The appearance of the Ground Zero U.S. flag at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics was followed by a heavy moment of silence. But in the wake of Sept. 11, many are not so silent when it comes to blaming the Clinton administration for not taking enough preventative measures against terrorism. In a recent public interview at U-M, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright defended her administrations handling of terrorism in the late 1990s. I think we did everything we could, given the intelligence we had, Albright said. I think people need to look at 1998 in the prism of 1998 and not 2001.
According to Albright, following the August 1998 U.S. Embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania, the Clinton administration immediately responded with retaliatory actions. We did, in fact, launch 75 missiles against Osama Bin Ladens camps in Afghanistan and missed him by a very short period of time, Albright said. The former secretary said a chemical plant in Sudan, believed to be connected to Bin Laden, also was bombed as a result of the 1998 terrorist attacks. The interesting thing was that we were criticized for doing too much at that time and people thought we were overreacting, Albright said.
Although she doesnt believe that U.S. foreign policy was responsible for the tragic events of Sept. 11, Albright does feel that the U.S. should play a more active role in the development of transitional countries. We have to do what we can to help elevate countries so that they dont become areas where terrorists can find recruits, Albright said.
Despite the defeat of the Taliban and the implementation of a new government in Afghanistan, Albright emphasized that the U.S. needs to continue its support and broaden its rules of engagement to include more non-military endeavors. We need to help the Afghans to create the institutional structures that will be necessary to have that [Afghanistan] be a functional state, Albright said. Advocating direct action rather than mere talk, Albright charged that the Bush administration has made nation building into a four-letter word.