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Pivoting the Military to America

Seven years after the Soviet Union collapsed in a heap of post-Afghan-War rubble and seven years after President George H.W. Bush fought the First Gulf War against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq to what looked like typical all-American success, we were on a planet that seemed unimaginably all-American. That February of 1998, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was interviewed by NBC’s Matt Lauer on the Today show. She had just returned from a trip to the Middle East where she was once again dealing with a possible Iraqi war involving, of all people, Saddam Hussein. (This should, of course, sound eerily familiar to those of us who later lived through the 2003 invasion of that country by George H.W.’s son, George W.) As the interview ended, Lauer asked her: “Will you speak for me, Madame Secretary, to the parents of American men and women who may soon be asked to go into harm’s way, and who get the feeling that many countries in the rest of the world are standing by silently while their children are once again being asked to clean up a mess for the rest of the world?”

And in the spirit of that all-American moment, Albright oh-so-classically replied:

“Let me say that we are doing everything possible so that American men and women in uniform do not have to go out there again… But if we have to use force, it is because we are America; we are the indispensable nation. We stand tall and we see further than other countries into the future, and we see the danger here to all of us.”