“Well,” said Sam Donaldson on This Week With David Brinkley” last February 23, “how many foreign languages do you speak?” “Five,” replied the new U.S. Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright. “Well, four; depends on whether you count English as a foreign language. I guess it is to me.”
We all know that Madeleine Albright is a naturalized citizen, born in Czechoslovakia, and that her first language was either Czech or German, but certainly not English. For the third time in a mere quarter of a century, a President of the United States has turned to a naturalized citizen to determine the course of our foreign affairs, but despite their heavy accents and frequent abuse of the English language, I doubt that either Henry Kissinger or Zbigniew Brzezinski would have referred almost instinctively to English as a foreign language.
To Mrs. Allbright, however, the language of the United States remains a foreign tongue. This episode could serve as an allegory for the entire defense team that Clinton has chosen for his second term. Strangers in a strange land, they are the “new cops on the block,” ready to prove their worth by any means necessary.
Senator William Cohen, the new Secretary of Defense, never served in the military, but the New York Times has uncovered his secret qualification for the job: according to an article from January 23, he has a “taste for leather bomber jackets when visiting military bases.”
During his confirmation hearing in January, Cohen made much of his policy disagreements with the administration, singling out American intervention in the Balkans as an example. But his disagreements followed the conventional GOP line: he never criticized the President for intervening, nor for any of the American bombings. The GOP leadership has consistently been more hawkish than the President, calling for intervention earlier and on a larger scale. After the United States did step in, GOP criticism was confined to faulting the administration for not establishing an “exit strategy” for American troops, and it was that line that Cohen followed when he stated at his confirmation hearings that, with him at the helm of the Defense Department, the United States would not “make an unlimited commitment to that region.”
Now that he’s been confirmed, he might want to check with his partners on the beat before he repeats that promise. While Madeleine Albright seems willing to intervene anywhere she can get away with it, she seems to have a special fondness for (or a pathological obsession with) the Balkans. Of course, even if it wasn’t spelled out when he was offered the job, Cohen knows full well what the administration expects from him, and in the fall of 1998, when American troops are supposed to leave the Balkans, he’ll blithely explain to Congress and the country why he was wrong and Clinton and Albright are right. Me has already proved his willingness to play the token Republican, providing cover while the President calls for bipartisanship (read, “one-party-ship”) and proclaims that some of his best friends are Republicans.
But while Cohen may have been picked in part for his eventual usefulness on the Balkans, on one important issue—the use of the military as a laboratory for social reconstruction—he’s clearly in line with Bill Clinton. He supports the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy on homosexuals in the military. He believes in the complete integration of women into the Armed Forces, even in combat situations. And just in case such integration leads to another “Love Boat,” such as the Navy ship in the Persian Gulf on which ten percent of the female sailors mysteriously became pregnant, he supports performing abortions in military facilities, at taxpayer expense.
Unlike Cohen, Anthony Lake, Clinton’s first choice for director of the CIA, has been around the block a time or two. His career in public service began when he arrived in Saigon with the Foreign Service in 1963 as an aide to Henry Cabot Lodge, at the very time Lodge was conspiring with the CIA to arrange the assassination of our ally, Diem. During Clinton’s first term. Lake served as National Security Advisor, a post that his deputy, Samuel Berger, has inherited. He is the person most responsible for the administration’s cover-up of its Iran-Bosnia policy, and Lake admitted lying to both Congress and the CIA about the efforts to arm the Bosnian Muslims. While that admission should have been enough to prevent him from becoming CIA director, it was ultimately his involvement in the White House’s Chinese fundraising scandal that forced him to withdraw his nomination. But his legacy will live on. At Lake’s urging. President Clinton has nominated George Tenet, the acting director of the CIA, as the permanent director of the agency. Tenet served as Lake’s aide for intelligence matters at the National Security Council from 1995 until 1995. With Tenet at CIA and Berger at NSC, Lake’s proteges will control most of the country’s intelligence resources.
But if William Cohen is the willing dupe, set up to take the fall, and Lake’s proteges will provide the “noble lie” on which to found the Clinton administration’s version of the “New World Order,” it’s clear that the new Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, will be the one to wield the nightstick. Bill Clinton likes his women to be men, and in Mrs. Albright, he’s found someone who can outmatch both Hillary and Janet Reno.
When the First Lady rhapsodizes about the welfare of children, she exhibits some feminine and maternal feeling (albeit severely misplaced), but Secretary Albright is too tough for that. When the butcher of Mount Carmel sent 82 people—18 of them children under the age of 10—to their deaths, she claimed that she did it to protect those very children from child abuse, a fate apparently worse than death itself. By contrast, Mrs. Albright, when asked on 60 Minutes (May 12, 1996) about the deaths of a half-million Iraqi children resulting from American sanctions after the Gulf War, exhibited no compunction: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price, we think, is worth it.”
It is that attitude which led Owen Harries, the editor of The National Interest, to declare in a New York Times editorial that Albright, “More than any other leading foreign policy player since the end of the cold war . . . epitomizes a belief in the virtue of uninhibited American interventionism.” And it’s that attitude which provoked her infamous confrontation with Colin Powell, when he was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, in which she demanded to know, “What’s the point of having this superb military that you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?”
While Harries took her question to mean that Albright doesn’t understand the concept of military deterrence, there’s a more fundamental problem. American troops have been deployed— just in this decade—in Kuwait, Iraq, Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Macedonia, the straits of Taiwan, Rwanda, and Zaire—to say nothing of our continued military presence in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Okinawa, along the border of a divided Korea, and in the middle of a united Germany. But for Secretary Albright, this is not enough. What, then, would constitute a reasonable level of use? Though we may shudder at the thought of Madeleine Albright as Secretary of State, perhaps we should offer a prayer of gratitude that Bill Clinton didn’t tap her as Secretary of Defense.
By now, everyone—even Albright herself —knows that the mayor of Letohrad, her hometown in Czechoslovakia, sent her a message, through diplomatic channels, in February 1994, informing her of her family’s background and of the fact that her grandparents had died in Nazi concentration camps. In case that message somehow slipped past her, however, Christopher Hitchens, in a column entitled “Not a Jew—Just Jewish . . . ” in the March 3 issue of the Nation, establishes that December 5—the day Albright was nominated as Secretary of State—”is the very latest possible date on which she could have learned of her family heritage.” He recounts a telephone conversation that he had that week with Michael Zantovsky, the retiring ambassador of the Czech Republic:
Hitchens: “Let mc quickly ask you an odd question. Is Madeleine Albright Jewish?”
Zantovsky: “Yes, she certainly is. Her father was a Czechoslovak diplomat in Belgrade just before the last war, and we’ve looked up the cables between him and the Foreign Ministry. There were some nasty people who wanted to make an issue of him being a Jew. It was around the time of Munich. Anyway, we’ve made a present of these cables to Madeleine.”
The American media gushed over the wrenching human drama of Albright “discovering” her Jewish roots, but out of either stupidity or collusion, they’ve overlooked strong evidence, hidden in plain sight, that both Albright and the administration knew the truth. A series of White House press releases concerning Albright, all of which can be found on the official White House Web site, tells the story.
From the time of Albright’s appointment as ambassador to the U.N., through December 5, 1996, when she was appointed Secretary of State, the White House press releases mention that her family fled from “Hitler” or “Nazi aggression.” (Sometimes, though not always, they also state that her family fled from “Stalin.”) The press releases also say that her family came to America to find, not just freedom, but “tolerance.”
Consider now the press release on Albright’s swearing-in as Secretary of State on January 23, 1997. Introducing Albright, President Clinton blandly referred to her as “a refugee from tyranny and oppression,” and Albright simply said that “my life reflects the turbulence of Europe in the middle of this century.” Undoubtedly, this rhetorical shift had nothing to do with the fact that, by January 23, the truth about Albright’s ancestry had become widely known. After all, we all know that a democratically elected government would never try to mislead its citizens.
Of course, Secretary Albright’s ethnicity should have had no bearing on her confirmation hearings, nor should it affect her ability to perform her duties as Secretary of State. But in light of Albright’s (almost certainly) deliberate deception about her past, it is ironic that she demanded in February that the reporting on government-run television in Serbia become “more objective.”
While President Miloševic was clearly using the state-run stations for propaganda purposes, who are we to talk? The supposedly free media in the United States have spouted the Clinton administration’s propaganda about the Balkans as faithfully as they did the Bush administration’s propaganda about the Gulf War. Apparently, to paraphrase Mrs. Albright’s statement on “war crimes,” “the U.S. Government does not believe that because some propaganda may go unexposed, all must.” The determination of which propaganda is acceptable, like the determination of which “war crimes” will be punished, is left to the American government, and to Mrs. Albright.
But even Mrs. Albright, normally a persuasive speaker, can’t bring herself to lie convincingly when discussing the Markale marketplace massacre of February 1994: “It’s very hard to believe any country would do this to their own people, and therefore, although we do not exactly know what the facts are, it would seem to us that the Serbs are the ones that probably have a great deal of responsibility.” (“Senior official admits to secret U.N. report on the Sarajevo massacre,” Deutsch Presse-Agentur, June 6, 1996). Of course, her remarks were only reported overseas, and for most American journalists anything that’s not reported in English never occurred. If Albright can ensure that her tepid lies stay out of the American media, the administration’s propaganda campaign will continue to succeed.
Albright’s dedication to military intervention may be outweighed only by her zeal for “family planning” (or more properly, “family banning”) as a tool of American foreign policy. It is appropriate, then, that her first public appearance on Capitol Hill as Secretary of State focused on contraceptive imperialism, and that her first trip abroad ended in Beijing, site of the infamous United Nations’ Fourth World Conference on Women, and home to the world’s most enlightened regime on matters of family planning. In her appearance on Capitol Hill, Albright argued that the United States could demonstrate its “world leadership” by leading the contraceptive charge. “One of the most important ways we contribute to sustainable development is through our support for international family planning. . . . Moreover, our voluntary family-planning programs serve our broader interests by elevating the status of women, reducing the flow of refugees, protecting the environment and promoting economic growth.” Perhaps Secretary Albright can combine her two passions by using our under-utilized military (under U.N. command, of course) to “elevat[e] the status of women” by forcing them to abort their children, have their tubes tied, or submit to IUD insertion. After all, what more noble cause could a refugee from the Nazis take up than the protection of America from the dark, unwashed hordes of the Third World?
Lest anyone think that the preceding remarks are in jest, consider this: from the American perspective, there would be no “Serbian problem” in the Balkans if there were no Serbs. Bombing can be rather expensive; combat on the ground can get too involved, and may provoke a backlash at home; and U.N. concentration camps are too bold a move—at least for now. But if the new cops on the block thought that a combination of force and persuasion could convince the Serbs to commit ethnic suicide through pills and IUDs, does anyone really believe that they would not try?
The new cops on the block are walking their beat now, but it would be a mistake for Americans to expect them to protect our interests, and an even greater mistake for those in other countries to expect them to act with justice. The new Clinton defense team has no desire to act like good cops should—upholding the law so that freedom may flourish. They’re not even willing to act like cops on the take, for that means submitting their will to someone else’s. No, these new cops on the block are the international arm of the domestic phenomenon that Samuel Francis has called “anarchotyranny.” Loyal to nothing and to no one—not to their ethnic background, their political party, certainly not to the Constitution they have sworn to uphold and defend—they are motivated by a raw will to power. And like their soulmates in the FBI and the BATE, there will be no stopping them when they decide to break down a few doors and to bust a few heads.