Albright To Appear at Universities
Feb. 19, 1998
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) _ It's back to the classroom for former professor Madeleine Albright, who as secretary of state is trying to make a case for threatening to bomb Iraq to drastically reduce its stores of dangerous weapons.
Albright is making back-to-back appearances at Tennessee State University here and at the University of South Carolina. She will be working smaller audiences than at the ``town meeting'' Wednesday at Ohio State University where angry critics at times drowned her out, along with Defense Secretary William Cohen and Sandy Berger, President Clinton's national security adviser.
Albright, a professor of international affairs and head of the women in foreign policy program at Georgetown University during her academic career, will have more of a chance for a dialogue with the students than she had in the Ohio State basketball field house.
It is a setting she prefers, giving her a chance, she hopes, for an exchange of views with both critics and supporters of Clinton's threat to bomb Iraq if President Saddam Hussein does not open his palaces and weapons sites to U.N. inspectors.
The protesters at Ohio State were far outnumbered by supporters and the undecided at St. John arena. But from the outset, when she began with the assertion, ``Iraq is a long way from Ohio, but what happens there matters here,'' Albright, Cohen and Berger were confronted by dozens of protesters who jeered their statements and sometimes drowned them out.
Others rose to the microphones with polite but sharp questions about U.S. goals in Iraq.
``I appreciate all of you coming,'' Berger said at the end of the 90-minute session. ``I appreciate most of you listening.''
The majority of the students, faculty and others in the audience did listen. And Berger summed up the administration's case this way after saying he preferred a diplomatic solution to the dispute with Iraq: ``There are some things worth fighting for. These include fighting aggression, fighting those who threaten their neighbors, and to make this world safer and more secure for our children and yours.''
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is going to Baghdad in search of a diplomatic solution where Russia, France and the Arab League all have failed. Albright cautioned that the Clinton administration would not budge from its demand that the U.N. weapons commission have unlimited access in Iraq.
``It must be a true, not a phony, solution,'' she said, while Cohen and Berger offered assurances there would not be ``significant losses'' among the 30,000 American troops in the Persian Gulf in the event of an attack.
Many in the half-filled Ohio State sports arena appeared unswayed by the comments.
Dozens shouted out: ``One, two, three, four, we don't want your racist war.'' Others held up anti-war banners and frequently interrupted the speakers.
Albright insisted Saddam ``doesn't care a fig about his own people,'' but one protester, Rick Theis, said, ``We, the people of Columbus and central Ohio, don't want to send a message with the blood of Iraqi women and children.''
``We need your support,'' Albright implored toward the end of the meeting, arranged by CNN with the cooperation of the administration.
``You don't have it,'' a demonstrator shouted back.
Interviewed later with Berger and Cohen for ABC's ``Nightline'' program, Albright tried to put the best face on the town hall forum, saying it showed ``what a vibrant democracy we have.''
``I think what you saw, number one, was overwhelming support for seeking ... a peaceful solution to this crisis,'' Cohen said in the taped interview. But he added that it also showed ``rather strong support for doing much further damage'' than Clinton's military plans call for.
``I think there was considerable expression for going in and taking Saddam out, without many fully understanding what that means,'' Cohen said, referring to conclusions that a ground invasion with heavy U.S. casualties would be required.