Since 1987, March has been officially celebrated as Women’s History Month, when the National Women’s History Project successfully petitioned Congress to pass Pub. L. 100-9. And our chief diplomat, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, made sure to show his support by posting a picture of a few women who he believes make “our global and local communities stronger in service of generations to come.” This, of course, includes the three women who previously held his position: Madeleine Albright, Condoleezza Rice, and Hillary Clinton.
UN Ambassador Madeleine Albright would become the first female Secretary of State in 1997, a role first held by Thomas Jefferson during George Washington’s first term. Those are some mighty big shoes to fill. During his first inaugural address, after being elected president, Washington spoke of the “principles of our government,” saying “Peace, commerce and honest friendship with all nations; entangling alliances with none.” Words to live by.
So how did our first Madam Secretary live up to those principles? In his memoir, My American Journey, her successor Colin Powell described meetings with Albright over military intervention in Bosnia, writing that she, “asked me, what’s the point of having this superb military that you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?’ I thought I would have an aneurysm.”
During a town hall at Ohio State University in 1998, Albright was faced with a hostile crowd, displeased with her hawkish foreign policy in regards to Saddam Hussein in Iraq. She countered, “What we are doing, is so that you all can sleep at night. I am very proud of what we are doing. We are the greatest nation in the world and what we are doing, is being the indispensable nation, willing to make the world safe for our children and grandchildren, and for nations who follow the rules.” It’s hard to believe that anybody still feels the United States is making the world safe, but our fellow citizens do continue to elect leaders who think just that.
A few short months later, Bill Clinton would launch Operation Desert Fox, sending 600 bombs and 415 cruise missiles into Iraq, which killed or wounded an estimated 1,400 Iraqi National Guard, all with the intended goal of keeping our children safe.
Speaking of keeping children safe, Albright’s magnum opus may have come before she rose to Secretary of State. During a 1996 60 Minutes interview, correspondent Lesley Stahl asked, “We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that is more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?” To which Albright replied, “I think that is a very hard choice, but the price, we think, the price is worth it.” Keep in mind, she did not dispute the figure, which later estimates put at a more realistic 300,000. But she said that 500,000 dead children is “worth it.”
In July 2001, during a CNN interview, then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice told Wolf Blitzer, “in terms of Saddam Hussein being there, let’s remember that his country is divided, in effect. He does not control the northern part of his country. We are able to keep arms from him. His military forces have not been rebuilt.” She was assuring the American people that Iraq is no longer a threat. Apparently the coercive diplomacy used by the previous administration was a big success.
Fourteen months later, Rice would revisit Wolf Blitzer to lay crucial groundwork for the invasion of Iraq. The previous year a shipment of 3,000 aluminum tubes was seized in Jordan by the CIA. These tubes, Rice claimed, “really are only suited to high-quality aluminum tools that are only really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge programs. We know that he has the infrastructure, nuclear scientists to make a nuclear weapon. And we know that when the inspectors assessed this after the Gulf War, he was far, far closer to a crude nuclear device than anybody thought, maybe six months from a crude nuclear device.”
Not long after, the Iraq AUMF was passed, authorizing the use of force against Saddam Hussein’s government. Following failed challenges in the court system intended to stop the invasion, Colin Powell made his now infamous address to the UN Security Council where he repeated lies put forth by the Bush administration that Saddam had “Weapons of Mass Destruction.” The invasion would take place just over a month later, killing upwards of one million Iraqis, not to mention the many thousands of American lives destroyed.
Condi, who has always been known as a team player and fiercely loyal to her boss, was rewarded for her deceit of the American people when she was appointed as Secretary of State in 2005. Of course, no WMDs would ever be found to justify what had been done. This is her legacy. It’s what she will always be remembered for.
Not to be outdone by Albright and Rice, then freshman senator from New York Hillary Clinton made sure to fervently support the AUMF against Iraq, stating in a floor speech that Saddam had “given aid, comfort and sanctuary to terrorists including Al Qaeda members.” Of course, in 2007, former Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet disputed that claim on 60 Minutes, saying “We could never verify that there was any Iraqi authority, direction and control, complicity with al-Qaeda for 9/11 or any operational act against America, period.”
But Clinton got her feet wet in the foreign policy game well before her first term in the Senate. As First Lady, in the midst of her husband’s rather embarrassing sex scandal, she was said to have not talked with him for several months. This is, of course, until she phoned him to urge the bombing of Kosovo to stop an alleged genocide. The claim was that the Serbs were ethnically cleansing the Albanians to tune of hundreds of thousands. In reality there was a civil war where closer to 11,000 people had died. John Pilger of The Guardian reported that “Every day, three times more civilians are killed by NATO than the daily estimate of deaths in Kosovo in the months prior to the bombing.”
Like her predecessors, Clinton would go on to have her own crowning achievement when she urged Barack Obama to attack Libya after reports of dictator Muammar Gaddafi providing his soldiers with Viagra to encourage mass rape. These claims had scant evidence to back them up, but they probably got the idea from when the CIA bribed elderly Afghan warlords with Viagra.
Following the Battle of Sirte, Gaddafi was captured by NTC forces. And instead of being put on trial for his crimes, the mob beat him, sodomized him with a bayonet, and shot him to death. Amnesty International and Human Rights watch called for an investigation and an independent autopsy. When Clinton heard the news, she gleefully exclaimed, “We came, we saw, he died,” as she laughed maniacally. The irony is not lost on me that she wrote a child rearing book called “It Takes a Village,” while adopting a policy of destroying villages and children in far off lands.
Granted, one of the National Women’s History Project’s goals was to celebrate the roles women have played in history, so these three monsters do fit that category. But another stated purpose of the group was to give girl’s role models. And even though they may be heroes for someone like Antony Blinken, this unholy trinity would be best left on the trash heap along with their dictatorial counterparts.
So what are we supposed to do? Many of us have young children who will come home from school one day in the month of March, excited to tell us about this amazing woman, Madeline Albright. After all, she is the daughter of refugees of both the Nazis and Soviets who rose to the highest levels of U.S. government. According to CNN, she “championed human rights and democracy across the globe.”
We are taught that the lessons of history are vital and necessary to teach us how to create a better future, by avoiding mistakes that have already been made. But we must first admit to those mistakes. Are we to believe that, as Americans, we have no heroes? That the principles upon which our country was founded have produced nothing but examples of cowardice, hatred, and fear? That the best we can come up with are these goons? These women and others like them are the mistakes we must confront; an aberration of humanity. We must continue to expose them for what they are, so that the legacy of our true heroes will bring a better future.