17 February, 2007

When I was still on the Hill I got to attend a Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Iraq, and what our policy should be. They had several of these in a row where they met with prominent people (experts, military generals, etc.) to discuss what they should recommend to President Bush instead of the build-up. They had the writers of the Iraq Study Group in, I went to that one too, but that's not what I want to write about today.

One of the last meetings they did (or the last one maybe...) the Committee invited Former Secretaries of State Kissinger and and Albright to speak. It was incredible. They spent the first part of the meeting with Kissinger, who spoke of other reasons why we need to make sure we do not fail in Iraq: who would take control of the country if we pull out, oil (and the fact we've had an interest there since Roosevelt), the message we send to the Arab neighbors - and how staying in Iraq and setting up a stable, good government, could help our relations else where. And he (it's about time) mentioned the fact that Saddam wasn't exactly the best person in the world, and diplomacy had failed long before we decided to invade. He spoke not for or against Bush - but rather showed why this war is so much more that weapons of mass destruction, and our men dying.

Albright took a very different tone. And not to tangent - though I will - this is why I love the Democratic Party! They are all concepts without any tangible plans. Increase diplomacy - she said (at least four times) in her opening remarks! As if the factions in Iraq are jumping up and down to meet in a room together and we're turning our back on that (please). She painted a very gloomy picture - where, yes, I realize it's hard over there, but you can state the facts without being over dramatic. Albright now works for a organization NDI focused on the promotion of democracy around the world through diplomatic means - sounds good, I support that, we need to promote peace/stability and try to resolve conflict through diplomacy not using our fists. BUT sometimes diplomacy fails, and sanctions only work against someone who is dependent on what we give, OR would be deeply affected by them. Saddam and Iraq fell into neither of those categories - and the US and the UN could either have let him continue to be the tyrant he was, or it was time to put action behind our words. But she did not want to see that she just screamed diplomacy now.

Also, (again sorry for the tangent) Albright had 8 YEARS to work out diplomacy with Iraq. She had 2 terms to try and get things sorted out peacefully in the region. But, just like Rwanda, choose to do nothing and tried to talk her way out of it later.

Now, I should say I respect Albright. She is an incredibly intelligent, articulate, wonderful woman who is an example of what women can achieve. She is blunt, hard headed (in a good way) and determined. She has overcome a lot, and done it with dignity. Her biography is sitting in my pile to read - I think she is a better example of what women in politics should be than the one who have running for president in 08! I like Albright. I went to hearing to hear Albright, I wanted to see how she would respond.

I was disappointed.

And in the end I have to admit I have no idea what to do over there. Do I think sending more troops is the best idea? I don't know. I watched Bush's press conference on Valentines Day and I think he made some good points. I know people will cringe at this but I like Bush. And I like him for what he is doing in Africa, what he is doing in terms of aid and programs over there, what he doing to promote the US abroad and bring other people to our country. He is the leading President in funding for international visitor programs - something I desperately believe in. He understands that diplomacy can happen one hand shake at a time, far from DC and the greasy hands of Congress. And that's why I like Bush. I like Bush because he hasn't squandered the last eight years bringing women into the Oval Office. He is not a smooth talking creep like our last president. He has set an agenda (BEYOND IRAQ) and stuck to it. I hope, though I doubt most Americans care to look this hard (ignorance), that someday Bush is remembered for more than Iraq. I also hope that we are able to establish a democratic, Iraqi led government there, so everyone who doubted and hated Bush has to shut up.

But that goes way beyond the Foreign Relations Meeting.

It was interesting. I am on a biography kick right now - I'm currently reading about Eleanor Roosevelt. After Albright I may move on to Kissinger because I know so little about him.

So, I've seen three Secretaries of State: Rice, Albright, and Kissinger.

I'm starstruck!

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© Amanda Lunday