by Felicity Arbuthnot, critically-acclaimed journalist and Senior Researcher with former UN Assistant Secretary General and UN Co-ordinator in Iraq, Denis Halliday and John Pilger’s Award Winning Documentary “Paying the Price – Killing the Children of Iraq”

May 1, 2012 (TSR) – As the anniversary of probably one of the most infamous responses in broadcasting history approaches, the woman who uttered it is shortly to be awarded “the highest honour” that America bestows upon civilians: the Presidential Medal of Freedom??Madeleine Albright, Iraq’s “Grim Reaper”, of course confirmed on “Sixty Minutes” (12th May 1996) that the deaths of half a million children as a result of the absolute, all-embracing deprivations of the UN embargo were: “A hard choice, but the price, we think the price is worth it.”

Her comment also further endorsed the extent to which the United Nations had soiled its own founding affirmation to: “Save succeeding generations from the scourge of war ..” by declaring a new method of warfare, the withdrawal and denial of all life-sustaining necessities. Albright, at the time of her astonishing statement was US Ambassador the UN (1993-1997.).

Ironically, as a child she and her Czech family, her father a diplomat, lived in London during the 1939-’45 war, and whilst there she appeared in a film on the plight of children in war.

In her autobiography, she describes how her experience and knowledge of the horrors and repercussions of war were also shaped by the terrible consequences for a small state when it collides with the ambitions of interests of a big one. Iraq’s twenty five million population and America’s three hundred and fifty million again come to mind.

She enjoined in further heaping misery on Iraq’s most vulnerable as US Secretary of State (1997-2001.) Perhaps, as many, for good or ill, she was shaped by here childhood. When her family returned to Prague after the war, controversy was caused by their being given a home owned by a wealthy German family. Germans were expelled from the country, by Prime Ministerial decree after the war.

Madeleine Albright, the United States' first female secretary of state, was named as one of 13 recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, USA's highest civilian honor. President Barack Obama, who will award the medals at the White House later this spring, also named Shimon Peres, Israeli president and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, the key architect of Israel’s nuclear weapons program from its very beginning, stating "They've challenged us, they've inspired us and they've made the world a better place".

There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women.”

– Madeleine Albright

“That place is reserved for you, Madeleine…”  – Felicity Arbuthnot

The Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor given by an American President

At least it was only a house. The government she had served went on to take over – and comprehensively ruin plunder and further impoverish – two countries and their peoples.

For the annals of: “You Could Not Make It Up”, Ms Albright’s current positions include being Co-Chair of the United Nations Development Programme’s Commission for Legal Empowerment of the poor, which: “works to make real improvements in people’s lives (fostering) economic growth, poverty reduction, human development” and making the: “law work for everyone.”

In September 2006, she received Menschen in Europe Award for furthering the cause of international understanding. Orwell strikes again.

On 26th April, announcing the thirteen recipients of the 2012 Presidential Medal of Freedom Award, President Obama commended Madeleine Albright for her efforts to bring peace to the Middle East …. reduce the spread of nuclear weapons, and for her role as a longtime champion of democracy and human rights all over the world.(i)

These extraordinary honorees (have) challenged us … inspired us, and they’ve made the world a better place”, said the President.

The Medal honours those who have significantly contributed to: “world peace.”

Reading this “Adventures of a Heroine” fantasy story, the memories of the Iraqi mothers I have held, their tears mingling with mine, or dampening my shoulder, as they watched helplessly as their children faded away in front of us, for want of medications, denied by Albright’s country and the UN she served, flooded back.

The funerals, with the litany of coffins, so small, the impossibly little grave sites beyond counting, throughout Iraq, witness to unique wickedness.

One cynical blogger, was so incensed that the header read: “Genocidal war criminal wins Presidential Medal whilst invoking Holocaust memories.” (ii.)

But Madam Albright is right on one thing. There is indeed: “a special place in hell, for women who don’t help other women.” ??Her Award may yet haunt her to become the ultimate poisoned chalice.




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AUTHOR: Felicity Arbuthnot

Felicity Arbuthnot is a London-based freelance journalist  and author specializing in social and environmental issues with special knowledge of Iraq, a country which she has visited thirty times since the 1991 Gulf war. She has written and broadcast widely on Iraq, one of the few journalists to cover Iraq extensively even in the mid-1990’s during the sanctions. With former UN Assistant Secretary General and UN Co-ordinator in Iraq, Denis Halliday, she was senior Iraq researcher for John Pilger’s Award winning documentary: “Paying the Price – Killing the Children of Iraq (Carlton/ITV March 2000) which has been aired worldwide and sent shockwaves through Washington and Whitehall. In February 2001, the documentary on Iraq sanctions for which she was sole researcher for Radio Telefis Eireann (RTE) in the ‘O Would You Believe’ series, entitled ‘Denis Halliday Returns‘ – Iraq’s tragedy under sanctions through Halliday’s compassionate, incisive eye – also achieved critical acclaim. She is also the author, with Nikki van der Gaag, of the published Baghdad in the educational Great Cities of the World Series for World Almanac Library. Arbuthnot has been nominated for a number of Awards for her coverage of Iraq, including the (EC) Lorenzo Natali Award for Human Rights Journalism, the Millenium Prize for Women; the Courage of Conscience Award and an Amnesty International Media Award. With a unique insight into Iraq under sanctions, her articles and broadcasts are used by MP’s in Parliamentary questions and is quoted by MP’s and academics worldwide.


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