The prospect of Donald Trump as president of the United States is somewhat less inviting than the prospect of Hillary Clinton in the Oval Office, neither candidate is one that fills one with enthusiasm. Ten years ago, the prospect of a Democrat victory was no more inviting:
Looking at pictures on the BBC news of jubilant Democrats in the United States celebrating at their election gains, there would be a temptation to think a whole new world was going to emerge. Yet it’s not so long that the Democrats were in office, and were things any different?
In 1996 the United States’ ambassador to the United Nations was asked about the effect of the sanctions that were then in force against Iraq on 60 Minutes, an American television programme broadcast by CBS. The interviewer asked, “We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that is more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?”
Madeleine Albright’s answer was, “I think that is a very hard choice, but the price, we think, the price is worth it.”
The words were to come back to haunt her and she expressed contriteness for having spoken them in her autobiography. The libertarian Future of Freedom Foundation quotes from her reflections on the episode, “I must have been crazy; I should have answered the question by reframing it and pointing out the inherent flaws in the premise behind it. Saddam Hussein could have prevented any child from suffering simply by meeting his obligations…. As soon as I had spoken, I wished for the power to freeze time and take back those words. My reply had been a terrible mistake, hasty, clumsy and wrong. Nothing matters more than the lives of innocent people. I had fallen into the trap and said something I simply did not mean. That was no one’s fault but my own”.
Regret at the words spoken, but no suggestion that the policies were wrong, or that they had failed miserably to achieve their purpose.
Madeleine Albright went on to be appointed as Secretary of State in Bill Clinton’s second administration.
Why should anyone expect anything more from the Democrats in 2006 than in 1996?
Perhaps the world is presented with a choice between a Republican wolf in wolf’s clothing and a Democrat wolf in sheep’s clothing. When dealing with wolves it’s safer to be able to spot them.
Ten years later, perhaps the wolf in a wolf’s clothing is best avoided, but the wolf in a sheep’s clothing is not much more attractive.