|Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Remarks and Q&A Session at Saint Michael's College
Colchester, Vermont, April 7, 1998
As released by the Office of the Spokesman, April 8, 1998
U.S. Department of State
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you very much. I'm not only the first woman, but the shortest Secretary of State.
Thank you very much, Senator Leahy. And Marcelle, it's wonderful that you're here. President vander Hayden and Mrs. vander Hayden, we are both born in the same place, Prague; so it's a pleasure that I had a chance to see you here. Lieutenant Governor Racine; President Bouchard; members of the Saint Michael's community; Mrs. Craig, mother of my Director of Policy Planning and my Tibet Coordinator Greg Craig; former college friends; guests of the college community; and students -- good afternoon to all of you.
I must tell you at the outset, that as a former resident of Colorado, I love mountains. As a former professor, I love academic surroundings. And as a great fan of this state's living legends
-- town meetings, covered bridges, Ben and Jerry's, where I just had Chunky Monkey, and of Senator Leahy -- I love Vermont.
I admire Pat Leahy for several reasons. First, he is the only person I know who gets birthday cards from members of the Grateful Dead. Second, he is the only Senator there is with the courage to wear a Batman suit. And third, he is our nation's leading expert on the difference between a lake that is merely good and one that is totally great.
More important still, I admire Pat Leahy because of all he has done to improve the lives of Vermonters and of people everywhere -- I hope you're not blaming me for these airplanes -- for Senator Leahy knows that Vermont's interests extend far beyond its borders. Throughout his career, he has been a proponent of principled and purposeful American leadership -- leadership that is doing not only the smart thing, but the right thing at home and around the world.
But the truth is that Senator Leahy is not a solo act. Vermont is represented in the Senate by a dynamic duo. Senator Jim Jeffords has also been a passionate and often courageous voice of conscience in Washington. Time and again, he has taken the Senate floor to argue the case for American engagement in support of people who need and deserve our help. Pat Leahy and Jim Jeffords provide a great one-two punch for a better Vermont and a better world, and I hope you are as proud of them as I know they are of all of you.
Now, for some time, many of the so-called experts in Washington have been saying that America is in trouble because our people -- and especially our young people -- have turned inward and don't care about events overseas. Well, to use a term of diplomatic art, that is balderdash.
The evidence is in this room. Here at Saint Michael's, you have a thriving School of International Studies. Students are expected to learn a second language and are strongly encouraged to study abroad. And young people from virtually every part of every continent have been attracted here to study and contribute, in the words of your mission statement, "to the enhancement of the human person and to the advancement of human culture."
Moreover, you know that upon graduation, you will be asked to compete in a global economy; you will travel further and more often than any previous generation. In short, you will live global lives. That's why it matters to you whether the United States is taking the lead in trying to move the world in the right direction; whether we are seizing the opportunity that history has presented to bring nations closer together around basic principles of democracy, open markets, law and a commitment to peace. And that is why it matters that the United States stands with the peacemakers against the bomb-throwers in the Middle East, Northern Ireland, Central Africa and other trouble spots around the globe.
And that is why it matters that the United States is fighting on the side of the law in the battle against terror, the war against international crime, and the struggle to increase respect for religious freedom and basic human rights. And that is why it matters that American soldiers and diplomats are in Bosnia, and today helping the people of that country build a future in which governments are elected, not imposed; disagreements are settled in the courts, not on the battlefield; and the International War Crimes Tribunal receives the full backing from the world community because we are determined that the authors of ethnic cleansing should be held accountable, and those who consider rape just another tactic of war must answer for their crimes.
And that is why it matters that we are integrating efforts to advance the status of women into the mainstream of American foreign policy. And let me just add that today, despite the progress we are making around the world, appalling abuses are still being committed against women. These include dowry murders, domestic abuse, mutilation and young girls being forced into prostitution. Some say that it is all cultural and there's nothing we can do about it. I say it's criminal and we each have a responsibility to stop it.
If we are to build the kind of future we want, we must also safeguard our environment. As Vermonters know all too well, acid rain, greenhouse gas emissions, radiation and sewage don't read maps, respect borders or even stop for customs. To preserve the health of any part of the globe, we must protect the entire globe.
Unfortunately, there are times when preserving a healthy world environment seems like mission impossible. We hear so often that the science is not certain enough, that population growth rates will not slow enough, that people don't care enough. And some still say that environmental protection is a soft issue, which can safely be dealt with another day, or better yet, by another generation. I say environment is a security issue and that unless we wish to betray our own children, we must act seriously and on all fronts to deal with it now.
Moreover, here in New England, where trees grow tall, water runs clear, and moose still wander in downtown Burlington, there is abundant evidence that bold action on the environment can yield dramatic results at an acceptable cost. After all, it has been less than 30 years since a Democratic Congress and a Republican President got together to override a determined opposition and enact the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts and create the EPA. Since then, we have returned a host of lakes to health and human use, substantially reduced air pollution, and proved that what some called a wasteful expense is truly a pragmatic investment in America's prosperity and good health.
Today that same bipartisan spirit is needed to forge a worldwide strategy to combat global climate change. The Clinton Administration is committed to doing its part at home by using the force of the market and the power of American innovation to cut our emissions and keep our economy growing. And we are determined to lead in developing a global action plan based on sound science and sensible cooperation -- a plan that makes sure that all nations play a part and in which innovation and initiative are rewarded.
Each of these efforts will contribute to a more secure, just and livable world. But nothing is more important than the steps we must take to reduce further the threat posed to the future by nuclear, chemical and biological arms and to protect civilians from the dangers posed by other deadly weapons.
In recent years, with the support of both of Vermont's Senators, we have made tremendous progress upon which we must continue to build. President Clinton and Russia's President Yeltsin are committed to negotiating deep but stable reductions in our nuclear arsenals -- to 80 percent below Cold War peaks. But first, the Russian Parliament must ratify the START II agreement that has been pending for several years. And today, the speaker of the Duma, the Russian parliament, did in fact say that they were going to be moving forward on their ratification debate.
In 1997, America approved an agreement to ban chemical weapons from the face of the Earth; and by so doing, encouraged others to follow in our footsteps -- including Russia, China, Pakistan and Iran. Now, we are asking Congress to approve legislation that would implement that agreement for the United States. More than 150 nations, including the five declared nuclear powers, have agreed to a ban on explosive nuclear tests in any place, for any purpose, for all time. That is a great gift to the future, but first it must be approved by the US Senate and enter into force around the world.
For years we have had in place a Biological Weapons Convention that bars the production and use of such weapons. Now we must fulfill President Clinton's pledge to negotiate a stronger international inspection system to detect and deter cheating. Last November we signed an agreement to crack down on the illegal trade in conventional arms in the Western Hemisphere. Our goal now is to develop a similar agreement on a global scale by the year 2000.
Finally, we must do everything we can to fulfill President Clinton's pledge to end the threat posed by land mines to civilians anywhere on Earth by the end of the next decade. It is no exaggeration to say that recent progress toward that goal bears the label "Made in Vermont." Senator Leahy's efforts have been heroic. And the International Campaign to Ban Land Mines came out of the Green Mountains to win the Nobel Prize.
I know that Senator Leahy has not agreed with all aspects of the Administration's position on this issue; but I think we do agree on one central goal, and that is the need to end the threat that land mines pose to civilians. The best way to do that is to proceed full speed ahead with the job of pulling mines from the soil like the noxious weeds that they are.
I am proud that the United States is far and away the world leader in mine removal programs. This year, through our Global Humanitarian De-Mining Initiative, we are almost doubling our own contributions. And next month, we will convene a conference in Washington to mobilize resources around the globe for that purpose.
Our efforts on the environment and on arms control are but two examples of a truth we see demonstrated over and over again: In our era, if problems are to be solved, nations must work together. That is why I have been devoting so much attention in recent months to trying to persuade Congress to pay our long overdue United Nations bills.
Last year we were pleased to get bipartisan support for a plan that would have encouraged UN reform, while going a long way towards paying the roughly $1 billion we owe. Unfortunately, some members of Congress have succeeded thus far in tying that proposal to an unrelated change in US policy towards international population programs. That's legislative blackmail. And as Senator Leahy has argued, it hurts people around the world whose lives are improved or saved by the support we give to international family planning.
Moreover, we have important business to conduct at the UN. As we speak, UN agencies are working to promote nuclear safeguards, punish genocide, prevent disease, protect children, provide early warning of hurricanes and preserve the rights of those who travel or do business abroad. All this for a cost to the average American that is about equal to the price of a movie ticket -- "Titanic," if that's what you're seeing these days. By the end of this year, if we don't pay our UN bills, we may even lose the right to vote in the UN General Assembly.
Now, it is true there are some who believe the UN is a sinister organization. They suspect that it operates a fleet of black helicopters, which may, at any moment, swoop down into our backyards and steal our lawn furniture.
They say it is bent on world domination -- which is absurd -- and that we cannot trust it because it is full of foreigners, which frankly, we can't help.
The truth is that the UN is not an alien presence in the US. It was invented by people with names like Harry Truman, Eleanor Roosevelt and Warren Austin, a Republican senator from Vermont who resigned his seat a half century ago to serve as our UN Ambassador.
Paying our UN bills is not just a question of dollars and cents. It is in our interest and a litmus test of our willingness to practice what we preach. So I hope I will have your support. Congress should act now -- without regard to any unrelated issue -- to pay our UN bills.
From global warming and NATO enlargement to microwaves and women's ice hockey, a lot has changed since Pat Leahy was a student here. Then, we were sending monkeys into space. Now, we're getting ready to put a whole research station into space. Then, there was Batman, the TV show. Now we have Batman, I, II, III and IV -- on cable, on video and on laser disc.
Of course, some things haven't changed. The Red Sox still haven't won a World Series.
Saint Michael's is still a great place to get an education, and the lessons Pat Leahy learned here about values, about leadership, about duty to community and country are still valid. For the true divide in yours and every generation is not between Democrat and Republican, liberal and conservative, rich and poor, but between those who have faith in the future and those who do not. By faith I mean not the passive faith expressed by one poet that somehow good will always come of ill, but rather the hard-headed conviction of the activist -- that it truly does matter whether you do your part to make the future better than the past.
As individuals, each of us must choose whether to live narrowly, selfishly and complacently, or to act with courage and confidence. As a nation, America must choose whether to turn inward and betray the lessons of history, or to seize the opportunity before us to shape history.
Today, the single greatest danger our nation faces is not some foreign enemy. It is the danger that we will succumb to the temptation of isolation; that we will neglect the principles that make us strong; tarnish the ideals that make us respected; and forget the fundamental lesson of this century, which is that problems abroad, if left unattended, will all too often come home to America.
The Clinton Administration is committed to making sure that the nation you inherit is as good or better than it is today. But America's choices for the future depend on more than what happens in Washington. They depend on you and on your choices as individuals.
I am confident you will make good choices, for I have now reached the age at which Robert Frost once said, "my teachers are the young." I look forward to what you will do for yourselves, your communities and for America. I salute all that Saint Michael's has already done to prepare its alumni to be good leaders and good citizens. And I thank you very much for your welcome today, and I look forward to answering your questions.
MODERATOR: Secretary Albright has agreed to a question/answer session. The format of this portion of the program has been set so that anyone wishing to ask a question of the Secretary will be tried and reached. Depending on the side where you're sitting, either Kevin Kadish or Dan Angelini will pass you the microphone; you will ask your question; it will be answered; and then we'll alternate sides. So who will be the first to ask a question on my right?
QUESTION: You said earlier that it's real important for the United States to be part of the United Nations. I guess my question is about how we dealt with Saddam Hussein's refusal to allow the UN inspectors into his country. We had to threaten to use force, even though all of the UN countries did not agree. I guess my question is, is it appropriate for the US to act unilaterally against the Iraqi Government without specific support from the UN? And if it is, then is it appropriate for any nation to take action without explicit approval of the UN Security Council?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Thank you for asking that. Let me give a little context here. I think we have to remember what the Gulf War was about. It was about the fact that Saddam Hussein invaded a neighboring country -- something which is against international law, and which was sanctioned; that is, sanctions were imposed by the Security Council as a result of his act where he invaded Kuwait, seized many of its people, murdered people there, tortured many of the people there, burned the treasury -- that is, old artifacts of Kuwaiti history, stole them, took them back to Iraq, and generally pillaged -- burned the oil wells and created an environmental disaster, and at the same time, continued to defy the international community by not doing what the international community asked of him, which is to come forward and let it be known what his supply of weapons of mass destruction was.
Now, this was not an idle request by the international community, because Saddam Hussein had already used poison gas ten times -- seven times against the Iranians and three times against his own people. He is, as far as we can tell, the only modern leader -- and I use "modern" in quotation marks -- to have used poison gas against his own people.
So the international community set up a regime in order to try to one, deal with what he had done and get him to reverse some of the things -- that is, recognize Kuwait as an independent state, return the stolen Kuwaiti property, account for prisoners of war of Kuwait, stop torturing the Shias who live in the south, stop repressing the people in the north and, finally, come clean on weapons of mass destruction.
The UN set up a Commission of UN inspectors, whose job it was to go in and find out what he had, because Saddam Hussein was not coming clean; he was playing a hide-and-seek game of lying. It was not until his son-in-law, who defected, had admitted that they'd had a biological weapons program that he ever let it be known that he did have a biological weapons program. And he has collected enough biological weapons to kill every man, woman and child in the world.
So this is not an ordinary dictator that we're dealing with. And the international community has a responsibility, and the United Nations, to deal with the problem. And the United States, as the leader of the international community, believes that we have a responsibility to do something about it, and we base -- specifically, to answer your question -- our authority on the original Security Council Resolution 678, which allows all necessary means to deal with the problem of a dictator who has weapons of mass destruction and is a threat to the neighborhood and, therefore, to us.
Now, I know -- and somebody just held up a sign -- that people are very concerned about the women and children and the poor people of Iraq. I am willing to stand here and say flat out that I, Madeleine Albright, representing the President of the United States, care more about the people of Iraq than Saddam Hussein does.
It was the United States that created the program whereby it is possible for Saddam Hussein to sell oil in order to be able to buy food and medicine. No sanctions have ever -- and I underline ever -- made it impossible for him to get food and medicine for his people. But you know what he's done with his money -- and he's got plenty of it. He has built 54 palaces for himself and his people since the Gulf War and spent $1.5 billion building those palaces. He is using his people and their tragic plight in order to get out from under the sanctions regime, which is the only regime in place that is protecting us -- all of us -- against his weapons of mass destruction.
Now, we threatened to use force, and those of you that take international relations, if I ever go back to teaching again, I'm going to use this as a case study. It is so far a perfect case study of the strength that diplomacy has when it is backed up by the threat of the use of force. We have not used the force. The international community has come down again in support of the sanctions resolutions in order to have Saddam Hussein come clean.
Now, I've taken a long time to answer this question because I know it's on a lot of people's minds. There are a lot of really good Americans who care very deeply about the people of Iraq. I can just assure you that the President and I and Senator Leahy and many, many members of Congress feel as strongly as you do about the people of Iraq. But it is Saddam Hussein who is responsible for the fate of the people of Iraq. And when he comes clean and follows through on the resolutions -- all the relevant resolutions -- then we will lift the embargo. In the meantime, we have again agreed to a doubling of the amount of oil that he can sell for food and medicines -- $5.2 billion every six months -- more than he can even pump -- in order for him to feed his people and stop building palaces for himself.
QUESTION: In your introduction, you were described as one of the most powerful women on the planet. What do you consider power?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, it's an interesting way to be introduced, and I have to say, it's a little bit like when I was voted mother of the year and my children said, whom did they ask?
(Laughter and applause.)
I think that I know what I am: I am the first woman Secretary of State; I am the highest level woman in the history of the United States in the Executive Branch; and I represent the United States. And what makes me powerful is that I do represent the United States of America. It was mentioned that I wasn't born here, and I think that we would agree on the fact that those of us who were not born here and have had the honor of growing up free Americans know how important it is to be able to be not only a part of this country, but in my case, when I go to meetings -- and I go to lots of meetings -- I sit behind a sign that says United States; and that is what makes me powerful.
But even more important than being powerful, I hope you can see from the remarks that I've made and from whatever questions we have, that it doesn't do any good to have power if it isn't used on behalf of some good causes. I do think that a moral American foreign policy is the only foreign policy that is apt for this great country. So that's who I think I am, and why I'm so honored to represent the United States.
QUESTION: Secretary Albright, I have recently viewed a copy of a letter from Barbara Larkin of the State Department to Senator Leahy about the recent massacre in Chiapas on December 22, 1997, which stated, "We have seen no evidence whatsoever that material assistance provided by the US Government was used in connection with the Acteal massacre or military operations in Chiapas."
This letter also mentioned the January 12 protest of an unarmed group shot at by state police in (inaudible). Accompanying the state police was General Jorge de Jesus Gave of the 39th military zone; and the state license plates of the military vehicles used were 0831145 and 0831144 -- US vehicles given to Mexico, supposedly to fight the drug war.
My question is three-fold for you. Why hasn't the Leahy law been fully implemented in the situation when there is evidence, such as the named license plates, that equipment having been supplied by the US has been used in acts of gross violations of human rights? The second part is, what has been the effect of the end-use monitoring program for all military assistance to Mexico regarding the counter-narcotics program? And third, why are we assisting the Mexican Government when the Zapatistas have proven that President Zedillo is unwilling to hold his end of the bargain regarding the first accord of dialogue in -- (inaudible) --?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Let me say that I think that we have been following the situation in Mexico carefully. It is an issue, obviously, of great concern to us. I do not know about this particular vehicle. We have provided assistance to Mexico to help fight drugs, which is the great scourge of our hemisphere and something that we need to deal with.
We believe that President Zedillo is trying to deal with the Chiapas issue in a way that is fair and respectful, but clearly there are serious concerns that we all have about it. It is my belief that the United States is not knowingly providing any kind of equipment that is being used to suppress human rights.
QUESTION: Good afternoon, Madame Secretary. I am currently in a class on Islam, and we have talked a lot about Muslims and Islamic treatment of women. I'm wondering, in all your dealings with the Middle East, how you, as the most powerful woman in this nation, how they deal with you, and if you feel that your gender has any issues in that relationship.
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: By the way, I will answer that, but let me say that I think that St. Michael's is to be commended in having a course such as that, because I think that what we all need to know is to understand and appreciate Islam more than many people of my generation. And I think many of us have, in fact, been playing catch up in trying to learn more and be appreciative of a religion and tradition that one, is enjoyed by vast numbers of people in the world, and with which we have many, representatives with which we have many dealings and will have even more as we move into the 21st century. So, I think you are preparing yourselves very well and I commend you.
There were people, many people, who thought that a woman shouldn't be Secretary of State for many reasons. Patrick Leahy was not one of them. One of the reasons given, actually, was that the leaders of the Middle East would not know how to deal with a woman. Well, I have found that not to be true, actually; and some of the most fruitful conversations that I've had have been with Middle Eastern leaders. This is where the part about being the American Secretary of State makes a difference. I think if I represented some other country, it might be more difficult. But if I go in as the United States, then I think that is the basic reason for good, fruitful discussions.
But I have to tell you, when I first went and I had a meeting with the Gulf Cooperation Council states last year, we had a very important meeting. We were actually talking about Iraq, among other subjects, and we had a good meeting and everything went back and forth the way it does in these multilateral meetings. At the end of it, I said, you all have been very kind to me and we've had a really good session; and you may notice that I don't look exactly my predecessors, and you have not commented on that; but next time when we meet, we'll talk about women's rights.
They took that very well, and one of the Foreign Ministers actually said, that's fine, I have two daughters; and I will make you a bet that in the length of the history of our countries, we will have a Secretary of State or a Foreign Minister in a shorter period of time than it took the United States.
I have met with many Muslim women, because I think there is obviously great concern about the roles that they're allowed to play in their societies, and I think it's not a totally equal thing in every country -- there are differences, as you know. But generally, what I'm trying to do is to put women's issues not as some kind of peripheral part of American foreign policy, but a central part; not just because I'm a woman, but because I believe that when women are able to be a part of a country, of a system, of a government, or have economic power, that it is good for the country because of the values that women bring and of the fact that we are able to discuss disease and environmental -- I said that some issues are regarded as soft, environment is regarded as a soft issue -- that there are lots of issues that women are able to bring to the table, and I think every country is enriched when half or more than half its population can be a part of it. And I think that that will become evident as it was at the Beijing women's conference.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, do you believe it is in the best interest of the United States, a defender of human rights everywhere, to give China Most Favored Nation trade status when they are the perpetrators of many human rights violations, including holding political prisoners such as Middlebury College scholar -- (inaudible) --?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, I also am very glad you've asked that. I think that we need to put our whole China relationship into the following context. There is, I think, no question that China's rise to power and its increasing regional and global prominence is something that the United States must take account of as we look out at the 21st century.
We have made very clear in all meetings that I have attended, either with the President or meetings that I've had myself, that we are dissatisfied with China's human rights policy and that we will never have a totally normal relationship with the Chinese Government until they have a human rights policy that does allow for dissent, allows for freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, and generally a human rights policy that we think is in furtherance of the will of the Chinese people and as part of an international standard. The State Department issues a fairly tough human rights report annually.
At the same time -- and we've thought about this a great deal -- we believe that perhaps the best way to go about persuading the Chinese of a better human rights policy is actually to engage with them. We engage with them, but we do not endorse -- engagement but not endorsement. Our relationship with the Chinese is very complicated; it's a multifaceted relationship. We have concerns about proliferation issues, as I discussed in my remarks. And the Chinese, over the last four or five years, have systematically moved (inaudible) various nonproliferation regimes that we have been interested in the NPT, the CTBT, the Chemical Weapons Convention. They generally have been moving in terms of being more and more responsible as international powers.
They also have now indicated that they would sign the Covenant on Political Rights. So we are pressing them. The President made very clear to Jiang Zemin, privately as well as in the press conference that they had, that the Chinese were on the wrong side of history as far as human rights were concerned.
As far as Tibet is concerned, as I mentioned in my introductory remarks, I have named a Special Coordinator for Tibet. We are concerned about preserving the cultural integrity of Tibet. I, myself, have met with the Dalai Lama a couple of times -- once in the State Department and once in Prague, actually. So we are trying very hard to push various elements of our Chinese policy forward, never forgetting that human rights are central to the way Americans carry out foreign policy, but understanding that we have to have a multifaceted relationship with a nation that is so huge and does have a very large role to play in the region and in the world.
QUESTION: Good afternoon, Ms. Albright. As the Secretary, can you do anything about Slobodan Milosevic and his regime?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Don't I wish?
Let me say that Slobodan Milosevic has created more problems in the Balkans than we have seen in a long time. He is the one that basically is responsible for the war in Bosnia and for the massive horrors that were unleashed, which then we saw ethnic cleansing and pillaging and rape and a way that a country was torn up.
What is very sad is that Yugoslavia existed as a country for 70 years. There had been problems, obviously, there before. All of you that have studied the Balkan Wars know that. But it is my belief that it is possible for the people in that region to live together. They have, in fact, done so and inter-married. I have been to Bosnia and Croatia and met with families where one person is a Croat and the other is a Bosnian Muslim. I have been in Republika Srpska; I have been throughout, and I know that it was possible for the people to live together, and they can again.
At the current moment, we are very concerned about another problem in the region, and that is Kosovo. Kosovo was an autonomous part of the former Yugoslavia, and it is now seeking to have more of an autonomous role. The international community, in the guise of the Contact Group, has tried to get Milosevic to negotiate with the Kosovar Albanians in order to get an enhanced status for Kosovo.
Now, Milosevic plays a complicated role because he is the power in Serbia; and, to some extent, not only is he the cause of the problem, but he is also one of the guarantors of Dayton, and has occasionally played a positive role, such as in supporting Mrs. Plavsic in Republika Srpska. So it's complicated to deal with him. But he needs to understand that the only way that Serbia is going to come out of the penalty box, so to speak, is to have him cooperate with the War Crimes Tribunal; try to participate in negotiations to enhance the status of Kosovo; move towards more democratization in Serbia; and act in a way that is commensurate with somebody who is a leader of a European country that wants to be a part of Europe.
So we are pressing on Milosevic all the time, and he has selective hearing.
QUESTION: Madame Secretary, when President Clinton visited Africa recently, while in Rwanda he said he regretted that the world had not acted fast enough to stop the atrocities which occurred there some years ago. So my question is, what policy changes have or will be made to avoid future Rwandas? And more importantly, how can US foreign policy be made more mindful of the African continent?
SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Well, let me begin with the last part of this. I think that the President's trip to Africa, which was the first comprehensive trip by a sitting American President, ever, of Africa -- other Presidents have visited, but just kind of come in and out. The President really, I think, traveled the gamut and saw many African leaders and participated in a regional conference in Uganda and went to many AID projects and schools. You all followed it in the papers, so I think you know. That is part of what he was trying to do.
I was in Africa in December. We have legislation in Congress to try to get trade support for Africa. And the importance of recognizing that not only does Africa need foreign assistance, but it also needs to be treated as a partner. Africa is a wonderful, rich continent that is able to participate in the global economy if given a chance. So what we're going to be doing is working on more partnership ways of dealing with Africa in a way of mutual respect.
Now, as far as Rwanda was concerned, I think that it is one of the very sad episodes of our history. I don't mean American as much as the international community because there was not enough done in order to notice what was going on. And then, when actually the killings began, they happened as rapidly as a earthquake, and it was very hard to follow up.
I have been to Rwanda twice, and I have to tell you, it's about as horrible a thing as I have ever had to do. In Rwanda, when you are there, I think about two-thirds of the country are women, and about 60 percent of them are widows. Many of them are the victims of rape and the mothers of children of the opposite ethnic group. The orphanages are filled with children that are unwanted because of the fact that they are not the right ethnic group.
I flew from Kigali to one of the most beautiful places I've ever seen on Lake Kivu in a helicopter. It was a mixture of senses: one, we flew over a prison in which there were so many people -- these were the murderers, or the alleged murderers, but nevertheless, there are so many of them in that prison, that they take turns standing. So somebody stands and somebody sits between their legs, and then they switch places. And you can see that as you fly over in a helicopter.
Then you fly over some of the most beautiful country in the world. It's where they filmed "Gorillas in the Mist." I then looked down and there was this beautiful stone church on a lake, and I think to myself, what a beautiful place. Well, it turns out that that's where we were going. And the church was the killing field. Because Rwanda is a Catholic country, the people, when they saw that the murderers were coming, ran to the churches for protection. The murderers obviously didn't find the churches sacred, and they killed the people in the churches. Outside of this church was a pit which I was told had 5,000 bodies in it.
Now, at that stage, I saw what Eleanor Roosevelt used to call the dual nature of people, which is the bestiality as well as reaching for the stars. There were Americans there who were helping to get the bodies out, the skeletons out so that the stories could be reconstructed for the War Crimes Tribunal so that this would never happen again.
I also visited a stadium not far from there where there was still blood, because that is where they herded people also. And when they ran out of bullets at night, they went down into the stadium and cut the tendons of the people that were left so that they couldn't run away.
We are dedicated to making the War Crimes Tribunal work, which is one way to make sure that this doesn't happen again, and why, also, we are supporting the Permanent International Criminal Court. Also, the President is asking for support for an African Crisis Response Force, made up primarily of African nations that would be ready to come in very quickly if there were such a problem again.
But I do think that we all do need to pay more attention to Africa. It is a part of our history, and a part of the world that we need to pay more attention to. I hope very much that all of you do, and that the President's trip will have the desired effect.
I want to thank you all for being a splendid audience, and for asking very tough questions, especially on Mexico. I am very glad to be back with a college audience. I may be the most powerful woman in the world, as they say, but being a professor may be one of the very best jobs in the world. I enjoyed that very much. I hope that someplace will have me back when this is over, and that I can actually talk about the case studies and be able to be of the age where my professors are the young.
Thank you very much.
[End of Document]
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