Albright urges world peace

Chris Hamilton

A graduation ceremony accompanied a speech Sunday by the nation’s chief foreign policy maker.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright encouraged College of Liberal Arts graduates to act as a society with courage and faith rather than selfishness and complacency. She tinged her address with nuclear, environmental and human rights policy, asking the 1,200 students to embrace world stewardship as Americans.
“For we Americans want to live, and we want our children to live, in peace, prosperity and freedom,” Albright said. “But as the new century draws near, we cannot guarantee these blessings for ourselves if others do not have them as well.”
The United States must also look inward before it can effectively promote world peace, she said. She called for an end to nuclear confrontations such as the current conflict between India and Pakistan. Albright said rivalry between nations from old conflicts is the new basis dividing nations.
But Congress must first pass the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, she said. President Clinton introduced the ban, which ends all American nuclear explosive tests, into the Senate last year. She also stumped for Clinton’s new proposed round of arms reduction talks with Russia. The talks could result in decreasing arsenals 80 percent below Cold War levels.
The moves are necessary for nations like India and Pakistan to take the United States’ demands seriously, Albright said.
“And, now more than ever, the United States Senate should stop shilly-shallying around and approve it for America,” she said. “Because if we want others to refrain from nuclear tests, and we do; others will want us to promise the same, and we should.” She added India and Pakistan should sign that agreement.
Martin Sampson, an associate political science professor who was part of the faculty entourage at the commencement ceremony, said he wondered if the statements were a sign of responsiveness to India’s concerns.
“Part of what struck me was the juxtaposition of strict criticism of India and an acknowledgement of the point India’s been making for a long time: that existing nuclear powers should reduce their weapons stocks,” Sampson said.
Albright used the conflict between the two countries to present the new political climate, where she said “memories and habits of the past” separate nations more than traditional boundaries.
She called those who see beyond seeking revenge over old grievances “shapers of history,” citing the peacemakers in Northern Ireland. The United States aligns itself with people who want to learn and improve upon the past rather than re-live it, Albright said.
Part of learning from the past means preventing future calamities from occurring. Albright pushed for changing old attitudes about the environment to stop “a slow motion environmental Armageddon” from taking place. She said the past five months’ record-high temperatures should provide the catalyst for environmental protection on a global scale.
“We emit more greenhouse gases than any other country — by far,” Albright said. “We should set an example. That is the only way to persuade developing countries such as China, India and Brazil to grow in ways that are environmentally friendly.”
To provide that example, Albright proffered Clinton Administration plans, which would ensure that all countries engage in efforts to control worldwide climate change.
Lastly, Albright, who is the nation’s first female secretary of state, broached the subjects of democracy, working conditions and human rights, especially for women. While some progress has been made, she said, more must be done.
“Today, around the world, terrible abuses are still being committed against women,” Albright said. “These include domestic violence, dowry murders, mutilation and forced prostitution. Some say all this is cultural and there’s nothing we can do about it. I say it’s criminal and we have and obligation to stop it.”
In her parting words, Albright asked the graduates “in the name of our country” to “embrace the faith that your courage and your perseverance will make a difference.”
While protesters outside admonished Albright, her reception inside for the most part was as warm as Williams Arena’s muggy air. Most of the students and the roughly 8,000 attendees applauded her 13 times and gave her a standing ovation. Students clad in black caps and gowns fanned themselves during Albright’s 20-minute speech.
Kobie Clarendon, who graduated with degrees in chemistry and French, said he understood the protesters’ presence. He said he focused on Albright’s message.
“She did have some criticisms of America,” he said. “She tended to be objective, not saying we’re the best.'” Clarendon, a citizen of the Bahaman country Dominica, added he appreciated her global perspective.
Catherine Hogue, who graduated with a degree in English and proved her skills by spelling “CAT” on her mortarboard with construction paper, said she was more preoccupied with the graduation’s personal connotations.
“I paid out-of-state tuition, so I hope there are no more protests today,” Hogue said.