Albright: Our freedom is a target
Attacks can't keep highest-ranking woman in U.S. history from coming to Storm Lake - if only via video.
Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright said the United States is a terrorist target because of the very freedom it represents.
"I believe we are a target because of the ideals we stand for," she said of Tuesday's attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C.
Albright appeared via satellite yesterday at Buena Vista University, unable to attend in person due to air restrictions and security issues, according to BVU officials. Albright appeared live for an afternoon panel discussion with students and again in the evening for the William W. Siebens American Heritage Lecture.
Before the afternoon session began, the BVU Concert Choir sang "Battle Hymn of the Republic." In her opening remarks, Albright noted it was the second time she had heard it in three hours, having just come from the memorial service in the National Cathedral.
She said she hopes the response "shows the resiliency of the United States and reconnects ourselves to the basic values of America."
Student panelists questioned Albright, who served as secretary of state from 1997 to 2001, about the terrorist attacks against the United States.
She noted the nation is a driving force in the global world, and for the country's 225 years has always tried to balance between freedom and security.
"The best way to ensure our security is freedom," she said. "America must never be shut down and stand tall and play a vital role in the international scene."
She said the images of the attacks were completely "unreal" as they have unfolded before the entire country.
Albright learned of the attack after a friend called and told her to turn on the T.V.
"I think I spent my week like the rest of you, in a state of shock and worry," she said, noting she spent time with her family and grandchildren.
"This has been such a horrible event, it has mobilized people in a way the two embassies (bombed in Tanzania and Kenya) and the USS Cole didn't," Albright said.
"Clearly it was a strike at the heart of the United States in an attempt to bring down our economy literally," she said.
She said one reason the U.S. has been targeted is for its role in the Gulf War and in the Middle East peace process, but she did not advocate the country diminishing its involvement in the future.
Albright said without being imperialistic, the U.S. has always played an important role in the world scene.
"People believe the role of the Untied States is a domineering, exploitative power in the world and they hate us for that," she said. "If you hate democracy, a free market, human rights and letting people live how they want, then you won't like the United States."
The country has reached the point where citizens will begin to wonder how the U.S. will respond, she said.
"I think people are no getting angrier and angrier," she said. "We have to be careful and understand anger is not a policy and frustration is not a policy."
When questioned about the role faith plays in a time like this, Albright said people do not turn to God enough.
"I spent a lot of time... thinking about the role faith plays in trying to deal with a great tragedy," she said. "I think the problem is people don't turn to faith or God unless there is a great tragedy."
People too often only turn to faith or God when things are going bad, she noted.
"When things are going good we need to thank him," she said.
For the past 11 years, some of the most powerful and well-known leaders of the world have come to Buena Vista University to address the topic of freedom in the William W. Siebens American Heritage Lecture Series, tracing the recent evolution of civil liberties in the United States and the world.
"Following the tragic events in New York City and Washington, D.C., on Tuesday, I can think of no more appropriate time for reminder of our rights and responsibilities," said BVU President Fred Moore in a statement. "Proceeding with the event demonstrates that the perpetrators of Tuesday's attacks, rather than succeeding in their attempt to completely disrupt our lives, have only strengthened our resolve to move forward as a nation."