the people in the Gulf. They have a very serious problem; they live in the neighborhood with this guy. And they say one thing publicly and then they make some very assuring, reassuring statements of support privately. I think it is a very good analogy about the fact that if there is a bully in the neighborhood and there is somebody who defends them, but the person who defends them is not there all the time, these people are there with the bully all the time. They're in a very bad position. So it's my belief that we will have the support that we need if we have to use force.
But I would like to see us solve this diplomatically, and I know that those of you that have taken classes in diplomacy know that sometimes the most effective thing is when diplomacy and force work together. I feel very secure as a diplomat, because I know that I have the American military force behind me, the finest force in the world. Threat of the use of force sometimes helps diplomacy. And all those troops out there in the Gulf are sending a very strong message to Saddam that if he doesn't obey and doesn't look for peaceful means, that we are coming.
QUESTION: Good morning, Dr. Albright. My question is, if you cannot resolve this conflict using diplomatic means, number one, will this result in war; and number two, will the United States take the responsibility of removing Saddam Hussein from power, using military force or any means necessary?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I do think that if we cannot solve this diplomatically, that we will use force. But the force will be directed at trying to reduce the weapons of mass destruction threat. I'm not going to go into all the targeting information, but it's going to be a very large threat. I was asked yesterday if it would be just kind of a Band-Aid; and I said, Saddam Hussein will need more than a Band-Aid to deal with this. So it would be substantial a strike.
Now, can we remove Saddam Hussein? That is not the purpose of this. As I've said, when there were half a million troops there, they could not -- they decided not to remove Saddam Hussein. I suppose if we decided to send an even larger force there, that would be something that one could contemplate. But I don't think that's what we should be doing. I don't know if you all remember that there was a time in Panama when there was a terrible dictator. And at that time, there were 25,000 troops in the country and they -- and Panama is a pretty small country -- they couldn't find him. So it's one of those things that people talk about and they'd like to have happen; and I have said that I sure would like to deal with a post-Saddam regime. But that is not the purpose of this; the purpose is to contain him.
QUESTION: I know you said we expect support, but do we have any nations that are vocal about support and will go in with us? Or will our country be the only nation with troops there?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: First of all, let me clarify a point. We have no troops on the ground. This is an aerial attack if we have to use it. We have already a couple of dozen countries that are there and have called or I've visited or Secretary Cohen has visited, who are supporting us, beginning with the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, the Netherlands. Countries that have offered bases are Spain, Italy. The three new countries that have been invited to be members of NATO have offered up various types of equipment. Argentina is helping. Kuwait, countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council states made a very strong statement, and other countries in the Gulf that are very much involved.
So I think that it's very important to know that we are not alone. But another point that I think needs to be clarified -- I think the Gulf War was a great victory, and it was a very important coalition. And there were many countries who were a part of it. But in the end, if you look very carefully at what went on there, basically, the United States and the United Kingdom and France did the heavy lifting on that. While there are many countries that offer support in lots of different ways, whether it's logistical support or actual equipment, I think that this coalition is a good one and a big one, and we can be proud of the support we'll get.
QUESTION: I'm a senior from Tennessee State University and I'm from Senegal, West Africa. President Clinton was an anti-war student, and now we've seen that he's getting ready to send some troops to Iraq. I was wondering what students now are going to learn from that? And also I don't think bombing Iraq will be a good solution. It think it is just killing innocent children in Iraq, and those kids are hungry. I think they need some help, not to be killed.
In conclusion, I wanted to know, you said a few minutes ago that "We are the only superpower in this world." I want to know if you're counting on Russia and France to support you in this fight against Iraq?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you. Well, first of all, I think you have to make a distinction here. We are talking about using military force, but we are not talking about a war. I think that is an important distinction, and I think that also I've said now many times -- and I will repeat -- this is not going to be a ground war and is not something of long duration. Our goal here is to contain Saddam Hussein. Also, while I don't want to discuss the operational aspects of this, the military operations are quite different. We have selected our targets very carefully, and President Clinton has been very, very concerned about civilian casualties.
You talk about women and children being killed. I think the most uncivilized behavior, in addition to the other things that I detailed about Saddam Hussein, is that he's planning to use women and children as shields. That does not exactly show me a great deal of bravery or, frankly, a dedication to his own people. It's only a matter of protecting his own skin.
We are going to do our utmost not to have civilian casualties; there will be some. But I think the point that people need to keep in mind is that this is not a crisis that the United States created. This is a crisis created by a brutal dictator who only cares about maintaining himself in power, and potentially doing some of the things -- (inaudible). So I think that we have some very serious problems with him. We need to deal with it in a way that shows our determination not to allow this kind of a person to continue.
QUESTION: Hello. Dr. Albright. First of all, I want to say that allegedly Saddam Hussein has moved some of his biological and/or chemical weapons from one place to another. My question is, what can we achieve by military strikes on Iraq if he's playing musical chairs with his weapons?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: First of all, there has been no corroboration of that. We consider it unlikely, frankly, and yesterday Secretary Cohen said that before the Gulf War, Saddam Hussein moved some of his planes to Iran, and he's never gotten them back. So chances are unlikely that he is moving what he has to someplace else. But we have not had any corroboration of that.
But I do think that our taking very firm steps against Saddam Hussein's desire to develop these kinds of weapons and his potential for using them is a very good lesson for anybody, any country that has thoughts about making weapons of mass destruction.
QUESTION: My question is, there have been confirmed reports of the former Soviet Union's disagreement with our actions towards a military strike, but there have been reports also that they have some involvement with the capabilities of Iraq's mass destruction building. I'm wondering, what is going to be, if any, sanctions against this former Soviet Union with giving them the abilities? And what is their stand now at this moment? Would they show any type of reaction towards our military strikes, showing their displeasure with our attempt?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: And I forgot, actually, to answer the question as to where Russia and France are on this
First of all, let me say that all the countries who are permanent members of the Security Council have voted continuously for making sure that Saddam Hussein fulfills his responsibilities to get rid of the weapons of mass destruction. When I was Ambassador in New York, we spent a great deal of time on these sanctions resolutions. While both those countries would have preferred to move faster on lifting the sanctions than we were prepared to move, they all agreed that it is absolutely essential that Saddam Hussein fulfill his obligation. Even now, I now have daily phone calls with Foreign Minister Primakov and Foreign Minister Vedrine of France and Foreign Secretary Cook in London about how we all work together. Also with my Chinese counterpart, Foreign Minister Qian Qichen.
Now, we are all agreed on the importance of them living up to their obligations and getting rid of these weapons of mass destruction. There have been some allegations about the Russians providing some assistance. The most recent ones, they have denied and there has been no independent information on that. The UNSCOM inspectors found some documents that indicated that something had been transferred. But there is no independent corroboration.
There was an earlier incident where there was the possibility of some transfer of a Russian gyroscope, but it turned out that was something that was involved in allegations of smuggling, and that it was not really the Russian Government. But we have made very clear to the Russians and to other countries that have been supplying them with the various parts of this is something that is sanctionable activity. We have made that very clear. So that is one of the issues here -- how to make sure that they aren't able to acquire these kinds of parts to this.
QUESTION: Given the possibility of war, because this is a very major possibility, could we be looking at the future of containing another possible world war, with all of the countries helping us, and the countries such as France, with its money in Iraq, and China's association with Iraq, and Russia's possible connections to Iraq? Could we be looking at that possibility?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: First of all, I think that we don't want to get ahead of ourselves here. I do not see any danger of a world war, especially if we take very firm action. Now -- and that was what I said was kind of the lesson for this century, is to take action when we can.
Let me also make clear something, which is that while we may have disagreements about certain tactics as to how to deal with Iraq -- you mentioned France -- we don't have any difference in terms of the overall goals. We have no great divisions in the world, the way we had with the communists and non-communists. In fact, what is very exciting about the world today is the number of partnerships and relationships that we have dealing with a whole host of the new threats in the world in terms of dealing with international crime, environmental issues, trade issues. It's a very different set of problems.
And what I love about my job is the fact that all these relationships are open and possible, and the United States -- I have said we are the only superpower, but we don't want to do everything alone. I mean, we're a very interesting kind of superpower in that we don't want to occupy a country and dominate the world. We're not imperialists. What we like to do is to work in partnership with other countries.
So what you're seeing now -- and I hope that political science students, especially look at this -- is that when I was in college, we were studying all the regional groupings that were developing after the Second World War: NATO and SEATO and CENTO and a bunch of alphabet soup that I learned that everybody forgets. Now there are a whole different set of regional groupings, and they are based an awful lot on functional, important things -- on economics, on a variety of environmental issues and trying to deal with a specific problem -- and they are the building blocks of the new system.
Now, our aid. It used to be that our whole assistance programs were based on fighting communism. If somebody was fighting communism, we gave them money; if they were on the other side, we wouldn't give them money. And the weirdest thing of all was that the countries switched sides -- as Ethiopia did a number of times -- sometimes the Soviets gave them money, sometimes we gave them money.
Now we try to do our assistance programs quite differently. Where we are working with countries to help the poorest of the poor, we also help them in terms of their general economic programs, and working to try to strengthen democracy and free market systems in those countries. We give assistance because we believe it's good for America. Our national interest is to have more countries that are democracies and free market systems.
QUESTION: Dr. Albright, thank you for coming today.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: I really like the "Dr. Albright." (Inaudible.)
QUESTION: Like you said, the US is the middle of the world. It makes the world go round. But what makes the US the center of the wheel that turns the world around and also what makes the US have to be the enforcer or the police for the world? What is our justification in going to Iraq? I heard you say the weapons inspectors. I heard you say the things that Hussein has done to his own people. But what is the major -- I somewhat understand what the purpose is. But isn't it kind of odd how we will do an air strike with the possible repercussions of having a major-scale war?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, I think that the reason that we are the superpower in the world is that the other superpower got defeated and fell apart. There is no other country with the imagination, the strength, the general sense of purpose, like the United States. We are a country that is based on the concept of democracy and freedom, on the market system. We are looked up to throughout the world.
I can tell you, it's very interesting. People would ask me what it was like to be a woman at the United Nations. I represented the United States; it didn't matter what I was. I hope if all of you take up my line of work, you will see what it's like to represent the United States. Countries occasionally get mad at us and they don't like some of the things we do, but they sure look up to us for leadership. They organize around us to a great extent. We are, in many terms, the organizing principal; people watch what we're doing.
It's a great privilege, but it also has its responsibilities. I think that there are those who do wait to see what we're going to do, and then come in and help us.
The reason that we're doing what we might have to do in Iraq is because we think it threatens our vital national security interests. We are trying very hard to make sure that this horror of weapons of mass destruction is not spread because that is the future threat to us -- as people believed communism was, now we are concerned about that, about the weapons of mass destruction. And if we don't make a stand now, making clear that we mean to stop it, that will ultimately threaten us.
All of you know that the Middle East, per se, is a region that is vital to our national interests, and that having stability in that region is vital to our interests. So that is why we're doing it.
We could talk much longer about that, because I think the issue of American leadership at the end of this century and the beginning of the 21st is the single most important issue. What I would hope is that all of you who are the 21st Century would understand that the worst problems have come in the 20th Century when the United States didn't pay attention. When we looked inward, that is when the problems started. But ultimately, if we don't pay attention, problems come home to America.
If you all look at what your lives are like, you depend on a globally functioning system, and you will even more than I did, than my generation did. You are people that are going to be throughout the world, that want to enjoy a world in which you can be safe, in which you can breathe, in which you can invest, travel, have relationships throughout the world. So even more for you than for me, American leadership in the 21st Century is essential.
When we turn it over to you, the 21st Century, I hope you understand the importance of American leadership.
QUESTION: If and when we attain our goal of eradicating the biological and chemical weapons that Hussein has, whether by diplomatic means or by force, what kind of action would you take for the future if he is still around to contain him? Will future generations have to contain him? Or if we do have to contain him, what will the other countries say?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: First of all, ultimately -- you're a chemistry major, but biology will work, and he will disappear.
(Laughter and applause.)
But I think that what we will continue to do is do what we're doing to make sure he stays in his box. And frankly, the box keeps getting tighter and tighter. I don't know how many of you have watched this, but we have no-fly zones now over the top and the bottom of his country. Generally, he is being kept in this strategic box, and we're going to have to do that. I do think that that's why it's important to take this action so that it's clear that we will contain him in his box.
As I said, we sure would like to deal with a different regime, but until that happens, we will keep him in his box, and other countries will help us.
QUESTION: Good morning, Dr. Albright. You spoke earlier about how we're the superpower of the world, the best country in the world. I can agree. And you also said that we're the organizing principal. My question to you is, in our past history in war, when countries were not able to govern themselves after war for whatever reason -- whether their leader was taken over, whatever -- we provided the organization for that country. I was wondering if we dethroned Saddam Hussein and we had to deal with a post-Saddam regime, could that cause more strife in the country of Iraq, considering that there are a lot of factions that would like to see their own way of life in Iraq other than Saddam Hussein's? And also, if Saddam was gone, what would be the US's role in Iraq in terms of organization or whatever?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, first of all, as I said earlier, I cannot imagine a worse situation or system for the Iraqi people than what they have now. I am sure that there would be a period of transition, and these groups would somehow have to organize themselves.
As I said, we are for maintaining the integrity of Iraq because I think, as was asked here about the balance of forces in the region, that it's important not to have a fractured Iraq.
So I do think that the integrity of Iraq is important. The thing that we forget -- or I don't, but it may not be out there all the time -- is that Iraq is basically a very rich country. He is sitting on a lot of oil, and there would be enough money to rebuild and restructure Iraq. In fact, one of the things we think needs to be done is that some of the money that comes as a result of selling oil ought to go for infrastructure and not for building his palaces.
We are not an occupying power. We would not be there as occupiers ever. But I do think that there is an ability. The Iraqi people are talented, and they would have the ability to rebuild themselves. They are rich; they just are oppressed by one of the most brutal dictators that this century has known.
QUESTION: Good morning, Dr. Albright. How do you handle the tremendous task of being Secretary of State and also a single mother?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: This was not planted.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: How do I handle it? I handle it because I think it is the greatest job that anyone could ever have, and it is because of sessions like this, where I have a chance to talk to people who are asking good questions and I have the ability to explain and the pleasure of explaining what American leadership is about.
Somebody said I have stamina; I do. But I think it is a great job; it is one of the all-time great jobs. I think often to myself that I have Thomas Jefferson's job, if you can believe that. It is wonderful to be the first woman Secretary of State. I am very proud to be that, and very proud to represent the United States.
I think if I were not so proud of this country, it would be a much harder job. But knowing, while we're not perfect -- and we're not, and we all know that -- that we are the best country in the world makes it very challenging, and I'm very grateful to have the job.
I don't know how many of you know this, but I wasn't born in the United States. I came here in 1938, when I was 11 years old. So I think I'm the story of how people that weren't even born here have the ability and privilege and the opportunity of rising to the top.
The single mother part is that my kids are pretty old. I'm a single grandmother.
[End of Document]
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