Blinken took to Twitter on Friday to hail Albright, a former US ambassador to the UN and secretary of state under former President Bill Clinton, as a ‘woman of courage’.
“During her diplomatic career as U.S. Ambassador to the UN & the first female Secretary of State, her tenacity & effectiveness left the U.S. stronger & more respected globally,” Blinken tweeted, adding that Albright is a role model for him and “many of our diplomats.”
One of my #WomenOfCourage is @Madeleine Albright. During her diplomatic career as U.S. Ambassador to the UN & the first female Secretary of State, her tenacity & effectiveness left the U.S. stronger & more respected globally. She’s a role model for me & so many of our diplomats.
— Secretary Antony Blinken (@SecBlinken) March 27, 2021
His choice of role model struck many as odd. The replies were inundated with the clip of Albright’s infamous 60 Minutes interview with Lesley Stahl, in which Albright said that the deaths of half a million Iraqi children allegedly due to sanctions was “worth it.”
“Albright, yourself, and your predecessor Pompeo all prove that the US only chooses literal psychopaths to head the State Department,” Independent Australian journalist Caitlin Johnstone tweeted, calling the State Department “America’s other war department.”
“So proud to have a woman justifying mass murder! Neoliberal imperialism. It’s like the slow-boiling lobster. People don’t realize it until it’s too late,” a self-professed anti-fascist and BLM supporter said.
Another critic said that with his praise for Albright, he was at least admitting that imposing sanctions that cause children to suffer is what US officials deem “role-model behavior.”
So you at least admit that murdering 500.000 Iraqi kids via sanctions and giving the thumbs up to that (“worth it”) is role-model behavior. Cool stuff, totally non-psychopathic.
— Gregor Flock (@GFlock_GCSN) March 27, 2021
One person said Blinken could have avoided all the controversy by simply picking a “non-war criminal.”
I would simply have selected a non-war criminal
— Tristan (@tri_stan__) March 27, 2021
Albright later criticized Stahl’s interview, claiming she unwittingly fell into a trap planted by the journalist and did not mean to suggest that Iraqi children are dispensable. However, the backlash she faced following the segment did not appear to influence her views on the issue of sanctions. Asked at an event in Charlottesville in 2012 about the US sanctions on Iran, Albright outright rejected the parallel with Iraq, saying they were “absolutely not the same.”
Albright was also one of the most outspoken champions of the 1999 US-led NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, over alleged atrocities against ethnic Albanians in Kosovo.
She has also been criticized for blocking UN peacekeepers from intervening in the Rwanda genocide, among other things.
Most recently, the former diplomat courted controversy for saying there is “a special place in hell for women” who do not support then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.