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(1) Albright meets w/ Journal Sentinel (2) Statement of motive

On August 13, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (USA) capped a hard-hitting
series on Iraq with an editorial calling for an end to economic
sanctions[1].   "But what's the point" one might shrug ...  "What
conceivable effect will press coverage from the hinterlands have on U.S.

But consider this ...  The following Monday, Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright herself met with the Journal Sentinel's editorial board to shore up
support.  During this meeting, Albright was carelessly blunt about U.S.
motives in continuing sanctions: "If we removed sanctions, (Saddam) would
declare victory ...  We would have no control over him whatsoever."[2]   I'd
applaud Albright's honesty, if her statement weren't so chilling. 

In her Journal Sentinel comments, Albright echoes a little-noted remark she
made at the close of her infamous 1996 "worth it" interview with Leslie

- begin transcript [3] -
(Albright, responding to a question on the morality of sanctions): "It is a
moral question, but the moral question is even a larger one.  Don't we owe
to the American people and to the American military and to the other
countries in the region that this man not be a threat?"

(Stahl): "Even with the starvation?"

(Albright): "I think -- Leslie, it is hard for me to say this, because I am
a humane person, but my first responsibility is to make sure that United
States forces do not have to go and re-fight the Gulf War."
- end transcript -

I've always thought that this was the single most believable, most succinct
statement of motive for sanctions -- not oil, not Israel, not weaponry
(though they all may play a role) -- but rather simple political expedience.
Conflict is avoided, and we do so on the sly.

Press coverage changes this equation, and Albright's visit to the editorial
board shows she is painfully aware of this fact.

Drew Hamre
Golden Valley, MN USA

[1] Links to earlier coverage:

[2] Albright's visit to the Journal Sentinel (thanks to Rania Masri for this

Economic sanctions on Iraq still needed, Albright says
Secretary of State says Hussein 'would declare victory' if they were lifted
By Steve Schultze
of the Journal Sentinel staff
Last Updated: Aug. 21, 2000
The U.N.-imposed sanctions on Iraq provide the best leverage the United
States has over Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, U.S. Secretary of State
Madeleine Albright said Monday.

"If we removed sanctions, he would declare victory," Albright told the
Journal Sentinel editorial board in Milwaukee. "We would have no control
over him whatsoever."

The sanctions have come under criticism for imposing severe hardships on the
Iraqi people, both from Hussein and from a growing number of critics around
the world. Leaders of various churches have urged the end to economic
sanctions, which over a decade have contributed to illness, hunger and the
deaths of several hundred thousand Iraqis.

Simply lifting the sanctions, however, wouldn't solve the problem, Albright
said. With sanctions, Hussein at least is contained, she said.

Hussein has plenty of money for food and medicine, if he chooses to use it
for those purposes, she maintained. The United Nation's "food-for-oil"
program has permitted Iraq to swap oil for nearly $1 billion in food and
medicine since 1997. Albright said Hussein could be doing more for his

"This business that he doesn't have money is 'barnyard expletive,' "
Albright said.

Huge sums of money instead are being spent on lavish palaces for Hussein and
his family and massive projects such as creating artificial lakes and moving
Iraq's famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon, she said.

"I don't know what other options we have" besides the containment policy,
she said.

Albright also repeated the U.S. explanation of continued bombings on Iraq,
which Iraq has claimed have been deliberately targeting civilians, as

"The only time we bomb is when we are protecting our own pilots," she said.
The U.S., as part of the U.N. peacekeeping force, enforces "no-fly" zones
over Iraq.

Albright, commenting on a recent series of articles in the Journal Sentinel
on Iraq, suggested they were based on a jaundiced view of the country
carefully crafted by the Hussein government to create the impression Hussein
wants the world to see. She said Hussein doesn't let foreign journalists
travel freely.

"Inside Iraq," a three-part series by Journal Sentinel reporter Tom Heinen
and photographer Rick Wood, ran earlier this month. It detailed suffering of
ordinary Iraqis, based on a trip to Iraq in July in which Heinen and Wood
accompanied two peace activists and a doctor from Milwaukee. They met with
ordinary Iraqis as well as government and religious leaders.

Albright was in Milwaukee to accept an award from the Veterans of Foreign
Wars. The organization is holding its convention at the Midwest Express
Center this week.

[3] Stahl's interview with Albright appears during the CBS "60 Minutes"
segment, "Punishing Saddam" (airdate May 12, 1996).  Tapes are available
from CBS (1-800-848-3256); the above transcript is mine.  And if anyone
wants a free copy of the "worth it" clip in AVI web multi-media format
(roughly 1.2M), please contact me.

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