Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Albright addresses Foreign Affairs Committee on controversial new Iraq strategy

U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs Chairman Tom Lantos welcomed Former Secretary of State Madeline Albright to address the committee with her opinions of President Bush's proposed U.S. troop increase in Iraq on Wednesday.

Rep. Lantos agreed with Former Secretary Albright that, at this point,there are no good options. He stated that many of the measures that have been proposed "could have been useful four years ago, but no longer are."

Former Secretary Albright testified that a "solution will only come from political means" of the Iraqi leadership. She then made five recommendations to Congress of factors that should be considered in the decision-making process. First, she emphasized a need to recognize that U.S. credibility internationally is at a low point. To bring about a change, Albright suggested a renewed focus on Middle East diplomacy -first between Israel and Palestine, followed by Golan Heights.

Second, Albright stressed the importance of avoiding taking sides in the Sunni-Shiite split. To do this the administration must honor human rights, obey the rule of law, and respect holy places.

Third, Albright recommended that Congress continue to support efforts to build democratic institutions in Iraq - including provincial elections. Per Rep. Lantos' request for further explanation, Albright expanded her statement, describing democracy as a process with a long timeline, rather than an event.

The administration should make another effort to expand training assistance in Iraq through the help of other NATO member states, according to Albright's fourth point. She also stated that NATO countries should realize the war in Iraq affects their own national interests - especially in regards to energy - and, therefore, should be willing to help.

The Former Secretary's last recommendation was to consider involving the assistance of religious leaders in the area with conflict resolution. As her proposal for a solution was political, not military - yet had deep religious ties - leaders such as the Grand Mufti of Sarajevo,President Badawi of Malaysia, or Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, could be instrumental.

As Congress must soon make a decision as to whether additional funding should be granted for an increase in U.S. troops in Iraq, Albright made clear that she does not agree with the current proposal, but re-iterated that we have a "moral obligation to support current troops there." She asked Congress to consider, perhaps, implementing a cap on the funding for additional troops and repeatedly urged that they continue to ask alot of questions.

The Committee heard Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's testimony last week.


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