Letter to the Yale Daily News
About Madeleine Albright

Dear Editor:

A few days ago I read that Madeleine Albright was coming to the Law School to give the presigious Heyman Lecture. I can imagine all the adulation she’ll be receiving, but I remember her somewhat differently. I remember her as US ambassador to the UN while United Nations forces looked on as Sarajevo was blasted to pieces and as the Bosnians were slaughtered in their UN “safe havens”. I remember her as Secretary of State launching an illegal war against Serbia. Most of all I remember her interview on “60 Minutes” when she said the death by sanctions of half a million Iraqi children was worth it.

When Yugoslavia fell apart in the early 1990’s due to the rise of Serb fascism, the new multi-ethnic country of Bosnia was set upon with unmatched ferocity including mass rapes and ethnic cleansing. Rather than defending Bosnia the UN enforced an arms embargo which hurt only Bosnia as the Serbs had inherited the entire armed force of Yugoslavia. The Clinton Administration and its UN Ambassador Albright never tried to revoke the embargo. Instead they supported a hapless and toothless UN peace force that sat back and watched the carnage. When Bosnians and Croatians were finally began to drive out Serbian armed forces the Clinton Administration threatened military action against the Bosnians and forced an agreement down Bosnia’s throat.

A few years later Secretary of State Albright made the case for a U.S. attack against Serbia over its mistreatment of the Kosovars. While the crimes and massacres of the Serb government were undeniable the US-NATO attack had no legal basis. Neither the US or any NATO country had been attacked. International law was just ignored. This was a terrible precedent. It got this country used to the idea that it had the right to launch war at will and blazed the way for George W. Bush’s own “pre-emptive” attack on Iraq.

Albright’s name will forever be linked with Iraq, with the bombing of Iraq that started after Clinton told the UN to get arms inspectors out of Iraq, but most of all to the justification of mass killing through sanctions. The sanctions had begun under George Bush supposedly to get Iraq out of Kuwait, but they continued on indefinitely. They prevented Iraq from selling its main export, oil. They prevented the import of chemicals to treat water and were used to delay or prevent import of vital medicines. The results were ghastly. Major international agencies reported civilian deaths in the hundreds of thousands. In 1996 on “60 Minutes” Madeleine Albright was asked about one report which said over 500,000 Iraqi children had died because of the sanctions. Her reply was that it “the price is worth it”, worth it to prevent US soldiers from refighting the Gulf War.

Her reply was an admission of guilt. She approved of the slow deaths of half a million children. Her grounds, that it was done prevent another war was both false and illegal. Clinton and Albright knew full well that Saddam’s regime had no weapons of mass destruction. Scott Ritter had accounted for the SCUDs in ’92. Rolf Ekeus, the head of United Nations Special Commission on Weapons, said publicly in 1995 that his group had destroyed all of Iraq’s nuclear, chemical and ballistic production facilities. Clinton-Albright killed civilians by sanctions of a country that was not attacking or occupying anyone. It was a massive violation of the war crimes provisions of international law.

That Madeleine Albright would be invited to step foot into a law school is a gross outrage. That she be invited to Yale’s law school is beyond the beyond.

-- Stanley Heller
Yale Class of ‘69
Chairperson, Middle East Crisis Committee
New Haven