The Blog

Does Secretary Madeleine Albright Regret Calling for Regime Change in Iraq?

10:27 AM, Mar 24, 2006 • By DANIEL MCKIVERGAN
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright offers some foreign policy advice, "Good versus evil isn't a strategy," for the White House in today's Los Angeles Times. It's very nice of her. The sophisticated Clintonites weaved a world of stability and hope. They were problem solvers, not ideologues, you see. They enticed Pyongyang to "end" its nuclear weapons program with lots of goodies. They brokered Israel-Palestinian negotiations that brought both sides closer to peace. They reacted quickly to events in Rwanda and in the Balkans. They sent a message of strength and resolve following attacks on our forces in Mogadishu and in Dhahran, our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and on the USS Cole. And because they acted against the Taliban, thousands upon thousands were prevented from graduating from the extensive network of al Qaeda terror training camps in Afghanistan and setting up shop in nations across the globe. They handed Bush a stable world in January 2001 and then September 11 hit and the ideologues took over, as Sec. Albright informs us. She also has an interesting take on regime change in Iran:

the Bush administration should disavow any plan for regime change in Iran - not because the regime should not be changed but because U.S. endorsement of that goal only makes it less likely. In today's warped political environment, nothing strengthens a radical government more than Washington's overt antagonism. It also is common sense to presume that Iran will be less willing to cooperate in Iraq and to compromise on nuclear issues if it is being threatened with destruction.

The odd thing here is that Sec. Albright was, I believe, the first senior American official to call publicly for the ouster of Saddam Hussein. She even compared Saddam to Hitler, noting that the world has not "seen, except maybe since Hitler, somebody who is quite as evil as Saddam Hussein." One of the lessons of history, Albright also lectured, is that "if you don't stop a horrific dictator before he gets started too far--that he can do untold damage" and "if the world had been firmer with Hitler earlier, then chances are that we might not have needed to send Americans to Europe during the Second World War. So, my lesson out of all this is deal with the problem at the time that you can and don't step away from it thinking that it'll go away. I think that's the lesson here."

But if "the Bush administration should disavow any plan for regime change in Iran - not because the regime should not be changed but because U.S. endorsement of that goal only makes it less likely," why did she champion regime change in Iraq? Why did President Clinton sign the Iraq Liberation Act, which specifically called for regime change in Iraq? Why did National Security Advisor Sandy Berger deliver a lengthy speech justifying the need for regime change in Iraq? Why did the Clinton administration call publicly for regime change in Iraq if doing so, according to Albright's own logic, not only made Saddam's ouster "less likely" but also strengthened his hold on power because of our "overt antagonism"?

Would Secretary Albright now like to say that she regrets the Clinton administration's comments about Saddam Hussein and the need to get rid of him?