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From the Eastern Daily Press, Thursday, 6th November, 2003:

Questioning far too mild

Picture: EDP LIBRARY - picture of Madeleine Albright
Christchurch Road, Norwich.

May I ask why Madelaine Albright was not given a more rigorous interview on October 29 at the UEA literary festival?

As US Secretary of State under Clinton, Mrs Albright commented that the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children under US sanctions constituted a "price" worth paying.

She played a leading role in the 1999 bombing of Serbia and failed to stir up an adequate response to the unfurling tragedy of Rwanda. When UN Secretary-General Boutros-Gali signified his intention to publish a critical report about the 1996 Israeli bombing of a refugee camp in Lebanon, Albright warned that the US. would veto him for his second term, a threat which she duly carried out.

I'm sure most people who attended this event, regardless of their opinion about Albright, expected her to be subjected to proper critical questioning.

Instead, she was, more or less, permitted to spend an hour promoting her memoirs. The interviewer sympathetically implored her to give the "correct" version of events, barely attempting to counter or challenge any of her assertions.

Albright claimed that her notorious remark about US sanctions was a stupid mistake provoked by an aggressive biased interviewer. So why did she continue to support such a ruinous and ultimately futile policy after she was made so dramatically aware of its consequences?

Quite bizarrely, she explained away her jingoistic description of America as the "indispensable nation" as an effort to persuade her fellow citizens of the benefits of multilateralism!

Her responses to the probing questions at the end of the session were evasive and disingenuous. Quizzed about the continued US bombing of Iraq after the conclusion of the first Gulf War, Albright replied that she resented being compared to Saddam Hussein, although no such implication had been made!

At the end of the talk, she said she was "saddened" by the hostile atmosphere of the Lecture Hall.

Personally, I am saddened that the organisers of this event did not devote more thought to the invitation and reception of such a controversial figure.


From the Eastern Daily Press, Friday, 7th November, 2003:

Would we, too, have fought 'invaders'?

Burnt Hill, Cromer.

In the past few days I have given some thought to how we regard the Iraqi 'militants' who we are told are carrying out about 30 attacks on coalition forces every day.

I have just finished an account of the final days of the war with Germany and the loss of life their armed services suffered. It occurred to me that while some, of course, were Nazis, most were ordinary German men and women who, when the battle reached their soil, believed they were defending their country. Almost 60 years later, we regard them and.their descendants with equanimity although they were once enemies.

What of the Iraqis? Did they accept defeat and agree an armistice? Or are they still carrying on a war against those they regard as invaders? Of course the cruelty and despotism of their leaders is well catalogued but did their countrymen know of this?

What would we in Britain have done if we had been overcome in 1940? Would we have accepted what our conquerors perceived to be democratic institutions? Many of us would have accepted them - as did many in occupied countries - and got on with our lives. But some would have continued the fight, disregarding or disbelieving promises of withdrawal in perhaps two years or more - which is what we hope is the future for Iraq.

The die is cast now, though, and the sooner we can extricate ourselves with dignity the better.

The people of the United States must be looking with scepticism on this adventure and wondering whether our brand of democracy should be exported at the cost of so many young lives

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